48 Hours in Bali: Surfing Beaches, Water Temples and Fire Dances

48 Hours in Bali (Uluwatu)

From high cliff beaches to Hindu sea temples, the Uluwatu region in South Bali has been one of our favourite discoveries of this year. Bali is part of Indonesia, a country known for its diversity spread over more than 13,000 islands and spanning over 1,9 million square kilometres.

Since we were limited in time, we will focus this 48 Hours in Bali guide to Uluwatu, a place known for its surfing beaches, healthy and relaxed vibes and iconic sea temple.  

Bali is filled with an amazing array of different climates and terrains, so while we’ve loved exploring them all, we wanted to find one amazing area which had it all, was quiet and laidback, and free of much of the tourist mayhem present in much of the island. Uluwatu manages to be just that, while somehow being in the middle of everything, a true hidden gem!

Highlights

  • Luwak “Poop” Coffee

  • Subalan Beach and Cave

  • Jimbaran Bay

  • Luhur Uluwatu Temple

  • Melasti Beach

  • Balangan Beach

  • Thomas Beach

  • Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park

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Our Picks

  • How to get to Bali: Check on Skyscanner for the best prices! DPS airport is the closest.

  • Where to stay in Bali: Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu

  • Get around Bali: Scooter, definitely, we used Rent Scooter Uluwatu, +62 857-9232-8771. If you’re not comfortable on a scooter, taxis are available. Make sure to haggle the price!

  • Safety in Bali: Very safe

48 Hours in Bali | Day 1: Luwak coffee, seafood and Uluwatu temple

After our painless pick-up from the airport to our hotel, the Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu, we were excited to start off our 48 Hours in Bali marathon with the super breakfast - no other way to start the day on a full stomach, with an amazing view over the hotel’s outdoors pool.

A quick WhatsApp message later to our scooter guy, our Eastpak backpacks filled with our equipment for the day and we got our scooter delivered to us at the hotel, and were ready to start exploring!

Read more: What’s in our travel backpacks (and bum bags)?

Tip 1: A scooter is about $5 a day, fits two people and doesn’t require a full tank when you return it. Make sure to have a copy of your passport, know how to drive (on the left side!) and always wear your helmet!

Tip 2: We used Rent Scooter Uluwatu, WhatsApp number: +62 857-9232-8771



Useful information

  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)

  • Language: Balinese (English spoken in touristy places)

  • Time change: UTC/GMT +8 hours

  • SIM Card provider: We bought a 30-days SIM card with XL Axiata at the airport - around $5 for 8GB

  • Best time to visit: April - October

  • Dresscode: Conservative if you visit temples - otherwise beach wear is okay

One thing we were extremely curious about and couldn’t help ourselves, is trying Luwak Coffee. If you haven't heard about it, Kopi Luwak (in Indonesian: coffee from [the] Luwak—Civet cat) was discovered in Indonesia under the Dutch colonial rule.

During that time, native farmers and plantation workers were forbidden from harvesting coffee for their own use, and soon discovered that the civet cat would eat coffee cherries and pass the seeds—the coffee beans—without digesting them.. Upon brewing coffee made from these beans, they discovered it tasted much better than the conventional coffee of the time.

This production of coffee is now quite controversial, which is unfortunately something we found out about after we tried it. Due to tourists (like us) interest in Luwak Coffee, the process has become industrialised, to the detriment of the civet cat.

Now, the place we went to try the coffee,, also offers an array of teas and coffee for taste (for free) before you get your choice of coffee or tea. We could try fun flavored coffees such as ginseng coffee or saffron tea, and ended up loving the coconut coffee and ginger tea (how basic of us). The Luwak Coffee wasn’t necessarily our favorite, so it’s up to you to try it!

The place is really beautiful, and we had to explore around and try the giant swing around the coffee plantation, and you can buy teas or coffee at the shop inside of it.

A nice way to spend some time around Uluwatu is to head toward Jimbaran Beach. You can visit Jenggala Gallery, the extension of Jenggala Keramik, one of Bali’s legendary ceramic producers, where you can admire a rich collection of ceramic arts and exhibits.

The gallery features regular exhibitions from international ceramic artists, sculptors and painters.

Another must see is the famous Jimbaran Bay, on Bali's southwestern coast. One of Bali's best beaches, Jimbaran's 4km-long arc of sand is mostly clean and there is no shortage of places to get a snack, drink or seafood lunch. Spend some time relaxing on the beach and appreciate the beautiful views!

Tip: We carry around with us a WIFI portable device by TEP Wireless, which allowed up to search and find the best routes to reach places on our scooter. We definitely would have gotten lost without it!

You can use the code WHATDOESNTSUCK for 10% off your WIFI rental.

Read more: Staying Connected while Traveling: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

One thing that we really took advantage of while in Bali is the access to massages, yoga and the overall healthy and chilled activities available around the island. We indulged in a massage at our hotel, but there are plenty of places where you can get a spa treatment, a mani-pedi, a massage or a yoga session for a fraction of what you would pay anywhere else. It’s truly worth it!

