Bali’s hipster surf-town has more to it than great waves. There are plenty of things to do in Uluwatu if you’re not a surfer. Head here for amazing food, stunning beaches and a beautiful immersion into Bali’s rich culture…
Uluwatu might be a surfer’s paradise, but there are still lovely beaches where it’s safe to swim! Some beaches are only really suitable for surfing due to the high and strong waves and current. Others offer the perfect spot to chill out at, swim and snorkel.
Thomas Beach became our favourite place to visit when we wanted to stretch out on clean, soft sand and float around on gentle waves. It can be a little bit tricky to find, and there are some pretty steep steps, but it’s worth the trip. Parts of Padang-Padang Beach and Bingin Beach are safe to swim in, depending on the tides.
Uluwatu is home to a very special cultural park – Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. For around $7, you can wander to your heart’s content. The gardens here are stunning, and there are plenty of statues and quirky architecture to take in. There are a couple of coffee shops dotted around the park, and there are regular traditional dance shows, too.
Uluwatu is a pretty chilled place to visit anyway, but this park is so soothing and relaxing. It’s a great place to stretch your legs without being in full sun on the beach, and is a lovely and safe place for the kids to run around.
Balangan Beach is perfect for beginners who want to give surfing a try, or those who are still relatively new to the surf-world. There are lots of little surf shacks here that offer lessons and board rental. The waves here are great for those who are a little unsteady on their feet.
Padang-Padang Beach is so great that they named it twice, and is ideal for any pro surfers. If you know what you’re doing, head here for some of the best waves in the world. A scene from ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was shot here, so anyone who sees this movie as their Bali-bible needs to add visiting this spot to their list of things to do in Uluwatu.
Bingin Beach also makes a lovely spot for any advanced surfers, with amazing waves during high-tide and good snorkelling for some low-tide down-time. Visit Dreamland Beach (now known as New Kuta Beach) for stunning views and great waves.
Uluwatu hosts a huge range of eateries, making it one of the best places for any foodies. My favourites places to fuel up at include The Cashew Tree for delicious raw and vegan treats, Café La Passion for great cocktails, Mexican delights and live music and Om Burger to satisfy any meaty (or vegan) cravings.
If you’re after something post-surf or swim and don’t want to wander too far from the beach, don’t worry. UIuwatu is designed for food-lovers, with lots of fantastic cafes and restaurants squeezed in on every corner and cliff-face. My favorite ocean-side café is Kelly’s Warung at Bignin Beach, which is home to some of the best smoothie bowls in the land and offers incredible (sunset) views of the ocean.
Whether you’re an experienced surfer or just enjoy watching people surf, Single Fin needs to be added to your list of things to do in Uluwatu. Single Fin is a cliff-topping bar that serves up great beer as well as super healthy smoothie bowls, so there’s something for everyone. Head here for the views and enjoy one of the best things to do in Uluwatu.
Grab a seat on the balcony edge and watch the teeny dots navigate the waves from high above. You can also drop by in the evenings and make the most of the livelier atmosphere – sunsets are stunning and parties continue late into the night. Sundays tend to get busy here, so head early and join the crowd.
If you’re already at Single Fin, take the extra time to find the ‘secret’ Suluban Beach, or Blue Point Beach. This teeny cove is home to white sands, fantastic waves and is a hidden gem that is worth exploring. Head here during low-tide and watch your step as you clamber down into the slippery caves surrounding this beach. Whether you’re a surfer or not, put this at the top of your list of things to do in Uluwatu.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
This is quite possible the most stunning temples I have visited during my trip, and I actually preferred it to my experience at Tanah Lot. The setting itself is breath-taking, with bright blue waves lacing the jagged limestone cliffs that hold up the temple. There is plenty of greenery, too, as the temple grounds are covered in plants and flowers. The forest here is home to monkeys, so hold on to your hat/ sunglasses/ camera!
Upon arrival, you’ll be offered a sarong to cover up with – try and cover your shoulders and knees before arriving if possible. There is plenty to explore here, so give yourself a few hours to wander around the grounds, admire the architecture and take in the views. There are sunlit paths as well as lovely shady spots, so take water and sunscreen.
This makes the perfect venue to watch a traditional ‘Kecak’ Balinese fire dance! This is definitely one of the coolest things to do in Uluwatu, so add it to your list and spend an evening soaking up some culture, and petrol fumes.
Jimbaran is around a half hour drive away, and is a lovely place to visit in the evenings. It is home to ex-pats, as well as holiday makers who fancy staying in private resorts. That said, a seafood dinner on the beach won’t break the bank, and is a lovely way to wind down.
Some places are very pricey, such as Rock Bar, but other, smaller places on the beach are well-priced. For any other mid-20s travelers – this is not a rock bar with cheap drinks and a DJ. This is, in fact, a stunning, very expensive restaurant with a huge waiting list and a small collection of tables along a low cliff edge. It’s the kind of place you’d imagine being proposed to, which I witnessed from high up on the cliff while waiting for a table.
Head to Jimbaran in time for sunset – just don’t sit on a table too close to the ocean! The views might be amazing, but you’re likely to end up knee-deep in water when the tide comes rolling in. The poor couple in front of moved their table back from the waves every ten minutes before accepting that their ankles were going to be submerged. Expect candles, music and the freshest seafood around.