Planning your first ever trip to Uluwatu and not sure where to begin? Fret not friends; we’ve got you covered with this first-timer’s guide specifically created to help with just that!
Read on for tips on how long to stay, what to eat see and do, and how not to break the bank while you’re doing it all.
A First-Timer’s Guide To Uluwatu
Uluwatu is on the south coast of Bali, in an area called the Bukit Peninsula. Or simply just ‘The Bukit’. It’s about 45 minutes from the airport by car/taxi.
Uluwatu is a surfer’s haven. It attracts surfers from all over the world because of its famously enormous waves and salty beaches. But if you don’t surf, is it still worth a visit?
My vote is yes!
Even though I’ve written recently about the fact that Uluwatu was nothing like I expected, I still recommend this location. There are beautiful and secluded beaches, and even more beautiful sweeping views of the Indian Ocean from atop the majestic limestone cliffs.
How Long to Stay
For the average person, I’d say 2 nights, 3 max is plenty. You could even come to Uluwatu as a day trip and see a lot in that time. You don’t have to stay overnight.
Our expectations with this place were way off, so we booked 5 nights at a surf camp hotel near Padang Padang Beach, and ended up checking out a night early. 5 nights for 4 non-surfers in the wet season was too much. 4 was too, now that I think of it.
The beaches in Uluwatu are far superior to that of Kuta and Seminyak. The sand is brighter, the water is bluer, there’s less debris. But there are three important things to note about the beaches here:
- Not all are suitable for swimming.
- Depending on when you visit, the ocean may not be as blue and beautiful as you imagined.
- Steep cliff access means lots and lots of stairs to hike.
Some beaches worth checking out:
- Padang Padang
- Suluban (aka Uluwatu Beach)
If your budget can afford it, don’t cheap out on your accommodation. We did, and we regretted it. You can read more about that here.
Where I wish we stayed:
- Sal’s Secret Spot. An adorable eco resort near Bingin Beach (no cliff view). Rooms start around 1.089.000 rp ($108 CAD) if you book through Agoda.
- Blue Point Bay Vilas & Spa. The location (at Suluban) is ideal, and the view from the infinity pool is unreal. Rooms start at about 715.000 rp ($71.50 CAD) if you book through Agoda.
- The Sun & Surf Stay. Dreamy little bungalows right on Bingin beach. Rooms start at about $118 CAD if you book through Airbnb.
(PS. If you’re new to Airbnb, use my sign-up link for $50 off your first stay!)
If you’re on a really tight budget, you can still find affordable places to sleep. They just might be fairly basic and rustic. That’s usually fine by us if it’s only for a night or two. But not for five.
There are plenty of places available around the $20 CAD/per night range. Have a look on Agoda and filter by price. Some won’t have pools or AC. And some are far away from the beach and any action. It’s really up to you what you’re comfortable giving up in order to lower your accommodation costs.
Oh man, the food. Some truly ah-mazing meals were consumed in Uluwatu. Some of the best of our whole trip in fact.
You absolutely must save room in your belly for a meal at all of the following places (all located near Padang Padang and Suluban):
- Nalu Bowls. They serve up acai and dragon bowls that are as Instagram-worthy as they are delicious. There’s a good reason they have a cult following.
- Bukit Cafe (!!!!) I can’t emphasize this one enough. Get the schnitzel wrap. Get the breakfast burrito. Get the raspberry cheesecake. GET EVERYTHING.
- Buddha Soul. I love Nalu Bowls, but Buddha Soul makes smoothie bowls better. There, I said it.
- Single Fin. This is a great place to have a bite to eat or throw back a few dozen cocktails & shots while watching the experienced surfers ride the swells below. Pro tip: you can order a Nalu Bowl from their hut next door and they’ll bring it to you in Single Fin.
- The Mango Tree Cafe. These guys make a fantastic breakfast. It’s pleasing to the eyes and the belly.
- OM Burger. Big ass burgers, with the option to build your own.
- Warung Heboh. Really inexpensive and delicious local cuisine. Come here early to get the food while it’s fresh and hot. Later in the evening, once the food has settled to room temperature it’s still tasty, but a little on the sketchy side.
Sunset steals the show here. Popular places to take in the electric nightly views are Rock Bar at Ayana Resort, Single Fin, Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Uluwatu Temple), and El Kabron.
The cliff-top views are just as stunning when the sun is high in the sky, though. If you rented a villa with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean below, good for you. You’ve made the right choice, and we’re jealous. If you didn’t, you can head to one of the above-mentioned places for epic daytime panoramics. You can also pay a day rate to use another hotel’s pool.
This town is not walkable. For one, it’s a big area. Biiiiig. For two, sidewalks are practically nonexistent. And the roads are windy with tons of blind corners. Don’t walk!
Taxis are pretty pricey in this area. The drivers aren’t that willing to barter either. You’re better off renting a moped if you’re going to be making quick and frequent trips between locations you are familiar with. Most mopeds even come with a surfboard carrier on the side.
If you’re wanting to explore the Bukit or go a bit further away from your home base, consider hiring a driver for the day for a fixed price.
As mentioned earlier, surfing is the main attraction here. If you’re not coming here to surf, then I hope it’s to relax and chill out for a couple days. Because there isn’t a heck of a lot to do here other than that. Sorry to say. Especially if you’re in search of a party, this isn’t where to find it.
Exploring the remote and hidden beaches of this cliff-side town is more dangerous than you might imagine. I’m still convinced we almost died the two times we attempted this venture. (Sorry mom).
One activity we had planned, but ultimately decided to scrap in favor of returning once again to Canggu, was to spend a day at Sundays Beach Club. Sundays is located on a private beach, only accessible by cable car. Once there you can use their watersports equipment, like stand up paddle boards and kayaks. They have a full-service bar and restaurant and nightly bonfires on the beach. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it?
Part of me is disappointed we missed out, but the larger part of me loves Canggu so much that I regret nothing. Plus, Sundays is hella expensive, and a full day there would have eaten up a decent size chunk of our remaining travel funds.
Money Saving Tips
- Book your lodging well in advance. The nicest places with the most affordable price tags always sell out first. We secured our Bali accommodations months and months in advance. And even still, our first picks for Uluwatu were already fully booked.
- Look for accommodations that include free breakfast. While you’ll miss out on the epic spreads the local cafes serve, you’ll save yourself about 50.000-150.000 rp (per person per day).
- Eat at the local warungs. You’ll get a delicious and authentic meal this way, and it’s easy on the wallet.
- Watch your belongings at Pura Luhur Uluwatu. If a thieving monkey steals your wallet or your cell phone, this trip might cost you a lot more than you had planned.
Heading to Bali? Check out our Bali destination page for more related posts.
More Destination Guides
I’m excited to share with you our first-timer’s destination guides for a number of areas in Bali. Over the next few weeks, we’ll have guides up for Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak, and Kuta. Plus Gili Trawangan. So check back every Wednesday 🙂