Any avid traveler should understand the beauty of Bali. But when it comes to Uluwatu, at the southern tip below Jimbaran beach, it’s a bit of a grey area. Many would think to avoid this tip, marking it as a tourist trap to avoid. What if we told you there’s more to it than first meets the eye? Is Uluwatu really worth visiting, and could these seven reasons make you see it differently?
First a little lesson in the Balinese language. Taken from the Indonesian words ‘Ulu’, meaning lands end, and ‘watu’ means rock, it is so-called for its rugged, rocky terrain. Adding romance to the arid landscape, it also makes the shoreline a fascinating and fun-filled escape for a variety of reasons!
So come explore with us! We promise a whistle-stop tour of all the magic and mystery you can find in Uluwatu. From the fun and frolics of festivals and parties, to the soothing calm of the resorts and retreats. Plus sun, sea and some super charming sights to see. There are spiritual adventures afoot too! We have a feeling you’ll be digging the vibe by the end of our tour.
Find Spiritual Magic at Uluwatu Temple
A trip to Uluwatu would not be complete without some spiritual exploration. And we have just the place for you. The view at the cliff-side of the Hindu temple of Uluwatu is unparalleled. And the inhabitants of the area are bound to keep you busy. A word to the wise, be sure to leave shiny jewelry and dangling objects safely back at your hotel, lest you want to be set upon by the resident monkeys! Cute to be sure, but a definite handful if they see something they want for themselves.
Aside from some furry friends, expect to be beguiled by the beautiful view of the Indian Ocean. The sunset here is said to be one of the best sights in Bali, and if you stick around you can check out the Kecak fire dance! Also known as the monkey dance, a ticket to this event is likely to set you back about 100,000 IDR during high season, but it is well worth it. Balinese dances such as this, with their intricate hand gestures and choreography, will enthrall the hardest of hearts. This promises to be an afternoon worth remembering.
Get Caught-up in Fabulous Celebrations
For the people of Uluwatu, it seems the party never stops! With a variety of celebrations year-round, you too can be part of the fun. Between November and January in Indonesia you will find fair weather, with a dry and decent 95°F on average in Uluwatu.
So, Christmas and New Year are always be set to be wild! Party the night away in local haunts like Single Fin (which is also great for a perfect sunset), Ulu Cliffhouse or El Kabron. Or, party the day away at the fabulous and fresh Savaya. With international DJs that will wow the sand from your toes, this is the place to be to experience sun, sea and stellar sounds.
There are also a number of traditional celebrations such as Galungan, the celebration of good triumphing over evil (or dharma over adharma), and Pagerwesi, where Balinese people strengthen their minds against evil.
These are usually celebrated with colorful decorations and prayer. These can take place all over the city and are a marvel to watch. And if you want to celebrate in peace and quiet, then make sure to head to Uluwatu in March for the famous Nyepi Day. This is known as Saka on the Balinese Lunar calendar, and is marked by a day of silence!
That’s right, no shops, bars or restaurants will open for 24 hours, and there will be no lights or sound at this time. If you do head to Bali in March, be aware of the date this falls, and be respectful of this! Tradition is a serious business for many people.
These celebrations fall on different dates each year, so be sure to do your research before you go!
Revel in Your Romantic Escape!
One definitive reason Uluwatu is worth visiting is for the pure romance that can be found here. Whether that’s in exploring the rugged landscape and its numerous secret coves, or inside the divine resorts! ‘Check in, drop out’ should be the general motto, with quiet and secluded spots that often emphasize total wellness. Sustainable resorts such as the Morabito Art Cliff promise to satisfy your need for romance. And in a setting that will leave you as breathless as your beau!
If you’re looking for the ultimate in sustainable luxury, head to the Alila Villas Uluwatu. Here, you will find that no waste goes to landfill, meaning your conscience will be as clear as you mind! For this, its sumptuous ecological design, and many more reasons, EarthCheck have bestowed the prestigious gold award on this hotel. Just imagine soaking up the last rays on the sun by the large cliffside pool, with a cocktail in hand. Bliss!
And as for the surrounding areas, well! Clifftop scenery, beautiful villages and lush forest await you. Oh, and did we mention stunning beaches?
Melt into that Sublime Beach/Sunset Combo
You don’t have to be on a romantic break to be spellbound by the romantic views. Unparalleled vistas of the Indian Ocean await you when you embark on a trip south of Jimbaran. In fact, Uluwatu is worth visiting for its beaches alone. Large and small sandy beaches combine with rocky terrain and hints at the wild jungle. Thrown into the mix, a few sublime dusks or dawns could just seal the deal as the most memorable holiday ever!
