I recently had a well needed holiday in Bali and as many people are doing these days I by-passed Kuta and Seminyak altogether, opting for the other areas around Bali that are equally as beautiful and much more genuine.
I’ve been going to Bali for a few years now and being a surfer always head up to Uluwatu and Bingin. Both are situated on the south western side off the bottom of Bali.
Not only are there amazing waves here, there are some equally amazing places to chill out and stay. They are peaceful, luxurious, elegant, unique and best of all really affordable.
I get a car directly from the airport to the hotel; it’s cheaper and easier than going into Kuta and then coming out again. It takes a little more organisation, well for me anyway as I usually don't book hotels until I get there, but again it’s worth it.
There are tons of places to stay, I usually stay in Bingin. Ultimately there are three types of accommodation in Bingin.
Rattan rooms with single or double beds, they are not private as the walls only go up 8 foot. They come with a mossy net in most cases and have a restaurant and a local offering massages. They are cheap and usually populated by surfers on surf missions. Best if you’re travelling without your girlfriend. The bonus is, they are right on Bingin beach and have the most amazing views and sunsets. Even if you don’t stay here, you can always pop in for a sunset beer. About A$10 a night.
These are where most people stay and are about A$40 a night for a double with Air con. They are clean, funky and fun, with common areas, pools and very social. I stay at Leggies, It’s at the top of the cliff where you walk down to the beach.
As a budget traveller I have not stayed at many of these places, but wow they look amazing and the ones I have stayed at where unforgettable. I can highly recommend the Temple Lodge.
It has the most amazing rooms I have ever seen, spectacular organic food, yoga every morning and an infinity pool that looks over impossible surf break. It is amazing. We stayed in two rooms here, the Temple suite (which is like the honeymoon suite) and the Coral cave. The Temple suite is an old Javanese longhouse that was transported just to build the room. It has a king size bed the size of Tasmania and a 25 metre private pool...it has two different day beds and an inside outside bathroom with a 12 foot obelisk like stone in it...I’m not kidding. It was about A$180 a night.
The Coral Cove suite is equally impressive although not as tribally majestic. It is built into the cliff and has a private daybed overlooking the surf...watch out for the monkeys though.
Another amazing hotel, which is a little more exclusive looking is Mu. It's next door to the Temple Lodge and is basically Bondi on Bingin.
The best dinner I had in Bingin though was on the beach, they do the seafood BBQ at sunset for about A$10 a head and it’s amazing. Prawns, squid and whole tuna. Quite romantic also. If you’re staying up on the cliff, make sure you take a torch so you can get back up the hill, its steep and can be dangerous.
Once in Bingin, there is loads to do, hire a scooter (make sure you have travel insurance that covers riding a moped or motor scooter) and explore. Just up the road is Padang Padang beach. Very popular on weekends and a great place to swim and surf. The beach was made famous in the movie Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts. When the surfs up they also hold the Rip Curl Pro there.
Further on from Padang Padang is Uluwatu. Uluwatu is the most famous wave in Bali and credited with the western discovery of Bali by Gerry Lopez, Jim Banks and others in the 70's. It’s worth going up there just to see the surfers. The beach is difficult to swim at and impossible in high tide. If your surfing take booties and be aware this is for experienced surfers only. It’s a common scene to see surfers walking around with scars, healing wounds and bandages. The bars and atmosphere on the side of the hill overlooking the break are vibrant and social. Have a beer and a meal while these guys take on the waves.
There is a great pub on the top of Uluwatu that resembles something you would find in Byron Bay called Single Fin. Open 7 nights but Sunday night is the big one, where they have a band and the place is packed.
If you’re after a little more style, keep on going on to the Bulgari Hotel at A$1200 a night it was way out of our league, although they are super friendly and everyone is welcome for a cocktail at the bar (A$10). It’s over the top, brash, stylish and very cool. You even get chauffeured to the bar in a golf buggy...
There is so much more to tell you...but I think you get the drift...a really great area of Bali…definitely worth a vist.
Images courtesy of Todd Nelson