Bali, one of the most desirable islands in Indonesia, is divided into 6 regions. The cities in South Bali (Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, Uluwatu, and Kuta) are popular among most tourists.
Uluwatu and Kuta are two cities in South Bali that are close to each other (30 minutes apart) and can be explored in a few days.
Here is a travel guide with things to do, restaurants to try, and where to stay in Uluwatu and Kuta, Bali.
Uluwatu is my favorite city in Bali. It’s coastal location has spectacular ocean views, sea-side cliffs, and white sand beaches. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Built along a stretch of cliffs that line the sea, the Uluwatu Temple is definitely a sight to see.
*Travel Tip: Arrive at this temple early-morning to beat the heat and the crowds.
While the temple itself isn’t that large, the property stretches far on either side of it allowing plenty of paths to walk through and spend a decent amount of time here.
There are several statues tucked into the paths, as well as loads of monkeys living among the many trees that fill up this sea-side space. Be sure to hide your sunglasses, jewelry, etc. because they will snatch it from you (I saw a woman get a pair of sunglasses taken right off her head!).
Aside from this, though, the monkeys are rather calm and won’t bother you if you keep to yourself. There was one point during my visit where I went pretty deep into a path and was surrounded by nothing but monkeys and trees (not a human in sight). Although I was pretty nervous at certain times, the silence around me and the time alone was incredibly pleasing.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s a popular Kecak Dance (fire dance) at the temple right around sunset. I didn’t partake in this activity but have heard great things about it, and with the radiant view this location had during the day, I could only imagine catching it at sunset. (*Tickets are 100k IDR & show starts @ 6pm).
Price: 30k IDR ($2 USD)
Uluwatu is famous for its white sand beaches and they run along the coast for miles.
It’s so fascinating how just an hour north in Canggu the beaches are all black sand—it was splendid to be able to experience both landscapes during my trip.
Uluwatu has the most teal water I’ve seen in Bali, as well as the biggest waves, and TONS of surfers. Since the coast is on a cliff, the entrances to the beaches include a series of steps and bridges, through tunnels and giant rocks, until you reach the bottom and the beach is revealed. It really adds to the adventure and uniqueness of this beautiful place.
Overall, these beaches are not as touristy as those in Kuta or even Canggu, but there are some that are quieter than others. A few of them have sea-side restaurants and lounge areas where you can rent a chair and sip on a fresh coconut.
There are also many hidden coves where you’ll find a few stragglers posted up on the beach—these are always my favorite places to go and I found several of these spots as I walked along the coast.
Top Beach Recommendations: Suluban Beach, Thomas Beach, Padang Padang Beach, Bingin Beach, Pantai Cemongkak
Uluwatu is the ultimate place for surfing, but definitely if you’ve got some experience under your belt. As previously mentioned, the waves are huge, but that’s exactly what brings many surfers to this teal-water paradise.
There are several surf camps in Uluwatu as well as places to rent boards. If you’re looking for lessons, I recommend getting them in Canggu then coming south to Uluwatu when you feel comfortable and have gotten up a few times.
I didn’t partake in the surfing shreds but I sure enjoyed watching the talented surfers owning the humongous waves.
Two of my favorite restaurants in Uluwatu, Bali are The Cashew Tree Collective and Suka Espresso Café. They both offer vegetarian and vegan options, plus tons of guilt-free treats!
The Cashew Tree Collective is a large, open-style restaurant in Uluwatu with a café, dessert bar, and gym on-site. There’s plenty of seating ranging from high-top tables and bar stools to comfy couches and coffee tables. And they also host live jam sessions throughout the week.
The staff were all extremely nice and accommodating despite the restaurant being busy (you could tell this was the place to be).
Needing to satisfy my sweet potato fries craving once more, I ordered these alongside the “Tempeh Burger” with spicy thai cashew sauce, avocado salsa, pan seared mushrooms, pineapple, and paprika chutney with onion jam.
Talk about an amazing meal to seal off this trip! So much flavor, so much healthy-ness. And to top it all off, I grabbed two desserts…I couldn’t resist their huge vegan/GF selection. I thoroughly enjoyed a “Blueberry Cheesecake” and “Chocolate Ice Cream Bar” as my last treats on this island.
Price: 180k IDR ($13 USD)
Suka Espresso Café is located right near Thomas Beach in Uluwatu, this Australian tropical-styled café was the perfect place to start my morning with a refreshing smoothie bowl. I ordered the recommended “Berry Good” bowl which was bomb-diggity (the menu even suggested so)—topped with tropical fruits, granola and chia seeds.
All the other breakfast and lunch meals looked equally delicious and offered a range of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
Great location, great smoothie bowls, great vibes.
Price: 80k IDR ($5 USD)
Kuta is full of commercialized and Western restaurants, but you can still find some hidden gems among them. Here are 2 restaurants that I enjoyed in Kuta, Bali.
Vegan Bali is tucked away in a side street away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Kuta, this tiny little café offers an entire vegan menu featuring many of the local Balinese dishes. I ordered the “Vegan Noodle Curry” which was a yellow curry packed with flavor, a real comfort food type meal.
I also munched on some GF cookies while I chilled out on a pillow-lined bench that overlooked the side street, watching the locals pass by on motorbikes and enjoying the serene atmosphere.
Price: 45k IDR ($3 USD)
After spending the day in the heat and humidity of Kuta, I really wanted to cool down with a sweet treat. Came across ICELAB in the downtown area. The interior was attractive, and their gelato selections were as well.
They create their own gelatos and sorbets in-house, and also make home-made chocolate-dipped ice cream bars. The staff allowed us to try almost all the flavors to choose the one we liked. I went with vegan coconut and coffee ice cream—texture and flavor were both on point.
Price: 50k IDR ($3 USD)
Kuta is located close to the airport, which is why I chose to stay here for my last few days in Bali. Although its got a city-vibe, you can find accommodation in Kuta that has the relaxing, beachy atmosphere common to Bali.
This is the highest-quality hostel I stayed at in Bali, as it is a little pricier.
The common room has a comfy couch set-up and flat screen TV with Netflix (holla!). A beautiful blue pool with some day beds and a fountain are on one side, with a quaint café and kitchen on the other. The rooms have big, comfy beds with curtains on the bunks for privacy and decent size lockers.
The staff is so freaking sweet. They cooked traditional Balinese food for all the guests the first night we were there, and also pointed us in the direction of good restaurants and cheap ways of getting around town.
The hostel is quiet, and it’s right next to the airport. I definitely recommend it for anyone having to catch and early-morning or late-night flight.
Price: 339k IDR for 2 nights ($24 USD)
Book a bunk at Lokal Bali Hostel with HostelWorld.