The Bukit Peninsula is southernmost point of Bali, Indonesia.
This is a large limestone peninsula which, bar a slither of land just south of the airport, would be a separate island. It is rugged and dry, and pre-tourist development this was a real backwater of Bali.
The Bukit (as it is commonly referred to) includes the famous cliff-hanging temple at Uluwatu, a number of Bali's very best beaches including Balangan, and the top surfing spots on the island. As is so often the case, it was intrepid surfers who really opened up the eyes of the world to this part of the island.
The two main towns with strong local communities on the Bukit arePecatu and Ungasan.
The Bukit Peninsula is connected to Kuta through Jimbaran by the busy Jalan Bypass Nusa Dua and this is the only route in. Take this main road south to the junction with Jalan Uluwatu II (the famous McDonald's junction), turn west towards Jimbaran Bay, continue about 2 km and at the four road junction make a sharp left up the hill (signposted for Uluwatu). Continue on this road into the heart of the peninsula.
A taxi from Kuta to Uluwatu for example takes 30 to 40 minutes on winding roads and will cost about Rp 120,000 one-way. If you are just visiting for the day, consider asking the driver to wait trip as it can be difficult to find transport back. Figure on paying the taxi driver Rp 20,000/hour to wait. Joining a tour can be a cheaper way of getting to Uluwatu and this destination is very widely offered by tour operators all over the island.
Exploring the Bukit lends itself very well to a rented motorbike. A number of the nicer beaches are reached via small roads or dirt tracks and a motorbike is the best method.
Taxis are not plentiful but can be found. There is a taxi stand at Padang-Padang just north of the bridge and one or two taxis are often sitting there waiting for customers.
A few bemos ply the main routes only but they are neither regular nor reliable.
Uluwatu Temple (Pura Uluwatu) is one of Bali's nine key directional temples. Though a small temple was claimed to have existed beforehand, the structure was significantly expanded by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan in the 11th Century. Another sage from East Java, Dang Hyang Nirartha is credited for constructing the padmasana shrines and is claimed to have attained Moksha here. Even more remarkable than the temple itself is its location, perched on a steep cliff 70 metres above the roaring Indian ocean waves. There are more steep headlands on either side and sunsets over Uluwatu are a sight to behold.
The entrance fee is Rp 6,000 and you need to be properly dressed to enter. Sarongs and sashes can be rented at the entrance. Guides, once famously mercenary, hassle visitors less than they used to, although they will offer to "protect" you from the monkeys, for a tip of course. Note that while you are free to walk around the temple grounds, the central courtyards can only be entered during special rituals.
The temple is inhabited by large number of monkeys, who are extremely adept at snatching visitors' belonging, including bags, cameras and eyeglasses. Keep a very close grip on all your belongings and stow away your eyeglasses if at all possible. If you do have something taken, the monkeys can usually be induced to exchange it for some fruit. Needless to say, rewarding the monkeys like this only encourages them to steal more. Locals and even the temple priests will be happy to do the job for you, naturally in exchange for a tip (Rp 10,000-50,000).
There is also a very scenic cave underneath with rock formations leading onto a beach close to the temple. This is a popular spot for surfers.
There are number of good white sand beaches on the Bukit Peninsula which many consider the best in Bali:
Balangan. Rated by some as the single best beach in Bali and one which receives relatively few visitors. It takes a bit of finding but from the main junction at Ungasan heading out from Jimbaran towards Uluwatu turn right (west) by Nirmala Supermarket. The road then twists and turns for about 6 km until you reach the beach. Keep following informal signs to "Balangan" or "Balangan Surf" and a west-northwest bearing. This is a stunning beach and well worth the effort required in finding it. There are a few very laid-back warungs on the beach and even a couple of bungalows where you can stay the night.
Bingin. Another white sand beach north of Padang-Padang and south of Dreamland. The beach here is not easy to access as the cliffs are high but the ocean views alone make the visit worthwhile. From the village of Pecatu head towards Padang-Padang and look for informal signs on your right directing you to "Bingin Surf". Proceed down the maze of small roads here, paying a Rp 3,000 toll if the village attendant is there, until you reach the obvious parking areas at the clifftop. There are two sets of steps down the cliff to the beach which are known as the northerly and southerly steps. Don't be surprised if you have to walk through grassy fields with cows and narrow pathways. Women offering massages might chase you from the parking lot. They'll back off after a firm 'no'.
