Exploring Uluwatu, Bali in 1 Day: 12-Hour Itinerary

August 10, 2023laurenslighthouse

Last updated on October 2nd, 2023

Looking to discover Bali’s southern tip of Uluwatu with a self-guided itinerary? From quiet beaches to dramatic cliff views and delicious dining in between, Uluwatu is perfect for those who enjoy a sense of adventure with relaxing and good eats along the way. After a day of hitting these spots along the west coast of the Bukit peninsula, you’ll finish the day with sun-kissed skin, sea salt hair and a big smile on your face!

Before arriving in Bali, we expected the island to be overrated. We’ll admit we didn’t have high hopes for its beaches and landscapes and thought it might be too touristy in most places for our liking. We were excited nonetheless knowing that Bali could offer us a ton of fun in other ways! But in truth, just after day 3 of us being in Bali, we realized that we stumbled on one corner of the island that simply wasn’t overrated like we thought.

The peninsula of Bukit is much quieter than the rest of mainland Bali. You may already know that Nusa Dua on the east side of the peninsula has high end luxury resorts all along the coast. On the west side in Uluwatu you’ll find the perfect balance between luxury Balinese retreats and places that call out to everyone no matter their budget.

After spending a month in Bali and exploring this precious side of the island by motorbike, we’ve been able to piece together this itinerary that will give you a good grasp of the Uluwatu area. From dramatic and peaceful sceneries to great food and cultural immersion, here’s how you can discover the best of Uluwatu on your own in 12 hours.

How to Get Around Uluwatu

Rent Your Own Motorbike

You’ll find out soon enough that the best way to get around Bali in general is by scooter or motorbike. For just $5 USD, you could rent your own motorbike with two reliable helmets for the whole day! On top of that, delivery and return service of the bike are included for free if you’re staying in Seminyak.

It was more than easy for us to get the hang of riding a scooter in Bali. Yes, in Indonesia they drive on the left-hand-side as they do in quite a few Southeast Asian countries. But following the ways of the road, traffic and signs wasn’t much different than what we’ve already experienced. The only thing that had us sweating was the number of vehicles on the road coming back to Seminyak from Uluwatu at night. Some drivers are crazy and we’re certainly not used to being passed with just inches between us and the next person!

Renting your own motorbike is our most recommended mode of transportation. It gives you all the flexibility you need, you get to discover a lot more on your own, it’s a local experience and it comes with the lowest cost. BUT in the recent months, Bali officials have been in talks regarding putting in place a ban on renting motorbikes to tourists. I know! That really puts a damper on things. But if anything does happen, it won’t be until the end of 2023.

If you’re ultimately hoping to rent a motorbike in Bali, make sure you get your International Driving Permit in order. In the US, you can apply for your IDP through AAA. In Canada, we can get ours through CAA – AMA for our fellow Albertans! It’s actually very easy to register and quite affordable at around $30 depending on where you live. You’ll want to bring your IDP anytime you leave your home country when there’s a possibility you might rent your own vehicle.

Hire A Private Guide / Rider

If you don’t want to take the chance of driving your own motorbike through the bustling streets of Bali, the next best thing is to hire a private guide and easy rider (as in your guide will act as your scooter driver)! Not only can you depend on the local expertise of your guide to take you to the best spots but you can also rely on a highly experienced scooter driver. If you’re not that comfortable behind a bike, this might be the way to go! Especially if you’re travelling solo.

For 12 hours, you can hop on the back and take in the views as you venture with your local guide to all the spots you want to visit on your own custom itinerary. Your guide will know all the ins and outs of various spots, and you won’t get lost in the middle trying to rely on your own navigation.

Hire a Private Car / Driver

If you’re striving for ultimate comfort, it’s actually so affordable to hire a private driver for the entire day. The pricing honestly makes so much sense if you’re in a group of two or more. We hired our own private driver to explore other parts of the island and it make life so easy. We never had to worry about where to park, the direction for entry and landmarks, or about potentially injuring ourselves en route to our destinations.

