Uluwatu: Bali's breathtaking limestone peninsula
Uluwatu is located at Bali’s most southern point, commonly referred to as The Bukit. The limestone peninsula, said to have once been its own independent land mass, is one of the island’s highest coastal points with cliffs sweeping down to the ocean and a view that is nothing short of magical.
The area’s main attraction is Pura Uluwatu, one of Bali’s six key directional temples. Though a small temple was said to have existed beforehand, the structure was significantly expanded upon by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan, in the 11th Century. The complex is home to a tribe of monkeys, famous for their cute but ever cheeky ways. Combine this with the 360° views of the Indian Ocean, the traditional Kecak dance performances and Uluwatu’s world-class surf breaks, and you can see why so many tourists visit this area.
Intrepid surfers were the first tourists to enjoy Uluwatu and it’s no surprise given the abundance of stunning beaches in the area. Even today, there are not many attractions beyond the iconic waves, making Uluwatu an idyllic spot for the relaxed surfer. Blue Point, just west of the Uluwatu Temple, takes centre stage for the area’s surfing culture with some of the most challenging waves on the island breaking here. Local warungs are set up on the vertical cliff path serving simple refreshments and ice-cold beers. At the foot of the cliff, hidden amongst giant rocks, is a secluded beach with golden sand where, on low tide, natural bathtubs form in the flat reef.
Another of the area’s beaches, and perhaps one of Bali’s most beautiful, is the white-sanded rural beach of Balangan. Despite its beauty, it is not a busy beach with just a few warungs and a couple of bangalows set up.
The turquoise lagoon of Padang-Padang is not as quiet. Famous for its annual surf competition, the beach is constantly busy with visitors taking advantage of the relaxed surf conditions.
North of Padang-Padang sits Bingin, another white-sanded beauty of a beach with a challenging stairway access.
Pantai Nyang-Nyang is similarly difficult to reach with a 300 step decline, but the wild deserted beach that greets you upon completion, along with the seaweed air and aloof cows, makes it well worth it.