Dominating the southern end of Bali Island is the Bukit Peninsula, a land mass of sheer rock cliffs and quaint villages surrounded by stunning teal blue water. On the southwestern tip of Bukit Peninsula is Uluwatu, a word that roughly translates to Rock at Land’s End…and very accurately describes the terrain. With land unsuitable for farming and beaches inaccessible, historically the area had little value. That all changed in the 1970s when surfers ‘discovered’ the incredible surf breaks at an Uluwatu beach that today make Uluwatu one of the most popular surf destinations in Bali.
Where is Uluwatu Beach?
Ask a local where Uluwatu Beach is located and they will most likely ask, “Which one?” Some people say Uluwatu Beach is below Pura Uluwatu, a Balinese Hindu temple perched on the cliff, but the pin drop on Google Maps locates Uluwatu Beach in a cove at Suluban Beach. From what we were able to gather, Uluwatu Beach can mean any one of the multiple beaches in Uluwatu.
There are numerous beaches in Uluwatu; in fact, it’s difficult to count the number of Uluwatu and Bukit Peninsula beaches. Some small ‘secret’ and sometimes inaccessible beaches have yet to be named. A few beaches have multiple names. And a couple beaches share the same name. What can we say? Bali beach names can be confusing!
During our week-long stay we tried our best to sort it out and visit as many Uluwatu beaches as possible. In this post, in addition to our description of the best beaches in Uluwatu, we’ve also included an Uluwatu map to help you locate the Uluwatu beach you are looking for on your visit (because getting to the beaches can also be confusing).
Surfing, Snorkeling, Swimming in Uluwatu
Several of the Uluwatu beaches are proclaimed to be The Best Surf Beach in Bali. That being said, they are not the best beaches in Bali for swimming. The powerful waves, swift currents and rocky undersea landscapes can make it extremely difficult to swim.
It is possible, when the tide is right, to splash in the waves knee-to-waist deep to cool off from the afternoon heat. At low tide, we often saw people immersing themselves into the deep tide pools. We even witnessed a few people snorkeling in Uluwatu in the shallow, calm water. Rather than dipping into the sea, we made sure to book accommodations with a pool – more on where to stay in Uluwatu at the end of the post!
When visiting the beaches in Uluwatu, it is essential to consult tide charts. High tide can completely erase any evidence of a beach and sends waves crashing against the cliff wall. Extreme low tide exposes the sharp reef, reveals tide pools and uncovers Uluwatu beach caves. Always check the tides in Uluwatu before heading to the beach. We use the report on MagicSeaweed.com for accurate tide chart information and they also produce a useful Uluwatu surf report, which you can find here.
Uluwatu Cliff and Staircases
Uluwatu sits on top of a high cliff, which for a long time made accessing the beaches nearly impossible. With the popularity of Uluwatu surf spots, steep staircases have been built to allow for easier access from the top of the cliff to the water. However, the steps are usually uneven, often without railings, so be prepared to descend and ascend hundreds of steps when exploring the beaches. There isn’t a single Uluwatu beach that can be accessed without climbing stairs (OK, well there is one that has an elevator, but it belongs to a resort!).
Best Beaches Uluwatu
We navigated our way around the coast in search of the best beaches in Uluwatu. The beaches are all on the north side of Uluwatu and are listed in order from west to east.
Suluban Beach, Bali (Blue Point Beach; Uluwatu Beach, Bali)
Suluban Beach, Uluwatu is the most famous beach in Bali with surfers because of the epic Uluwatu surf break. (There are five well-known surf breaks collectively known as Uluwatu: Bombie, Temples, Outside Corner, Racetracks and The Peak.) Only experienced surfers should attempt riding the waves at Blue Point Beach Uluwatu. Beginners (and those who can’t surf at all, like us!) will find plenty of entertainment by watching the seasoned surfers from the sandy shore or from the top of the cliff.
At low tide Suluban Uluwatu beach attracts sunbathers, walkers and explorers, too. The beach is accessed by a sturdy set of stairs that lead down into an Uluwatu cave. Opposite the staircase is an entrance to the Delpi Café and pool, which is built on top of a large rock and offers incredible views (for a hefty entry fee).
At low tide, the cavernous rock formations inside the cave at Blue Point Uluwatu Beach are interesting to explore, but the pungent scent is intense. However, it’s the scenic landscapes on the beach that are most impressive. Exiting to the beach on the right, there are several small sandy coves between jutting rocks and nice views of the surfers riding the waves.
To the left is a longer stretch of sand where locals sell cold drinks from coolers. It’s possible to walk a good distance on the coast, but only if you scramble over a few rocks along the way. Investigating the marine life inside the deep tide pools on the reef can make the outing feel like an expedition – and, when it gets too hot, submerging yourself into one of the shallow pools can feel heavenly.
