Although technically Uluwatu is the name of a famous Balinese temple perched on a cliff on the southwest tip of the Bukit Peninsula, the name has come to refer to the surrounding area as well, a region that boasts soaring limestone cliffs, secluded beaches with world-class surf breaks, and some of the most luxurious hotels and villas in the world. Whether you come just for the day to play a round of golf, explore the temple or hit the swells, or settle in for a few days at a luxurious clifftop villa overlooking the sea, there is always something to stimulate the senses in Uluwatu.
The main attraction in Uluwatu is Pura Uluwatu, one of the most scenic temples in all of Bali. The temple rests on a headland jutting out over the Indian Ocean, and it overlooks the surf crashing into the rocks at the base of the cliff below. The temple is made of dense grey coral, and the carvings in the gates and walls are simply superb. Every night when the sun begins to sink into the sea, Balinese dancers perform the hypnotizing Kecak and Fire Dance on the temple grounds.
Not so long ago, the Uluwatu area had none of the fancy hotels, villas or restaurants that it does today. At that time, the area was frequented only by die-hard surfers who didn’t mind bushwhacking their way to the beaches and coves. That legacy still continues today, although many of the beaches now have access roads or at least well-trampled paths to the sand. North of Uluwatu is where you’ll find the iconic beaches of Balangan, Dreamland, Bingin, Padang Padang, and Suluban, while the southern coast is awash in deserted coves and bays.
Things To Do
Uluwatu is a surfers dream, as this is the home of some of Bali’s most famous and gnarliest surf breaks like Padang Padang, Uluwatu, and Impossibles. Take note that these swells are for experts only, as the waves here can be huge, the reef is long, and the shoreline is incredibly rocky. For those who prefer to stay on land, there are a number of beautiful white sand beaches, as well as the impressive New Kuta Golf Course.
For seafood lovers, Uluwatu is one of the best spots on Bali to indulge in freshly caught fish and crustaceans. Your options range from rustic beach shacks serving up charcoal grilled snapper, clifftop restaurants offering Spanish tapas like crispy sardines and grilled octopus and five-star beach clubs with lobster, crab and mahi-mahi on the menu. And of course, your seafood will taste that much better while watching the sun sink into the sea with a cold one in hand.
Surfers are thick on the ground here, although you’ll mostly find them out on the water or chilling at the laid-back homestays and beach warungs on the sands. The abundance of posh hotels and luxury villas also means you will find plenty of well-heeled socialites holidaying in the area. For a cosmopolitan vibe and a once in a lifetime experience, head to the incredible Rock Bar perched on an outcropping above the Indian Ocean at the base of the Ayana Resort.