The limestone peninsula protruding off Bali’s south coast is a mysterious chunk of land. Known as “the Bukit”, scientists insist this area is alien to Bali, as the mineral structure of its soil is completely different to the rest of the island. Supposedly, it was quite likely a drifting island that stuck to Bali thousands of years ago as a result of some major movements in the Earth’s core. This theory might explain why the Bukit even feels different; the climate is more dry and sunny, the air smells almost Mediterranean and the pace of life is special, too.
The Bukit peninsula is home to Bali’s most beautiful beaches and world-class surf-spots; Uluwatu, Padang-Padang and Balangan. Water this turquoise and sand this golden is hard to find anywhere else in Bali. With waves as the region’s main attraction, surfing is the leading subculture in these shores. With its own dress-code, lingo and life attitude, the Bukit proves slow, easy and relaxed. A smear of brightly-coloured Zink, boardshorts and a pair of flip flops are all you need for the day. The vast community of Brazilian surfers makes the Bukit a sanctuary of handsome men, with flocks of Seminyak or Canggu based girls day-tripping all the way to Uluwatu just to hunt for fresh prey. The guys, faithful to their fins, reciprocate with little interest. Off to bed by 9pm, there is no girl that can be more important than a sunrise surf when the swell is on.
On the other hand, the Bukit is famous for its luxury beach clubs, fancy clifftop wedding venues, sky-high spas and jet-set vibe. There’s no rest for the selfie sticks in these parts. Nammos Beach club by Karma Kandara, Sundara by Four Seasons, Finn’s by Semara, Rock Bar by Ayana Resort; all these destination spots have become iconic on the map of Bali. Many involve a lengthy queue, but once you’re in your private beach cabana enjoying billion-dollar views and high-class service, the wait feels worthwhile.
Last, but not least, life on the Bukit’s is dominated by Uluwatu temple, one of the most respected and powerful temples of the island. Even if all those “touristy activities” are not your bottle of Bintang, it’s still worth a visit. The temple sits on the highest rim of the island with head-spinning 360″ views from the cliff. The resident cheeky monkeys are simply heart-melting…until the moment you realise you’ve been shamelessly robbed.
So, you know you’re in the Bukit when…
- everyone has stone-hard butts thanks to the relentless daily stair climb to get to the beach
- the pretty sunsets are overshadowed by the pretty faces … that are pouting for countless selfies
- one of the fanciest places for a sun downer is called “The Goat”
- you are on the hunt for a decent espresso and it results in a 30 minute scooter ride
- watching half-naked surfers is the most entertaining Saturday night activity you can get
- the monkeys living on the cliff are dressed better than you thanks to their daily snatchings of Prada sunglasses and plenty of bling
- a Bintang at a beach bar involves an elevator sliding down the side of a cliff
- you have to choose between an afternoon dip in an ultra contemporary aquatonic massage jet pool for 2 million rupiah, or in the natural stone baths filled with warm ocean water right on the word famous Uluwatu surf spot for free
- the acres of land covered in wild bush seem primitive, when in fact they were sold off years ago and now costs billions of dollars
- it looks like pictures of newlyweds got married in the sky, even if that match wasn’t made in heaven
- surfing the same wave as the giant Steller’s sea cow is just another day in the ocean
- a beach that was not so long ago called ‘a secret’ is now invaded with dozens of daily tourist buses
- your seafood dinner on the beach can be accompanied with a traditional Islander song performed live upon request. Or Mexican. Or Japanese. You name it, they sing it.
- every pretty, natural terrace up on the cliff is a wedding temple
- wearing a shirt means being overdressed
- the weekly tradition of Sunday night at Single Fin is taken as religiously as going to church on Sunday morning
There you have it: life on the Bukit peninsula. Spend one day at cozy Bingin beach; get a proper Bukit tan; hang out with most fearless surfers in Bali; relish in the stories behind the scars on their bodies; wear nothing but a bikini and a ripped singlet all day long; get your hair salty; ride some waves; see a Kecak dance; and slap a monkey.
Then when that’s done, spend a day being uber glam. Replace your regular morning cappuccino with bubbles at one of the posh beach clubs; move to another one for lunch; snack on imported oysters; cover yourself in chocolate in one of the top-notch spas; celebrate the sunset with wasabi martinis by your private pool; and dress up in an open-back dress and golden sandals for an evening of extravagance and fine dining.
After that sort of weekend, it will be very hard to choose which Bukit you love more!
Feature illustration by Gleb Solntsev.