Clinging to the cliff above this popular Uluwatu surf beach are numerous warungs (small shops and cafes). The open air, ramshackle spots offer sea views, cold Bintang beers and local eats. At the top of the heap is Single Fin Beach Club, by far the biggest – and trendiest – restaurant at Suluban Beach Uluwatu (read reviews). A rail-side seat at any of these places provides an exceptional perspective for watching and photographing surfers. Hang out for sunset and you won’t be disappointed!
How To Get To Suluban Beach
Follow Jl. Mamo to the parking lot. Take the pedestrian path down between the warungs, continuing left along a row of shops. That path will lead to the top of the staircase (where there is a large sign for Suluban/ Blue Point Beach).
Padang-Padang Beach Uluwatu, Bali (Thomas Beach Uluwatu)
Remember how I mentioned that Bali beach names were confusing? Well, none are more confusing than Padang-Padang Beach – as two beaches in Uluwatu share this name. The sandy beach we are talking about now is often called ‘The Real Padang-Padang Beach’, because it was named Padang-Padang Beach before tourists started incorrectly referring to the beach next door as such. To avoid confusion, some call this beach Thomas Beach (after the long-surviving, quaint Thomas Uluwatu Homestay that sits on the cliff overlooking the sea).
The beach itself is a long stretch of sand that sits between two rocky outcrops. A line of low-key, rickety warungs line the beach, offering cheap chair and umbrella rentals. A few places also offer surf board rentals and lessons – even for novice surfers. If you want to learn how to surf in Uluwatu, this is probably the best spot. We most enjoyed hanging out on the elevated Coco Shack Bali that offered sea-facing seats in the shade and inexpensive drinks and fare. It’s a great spot to eat lunch while watching the surfers.
The western end of the beach, near the stairs, is most crowded – and tourists who want to spread out their own towels (avoiding the fee for a chair) might have a difficult time finding space. The east end of the beach has more open space and a few shady spots from overhanging trees – and if you scamper over the rocks, you will find a small temple on a rocky outcrop.
Top Tip: At extreme low tide, it is possible to explore a ‘hidden’ beach beyond the rocks at the west end of the beach. Adventurers will find a secluded, powder sand beach below a cave (we even found bats inside hanging from the low ceiling). We actually stumbled upon this beach after following a clifftop nature trail, but we don’t advise taking the route.
How To Get To Padang-Padang / Thomas Beach
From Jl. Labuansait, head north on the gravel and dirt road opposite Suka Espresso café. There is a small green sign indicating Padang-Padang Beach. The road leads to a small parking lot and temple. Take the stairs to the right of the temple down to the beach.
Labuan Sait Beach (Padang-Padang Beach, Bali)
Extremely popular with tourists, Labuan Sait – now better known as Padang-Padang Beach – is a small, angular beach tucked into a cove. Busloads of tourists are dropped at the gates to descend upon the beach, making the small beach seem even smaller. The beach first gained popularity with surfers, but became a hot Uluwatu attraction after it was featured in the Julia Roberts’ movie, Eat, Pray, Love.
Like other Uluwatu beaches, the top Padang-Padang Beach things to do include surfing, sunbathing and splashing in the shallow water. Vendors sell refreshments, tourist trinkets and clothing. Warungs rent surf boards and stand up paddle boards. However, it is the resident monkeys that often garner the most attention.
How To Get To Labuan Sait Beach
The gates (where a Padang-Padang Beach entrance fee is collected) face the main road, Jl. Labuansait, and are located directly opposite a smaller street, Jl. Umpeng Sari. After paying, take the staircase down to the beach, surely passing monkeys along the way!
Impossible Beach, Bali (Pantai Pemutih)
Supposedly named Impossible Beach Uluwatu because of the level of difficulty accessing it, Impossibles was the most primitive and private beach we visited in Uluwatu. The beach was vacant of warungs and, for that matter, vacant of people, too. Loose softball-sized rocks strewn about the beach were relocated with every wave that crashed on the shore. Only good for sunbathing or beach walking at low tide, Impossible Beach primarily attracts surfers.
Fronting Impossible Beach is the colossal, upscale Anantara Resort. Much to our amazement, the resort has installed a single-shaft elevator from their pool deck down to the beach (which requires a few dodgy final stairs to get to the sand).
How To Get To Impossible Beach
From Jl. Labuansait, walk north on Jl. Pemutih (which is just east of Bukit Café). Look for signs to Anantara Resort, but once you get to the resort continue past it, following signs for Rock’n Reef Hotel. At the end of the road, take the dirt path on the outside of the wall next to the gorge and stay on it to the top of the staircase.
