Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu in local language, is one of the most popular Balinese temples, often featured as an iconic sea temple in postcards. Situated at almost 2000 meters above sea level and surrounded by cliffs, the temple is in Pecatu Village, about 30 minutes from Kuta. It attracts thousands of people from all over the globe with its wonderful view of Indian Ocean. As explained in the entrance ticket, Uluwatu Temple was built by Mpu Kutaran circa 1032-1036. The temple was a place to worship deceased kings in Old Balinese era. In 1900, The King of Badung and his family have been taking care of the temple ever since.
We arrived in the afternoon at Uluwatu Temple, finding tourist buses dominated the parking lot, considering it’s Christmas holiday now and being Bali’s tourist peak season. Small shops or warungs provided meals, drinks, and snacks for everyone. After paying the entrance fee (20.000 for children and domestic visitors, 30.000 for foreign adults), a lady helped us wearing sarong or sash, as a required etiquette to cover our legs before entering the holy place. Women having their periods are not permitted to enter the temple; they can only go up to the temple's steps.
Once we walked in, a bunch of monkeys were hanging around the trees and the ground, mingling with people. It’s forbidden to feed them. We had also been warned to take off our glasses, jewelries, and hats at the entrance, since these monkeys were playful and unpredictable, and they would love it to grab any items of ours (a curious monkey tried to snatch a plastic flower on a girl’s sandals). Don’t worry, though, they were generally friendly; just remember to keep your distance, it’s better not to take photos too close.
We walked past walls at the edge of the cliffs, leading to the main temple at the top. Strong wind was whooshing and big waves of the ocean were smashing against big rocks down there. At one corner of the temple track, a vendor sold some souvenirs and sandals (perhaps in case some monkeys steal yours!).
Domestic and foreign visitors were seen trying to take their best photos without strong wind ruining their hair.
Uluwatu Temple is not accessible for everybody, which means it’s for worshipping only. Visitors would be able to enjoy its rich Balinese architecture and spiritual atmosphere from the outside.
Overall, the area was clean, but not completely plastic-free. Although it’s strictly prohibited to dispose any trash to the area and to the sea, it’s sad to see some empty bottles and snack wrappers scattering around, mostly on the outside of the cliffs.
Suluban Beach or Uluwatu Beach
Also known as Blue Point Beach (named after a villa in the location), Suluban Beach is just 3 km away from Uluwatu Temple. You can simply follow road directions to the surfing beach. Anyway, apparently we took another entrance with much, much less cars and motorbikes parking (which was good!). There were some locals selling grilled corn and souvenirs, and a board informing the beach was 100 meters down the rocky stairs from there. And yes, it was there.
We went along the path of stairs and bridges to the Suluban Beach sign. The beach was hidden among giant rocks at the bottom, connected by another stairs and bridges. Bali sea levels were rising, and with the waves flooding, we could neither go stooping to walk through the cliff gaps nor feel the white-sandy beach.
Check out our short video here, you’ll hear how the wind rushed.
We went upstairs to get some snacks, but the options were limited since most of the warungs, restaurants, cafes, and bars were closed. These graffiti-adorned buildings were set up at sea cliffs with quite steep and narrow steps bringing people to the top.
We've written about Taman Festival Bali, an Abandoned Place for Street Art, if you want to enjoy more street arts (graffitis).
The popular restaurant atop the cliffs of Suluban Beach is Single Fin, strategically built in the (other) entrance nearby a crowded parking lot alongside surfing stores, cafes, and homestays. It’s a perfect place to catch sunset, but we had to miss the chance since the sky looked gloomy at the time.
Padang Padang Beach
Despite the weather, we managed to watch sunset at Padang Padang Beach, another surfing spot which has the same coastline to Suluban Beach. Heading to Padang Padang Beach didn’t take long, with less than 1 km drive from Suluban Beach through Labuan Sait Road. There was a bumpy limestone path showing us a staircase route to the beach. Once again, we thought we had taken a “secret” entrance where only a couple of visitors passed by (and no entrance or parking fee!).
The quiet ambiance, clear turquoise water, and (relatively clean) white sand did make the beach gorgeous and picture-perfect. Lounging around with your loved ones would be definitely a good choice, but we thought the powerful waves were only for surfing (some people were swimming, though). Due to the weather, the sunset was not so awesome, yet the cool tranquility was worth it.
Not many stalls and restaurants were around. A family-run homestay, Thomas Homestay, seemed to be the “landmark” to help you find the location, as we saw their sign when we passed Labuan Sait Road. Alternatively, you can follow Labuan Sait Road from Uluwatu Temple until a sign of Padang Padang Beach appears on the right. However, this would be the main entrance crammed with visitors.