Bali’s premier hotspot for surfers and tourists wanting to check out the surfing talent. Uluwatu is a wide reef set below a stunning cliff face offering different peaks that turn on at different tides. All of the surf breaks run left down the reef with variations in sections that change with the size of the swell also. The cliff and beach at Uluwatu are always bustling with energy and makes for a spectacular viewing platform.
Ulu’s is a wide reef offering 5 different peaks that turn on at different tides. These main 5 waves all break left down the reef with variations sections that change with the size of the swell also.
Temples is generally the least crowded section at Uluwatu as it is the furthest up the line-up to the south. Meaning a long paddle that most surfers aren’t willing to make. On the smaller days, it is a good option to find a bit more size than what is coming through down the reef.
The Bombie is situated right out back being the most exposed to the large open ocean swells and only works on the biggest of swells on a higher tide. It has seen some of the biggest waves ridden in Indonesia and is a surfing spectacle that must be seen if you’re on a trip to Bali and the swell is maxing out.
Outside Corner the most iconic peak at Ulu’s. It begins working best on a big swell at low tide breaking further outside of Racetracks. For seriously experienced surfers only it’s a great spot to watch the top surfers ripping some big open face carves at top speed!
The Peak is located directly out front of the cave and is the most consistent section to the various waves at Uluwatu, picking up plenty of swell, with shifty peaks breaking in different spots of the reef. Here you will be able to pull into some short and hollow pits on take-off.
Racetracks is the last section along the reef, starting to the right of you as you exit the cave at the bottom of the cliff, it runs past the corner of the cliff face towards Padang Padang. Racetracks is a fast and long rippable section with makeable barrels draining off the reef. Best at low tide but gets super shallow on a super sharp reef.
Very sharp reef
Shortboard, Semi-gun or Gun
Dry Season; April – October
This is one of the busiest surfing spots in Bali with experienced surfers hustling for waves. In these sorts of conditions, even great surfers can become very frustrated. Be sure to go out there in a patient frame of mind and a very good understanding of surfing’s etiquette.
There will usually be at least one of the five peaks at Uluwatu working well during any time of the day. The higher the tide the slower and more mellow the wave becomes, therefore, more suitable for lesser experienced surfers while leaving the experts to make the most of the lower tides and hollower performance waves at this time. Uluwatu is generally very crowded particularly when the surf is small, a ‘small crowd’ at Uluwatu may be considered a ‘considerable crowd’ at many other surf locations. The crowd thins out when the surf reaches 6 foot plus with some of the best surfers on display.
Crowds and unassuming surfers out of their depth entering and exiting the surf, in particular, entering the surf on low tide through the Racetracks section are a major hazard. Strong currents, very sharp and shallow reef are guaranteed to be part of any session. Watch the steep stairs on the way down the cliff to the surf and waves pounding the cliff face when entering and exiting the cave on higher tides.
Entering the surf:
After climbing down the stairs on the Uluwatu cliff you will exit the cave and into the water on a high tide or have a 100m walk across sharp reef on a low tide. When paddling out straight in front of the cliff avoid drifting with the current into the way of oncoming surfers ripping the Racetrack section to pieces. Not only will you get in the way of oncoming surfers but you have a good chance of getting dragged over the shallow and sharp reef if you’re not a strong paddler.
You can also take a left at the bottom of the staircase through a small cave bringing you out on the small stretch of beach known as Suluban Beach. Here you can walk further down the beach towards Temples and paddle out wherever you see the best opportunity.