Bingin Beach, Bali
Bingin is an old-school surfer hangout with a relaxed vibe and laid-back atmosphere. Cliffside warungs and sea facing accommodations are stacked on the rocks offering phenomenal views of the pale, turquoise water. The sea floor is comprised of a craggy reef with large rock formations sit at the west end of Bingin Uluwatu Beach. As with other beaches in Uluwatu, surfers can paddle their way to several wave breaks just off shore.
Non-surfers can find a perch-with-a-view at one of the many raised beachfront warungs. Our preferred spot was Kelly’s Warung, where we could sit under the shade of an umbrella while dining on healthy fare. In addition to observing the skilled surfers on Binging Beach, we also caught sight of a dugong (similar to a manatee or sea cow) playing in the waves and feasting on reef vegetation.
How To Get To Bingin Beach Uluwatu
From Jl. Labuansait, head east on Jl. Pantai Bingin street (next to Loko Surf) and follow the curvy road to the Bingin Beach parking lot. From the north corner of the lot, follow the beach arrow signs through the narrow passageway between residences to the steps that lead to the beach. Note: To get to Kelly’s Warung, follow the signed path to the left before you get to the beach.
More Uluwatu Best Beaches
Still searching for your perfect Uluwatu beach? Here are a few more beaches in the region:
Dreamland Beach, Uluwatu, Bali (New Kuta Beach)
The beautiful Dreamland Beach is another touristic beach with higher prices for chairs, umbrellas and food than at other beaches. The big swells are a surfer’s delight.
Balangan Beach, Bali
Balangan Beach Uluwatu also appeals to surfers, but there are many warungs on the cliff that offer stellar viewpoints and a nice spot to enjoy sunset.
Nyang Nyang Beach, Uluwatu
A more secluded beach due to the off-the-beaten-path entrance, Nyang Nyang Beach is an unspoiled treasure.
Uluwatu Sunday Beach Club
The posh Sundays Beach Club boasts a private beach lagoon offering beach spots on a first come first serve basis. Entry requires a hefty price of 450k ($30 USD) per person entry fee (however, it does include a food and beverage credit and use of sea activity equipment). Read Reviews!
Karma Beach, Uluwatu
Offering a full calendar of daily events, Karma Beach is a private club right next to Sunday Beach Club and fronting a beach lagoon. Karma Beach Bali has a pricy fee of 500k per person, but also includes a credit for food and drinks and free beach gear. Read Reviews!
Green Bowl Beach, Bali
Reached by a steep staircase, Green Bowl Beach is an untarnished beach with no vendors or shops. The view from the top is also said to be spectacular.
Uluwatu, Bali Map
On the map, we have indicated where the beach is located, as well as the access point. All beaches mentioned in the post are pinned on the map. Click here for our Uluwatu Beaches Map online. Use this link for an Uluwatu surf map and info.
ULUWATU BEACH MAP KEY: The Blue markers indicate our favorite beach locations. The Green markers indicate the access point for said beach. The Red markers indicate other beaches in the area.
Want more than just Uluwatu beaches? Our complete list of Things To Do in Uluwatu is coming soon!
Getting Around Uluwatu, Bali
There are a few ways to get around Uluwatu: taxis, scooters, walking. Since taxi rides are astronomically priced and we don’t ride scooters, we walked. Although it kept us from venturing too far from our accommodations, we didn’t mind roaming Uluwatu on foot. If you do hire a scooter, keep in mind that you will need to pay a small fee for parking at most beach access lots.
During our visit to Uluwatu, we stayed at D’Padang Homestay, a centrally located hotel with 16-units and two pools. What we liked most about D’Padang was the affordable room, included breakfast, friendly staff, refreshing pools and the adorable on-site puppy named Poke. We loved staying at D’Padang, but there are many places to stay in Uluwatu, Bali. Whether you are looking for a beachfront Uluwatu surf resort or an inexpensive place to crash, we recommend starting your search on Booking.com – like we do!
Before You Go
- Don’t forget your beach essentials! Make sure you bring good sunscreen, a wide-brimmed travel hat, polarized sunglasses and insect repellent for your Bali trip.
- Uluwatu is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip – and if you want good pictures of surfers, you will need a camera with a good lens. We travel with a Canon Rebel and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- Want videos from the water? Invest in a GoPro for your trip – or a similar (less expensive!) waterproof action camera.
- It’s always a good idea to have a guidebook when visiting a foreign country!
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: What is your favorite Uluwatu Beach? Is there anything you would add to our list of best beaches in Uluwatu, Bali? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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