Located on the southern tip of Bali you will find the Bukit Peninsula, a large limestone peninsula just south of Denpasar International Airport. This area not only includes the famous cliff-hanging temple at Uluwatu, but also a number of Bali’s very best beaches and top surfing spots. Most hotspots are located along the west coast and a number of beaches are only reached via small roads or dirt tracks, so renting a scooter or motorbike is the best way to explore the Bukit Peninsula. And this way you will also be able to escape the jammed traffic. Just do it like the locals and skip the long lines of cars, vans and buses.
How to get there?
It is super easy to reach this region of Bali: It lies directly south of Denpasar International Airport. Just grab a taxi and drive south. Make sure to take an official Blue Bird Taxi to get the best deal.
One highlight in the area is definitely a visit to Pura Uluwatu, one of Bali’s nine key directional temples. The temple is located on top of a 70m high cliff projecting into the sea. The views are amazing and watching the sunset at this place is quite spectacular. Another thing which makes the temple special are its countless furry inhabitants: Monkeys. They look quite cute at first sight, but they are notorious for snatching visitors’ belongings. You can usually persuade them in trading things back for food, although this only encourages them to steal more. So watch your belongings carefully. Fritzi lost her pair of brand new sunglasses to a cheeky monkey.
How long to stay?
Just in case you are not a fan of the party scene in Kuta and Seminyak, but still want to explore the southern tip of Bali (Bukit Peninsula), the area of Jimbaran and Pecatu might just be the right place for you. It is a lot more quiet, but still is close to the airport, offers great places to stay and lots of nice restaurants, bars, cafes, shops, tourist sites and beaches. When arriving in Bali we decided to stay here for 3 nights to check out the surfing and to have a nice place to start our travels in Indonesia. Time flew and when we left we felt like we could have spent much more time in this area. The beaches are pretty (although a bit dirty during rainy season) and there is a lot to see and explore.
Where to stay?
Especially Jimbaran is famous for its private villa rentals and some pretty awesome and fancy hotels. But do not worry – there is accommodation that will suit every budget. We decided to stay in Pecatu, close to Balangan Beach and made the Willy Homestay our choice. The owner (Willy) is super friendly and helpful and cooks good breakfast. We paid 17 EUR per night for a spacious double room with a nice bathroom. There are only a few rooms, so the whole atmosphere is very private and the rooms all face a beautiful garden. As the place is located in the middle of nowhere, we recommend to hire a scooter so you can get around easily.
Beaches and Surfing The Bukit Peninsula is famous for its beaches and its good surf. Out of the many options we picked some favorites:
Padang Padang This popular beach has two main stretches – a long one which is pretty flat and little developed and a more compact and rocky one. The latter one is the one the most people go to and you have to pay a small entrance fee. To get to the other bit you have to look for signs leading to Thomas Homestay, a cheap guesthouse which also provides stairs to their beachside restaurant and the nice long stretch of beach. The surf features an epic wave (sometimes referred to as “Bali barrel machine”) with some awesome lefts, although it needs major swell to work. The wave attracts lots of locals, expats and tourists. It can get pretty nasty (drop-ins, snaking, wipe-outs) and crowded out there. Better not go in at low tide, or you might risk your skin.
Impossibles Located midway between Padang Padang and Bingin you will find the Impossibles Beach. It is mostly cliff and boulders, broken up by slices of soft yellow sand. The waves are called “impossibles” because they are impossibly fast. The waves look picture perfect from the cliff.
Bingin This white sand beach lies north of Padang Padang. The beach is not easy to access: To get to the beach you have to go down a trail and some staircases, which can get very slippery when wet. But the ocean views are pretty good. There are lots of bars and Warungs located at the beach, all overlooking the water enabling you to enjoy some fabulous views over the nice surf breaks. When tide is out the beach mainly consists of rock shelf with lots of water pools. These rocks can also get very slippery, so be careful. When the tide is in most of the beach vanishes, so make sure you find a nice spot in one of the bars or Warungs. The surf can best be described as short, sharp and shallow, but all tides are doable, although high tide is the most fun.
Balangan This beach is good for enjoying some nice views, go for a swim or to catch some waves. Surfing takes place at the eastern end of the beach and here you will also find some beachfront Warungs and Guesthouses. Swimming is better at the western end, as the water can be a bit calmer down here. You will also find a large rock shelf at low tide and then it also is not too good for swimming, but once high tide is in the swimming is pretty good. But watch out for the currents! Balangan is also a good spot to view one of Bali’s best sunsets.
Police Scam When taking the road down to Pura Uluwatu you have to pass a small police station. You will often find big lines of tourists on their scooters being stopped by some officers. It happened to us as well and luckily we ended up not paying for their scam. Once they stopped you, they will ask for your drivers license and tell you that it is not valid (true fact), but if you have an international one as well you should be fine. If you cannot present a valid license they will offer you to buy a piece of paper for about 35 EUR. Do not agree and simply tell them that you will not pay anything. We told them that we would rather go back to the hotel and get the international license instead of paying. They most probably will get annoyed at some point and let you go. They even asked us how much money we have and how much we are able to pay – so it is a big scam. If they try to stop you by just waving at you and not by blocking the way you can also just go ahead and ignore them. You should be fine. In case you are traveling without an international drivers license you can also go to Denpasar and buy an Indonesian license. Prices vary, but it should not be more than 10 EUR. Taxi Getting a taxi in this area is not as easy as it might seem at first sight. There is kind of a fight between the private taxi operators and services like Grab, Uber, GoJack and even BlueBird. You soon will notice huge signs along the road or in certain areas which show that the mentioned companies are only allowed to drop off people, but not to pick them up. Drivers can get into big trouble when not following these rules and they sometimes almost fear for their lives if they find themselves in the forbidden areas. So it can be quite hard to move from one place to the other without an own car, private driver or scooter. And the worst thing is that the private taxi drivers often charge insanely high amounts for a ride. Where we stayed it was ok to be picked up by a BlueBird taxi and we booked it via their app. The taxis run by a meter, so prices are pretty cheap.