Head to Uluwatu, Bali for vivid sunsets, savage landscape and incredible beaches.
Probably the most beautiful part of a very beautiful island, Uluwatu is a perfect location for your Bali escape. It’s around two hours from the airport, but this extra distance means fewer tourists. It is still possible, particularly outside peak season, to be the only one on the beach. An incredible thing in this day and age. Families that seek a bit more adventure will love experiencing more than the standard sun-sea-sand combination, while still having ready access to all their creature comforts. Bliss!
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Built on the cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean, the Uluwatu Temple is a must-see. This 11th-century monument perfectly shows how people can coexist with nature, without spoiling it. Get there by 4:30pm to allow plenty of time to wander in the soft afternoon light, before settling down to enjoy the sunset. This is a prime location to witness one of nature’s most spectacular shows! As the sun goes down, the sky turns into a kaleidoscope of pinks and yellows. Watching the temple as the sun sinks into the sea is simply breath-taking.
Be wary of the merciless monkeys that inhabit the temple and its grounds – they’re fast, fearless, and they will take your food and your valuables!
You might like to linger at the temple into the evening for the Kecak Fire Dance. The cliff-side amphitheatre within Uluwatu Temple is a dramatic setting, ideal for those wanting to see a traditional Balinese art-form. The show is extremely popular so the crowds can be overwhelming. If you’re travelling with younger children, it’s probably better to leave once you’ve had your fill of sunset shots.
The beaches in this area are stunning. Each offers its own unique slice of Bali life.
Travelling with older children? Why not explore Green Bowl Beach? This is a small secluded spot that’s worth traversing the hundreds of steps to reach. Stock up on the day’s supplies before heading down from the village of Ungasa – you’ll need to bring everything for the day as there are no facilities. Check the tides and aim to arrive as the water is heading out to maximise your beach time. There is a small cove that provides some shade.
There really is no shortage of beaches in Bali. Around Uluwatu rom-com lovers should head to Padang Padang – made famous by the Hollywood adaptation of Eat, Pray, Love. Not far away, Thomas Beach offers a more relaxed vibe.
Drifter Cafe is one of Bali’s coolest spots. There are plenty of healthy, locally sourced ingredients and a range of dining options (including some excellent vegan dishes). Set up by surfers, it has a relaxed and sunny atmosphere, making it easy to spend a morning or afternoon just relaxing with friends. It has a remarkable book selection and is committed to lowering single plastic use, and waste in general. There’s a water fountain outside for everyone to fill up their reusable bottles.
Alila Villas Uluwatu is THE standout hotel in this area. The eco-conscious among us will love that it is committed to sustainable practices and designed with sustainability in mind. The main complex has a striking infinity pool and cabana delicately perched at the cliff edge, giving guests the feeling of floating above the Indian Ocean. The setting is loved by Instagrammers and wedding parties alike, but don’t fear if you crave more privacy or peace – the resort has more than 60 individual villas with their own pools and cabanas.
Guests can even choose the level of service they receive. Those needing detailed attention can opt for dedicated butler service and villa housekeeping, but if your style is more free and easy, you need only press a button to arrange.
There is access to a private beach, accessible only by taking steep stairs down through the jungle at low tide. Service is exceptional and it’s the ideal place to mark a special occasion.
The restaurants are excellent and it would be very easy to spend your entire 72 hours just at this resort!
If you do decide you want to venture out, the staff can easily arrange activities and itineraries to help you and your family explore the local area.
Uluwatu is Bali’s hotspot for surfing. Most beaches are for those with some experience, but there are some options for beginners and families. Padang Padang Right is a good choice for those starting out, or those wanting to hone their skills, as it is a long sandy beach break.
For surf veterans, the rugged landscape provides a variety of options. Balangan and Bingin Beaches (favourites of locals in the know) are a little harder to access as they are off the beaten track. Padang Padang Left is a reef break, reminiscent of what’s found in Hawaii, but watch out for sharp rocks and coral – know your limits!
If you are just starting out on the surf scene you can always book a lesson. Bali Surf Tours offer experiences all across Bali.
For those wanting a bit of glamour in Bali, Sundays Beach Club is a long-time favourite in Uluwatu. You pay a flat entry fee, which gives you drinks vouchers, access to sunbeds, a private beach and water sports equipment. It’s not for everyone, especially as Bali has so many beaches to explore, but if you want an easy day with the family – this is the perfect place.
If you’re looking to take in the sights under your own steam, then opt for a cycling tour that will see you pedal to all the greatest hits. Bali Full Day Tours comes highly recommended and offers an option that takes in all the key sites. This is a good option for families with active teens.
Slick, stylish, and with good service, Single Fin is a popular spot for sundowners. There’s a Balearic vibe about the place and the cocktails are good. Staff are friendly, and the setting is unbeatable. Although the prices are a little on the high side for Bali.
Sunset Point Uluwatu is more rustic and a bit less hipster than Single Fin, but in a good way. The view is just as spectacular and the prices are reasonable. The crowd is a mix of ages and nationalities, and the atmosphere relaxed. Kick back and watch surfers catch their last waves of the day, and local fishermen set sail for the night. It’s less than 10 minutes from Uluwatu but can be tricky to find, so plan ahead and contact the bar in advance if you need assistance.