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Surfing and Sunsets: This is How You Do Uluwatu

Bali is a big place. To get away from the tourist hurly-burly, Uluwatu has great food, unbeatable surfing, and hidden beaches to get away from everyone.

Serene vibes radiate through Bali’s Bukit Peninsula. Most tourists pop up to Uluwatu on a day trip to see Pura Luhur Temple, Padang Padang Beach, and pro-surfers at sunset on Pecatu. Travelers should stay a little longer though for forest bike rides free of traffic, good food, hidden stretches of sand, and incredible surf breaks – all to yourself.

Stay at Alila Villas Uluwatu

Uluwatu’s dramatic cliffs don’t need any enhancement, but the contemporary architecture of Alila Villas adds a captivating, eco-friendly twist to the famed sea views. Designed by award-winning Singapore firm WOHA, the entrance alone exudes minimalist sophistication, while drawing your eye across an infinity pool to an ocean panorama.

Jutting over the edge of a cliff, poolside wooden cabanas beckon, promising lazy afternoons with golden sunsets. However, the views also come with seclusion in one, two, and three-bedroom villas set high on the hill.

The use of wood, stone, rattan and water brings the outdoors in, with open-plan designs, private plunge pools and cabanas, outdoor showers and on-call butlers for premier service.

ABOVE: Three-Bedroom Pool Villa at Alila Uluwatu.

Guests can choose to welcome a new day with yoga in The Pavilion, hit the fully equipped 24-hour gym, or browse for books in the library. Spa Alila offers ancient Asian healing techniques in a modern-luxe environment, and there’s also stand-up paddleboard yoga lessons in the infinity pool. For dining, Cire Restaurant serves up gourmet, organic dishes and afternoon tea is available each day in the Sunset Cabana.

Dine at El Kabron

ABOVE: El Kabron at sunset.

Cliff clubs are big business in Bali, given that the sun puts on an extravagant show each day as it sinks into the Indian Ocean. El Kabron, overlooking Dreamland Beach, brings a sexy Mediterranean menu, personalized service and a jaw-dropping, free-form infinity pool to match.

ABOVE: Executive Chef at El Kabron, Marc Torices, hails from Spain.

Executive Chef, Marc Torices, hails from Spain and crafts traditional tapas, like Cantabrian anchovies in olive oil. Then, there are innovative bites such as wagyu beef, confited onion and mushroom mini burgers. Paellas, Ibérico ham, decadent coques and Spanish cheese boards also feature on the stellar menu. To complete the experience, expert mixologists serve up drinks on a backdrop of white walls, blue hues and rustic accents, to the beat of live, chilled-out DJ sets.

Surf at Balangan Beach

Flanked by lush, limestone cliffs, with stark white sand and rolling waves in every shade of blue, Balangan Beach certainly attracts its fair share of surfers. However, it’s far enough off the tourist path to ensure you get one of the longest left-hand breaks on the island. Mid to low tide sees surfers catch long, fast rides and access to the reef is straight off the beach.

With a smattering of warungs on the water’s edge and daybeds available, it’s the type of place to visit for a day and try your luck at different times.

ABOVE: Balangan Beach is an easy drive and a surfer’s paradise.

When the tide’s out, a walk around the headland offers secluded stretches of sand, with protected lagoons, rock formations and reef break views. Balangan Beach is an easy, scenic drive or motorbike ride through rapidly developing farmland, so visit soon to catch its low-key paradise appeal.

Discover Hidden Beaches

ABOVE: Green Bowl Beach, reached by descending a cliff.

If you love to feel the wind in your hair on a bike or scooter, riding around Uluwatu is the most enjoyable way to discover hidden beaches, though a private driver and some leg power will get you there too. In the sleepy village of Ungasan, Green Bowl Beach is a small, sparkling strip of gritty white sand, gift-wrapped between limestone caves. You’ll need to traverse a few hundred steps down a cliff to reach it, which is why it remains relatively hidden. Low tide is best for swimming and snorkeling.

ABOVE: Nyang Nyang Beach at the end of Jalan Batu Nungglalan.

Also reached via fairly rugged cliff terrain and hundreds of stairs, is Nyang Nyang Beach, located at the end of Jalan Batu Nunggalan. With a couple of shipwrecks adding to a deserted island atmosphere, empty surf breaks, mossy rock pools and grassy plateaus complete with grazing cows, it’s worlds away from tourist-driven Bali.

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park

ABOVE: Lord Vishnu statue in Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.

You’d be forgiven for thinking life’s all about surf, sun and sea in Uluwatu, however a cultural fix is never too far away in Bali. Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park is dedicated to the arts, as well as preserving the cultural, culinary and spiritual heart of the island. At its center is a giant statue of Vishnu, to whom the park pays homage, riding the mythical Hindu bird, Garuda. Ongoing construction is set to make the park an icon of Bali.

ABOVE: Nusantara dance in Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park.

For now, you can watch the intricate dance-dramas of Kecak and Nusantara, traditional Balinese parades and daily Garuda Wisnu ballet performances. Segways are available to discover the sights, including the Tirtha Agung venue, with walls engraved by a story of Garuda Wisnu Kencana.