Forget Queensland, Uluwatu on Bali’s Bukit Peninsula is the real surfer’s paradise. From curving lush cliffsides, watch the endless Indian Ocean bring in the sets. Whether drinking a Bintang at surfer babe bar Single Fin, swerving round the coast by motorbike, bowing namaste in yoga class, or lazing beachside with a turquoise view, there’s much to love about Bali’s laid back southern coast.
Surfers started coming to Bingin Beach and Uluwatu from the 1960s when surf legends the likes of ‘Mr Pipeline’ Gerry Lopez started coming here. My gal Kelly here knows what’s up when it comes to Bali, as she’s been coming here with her partner Adam – a keen surfer – for over 10 years. She suggested we stay in Mick’s Place, run by one of the original surfers to move to the Bukit peninsula. Recently opened, the Acacia Bungalows just behind the main hotel was where we set up to chill out, and thankfully we made it to the cliffs in time to watch one of the most spectacular sunsets (or is it just the best spot from which to view them?!) of the trip.
STAY: ACACIA BUNGALOWS – Mornings at Acacia were spent swimming, eating freshly made banana pancakes (staff were on hand to whip up food on-demand), sipping on watermelon juice, booking massages at the truly divine Mick’s Spa (contender for best massage of my life), and reading on the lounge chairs by the pool. Rough. The room was a two story Polynesian style bungalow, with the top level open to the elements apart from a rattan blind – perfect for the summer heat and a place well-equipped with mosquito nets around the beds.
One morning I woke early and walked the tangly, hedge-fringed road to do a morning yoga class at The Temple Lodge. It was due to start at 8am and already the humidity was thick around me. I walked past roosters crossing the bitumen, mopeds with passengers clinging close, and carefully-placed morning flower offerings along the way. Temple Lodge was a welcoming hotel and yoga studio covered in greenery with walls washed in a coastal turquoise hue. The semi-outdoor studio filled quickly with travellers and expats alike. Our American teacher led a relatively challenging, but satisfying vinyasa flow class. It felt like an energising way to start the day, especially when the next most challenging thing about the day ahead was perhaps a walk back up the cliffside from the beach. Actually, in Bingin that can be quite a climb.
If you want to be right in the heart of surfer babe, errr I mean surfer bar central, head to Single Fin, perched above the famous Uluwatu break (which is actually made up of 5 breaks, but who’s counting?). Eat fish tacos (that’s my recommendation for your tastebuds right there
), drink Bintang (again…who’s counting? This is a holiday spot!), pull up a stool on the balcony and watch the waves roll on through the afternoon. It’s what all the cool kids in Uluwatu are doing. From Single Fin you can also descend a set of stairs that zigzags down to the surf breaks, via many rustic warungs and small stalls of souvenirs and sarongs and hats and more sarongs. Everywhere sarongs. Kel stopped to talk to one of the warung owners she recognised, who asked after Adam, as many did while we were in Bali. You see, Adam loves a chat and strikes up conversations everywhere he goes when he’s in Bali, which is quite often, so the locals are very fond of him. We didn’t get far in Bali without people inquiring about Adam’s whereabouts. (Scroll down for my Bali Special on Wanderlust where I interviewed Adam about his experiences in Bali over the years).
VISIT: Padang Padang Beach – this busy little stretch of sand, reached by descending a set of stairs next to a temple (which I hear often has monkeys crawling over it, but not on the day we visited) is a popular place to down your towel for a few hours. It gets super hot though, so the umbrella renters are welcome. You can pick up some bargain sarongs as well from the many stores that line the beach. Did I say sarongs (A FEW TOO MANY TIMES)? I picked up two the day I visited for around AUD $4 each. Hell yes I did.
Our last morning in Bingin, before heading back to Ubud for our final night in Bali, we realised we hadn’t set foot on the beach yet, so that we did. I learned that mornings down on Bingin’ beach are peaceful affairs, with fishermen dangling the odd net off their dinghies, while a few tourists grab brekkie at the beachside warungs. But it nicely encapsulated this trip to the Bukit peninsula – laid back at every turn, a peaceful paradise to slow down to.
I’ve already written about our trip to see the incredible Kecak fire ceremony at Uluwatu Temple, which shouldn’t be missed, even if just for the stunning cliffs you traverse to get there…read about that here, and then go thee to the Bukit Peninsula, for a mellow adventure to the real surfer’s paradise…
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