Dreamland. Formerly a very beautiful beach which has been ruined by the adjacent Pecatu Graha Indah "New Kuta" development, Sadly it has turned into "Nightmare-land". There are still excellent surfing conditions, especially for intermediate surfers & on days when other breaks are too big to surf. The break goes right & left, is not too shallow and has decent shape. If you do visit this beach, try to imagine how glorious it was before the bulldozers moved in. The entrance road to Pecatu Graha Indah is about 2 km southwest of Ungasan on Jl Uluwatu, and is impossible to miss adorned as it by huge statues and truly massive, intrusive billboards. The entrance fee to use the road down to the waterfront is currently Rp 10,000.
Padang-Padang. A truly lovely beach with a big surf break offshore. Accessed from a stepped pathway on the north side of the obvious bridge 3 kilometres north of Uluwatu Temple heading back towards Pecatu. The white sand beach here is a little bit narrow at the highest of tides but is otherwise very nice indeed.
Suluban Beach, To the west of Padang-Padang Beach is secluded Suluban Beach. Access is not as public as that for Padang Padang, hence it is generally very quiet here. Even at hig tides with the rolling surf,Suluban Beach has a rather wide sand beach. As tide receeds some 100 metres, Suluban Beach makes a nice exploratory wade amoung the rocks, corals and seaweed. The view from the Suluban cliff-line above is a show of spectacular ocean colours.
Uluwatu is a very well known destination among surfing enthusiasts. Most of the surf spots are only suitable for advanced or expert surfers though - the waves are big here. The main surfing spots are Uluwatu, Dreamland, Padang-Padang, Bingin/Impossibles and Suluban.
Kecak Dance (monkey dance) performances are held at Uluwatu temple daily between 6PM and 7PM. Tickets for the visually spectacular, if rather unoriginal show (it was invented in the 1930s), cost Rp 50,000.
Chosing to get married or renewing vows in Bali is increasingly popular, and the Bukit Peninsula is the most popular destination for such ceremonies. There is a stunning, modernist, purpose-built cliff-front wedding chapel close to Nyang Nyang Beach and the Bulgari Hotel, and a number of resorts offer specialist wedding packages and planning.
Tirtha Wedding Chapel , +62 361 8471151, +62 361 8471151, Jl Raya Uluwatu, Banjar Dinas Karang Boma, Pecatu, on the southern cliff edge between The Bulgari and Puri Bali at Nyang Nyang, This impressive chapel was designed by leading architect Glen Parker and is stuningly located on the cliff top above Nyang Nyang Beach. The architecture is very modern indeed, and the chapel is essentially a series of glass-walled triangular pavilions surrounded by reflection pools. Full wedding planning services offered.
New Kuta Golf Course , +62 361 8481333, +62 361 8481333, Kawasan Pecatu Indah, Jl Uluwatu, Pecatu, This golf course is stunningly located on top of the cliffs above Dreamland beach and is a top class venue. It is part of the highly controversial Pecatu Graha Indah development that was the brainchild of former dictator Soeharto's son Tommy. The dubious acquistion methods of the land here by his development company from the traditional landowners, is still a huge bone of contention in Bali and that, coupled with the development ruining Dreamland Beach, has resorted in a lot of controversy. Anyone wishing to play at the course may wish to bear all of that in mind when making a decision.
The growing number of five star resorts on the Bukit Peninsula all have top class restaurants (and prices to match). Alila and Karma Kandara are especially highly rated.
At a more humble level, there are a host of simple local roadside cafes catering to the young surfing crowd at Bingin, Padang-Padang and Uluwatu. A lot of these hardly have a name, let alone contact details, and the best advice is to follow the crowds. Expect cold beers and good, simple Indonesian food.
Cafe Moka, daily 8AM-10PM, Jl Uluwatu, Ungasan, Excellent coffee shop and cafe in Ungusan village close to the main Nirmala Supermarket. Bread and pastries are fresh daily and salads are excellent. Free wireless internet for customers.