Exiting the surf:
On a high tide and solid swell when the reef is completely covered, the water surges in and out of the cave at the bottom of the cliff. Not only is it tough work timing your paddle in with the current running across the entry into the cave but it is extremely easy to get smashed against the cliff edge with the incoming surges of water. You don’t ever want to feel the full force of the ocean in this situation! Come in from well up the reef so that you don’t get washed passed the entrance to the cave. If you miss it you have 2 options:
1. A long paddle all the way down to Padang Padang with an even longer walk back to Uluwatu.
2. Paddle back out, wide of the lineup where the current is weak and have a second go.
The beach at Uluwatu is called Suluban Beach and is a beach of beauty if you make the walk down the cliff zigging and zagging through the local businesses built into the top half of the cliff and then the steep stairs down the bottom half before you walk through the cave to come out on the beach. The steep Uluwatu stairs at the bottom of the cliff provide a challenge for some but it doesn’t deter surfers or beachgoers. It is a small but popular beach with a unique feel that adds to the raw beauty and charisma that attracts so many tourists to the spot all year round.
There are a lot of options for accommodation in the area with very affordable places to stay in easy walking distance to the surf at Uluwatu; you have surf bungalows, homestays, villas, hostels, hotels, resorts, you name it. The affordable options range from $15-30 a night on up to several hundred for those who want the top of the line accommodation. The homestays in the range of $15-$30 a night are a brilliant option usually situated in beautiful settings with a plain Indo style bedroom and bathroom. Prices at this level will usually vary from room to room due to having or not having air conditioning. Check out our top picks below for all price ranges and easy access to the surf at Uluwatu.
Jaya Homestay is less than 5 minutes walking distance to the cliff top at Uluwatu where you make your way down to the surf. One of the cheapest options in the area, its great value for money with cheerful staff. “Aunty” runs Jaya Homestay and makes sure you have everything you need and more. You won’t be able to book this accommodation online however most surfers drop in on arrival to Uluwatu to see if there are any spare rooms or keep in contact with Aunty via Facebook under “JAYA HOME STAY” to reserve a room. All the rooms are situated around a well looked after pool and manicured garden. There is air conditioning but no hot water however this homestay still seems like a luxury for most surfers that come and go from Bali while surfing the more remote islands. Great for longer stays in Uluwatu and the bonus of a great warung out front.
Located just 2 minutes walk to the top of the Uluwatu cliff where make the walk down steep stairs to the surf Ayodhya Guest House Uluwatu is newer homestay in Uluwatu with free WiFi is available throughout the entire property, on-site parking, air conditioning, and some units with a balcony. There is an in-house restaurant, which serves a variety of American dishes and an outdoor pool to relax in or around when unwinding from those long sessions surfing uluwatu. Overall the accommodation here is presented immaculately and is very well looked after. Great location to come and go from the Single Fin bar and restaurant on those popular Wednesday and Sunday nights. Again no hot water but in reality hot water isn’t needed at all, this one is great value for money as well!
Forget about paying for parking everytime you head for a wave at Uluwatu Ketty Homestay is in the prime location! Situated at the top of the Uluwatu cliff you don’t even have to leave your room to check the surf. From there it’s just a quick walk down the stairs in the Uluwatu cliff face and your out the cave and into the surf at Uluwatu. Or a walk across the footpath and your ready to have an ice cold bintang at The Single Fin. Rooms are basic but this accommodation is set up purely for the hardcore surfer looking to maximise time in the Uluwatu surf.
A step up in accommodation means a step up in privacy, space and facilities. Three Monkeys Villas is just 500 metres from the Uluwatu surf break and provides an outdoor swimming pool, massage services and beautifully landscaped gardens. This accommodation is a bit of an oasis and if it was situated in other areas of Bali like Seminyak or Canggu you would be paying a lot more per night. If you are looking for a bit more comfort while staying as close by to the surf at Uluwatu as possible but don’t want to break the bank then Three Monkeys Villas is definitely the go to option. Fully air conditioned including a flat-screen satellite TV and a DVD player means you can kick back and recharge the batteries in between surfs.
Large one, two and three bedroom apartments all with a spacious living room, air conditioning, flat-screen TV, and a comfortable couch for you to relax. These apartments are located in the middle of the Uluwatu cliff. The access is a bit difficult as it consists in lot of uneven stairs however the bonus is your as close to the surf as possible. If you want to paddle out at the crack of dawn and beat the crowds then you should be the first in the water everyday if you’re staying at the Uluwatu Cliff Apartments. Great for groups of surfers and just a hop skip and a jump home from those late Wednesday and Sunday nights at The Single Fin.
