Nestled in the southern tip of Bali island, Uluwatu is known for its dramatic clifftop views, white sand beaches and epic surf breaks. The area offers an alluring mix of surf culture, luxurious clifftop living and local village live. Head here for the beautiful beaches, sweeping ocean views and sunset vistas from the iconic Uluwatu Temple.
One of the most sought-after areas in Bali, Uluwatu offers a unique mix of surf culture, luxury resorts and relaxed village life and as a result, the area attracts a variety of travellers. Surfers come for the waves, honeymooners and wedding parties come for the clifftop views and intrepid travellers come to explore hidden beaches and visit ancient Hindu temples. Uluwatu is home to Pura Luhur Uluwatu – one of the most important and stunningly beautiful Hindu temples on the island. Uluwatu was featured in the iconic 1971 surf film Morning of the Earth and since then, the area has consistently been ranked as one of the best surf destinations on the planet. Besides die hard surfers, white sand beaches like Padang Padang, Bingin and Dreamland attract casual beach goers looking to channel that laidback surfer lifestyle.
Though Uluwatu is home to some of the most luxurious resorts and most exclusive beach clubs on the island, the overall feel of the area remains surprisingly rural and low key. Traffic on the main streets can get busy (especially around sunset when tours groups head for the famous kecak fire dance at Uluwatu Temple), but the rural side roads remain quiet, save for the occasional cow grazing on the pastures.
Planning Your Trip to Uluwatu
Most travellers head to Uluwatu to surf, with the best conditions coinciding with the dry season from May to September. Our Uluwatu travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Uluwatu, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Bali is pleasant all year round! May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Uluwatu
Uluwatu is a popular destination for surfer looking for a heart pounding holiday but it also caters to travellers who prefer to chill out and relax in style. Life in Uluwatu revolves around the beach, with epic sunsets best enjoyed from stunning clifftop venues or the privacy of your own villa.
Tours & Activities
Simply put, surf breaks are the main event in Uluwatu. The area has been attracting die hard surfers for decades, with the most popular surf breaks including those in Padang Padang, Impossibles, Bingin and Dreamland. The area is generally better suited for more experienced surfers, though there are plenty of surf schools around to show the ropes to those less experienced.
Even if you’re not a surfer, you can still enjoy the beautiful beaches in Uluwatu. The white sandy beaches in these parts are the beautiful beaches people see in their mind’s eye when dreaming of a Bali holiday (and which elude them up the coast in Kuta and Seminyak). Padang Padang Beach was made famous by the movie version of Eat Pray love. Other popular beaches include Bingin, Dreamland, Thomas Beach and Balangan.
Uluwatu Temple (or Pura Luhur Uluwatu) is not only one of the most popular sights in Uluwatu – this is one of the most important landmarks in all of Bali. Built on a rugged clifftop above the Indian Ocean, this ancient temple is considered one of the holiest places in Bali. The temple is particularly popular during the daily kecak fire dance which is performed at sunset. When visiting the temple, visitors should dress respectfully (though sarongs are supplied free of charge) and be aware of the mischievous monkeys who have been known to steal everything from sunglasses to cameras.
Eating & Drinking in Uluwatu
Uluwatu offers an enticing mix of local warungs, relaxed cafes, surf bars and exquisite fine dining restaurants. Built on stunning clifftops, many venues are as much about the views as they are about the food!
Most of Uluwatu’s high end restaurants are located at clifftop luxury resorts and offer amazing views of the ocean. For more casual dining, you’ll find the winding streets of Jalan Raya Uluwatu and Jalan Labuansait, their smaller side streets and the most popular beaches surrounded by local warungs and laidback restaurants serving both Western and local food, with many venues focusing on healthy eats. Both smoothie bowls and flat whites have become staple fare in Uluwatu, but you can also still find a basic nasi goreng for next to nothing.
Thanks to the stunning scenery, Uluwatu is home to some of the best beach clubs and clifftop pools on the island. Due to the landscape, most pools are located high up on the clifftops and offer sensational views at sunset and often host phenomenal DJ and live music sets. You’ll also find a few popular venues built on picture perfect beaches along the southern coastline. As the night wears on and surfers head back to the shore, the parties get wilder. Many of the clifftop venues host vibrant parties several nights a week, with a seemingly endless supply of Bintang beers and chilled cocktails served well into the night.
Uluwatu is a well spread out area so there are plenty of options on where to stay. Most people travelling to Uluwatu come here for the views, so the area’s jaw-dropping clifftop villas are in high demand. Most of the mid-range restaurants and warungs are centred around the main streets of Jalan Raya Uluwatu and Jalan Labuansait, with smaller side streets jutting off towards the surf breaks. If you’re staying right by the main road and/or next to your favourite restaurants, you might be able to make your way around on foot, but in general you will need a car or motorbike to get around Uluwatu. The area surrounding the southern strip of Jalan Raya Uluwatu Pecatu which leads to Uluwatu Temple is more rural and low key, with stunning clifftop villas and luxury resorts hidden between bucolic village life.