Jiwa Juice Internet Cafe , +62 361 8470736, 8AM-8PM daily, 108 Jl Labuan Sait, Pecatu, on main road between Bingin and Padang Padang, A full service internet cafe and wireless hotspot. Serves breakfast, sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Also acts as a business centre, has a bulletin board and is a well known local surfies meeting spot. Jiwa means soul in Indonesian.
Yeye's, Jl Labuan Sait, Pizzas and other reliable fare is served at this simple cafe close between Padang-Padang and Suluban. Beware that it is sometimes closed all day in the off season.
This is certainly not an area in which to expect any nightlife at all, and visitors staying here wanting some bar or club culture make the 45 minute journey up to Kuta or Seminyak.
You will almost always find somebody to join you for a relaxed beer on the beach though as there is a strong surf culture here. The beaches at Padang-Padang and Bingin are the best bets.
As a tourist destination, the whole Bukit Peninsula area was popularised by surfers. There are still numerous small, cheap bungalows close to the main surf points at Uluwatu, Padang-Padang, Bingin and Suluban, and many visitors just turn up and take what is available.
The area has more recently sprouted an impressive collection of high-end villas and resorts as well. Beware false advertising though: only the most expensive "villas" are completely private and self-contained, while most share at least some facilities, and the cheapest ones are just clusters of bungalows.
Chocky's Place , +62 818 05444833, +62 818 05444833, at the base of the cliff right on the beach at Bingin. Park at the top and walk down the southerly steps, Very good value rooms literally on the beach - the water laps right up to the property at high tide. Popular with surfers as the main Bingin break is right in front.
Flowerbud Bungalows , +62 816 4722310, Balangan Beach, Eight very charming rustic bamboo bungalows on Balangan Beach, several of which are family-sized. This great little place is representative of a Bali that is fast disappearing. Simple cafe facility and lots of old fashioned Bali charm.
Gong, +62 361 769976, +62 361 769976, Jl Pantai Suluban, Uluwatu, on the main road to Uluwatu Temple about 500 metres before the temple gates, Bit of an institution with the surfer crowd. Good, clean budget accommodation. You can also rent a motorbike here. Extremely popular.
Guna Mandala Inn, +62 361 8470673, Padang Padang , Budget accommodation just 100 metres from the entrance track to Padang Padang beach. Rooms are on two levels with the upstairs option definitely preferable as it gets nice breezes.
Kongsi Inn, Padang-Padang, Just about as basic as accommodation gets in Bali these days. Very much aimed at young surfers and in a great spot for easy access to the Padang-Padang break. Simple huts with bamboo walls and cold water.
Rocky's Bungalows, +62 817 346209, Jl Pantai Suluban, Uluwatu, A old time favourite with the surf community. A good location close to Uluwatu with nice ocean views out over the Suluban cliff-line.
Balangan Sea View Bungalows, +62 812 3679212, +62 812 3679212, Balangan Beach, Right by the stunning beach at Balangan and only 50 metres from the cliff. Popular with surfers. Traditional style bamboo bungalows with swimming pool, internet access, restaurant and airport transfers.
Mick's Place , , Bingin, on the Bingin clifftop close to the northerly steps, Four beautiful cliffront bungalows with a cliff-hanging infinity edge pool. Styles itself as a yoga retreat, a haven for surfers and a wedding venue. Everything here is very well done indeed.
Mu , +62 361 7428249, +62 361 7428249, Bingin, on the cliff edge at Bingin close to the car park and the southerly steps, Four clifftop bungalows with thatched roofs set around a large freeform pool. Wonderful views from the Bingin cliffront here. Popular with surfers and those who just want to be away from it all.
Puri Bali , +62 361 7448300, +62 361 7448300, Jl Uluwatu, Nyang Nyang, directly above Nyang Nyang Beach. From Uluwatu take the main road heading towards Pecatu and after about 1.5 km look for the sign-posted turning to the south (right), Five individual cottages all with large bathrooms and set in huge cliff-front grounds. This place has seen better days and the rooms are in need of renovation. It is a **very** spectacular location though, set looking due south on the highest cliffs in Bali. The beach is a long way down but it is quite stunning and there is a path leading down the cliff.
Sandat Mas Cottages , +62-361 769965, +62-361 769965, Jl Pantai Suluban, Uluwatu, about 1 km north of Uluwatu Temple on the road to The Istana, Large range of accommodation here from regular rooms up to a private three bedroom villa with its own pool. Clean, simple and not bad value although the cheaper rooms are not air-conditioned and there is no restaurant. Good ocean views and the cottages directly face sunset.
