Living the Uluwatu Way: Adventuring on the Southern Tip of Bali
It’s not a lie that Bali can feel a bit too touristy at times—but that’s why places like Uluwatu exist. You’ll come for the surf and the smoothie bowls and you’ll leave with the satisfaction that you were able to experience a bit of what Bali may have used to be like not too long ago.
Uluwatu is located on the southern tip of Bali and it easily made my top 10 list for my entire trip (and that’s saying something!). We arrived in the early evening to a fiery sunset of bright reds, pinks and yellows vibrantly decorating the sky. We had a feeling that our time in Ulu would be nothing short of memorable just from that firsts glance.
Uluwatu is one of those places where you can feel yourself relaxing once you arrive; there’s no obligation to do or see anything in particular. There are tons of beaches to visit, cliff-side temples to stand in awe of and if you’re into being a part of one of the best parties in Bali, then this is the place for you. There’s something for everyone when you break it all down.
While in Ulu we stayed in an Air BnB. There are no hostels in the area, so if you want to meet people, you’re better off staying in a shared homestay and going out at night to socialize. There’s a good chance you’ll meet people at your Air BnB/homestay, but this isn’t always guaranteed. We were lucky enough to meet five young people from the UK in our Air BnB who showed us the best of Uluwatu and what the night life there is all about.
What to do:
Rent a motorbike for your stay:
Renting a motorbike/scooter is a wise idea for your time in Ulu. Everything is a lot more spread out than you would think and the roads aren’t nearly as crazy to drive on compared to other Balinese cities (aka Seminyak or Kuta). If you haven’t driven a motorbike before, Uluwatu is the perfect place to try for the first time. Tip: If it’s your first time driving, make sure you’re comfortable by yourself before you add another person on the back. It’s significantly more unstable with two people on one bike.
Visit the real Padang Padang Beach:
The real Padang Padang beach is quite small and you have to walk through a small cave to get there. This is one of the first places that we realized you have to pay to do nearly everything in Uluwatu. The entrance fee to Padang Padang is 10,000 IDR and parking for your bike (located across the street) is 2,000 IDR. The beach itself is small, but the location is stunning and the water is fairly clean compared to some other beaches in the area. Side note: There is another neighbouring beach that your Google Maps might try to tell you is Padang Padang, but it’s actually a beach that the locals have nicknamed “Thomas Beach”.
This beach is a lot longer, but we found it quite dirty. It’s not nice to be swimming and have plastic/other garbage floating in the water next to you. If you don’t mind this so much, then Thomas Beach might be worth a visit. Otherwise, skip it and visit Blue Point Beach, Pantai Nyang Nyang or Bingin Beach.
Visit Blue Point Beach (otherwise known as Ulu’s):
If you’re a surfer, this is the spot for you. And what’s even better is that if you’re not a surfer and prefer calm swimming waters instead, this is also the beach for you. When the tide is out (usually in the late afternoon), you can walk down the steep steps to the sandy cave and out to the water for a fantastic swimming location. The water is clean and you’ll be able to watch the surfers in the distance as they ride their waves in.
Order a Nalu Bowl and enjoy a cliff side view of the water:
Nalu Bowls (they also have a location in Seminyak) makes incredible smoothie bowls and their location in Uluwatu is definitely one of a kind. Situated above Blue Point Beach next to a steep descending cliff side, you’ll have a view of the entire coastline and all the surfers below. If you can afford the more expensive price tag (60-70k IDR per bowl), you’ll definitely want to stop in if you’re in the area.
Visit the Uluwatu Temple:
Although the temple itself is slightly underwhelming, the views you’ll experience will leave you thankful that you made the effort to go. This temple is located on the edge of a lengthy cliff and offers one of the best views in Bali. You’ll have to pay 30,00 IDR to get in and 10,000 IDR to park your scooter. Tip: Watch out for the monkeys in the temple grounds—they might try to steal your sunglasses or anything hanging off your bag!
Spend a Sunday or Wednesday night out at Single Fin:
Single Fin is the second largest purchaser of Bintang in all of Indonesia. If that doesn’t give you an idea of how fun this place is, I don’t know what will. It may sound ridiculous, but I would almost say that it’s worth it to plan your visit to Uluwatu so it falls on either a Sunday or Wednesday.
Single Fin is located next to Nalu Bowls above Blue Point Beach and is one of the most amazing bars I’ve ever visited, simply because of its location. The party really starts around 11pm and drinks are pretty expensive, so pre-drink at the Angel Mart on the your way in (it’s 300 m from Single Fin on the same road), where you’ll find cheap Bintang and other mixed drinks.
On your way out, get a corn on the cob from one of the food stands, but make sure you only offer 10,000 IDR for one—this is the “local’s price” that they will never offer tourists unless you ask.
Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at Drifter Surf Shop and Cafe:
This is both a cafe and surf/clothing shop, but it feels very hip, relaxed, and cool; they also have amazing AC inside! Order a coffee or smoothie bowl, read a book and use their free wifi, which works very well compared to other places in the area.
Watch the sunset at the Bingin Beach Cliffs:
Turn left at the sign for Bingin Beach and drive along the road until you reach a gate that normally blocks cars. Walk your scooter around the gate and leave it on the other side. Walk down to the edge of the grassy cliffs and park yourself on a blanket 10-20 minutes before the sun goes down. If you want to see a spectacular sunset, choose a clear day rather than a cloudy one. Either way, be prepared to be blown away.
Eat at Warung Lima:
This is a very simple Indonesian restaurant, but the prices, food and service are fantastic. The women that run it are so friendly, and they do their best to bring your food out quickly when it gets busy. Price range: 20,000-35,000 IDR for a meal.
Go for dinner at Yeye’s Restaurant:
Although slightly more expensive than Warung Lima, this restaurant serves incredible local food. Their menu is large and offers western food as well, but I highly recommend you stick to local food as this is their speciality. Price range: 35,000-60,000 IDR for a meal.
Have lunch at Warung Eboh:
This is a super cheap Indonesian street food style restaurant that offers a “buffet” that you can pick and choose from to make your own ideal meal. They offer everything from curries, vegetables and fried noodles to rice, tofu and tempeh. Price range: 15,000-30,000 IDR depending on how much you take. Cost is per type of dish chosen.