Around 4pm, we headed to the famous Uluwatu Hindu water temple for the sunset and the iconic fire dance. The Luhur Uluwatu Temple, often known simply as Uluwatu Temple, is another Balinese coastal temple famous among both visitors and locals.

Perched on the edge of a high ocean cliff, this temple offers visitors an unforgettable stunning view of the horizon that you won’t want to miss.

The entrance fee to the temple is RP 30,000 (USD $2) per person, and purple sarongs are provided if you wear clothes showing your knees.

Every night at 6.30pm, you can attend the popular Kecak Fire Dance, a local dance drama that is truly worth staying for. The extra to pay to attend the dance is RP 100,000 ($8.10) per person.

Tip: Be careful around the monkeys and remove hats, sunglasses and earrings. They will try and grab what you’re holding, so beware while taking pictures and videos!

48 Hours in Bali | Day 2: Yoga, high cliffs and surfing beach

We started off day 2 with an hour yoga class at our hotel, followed by the super breakfast once again - really not a better way to start the day!

We then headed off on our scooter, excited to explore all the amazing cliff top beaches we’ve heard so much about.

We started with the High Cliff at Melasti Beach. One of the most captivating beaches on Bali’s southern coast, surprisingly largely ignored by tourists. It’s mostly in-the-know photographers who make it down to Melasti, drawn to its beautiful rock formations and stunning high cliff - we witnessed a lot of wedding photographs being taken, and professional shootings ongoing too!

The cliff view was amazing and we strongly recommend a stop there.

Following Melasti, we decided to go to an actual beach. Uluwatu is known for its numerous surfing beaches, and whether you are a beginner looking to experience surfing for the first time, or out on the hunt for world-class surf spots – Uluwatu has everything you need.

One of the most popular is Balangan beach. The waves are relatively easy and there are lots of fairly skilled surfers where you can watch from the shore if you don’t feel like surfing!

Another beach that you have to check out is Suluban Beach. Concealed by natural limestone formations and accessed via steps, you will find several shops and coffee shops/bars along the stairs - difficult not to stop, but continue to the bottom of the stairs.

At the bottom, you will find Suluban Beach caves, and a little walk further, the beach and surfers - be ready to get your feet wet to access the hidden parts of the beach!

If you feel like stopping for a drink or lunch, Single Fin is apparently the place to be around the area, offering a wide range of cold drinks, a spectacular view over the beach and a chilled, trendy atmosphere.

The next beach we went to was way less touristy, and we actually got to sunbathe for a little while. After hopping back on our scooter, we stopped in Thomas Beach, right next to equally recommended Padang Padang beach.

A short flight of stairs later, we found a sand beach with sunbeds for rent (RP 50,000, or about $3 per sunbed) and everything you might imagine when thinking of Bali beaches: rolling waves covering a crystal-clear reef of aqua-blue water and stretches of sand and colorful beach umbrellas. So relaxing!

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We only stopped sunbathing for some food in one of the little beach shacks, tasting the Balinese famous Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and Mie Goreng (fried noodles), which were absolutely delicious and so cheap!

We then visited the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, or GWK, a cultural park famous for the ongoing construction of a gigantic statue of Vishnu riding on the back of a ‘garuda’ (a supernatural eagle-like being). The main statue is still under construction, but once finished, it will be one of the world’s tallest statues at 145 meters tall.

The Cultural Park is home to many exhibitions, cultural festivals and art performances, so have a look at the events happening while you’re in Bali!

As our 48 Hours in Bali came to an end, we went back to our hotel room to pack and get ready to leave. We wished we’d stayed longer, and promised ourselves we’d come back to this specific underrated part of the island, and attempt surfing!

If you have more time to spend in Bali, we also recommend you to check Ubud for its yoga-centric and very health conscious coffee shops, luscious rice fields, Seminyak for its relaxed and gorgeous bars and beaches, and Nusa Penida, which is an island with some of the most incredible views we’ve seen.

Anything that we’ve missed during our 48 Hours in Bali (Uluwatu)? Let us know below!

 

Bali facts

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  • You will also find a lot of people called Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut. Actually, most Balinese people are given one of these four names, male or female. It simply means ‘first born’, ‘second born’, ‘third born’ and ‘fourth born’. 

  • You do not have to go far to find a massage in Bali – the island has around 1,200 spas. Traditional Balinese massage is, of course, a must.

  • There are a lot of different languages and dialects spoken all over Indonesia, although Bahasa Indonesia is the country’s official language. Most Balinese residents speak 3 languages: Balinese, Indonesian and English (the last one mostly due to tourism).

  • The Indonesian waters are home to around 3,000 species of fish? That’s double the amount of species found in the Great Barrier Reef!

  • Bali was already populated almost 2000 year BC, which is like 4 thousand years ago. Mostly, the inhabitants are Austronesian, and also the people from India and Tiongkok who migrated to this little island.


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