The Temple Lodge , +62 813 37769477, +62 813 37769477, Bingin, on the Bingin clifftop close to the southerly steps, Boutique accommodation at Bingin with 3 creatively designed bungalows built into the cliff face. Truly amazing views over the west coast surf breaks. Aims itself primarily at surfers but this would be a great value choice for any visitor who really wants to experience the best of the Bukit Peninsula. The restaurant prides itself on a health conscious menu and is very suitable for vegetarians.
Alila Villas Uluwatu, +62 361 848 2166, +62 361 848 2166, Jl Belimbing Sari Banjar Tembiyak, Pecatu, on the southern ciff edge of the Bukit about 4 km south east of Pecatu, There are 84 private villas in this modern and stylish cliff-edge luxury resort. Options of one, two or three bedroom villas, all of which have their own private pool and ocean views. All the facilites you would expect at a substantial five star resort including: 3 restaurants, 50 metre lap pool, spa, fitness centre and wedding facilities. Despite the name, this resort is about 7 km from Uluwatu.
Blue Point Bay Villas , +62-361-769888, +62-361-769888, Jl Labuan Sait, Uluwatu, on the cliffront, just to the north of Uluwatu Temple, Small cliff-edge resort with one and two bedroom villa accommodation. Two pools, one of which is located right on the cliff-edge. Good in-house spa and decent restaurant.
Bulgari Resort , +62-361-8471000, Jl Goa Lempeh, Banjar Dinas Kangin, almost due south from Pecatu, well signposted, Clifftop superluxury resort every bit as stylish as you'd expect from a boutique hotel run by a fashion label. Plunge pool, private elevator to the beach, excellent restaurants and a price tag to match.
Karma Kandara Resort , +62 361 708800, Jl Wijaya Kusuma, on the cliff-front south east of Pecatu, 1 km east of The Alila, Forty six private villas perched upon a clifftop with unobstructed views of the rolling surf of the Indian Ocean below. Each villa features a private walled garden complete with an infinity edge swimming pool. All bedrooms have their own en-suite bathroom. Living rooms are open plan comprising fully equipped kitchens, lounge and dining areas. A private cliff escalator provides access to Nammos Beach Club with its bar and fresh seafood grill. Gay/Lesbian friendly staff and management. Member of **Leading Small Hotels of the World**.
All the villas listed below are standalone and feature private entrances, accommodation and their own swimming pools.
The Istana , , Uluwatu, Five bedroom, clifftop luxury villa just to the north of Uluwatu Temple and directly overlooking the famous surf break. This is one of Bali's true super-villas and it has been featured in many international magazines. Sleeps up to 10 people, two private pools and extensive gardens. Fully staffed with a private cook, maids etc).
Suluban Cliff Villa , , Jl Pantai Suluban, Suluban, just off Jl Labuan Sait in front of Rocky's Bungalows, A very modern four bedroom cliff-front villa above Suluban Beach. Extremely well furnished and fitted and has one of the most dramatic cliff-edge pools in Bali, complete with a glass wall. Fully staffed and serviced.
Villa Moonlight , Uluwatu, Private luxury villa featuring four bedrooms and ocean view. Located just a little inland from Uluwatu in an elevated postion with great ocean views. Built in 2008 to a high standard and is nicely fitted and furnished.
Villa Pemutih , Padang Padang, Four bedroom private cliff-edge villa with a dramatic infinity pool. All bedrooms with large en-suite baths. Big open living room and fully equipped kitch. Fully staffed and serviced with car, driver, maids, chef, security etc. Private steps down the cliff to the beach.
There are the usual souvenir shops at the parking area at the entrance to Uluwatu temple. Otherwise, this is not an area of Bali known for its shopping.
There are convenience stores/small supermarkets in the villages of Pecatu and Ungasan for everyday shopping.
Most of the Bukit Peninsula is now covered by ADSL services and you will find WiFi available at most hotels and many cafes (see eat section).
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Burmesedays, jan, Peter Fitzgerald, Candace , www.rzr.online.fr, Ravi Doddavaram, Jani Patokallio, Larisa and Tom Holland, Globe-trotter
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