After five full days in Ubud we hired a driver and headed to the Bukit Peninsula, the southern coast of Bali. It was a two hour drive to Uluwatu, most of which was spent sitting at traffic lights and navigating traffic jams, but it felt surprising different from Ubud. When we mentioned to people that we would be spending a few days in Uluwatu, specifically right across from Padang Padang beach, everyone asked if we would be surfing. Admittedly that was not on the agenda at all but once we arrived we understood why we got so many funny looks after suggesting that we would not be hanging ten. It is a surfer’s paradise!
We stayed at Pink Coco Bali and really liked its laid back charm. It definitely accommodates a surfer crowd and it was a nice change of pace compared to our last hotel, which was a little more upscale. The rooms were sparse but each came with a gigantic bean bag which was a surprise hit of the stay. A perfect place to land after a long day at the beach.
Shortly after we arrived in Uluwatu we walked across the street to Padang Padang beach and stretched out with the late afternoon crowd. At first I was a little underwhelmed by the beach, but once we found a little nook I was happy to spend the next three hours relaxing and people watching. This beach wasn’t as organized as some of the other beaches in the area, which is surprising given its popularity. That is, there are tiny warungs, or eating houses, where you could get a bite to eat and there were a few vendors selling paraphernalia on the beach, but I didn’t see anywhere to rent a chair or umbrella. This is fine for the late afternoon when the sun is less intense, but at least for us, an umbrella is necessary if you plan on going earlier in the day closer to high noon.
The rolling waves of the Indian Ocean crash into Bali nearly uninterrupted from Antarctica, which is hard to fathom given their disparities. Of course we have Australia to consider–though it is well off to the southeast side of the island province–and a handful of tiny islands, but for the most part, those waves are coming in with a lot of force and surfing becomes an excellent spectator sport for the uninitiated. Indeed, surfing in Uluwatu is not for the beginner, but it was mesmerizing to watch.
Before we left I ordered a pair SaltWater sandals based on a few recommendations from people who had visited Bali before. Many of the beaches are rocky with, let’s say highly textured sands, and it’s advised to have some sort of water shoe especially during low tide. These shoes were perfect! They hold up well to the salt water and dry quickly. Also, they look just as great with a casual dress as they do with a beach cover-up, which makes them super efficient when you’re trying to pack lightly. I’d definitely recommend them as a water shoe, as well as a sturdy summer sandal.
We had planned to spend a couple hours at the beach, reading and relaxin–what we do best, but the sun quickly dipped down toward the water and we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets on the island.
The next day we visited Karma Beach, located on the opposite side of the peninsula. Despite how tiny the beach is, it’s very popular and draws a big crowd, so it’s best to get there early if you don’t want to wait for a chair to open up. The beach is a part of a resort and you can pay to rent a chair and umbrella for the day, as well as ride the funicular up and down. It was about $25, $10 of which is credited to your account for food and drinks. That money goes extremely quickly here though and you’ll find it’s disappeared after one drink.
^^I sent Courtney this picture letting her know where we were for the day, hoping to inspire only a wee bit of jealousy. She shot me this picture right back, letting me know what she was looking at for the day:
Bali for the win! We arrived at the beach around 10:00 and there were only a few other people claiming chairs. According to the lifeguard on duty the previous three days had shown a dramatic increase in wave size, owing perhaps to impending full moon or some other scientific phenomenon. Though the reef was well off shore we could see and hear the waves crash with considerable force and it was truly captivating. I could have, and basically did, watched them all day.
It remains one of my favorite days of the trip simply because of how beautiful and tranquil it was–that is, until the DJ picked up steam around late afternoon. The beach is very private and secluded and the vast ocean in front of you is simply mesmerizing. We briefly looked around the hotel and it appeared quite swanky. I’m sure it would be a fantastic, if pricey, place to stay.
Another day we went to Balangan beach, which is a part of a massive compound located closer to Jimbaran on the western side of the island. It took some time to get there, but it was a very cool spot to spend the day, again watching the endless surfers battle the waves. You can barely see it in the photo above, but the sand here is like couscous! It was an incredible texture and made walking feel like a foot massage.
Along the beach there are about a dozen warungs where you can eat and sleep. It would be a great place to post up if you were planning to surf all day but I can’t imagine it’s a very good home base for any other sightseeing or touring.
While we were there we say some seriously cute little kids that were like tiny fish out of water. I couldn’t believe how confident they were in the high tide and they obviously loved getting tossed around. They were definitely one of the highlights of the day.
That evening we followed the masses to the Uluwatu Temple to catch the sunset. We’d been warned that the temple wasn’t much to see, but that the dramatic cliffs and the reflections were unparalleled. It was, as you can see, stunning. But, to be frank, we were surrounded by endless crowds that were a little too pushy for my taste. It feels shamefully touristy and I didn’t really enjoy my time there. We took a few snaps and left before everyone else, ensuring that we managed to stay out of what looked would soon be an epic traffic jam.
Unfortunately the trip took a bit of a turn here and the rest of our time in Uluwatu was spent mostly at the hotel. Bali Belly, as stomach ailments are affectionately referred to there, is no joke, folks. I’ve always had a sensitive stomach so I wasn’t particularly surprised to find myself feeling less than stellar but it’s still a disappointment to feel unwell on vacation, especially a honeymoon. It began in Uluwatu and didn’t subside for nearly five days. Rough stuff.
I don’t share this to be gross or uncouth, more to assuage any fear out there that we are always having the time of our life, as these pictures may sometimes suggest. Ashley recently posted something similar on Hither & Thither, an incredible travel blog you should be reading, and I’ll attempt to express a similar sentiment: pictures only tell part of the story. Our trips are always memorable, but they are not always perfect, and most of the time it doesn’t make sense to share images of the not-so-great moments we encounter. But, they certainly do happen and in the midst of full disclosure and an attempt at greater transparency, I just wanted to share that we’re human and susceptible to life’s little tragedies : )
Adam did some exploring, though it’s pretty difficult and somewhat dangerous to traverse on foot, but otherwise the rest of our stay was rather uneventful. We had incredible weather–for our entire stay, not just while in Uluwatu–and it was easy to feel good about just lounging by the pink pool, reading books and taking naps.