South Bali, Indonesia
Southern Bali is really heaven on earth. From the beaches to the jungles, from the temples to the warungs this tiny island and its warmhearted people has it all. You can skip the crowds and clubs of Kuta and get swept away in the beauty and magic of the beaches of Uluwatu. The Uluwatu area is is set high up on the soaring limestone cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula. Most of the beaches need to be accessed by long winding flights of stairs and many of these beaches are coral reef bottom, so mind your feet when swimming or surfing and get ready for some spectacular sights during low tides. We were fortunate enough to travel to Bali this year for about a month, and as we checked out a few different places but Uluwatu was definitely my fav!
Many accommodations will help you set up a taxi pick-up from the airport if you are just arriving on the island or when you arrive you can talk to the taxi drivers at the airport. Remember this is a land of people that love to play the game of bargaining, so never settle for the first price as it is sure to be too high. To get to the Uluwatu area expect to pay no more than 20-25$. It should take about 45 minutes ( up to 2 hours) depending on traffic it's not too far from the airport in Denpesar.
Local money exchangers are readily available, look around to find the best exchange rates which are usually a bit off of the main strip of the beaches. The local currency is called the Rupiah (idr) and is quoted in thousands ( i.e a liter of water is about 8,000 idr) so if you exchange money or use an ATM you are likely to become a millionaire!
Motorbikes are definitely the best way to explore the area, with using taxis for longer jumps or day trips. Depending on the season motorbikes rentals are around 50-70k a day, with liters of gas around 8-10k. Most places in uluwatu do not have proper gas stations, but rather petrol stands scattered along the roads. The petrol is usually brightly colored and stored in old liquor bottles. Make sure to wear a helmet!
Plastic and trash are definitely problems worldwide, but small island like Bali don't have an infrastructure to deal with the massive amount of waste us humans create,. So be conscious about your impact.
Beaches and World- Class Surf breaks
Thomas beach- The steps down to this beach are killer, but there is a sweet temple at the top and great beginner waves.
Bingin- This beach is loaded with left hand waves and has stunning views from out in the water. It is great to see at different tides as it looks like a completely different beach! Remember most of the beaches are lined with coral reef and are not sand bottom, so take caution when swimming or surfing.
Impossibles- Just south of the Bingin beach break, its a little but tricky to get to and this is not a swimming beach, and is a bit tougher of a wave to catch, but it tends to be able to hold a bigger swell, so if this is your thing then Impossibles is your wave!
Uluwatu- A must see! You have to pay 5k to enter the beach drive if you are on a scooter, taxis will cover this cost for you, or you can park down the street and walk - either way this beach is not to be missed. The most well-known restaurant in the area is called Single Fin and it is propped up against the main cliff of Ulus. The stairs to get down to the beach are lined with shopping, restaurants and bars. The final decent down to the beach is steep steps through an amazing cave. The sandy beach is lined with puka shells and coral. At low tide there are amazing tide pools to that are deep enough to swim without any waves. The surfing here is the real deal.
Warung is the name of the local Indonesian eateries. Some of these local restaurants have menus but many have the food displayed, and what you see is what you get that day. These are your best choices for tasting the local cuisine, and meals are super affordable, a dish costing about 30k.
Warung Heboh- This warung is my fav local spot to eat! It is buffet style, you start with a scoop of rice and then pick and choose amazing food down the line. It's is fresh, clean and so delicious. Meals tend to come out to about 24-40k depending on how large your servings are. This is located right across the street from Drifter and next to Seagypsy Jewlery.
Drifter- This is a surf shop and cafe essentially, but it is also a work of art. The building is beautifully built in traditional Balinese style, and filled with amazing surfboards, high-end gear, and stylish beach wear. They host local gatherings and have an organic cafe and coffee shop in back. It is a great place to spend a few hours to beat the heat. The food and drinks are delicious and reasonably priced.
Suka organic cafe- This cafe is located across the street from Thomas beach entrance. It has amazing food, and delicious drinks. It a bit pricy compared to other restaurants out there, but it's totally worth a stop. As many things in Bali, they take pride in presentation and nothing leaves the kitchen short of immaculate. If you are into milkshakes the Oreo shake is outta control!
Bukit Cafe- This cafe easily became my main spot when I was craving some thing other than local eats. The staff are all super cool locals with great tips and the food is on point. Their menu ranges from chia pudding to burgers to coconut prawn skewers. They have a green house in the back where they grow lots of their own food.
Single Fin- Well known super hip bar and restaurant on the cliff of Uluwatu
Mu- This resort is located in Bingin. They offer a daily yoga class at 930am for 120k. It is in an open air pavilion overlooking the western cliffs of Bali. The sight and space is breathtaking. Get some ice cream and stay a while to enjoy the grounds. Be careful of the monkeys though, they are know to steal things!
Yoga searcher Bali- Yoga studio and guest house located just south of Padang, with a variety of classes through out the day.
Sannyas Yoga Academy- A beautiful yoga studio with a variety of classes throughout the day as well as yoga trainings and workshops.
Just in case you need some more suggestions to fill your sunny days other than fruits, and beaches, pools and explorations!
Padang Padang beach- You have to pay to get onto this beach, but it totally worthy it as you defend the cliffs through narrow stairs that wind through a temple. This beach is probably the most friendly for swimmers and beginner surfers especially midtide.
Pura Uluwatu- This large temple complex is located in the south western tip of Bali. It has a stunning view of the sunsets and surrounding jungle and cliffs. Every night at 6pm at Uluwatu temple there is a traditional dance performance (100k) It tends to get very busy so be sure to arrive early to grab a ticket. I can't even begin to explain- it's a pretty magical experience.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida -These small islands are off the south eastern Bali. Fast boats take off from a town called Sanur and average around 325K. They have some great snorkellimg and surf and less tourists. the seas may be a bit choppy so beware!
Places to stay
There are tons of places to stay, scattered around southern Bali- bungalows, boutique hotels, home stays, and high end resorts. EVeryone has there own needs and wants in this field and Airbnb has become pretty popular in this area, so I suggest plugging in your filters and finding a place close to the beach. Remember that the whole of southern Bali is situated up on cliffs and if you want to stay beach front you will be hiking your luggage down a pretty serious flight of stairs. I like to stay up on the top of the cliffs and just get my exercise up and down those stairs whenever the waters called.
The juices and smoothies are to die for!