In Balinese, ulu means 'tip' or 'land's end' and watu means 'rock' – an accurate description of Uluwatu's secluded spot at Bali's most southerly point. Uluwatu is the serene alternative to the island's bigger, bustling cities. Once primarily known for its dramatic cliffside temple, in recent years the peninsula has developed a reputation for world-class surfing, hidden beaches and winding coastal roads that are perfect for exploring by motorbike.
Nestled in the Bukit Peninsula's unspoilt wilderness, Uluwatu hostels are many and varied. Stay in simple Balinese-style accommodation, a surf camp with sea views or a boutique place with an in-house spa. You'll find hostels in Uluwatu with pools, air con and room fans, as well as free Wi-Fi. Some have a communal kitchen where you can cook meals, while others offer free breakfast or dinner. Balinese hospitality is famously friendly and staff can help with tasks like scooter hire, tour booking and visa extensions.
The towns and villages in the Uluwatu region stretch from the beach to the soaring clifftops. One of the most popular areas is Balangan Beach, with golden sand and a long left-hand break for surfers. Secluded Bingin Beach has waves for more advanced riders, as well as rugged limestone cliffs, restaurants and lively warungs, small family-run eateries which serve Balinese street food. Jimbaran Bay is at the gateway to the peninsula, just 16 minutes' drive from the bustling streets and beaches of Kuta, and has markets and a small but thriving nightlife scene.
Uluwatu Temple is a 10th-century Balinese Hindu sea temple and a key sight of the region. It's perched on the edge of a cliff, 70m above the Indian Ocean. Visit at sunset and you can see the legendary Kecak fire dance, but the temple's location means you'll get spectacular views at any time of day. The popular Padang Padang Beach has swathes of beach umbrellas and cafés, as well as a cheeky monkey population. Head to Suluban Beach for surfing, try paragliding at Nyang Nyang Beach or explore the caves of Pantai Tegal Wangi.
The closest airport to Uluwatu is Ngurah Rai International Airport, just outside Denpasar, about 45 minutes away by taxi. The best way to get around Uluwatu is on a scooter – you can hire your own or jump aboard a motorcycle taxi. Hail motorcycles on the street or book them via an app such as Grab or GOJEK. Some hostels have shuttle buses which go to Uluwatu's most popular spots.