To make the most of your trip, and get a real ‘cast-away’ feel, head to Nyang Nyang beach. Park your scooter and walk the 70 metre descent on to the large but secluded sands. Whilst high periods like July, August, November and December can be busy, holidaying outside of these times can bring massive rewards. Just remember to bring a flashlight for the walk back up! And maybe some snacks to enjoy the sundown show.
Notable mentions go to Uluwatu beach, popular with tourists and locals but has many beach bars and restaurants lining the water; also Pantai Padang Padang Beach, known for its great surf breaks and fabulous views. Travelers be warned, there is a 15,000 IDR entry fee, which translates to about $1. It’s worth the fee too. If only to witness all those hot bods surf the waves! Which leads us nicely on to our next point…
Ride Exhilarating Waves in a Surfers Paradise!
If Uluwatu is worth visiting for any reason, it is for the epic surf. Here, you will find some of the best surf of the south. There are beaches and waves that will suit everyone from the pro-surfers, to the newbies amongst you. Planning on trying something new this trip? There will always be fresh waves to cut your teeth on, and the aforementioned Pantai Padang Padang Beach is great for all abilities! Just remember to head for the right-hand break for easy surf, and to the left-hand break for pro-surf waves.
Similarly, the beach named ‘Dreamland’ (or Pantai Cemongkak) is accessible, great for novice and intermediate surfers, and has a wealth of shoreline bars and restaurants for the non-surfers in your group. Everyone will be happy here! And with a name like Dreamland, you know that the reputation is well-built.
But there are some strategic points around the coast will bring you some epic tubes to brush up your skills, too. For a magical beast of a ride, head to Uluwatu beach for the wicked left-hander. Only accessible by descending the cliff-edge next to Uluwatu temple, once you get there you’ll be enveloped in a movie-worthy scene… Complete with an arrival onto the beach through a cave! This is a big old wave, so worth assessing it (and your skills) before your tackle it.
Sample Those Sweet Indonesian Flavours
Yes, we can confirm that not only is this area a haven for surfers and romantics. It’s also a pure foodie haven. A mix of traditional and modern fusion restaurants keeps things interesting. With a large helping of healthy options for the fitness conscious amongst you! Sample fresh Indonesian dishes like Gado-Gado and Mie Goreng at places like Cashew Tree, then catch some live music in the courtyard. Or perhaps go in for fiery curries and cold-rolls at the well-established Drifter Surf Cafe.
There is a plethora of delicious Balinese dishes worth wrapping your tastebuds around. But if you fancy something a little more western, the Bukit Cafe has your back. With burgers and fries amongst other comforting favorites, perched alongside healthy options and lashings of seafood too. A crowd-pleasure for sure!
Another pro-tip: head north to the outskirts of Uluwatu, and the seafood in Jimbaran Bay is second to none! Sumptuous seafood BBQ might be just what the doctor ordered after a day of exploring all the places that make Uluwatu worth visiting!
Visit Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park
This park garners its name from the Hindu Lord Vishnu and his ‘mount’, named Garuda, a feathered friend who became his great companion! The resulting 60 hectare cultural park is one of the most iconic spots in Uluwatu. Divided into separate areas, comprising of parkland, shopping and restaurant areas as well as an amphitheatre, at its center sits the monument to Vishnu. Designed by Nyoman Nuarta, it boasts the title of the tallest statue in Bali, standing at 400 foot tall. It is a testament, in fact, to the huge population of Hindus in the country, and the largest practicing religion here.
Fun fact, the statue is actually 98 feet taller than the statue of liberty! It is said to depict the search for the elixir of life, also known as Amrita.
Throughout the day you will find traditional entertainment in the amphitheatre, including Balinese Dances like Garuda Wisnu Ballet, Barong Keris, and even the famed ancient Kecak dance at 6:30 each evening. Be sure to catch the wonderfully immersive street theatre performances of the Bumbung dancers. This traditional dance devised by farmers has been featured on UNESCO’s World Intangible Heritage list! A mist see for sure. The lotus pond, dual Plazas Garuda and Wisnu, Balairung Dewi Sri Exhibition Hall and souvenir shops are also worth checking out the round out a full day here.
Is Uluwatu Worth a Visit? Beauty in Every Corner
When you take a trip to Bali, the sights, sounds and culture of a nation of wonderful people is apt to steal your heart. And Uluwatu represents the best of this beautiful land. With hot and dry seasons, wonderful Hindu architecture, fabulous statues, rugged sweeping scenery and incredible sunsets, you are enveloped in beauty and romance. With the fabulous surf, food, parties, and space in between for peace and quiet, the stage is set for your own adventure.
When considering if Uluwatu is worth visiting, these key points scream “yes!” emphatically. Sure, there has been some discussion about whether Uluwatu or Canggu is best, and it’s well worth checking out our handy comparison. But we think in Uluwatu, there is a lot to shout about. Share this guide with your mates, and let the debates (and trip-planning) commence!