As far as villas, bungalows and suites go this is the best accommodation you can get in Uluwatu. Uluwatu Surf Villas holds the golden ticket when it comes to location. Situated at the top of the Uluwatu cliff but in a more private area enables you to get away from the hustle and bustle if you choose to. It even has its own private access to the Uluwatu beach and surf. Hands down 5-star accommodation with 5/5 reviews right across the board, here you can soak in the majestic setting, stunning surf views, cliff top yoga and incredible food without an ounce of disappointment. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more on surf accommodation in Uluwatu then you won’t regret booking this place.
There are a lot of warungs (small local restaurant) in the area and on the cliff face at Uluwatu along with restaurants that serve nice western food as well. There is usually a local bbq style corn stand in the carpark where you can buy fresh corn on the cob cooked over hot embers and brushed with chilli and butter. Definitely, give it a try if it’s your first trip to Bali and you haven’t before.
Outside Corner cafe in Uluwatu is new on the scene opening up in 2017. In a short period of time, it is already a stand out restaurant in the area. With great organic food, a skate bowl, and a surf and skate shop it is no wonder why. An added bonus is the 50k Fridays with main meals for 50,000Rp equating to approximately $5 Australian dollars.
The Single Fin at the top of the cliff is a breathtaking spot to sit and watch the surf and sunset. It’s an extremely popular bar that sees huge crowds on a Wednesday and Sunday nights. Well renowned as Bali’s Sunday session spot, in particular, it attracts tourists from all over Bali making the trip down to the Bukit Peninsula to party here until it closes at around midnight. If you’re not staying in the area you may want to organise a taxi for the ride home before you get there, otherwise finding transport home can be difficult.
Morning Light Yoga goes hand in hand with surfing or its something your non-surfing companion can take part in while you’re out slaying some waves. Morning Light Yoga is located at Uluwatu Surf Villas and includes manduka mats, cork blocks, straps, cushions and drinking water. Check them out on Instagram to see how truly amazing the setting is and you can book in by contacting them on email@example.com
Uluwatu Temple is a huge tourist attraction that sees fairly big crowds most days. It overlooks the Indian ocean from a spectacular height and offers a great opportunity for photographers, travellers, and folks looking to experience Bali’s culture aside from surfing. Expert tip: there’s a lot of monkeys in the area so seriously keep a good hold of your valuables.
As far as experiencing the surf culture in Indonesia goes Uluwatu really is ground zero. So if you’re not a surfer but want to get a taste of the surfing culture, be sure to head down to Uluwatu for a look. Even if it’s for a day trip you won’t regret getting away from the hustle and bustle of all the other areas in Bali to find a more laid back and less congested area of the island.
Rent a scooter. The roads in the area are much quieter than most of Bali, combined with the cruisey atmosphere it is a pleasant place to get from A to B without any hassles. Depending on how long you rent a scooter typically it will cost you around 50.000Rp per day for short-term rental and even cheaper for long-term rates.
Parking at Uluwatu is:
3.000Rp per scooter
5.000Rp per car for the day.
Step 1. From the airport take Jalan Airport Ngurah Rai and at the roundabout take the third exit onto Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai.
Step 2. Drive approximately 2.8 km on Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai and then turn right onto Jalan Raya Uluwatu go straight for approximately 20km, the road will become Jalan Raya Uluwatu Pecatu during this time.
Step 3. After the road makes an exact 90 degrees right angle turn you will take the next right onto Jalan Labuan Sait.
Step 4. Drive approximately 5km and turn right onto Jalan. Mamo.
Step 5. Continue on Jalan Mamo to the car park at Uluwatu.
To reach the surf from the parking area you have to walk approximately 200 meters down the stairs through the shops, warungs and restaurants on the side of the cliff before finally making it down a set of steep and narrow stairs where only one at a time can pass before exiting the cave out onto the beach and reef.