If the ban on renting motorbikes for tourists is put in place, you know you’ve got viable and affordable options! Don’t forget to use our code LAURENJASON for an additional 5% off when you book through Klook!

Best Accommodations in Uluwatu

It’s worth the try to stay in Uluwatu for a portion of your Bali trip. For top of the top, Jumeirah Bali was one of our most luxurious stays ever. Nothing could compete with that villa and the ocean view we got from there and Dreamland Beach!

For some great options to fit a wide range of budgets, from hotels to vacation rentals, check out the map below! If you’re staying anywhere between Uluwatu Temple and Jimbaran Beach, you’re gold. Even better if you’re walking distance from a beach or cliffside view!

One thing to know about Uluwatu is that the vibe is distinctively quiet and chill. Perfect for a romantic retreat for couples or some quiet time on your own soaking in Bali’s cliff sides! Yes, there are beach clubs and parties and tons of amazing places to mingle. But it’s definitely a pocket of Bali that’s quieter than the hustle and bustle of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Canggu. Not as much nightlife but fewer crowds! Uluwatu is on the up and up, and more and more affordable accommodations and delicious dining spots are popping up, which makes it worthwhile for you to set aside a few days to stay in the area while you venture it.

Itinerary Breakdown

There’s a lot than can be explored in Uluwatu, especially when you only have a day to spare! From sun up to sun down, we’ve selected six of the best spots to witness for yourselves along the western coast of Bali’s Bukit peninsula. There are three different beaches with distinctive views and atmospheres, two sea cliffs and of course, Uluwatu Temple.

The itinerary we’ve put together allows you to start with the spots that typically get busiest later in the day. An earlier arrival means you can get the best experience there without feeling overcrowded. Next, you can work your way south before the afternoon and head back north to enjoy sunset at one of our favourite sunset spots in all of Bali!

Weather is one thing that change your route. It definitely doesn’t always cooperate with you, especially in the tropics like Bali. We had some rain the day we decided to venture around Uluwatu and changed course to enjoy brunch before heading back out to visit more spots. It was all sunshine after that which was definitely very much appreciated for the rest of our afternoon and evening!

If you experience rain on your ride and you opted for your own motorbike, try to avoid the roads for a bit and find a hideout at one of Uluwatu’s many cafés and restaurants.

We saved the six stops covered in this itinerary on this interactive map. Check out some of our favourite dining spots and cafés too!

Suluban Beach

Suluban Beach is an extension of Uluwatu Beach and is essentially a secret beach nestled in a cove of rocky cliffs. The sand is quite soft here and when the tide is low, you can walk out further out to where the jagged rocks create an opening in the water. The tight space means that you might have to share the small stretch of beach with other visitors, but it’s not a problem if you get here before 9am.

There’s a car and bike parking area at the top of the cliff. When you type in Suluban Beach on Google Maps, it takes you straight to this parking lot. From the main road, it can be a little bumpy riding on the narrow brick-laden road to the parking area. We had to go slow on our bikes which was okay for us, but with a car with low clearance, I probably wouldn’t chance it. In the case you hired a driver, the walk along the road is a short one at only 350 m (0.2 miles). Five minutes and you’re there! It’s a slight workout on the way back up, but nothing crazy.

Once you reach the parking area, follow the downhill path that leads to a constructed staircase. It’ll take you all the way down to Suluban Beach and only takes a few minutes to reach! The photo below was taken from a platform along the stone staircase that leads down to the beach.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple is a 1,000-year-old temple and sits on the Bukit peninsula’s westernmost point. It’s an iconic tourist sight, boasting impressive cliff sides and it’s famous for being an incredible sunset spot. You can witness the traditional Balinese “Kecak” fire dance in the late afternoon or evening from its grand amphitheatre facing out to the ocean.