Uluwatu & Surrounds
Uluwatu sits in the southern tip of Bali island on the Bukit Peninsula, looking over the Indian Ocean from stunning clifftops. The area is neighboured by the rural area of Ungasan which is home to some fo the most beautiful clifftop resorts on the island. Driving up the coastline, Uluwatu blends in with Jimbaran, a relaxed seaside escape home to famed seafood restaurants and luxury villas and resorts. On the east coast of the peninsula, Nusa Dua is an exclusive enclave of luxury resorts with an overwater toll road connecting you to the family friendly area of Sanur. Up the coast from the Bukit Peninsula, you’ll discover the popular areas of Kuta and Seminyak.
There are over 20 Ministry Approved villas in Uluwatu. As Uluwatu is one of the most exclusive areas in Bali and home to the most coveted clifftop villas on the island, prices tend to be higher than other parts of Bali.
Uluwatu villas range from around USD $200 per night for a two-bedroom villa to over USD $2,500 per night for a six-bedroom luxury villa. All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport (a.k.a. Denpasar Airport), serves over 20 million passengers a year. Located in Tuban in South Bali, the airport is connected to several major cities across Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Direct flights to Bali are available from Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Doha, Dubai and more, from carriers including Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Air Asia and Jetstar. A new airport is set to be built in North Bali though the plans are still in early stages.
By boat, Bali is connected to the neighbouring islands of Java and Lombok which also have their own international airports. Ferries from Java to Bali arrive in Gilimanuk and boats from Lombok to Bali arrive in Benoa, Sanur, Serangan, Padang Bai and Amed.
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
There is no public transport to get you from the airport to your accommodation, so the only option is to use a private driver or a taxi. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa. To avoid queuing at the immigration counter, we can also arrange a VIP airport service for guests. This service includes lounge access, allowing you to relax while waiting for your luggage.
Alternatively, there is a taxi stand located next to the information desk at the international arrival’s hall, after you exit the small duty free shop. This desk offers fixed price and metered fares across the island. The listed fares are updated frequently, making it very challenging to find reliable, up to date pricing before arriving. Besides the official taxi stand, there are countless independent taxi drivers floating around the arrivals hall, offering rides at varying rates. It’s always easier to have a car arranged beforehand than trying to navigate the taxi jungle at the airport.
There are a few options for getting around Uluwatu, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers.
Hiring a private car and driver can be a great way to explore hilly and well spread out Uluwatu and the surrounding areas. Besides local surf breaks, sights and restaurants in Uluwatu, you can visit other areas in the Bukit Peninsula, including Nusa Dua and Jimbaran or even hop over to Seminyak a little further up the coast. Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. This little luxury is remarkably affordable and we can also help you arrange an itinerary, instructing your driver in advance.
Due to the hilly geography of the area, a taxi can be a great way to get from A to B in Uluwatu. You won’t be able to hail a taxi off the street the same way you can in Seminyak or Sanur, but you can call or order one through a mobile app. The most trusted taxi company in Bali is called Blue Bird who always use a meter (the fare starts at IDR 7,000 (USD $0.5)), whereas other taxis might refuse to use a meter altogether. You can order a Blue Bird taxi through their mobile app or by calling +62 (0) 361 701 111 (a minimal fare of IDR 30,000 (USD $2) will apply).
If you’re an experienced driver, hiring a scooter can be a handy way to explore Uluwatu. Scooter rentals usually start at around IDR 50,000 (USD $4) per day. The area is hilly and the rural roads can be bumpy, so speeding or reckless driving is a big no-no. If you do decide to drive, it’s crucial that you carry an international driver’s licence and always wear a helmet – driving without either will result in a fine if you get pulled over by the police.
Uluwatu is well spread out and hilly (hence the clifftops), so barring very short distances, walking around is usually not a feasible way of getting around. For those with reduced mobility, it’s important to note that most (if not all) beaches in Uluwatu require descending steep flights of stairs or climbing down a hillside. If you’re looking for beaches with easy access, it’s best to look for accommodation in areas like Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Seminyk and Sanur.
The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping in Bali… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
Many of Bali’s beaches are subject to heavy surf and strong currents. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would in any urban area and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Bali is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
With epic surf breaks, stunning clifftop sunsets, white sand beaches and amazing luxury villas, it’s little wonder Uluwatu has emerged as one of the most sought-after destinations in Bali. Check out our latest Uluwatu blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.