The Kecak fire dance can be an epic show to watch, but visiting Uluwatu Temple in the early morning when it opens allows you to roam the sight with fewer crowds and enjoy the morning ambiance. Entrance ticket prices apply and are now 50k IDR ($3.50 USD) per adult for foreign visitors. If you opt in for the fire dance show, it’s an additional 150k IDR ($10 USD), or you can book it online through Klook for cheaper and guarantee your spot! And save 5% off with our code LAURENJASON!

Karang Boma Cliff

One of the quietest spots we came to in all of Uluwatu was Karang Boma Cliff, specifically the Dimastos Sunset Point. It’s an underrated place but is tricky to get to because of the muddy terrain. We didn’t anyone hear but a group of locals who had camped out here the night prior.

Because of the tricky off-road terrain, we parked our bike beside the Costa Del Mar Uluwatu Hotel and walked the 450 m (0.3 miles) to the viewpoint. It was nice to get away from the beaten path and the tourists and visit a place that was genuinely local. There was an entrance fee here that we paid the attendant once we reached the cliff point. Being so close to the Uluwatu Temple, the view we got of the it was incredible!

Shortly after arriving here, we were greeted by the resident troop of monkeys! Every macaque and their second cousin was here as the local group of guys were packing up their tents and the smell of food in the air. If you didn’t get a chance to see these little guys mucking about while at Uluwatu Temple, you’ll likely see them here as they make their rounds along the cliff side! 

We wandered around the quiet park, just the two of us, with a long stick in hand that the lady tending to the viewpoint gave us to ward off any ambitious monkeys. There’s a forested trail that follows along the cliff side and it felt like the first piece of Bali that we had all to ourselves… and the monkeys. But they mostly kept to themselves as we made our way through and back.

Grab Brunch in Uluwatu

There are very few dining spots we still think of today from our Southeast Asia trip that we would definitely want to go back to. Suka Espresso is one of them! We enjoyed a hearty meal as we were starving by the time we got here and got a seat. It does get crowded, so be prepared to wait in line if you get here after 10am like we did. But trust me, it’s worth it!

Between the two of us, we ordered a Chilli Scramble and Mexican Chicken Bowl, which were full brunch meals of their own and soooo tasty. I still dream about that chilli scrambled egg dish! I also had to satisfy my smoothie bowl craving, so we ordered the Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl to share. That was divine with fruit and nuts galore. On top of that, we had a matcha latte and iced long back coffee. All of that for only 243k IDR ($16)!

It was the refuel we needed to take on the rest of the day. Be sure to check out the Wanderlog map above for some other cafés and restaurants we enjoyed in Uluwatu!

Nyang Nyang Beach

This stretch of beach feels like it goes on forever on the southwestern coast of Bukit. It’s significantly different from the environment we had on Kuta Beach where there was so much trash accumulated on the shores every day. Though Kuta, Legian and Seminyak are great for the party vibes and surfing, they definitely don’t offer a sense of quietness in nature. 

Here at Nyang Nyang Beach, we could experience that. There’s just one little shack that sells some snacks and drinks, built within an unassuming façade. Nothing fancy here, but the lush cliffs and wide shores of the southwestern coast of Bukit. And the beach goes on for miles! We couldn’t see an end in sight, which gave us plenty of space to walk along the shoreline with few people around.

The road to reach Nyang Nyang Beach was a little daunting with our small engine scooter. We were pressing on our breaks the whole way down on the steep incline and even then we were going a little too fast for our liking! Around the bend, I had to hop off and let my husband ride the scooter down, and the walk down was still super steep. And on our way back up, the momentum couldn’t drive our little scooter up the large incline the whole way through! The little engine that sadly couldn’t! Just fair warning to be careful riding down the steep road from the entrance gate.

Bingin Beach

Nyang Nyang Beach was nice and relaxing, but Bingin Beach was lively, fun and boasted spectacular views! We got another taste of hidden beaches like we did at Suluban, where the massive volcanic rocks keep secret a pristine and quiet shore. On the southwest end of Bingin Beach is this hidden cove we escaped to when we got too hot under the sun.

We actually entered the beach by the staircase closest to this end, which is how we came across it. There are a number of entry points to reach Binging Beach from the cliff above depending on where you park. We parked at this motorcycle parking lot marked by a surf board, walked along a narrow passageway before reaching the stairs down. Going down was not bad, but I was sweating a lot on the way up during that hot afternoon.

Thankfully, it was nice cooling off along Bingin Beach before climbing the stairs back up! Bingin Beach is a great spot for surfing with its consistent waves that throw out many perfect barrels at mid-tide. Something to consider if you’re coming here! The water is much clearer than you would find on Seminyak and Kuta Beach, but at low tide, surfing should be reserved for experts only as the corals are shallow close to shore.

Balangan Beach Cliff

Muster the energy for one final spot in this Uluwatu itinerary. Enjoy some dinner before coming here or bring a quick picnic ensemble because if there is one place to have a picnic, it’s here. When we arrived at Balangan Beach Cliff we were blown away by how many locals of all ages and group types had made a spot of their own to enjoy a group feast. At this viewpoint, there are a few levels of built round platforms laid with grass that allow many people to sit and enjoy the view unobstructed.

Many locals came here early enough to set up their portable BBQ dinner with friends and family. We stood for a bit before we ended up having a spot on the stone edge of one of the platforms all to ourselves. As it got dark, a lot of folks, locals and tourists alike, packed up to head home. But we knew that the show was just getting started. And sure enough, the colours started popping in the cloud-streaked sky!

We could see some people gathered along Balangan Beach, but most of the sunset’s audience were here on the widespread cliff. I had to save the best for last and show you what a front row view at the best Uluwatu sunset spot could look like!

Are There Entrance Fees for These Spots in Uluwatu?

As you’ll soon find out shortly after you arrive in Bali, pretty much every viewpoint, beach, waterfall, natural sight you can think of has an entrance fee. Yup, nothing’s free here, but it truly allows the locals to maintain the sights and make sure they’re compensated for their work and for allowing us to visit come onto their land. The fees are often small and very reasonable, especially for the sights in Uluwatu.

Suluban Beach

Parking and entering Suluban Beach didn’t cost us anything, surprisingly. The dedicated parking area and constructed steps would be a reason to charge admission, but there was nothing of the sort here. That can change, but it would be a small fee.

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple took a parking fee as there was a gate and parking attendant. Parking is very well organized here and cost us only 1k IDR (less than $0.07!) to park our bike here. I mentioned the admission and fire dance ticket prices for adult foreigners above in the Uluwatu Temple section!

Karang Boma Cliff

Karang Boma Cliff was pricier in comparison to the other spots considering the fact that the whole trail to the viewpoint was muddy and unpleasant. But the patch of protected green grass and the available facilities to clean up were a nice touch! The attendant charged us 5k IDR ($0.35) per person to come check out the view.

Nyang Nyang Beach

Nyang Nyang Beach operates on a donation basis. The attendant at the gate was very kind and gave a receipt as well. And though the steep road was treacherous, it was incredibly well paved and so was the well maintained parking area right by the beach! There was shelter for our bikes and even painted lines separating the bike parking spots.

Bingin Beach

Bingin Beach cost us 5k IDR ($0.35) to park our bike where attendants would keep an eye out. We parked first then handed the cash to the attendants when we exited the parking space by foot towards the beach.

Balangan Beach Cliff

Finally, Balangan Beach Cliff was also only 5k IDR ($0.35) to park and enjoy the views for as long as we wanted to. Not bad for the sunset view we got there!

Uluwatu is just one piece of Bali that we’ve come to love. There is so much more to see and experience on this island! But for your first self-guided adventure, this one should be on your list!

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