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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

Southern Bali and the Islands: Sanur, Uluwatu and Nusa Penida

The southern area of ​​Bali is more characteristic than the western (​​Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu): tourism is intense here too, but here you will begin to get to know the Balinese atmosphere, moving further and further away from the westernized and touristic Bali. The Bukit peninsula is the southernmost area of ​​Bali and perhaps the one that hosts the most beautiful beaches you will find on the island. Here you have also the best waves:the most loved and sought after by surfers from all over the world. Golden beaches following one another along the coast, crystal clear waters and way less people, we definitely loved this area much more than the previous one.. The southern area of ​​Ulu Watu is magical, the temple overlooking the sea is one of the most visited on the island: here at sunset you can admire magical colors and see the sun going down beyond the horizon line, behind the temple. But if you are looking for a truly dreamy sea, then you have to move to the nearby islands of Nusa Penida, or the smaller Nusa Lembongan: here the atmosphere is totally different. The islands are wilder, very green, and full of breathtaking viewpoints, on the splendid coasts and paradisiacal beaches. To reach this area of ​​Bali we chose the city of Sanur, on the west coast of the island, as a base: from here we rented a scooter to explore the Bukit Peninsula for a day, and the following day we embarked for Nusa Penida from the port.

Sanur is certainly an ideal starting point to visit this part of Bali, moreover it is much less touristy and crowded than western area. The beaches are not particularly memorable in Sanur: here too there is black sand and dark waters, but the atmosphere is more typical, as Sanur is one of the most popular areas for locals and families, which at sunset you will find on the beach playing with children and dogs, or enjoying dinner on the sand.

Concerning where to sleep in this area, as already mentioned, we stayed at Linda Villa 2, in Sanur - to know more about accommodations..

Now let's see the specific itinerary we have planned for this area!

As you can see on the map below, we dedicated two days to this part of Bali:

- ② on the second day of our trip we explored part of the Bukit peninsula, with its beautiful beaches on the southern coast, to finish the day in the south, enjoying the sunset at the Ulu Watu temple;

- ③ the third day in Bali instead we reached Nusa Penida, the largest island east of Bali.

Itinerario Bali

For the complete itinerary of this Bali trip

Go and check also the next steps of our trip to Bali, Gili Islands and Lombok:

To find out what and where to eat along the various places.. READ ALSO:

Let me be honest: ideally we would have spent two days in Nusa Penida, sleeping one night on the island: we had evaluated the possibility of staying at Rumah Ponoh Tree House, in the northern part of Nusa, near Diamond Beach. If we had had 3 weeks available we would have definitely chosen this option, in order to enjoy the island and relax on its beautiful beaches. If you want to know a bit more about a 3-week itinerary

Now let's see how to reach Sanur: we were staying in Seminyak, where we spent the first day in Bali (click here to read about it in case you missed it): from here we got a taxi using the Grab app directly in front of our accommodation. We moved early in the morning, in order to avoid traffic and have the whole day available. From Seminyak to Sanur by cab it is about 16km, which we covered in about forty minutes, paying 100.00 IDR (about €6.50). To know more about transportation and the Grab app..


Sanur was one of the first resorts to open up to tourism during the 1940s and 1950s and is now mainly a families' destination thanks to its relaxed atmosphere and its calm and shallow waters. Boats depart from here to reach the nearby islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida, making it an excellent base. But Sanur isn't just that, it's a delightful, peaceful location, which we explored especially in the evening, enjoying splendid walks along the seafront. At sunset you will find many markets mainly in the area near the port, full of stalls and street food. Walking up and down the paved path just a few steps from the beach is the perfect way to fully immerse yourself in the local way of life and closely observe the comings and goings of fishermen and street food vendors. Most of the cafés and nightclubs are located either by the sea or along Jalan Danau Tamblingan, the town's main road. Another thing not to be missed in Sanur is the sunrise: in fact, during the days of good weather, the sky in front of the beach is tinged with a thousand shades of pink and gold, creating magnificent reflections on the sea. Locals say that the best place to wait for the sunrise is at Pantai Matahari Terbit.

To find out what and where to eat in Sanur READ ALSO:

Warung Old Brick, Sanur - Bali

For dinner we always chose the classic Warung, Bali's typical restaurants: our favorite in this area is certainly the Warung Old Brick, which we came across by chance on our way back to our room after a day exploring the Bukit peninsula. The Warung Old Brick is in fact located in a hidden alley, a few steps from Linda Villa (where we stayed, and next to the place where we had rented a motorbike for the day). It is a delightful and quiet place, also very convenient and whith excellent food.

I also recommend Samping Warung, in the most central area, which we chose for the second evening, during our walk back from the port: this is also a quiet, uncrowded little place where you can eat excellent local food at excellent prices. Stay tuned to learn more about the topic and to know more about what and where to eat in Sanur..

Our first day in this area was therefore spent exploring the South of Bali, more specifically in the Bukit Peninsula. From Sanur you can get there very well: in an hour or so you will be in the extreme south of Bali, in Ulu Watu. In this area the traffic is not as intense as in the more touristic part (the west of Kuta, Canggu...), and landscapes are much more typical and interesting. As everywhere on the island, you will find motorbike rentals everywhere and at much cheaper prices than in the nearby Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu. A few meters from our accommodation we found a very kind lady who gave us an excellent price: a full day rental (return at any time) for 60,000 IDR (not even 4€).

For more information on motorbike rental and how to get around Bali..

Bukit Peninsula

The Bukit peninsula is located in the extreme south of Bali, with its cliffs overhanging the sea and creating a splendid contrast of colors with the green of the inside forest overlooking the blue of the water. Along the rocky coast, in the coves, there are many splendid and, more or less hidden beaches, up to Uluwatu, a favorite destination for professional surfers and site of the homonymous temple.

In this area there are many beautiful beaches, among the best in Bali, with golden sand and clear blue waters, often characterized by very high waves perfect for surfing.

Before leaving for this area, check the tides and get ready for some beautiful descents: access to many beaches is possible only through long series of steps, so don't forget comfortable shoes and sportswear. If, like us, you decided to reach the Bukit Peninsula from Sanur by motorbike, I suggest you choose (on Google Maps) the route that includes the Mandara toll road, a bridge crossing the Benoa Gulf. In addition to saving you a lot of time and traffic, the view of the gulf is breathtaking, and you can admire the splendid mangroves!

To find out what and where to eat in this area READ ALSO:

Balangan Beach

Balangan Beach, Bali, Indonesia

The first stop of our day in the Bukit peninsula was Balangan Beach, a very long and with golden sand beach with a splendid turquoise sea, populated by surfers chasing waves. The entrance to the beach will cost you 2000 IDR (about 10 cents), which you will have to pay for the "parking". Once you reach the beach, you will find dozens of wooden kiosks, built on a kind of palisade on the sand (high tide is no joke here), where you can rent surfboards, book lessons and even eat something. I suggest to keep walking north along the entire beach: towards the end you will find a small Hindu temple right on the sea where, if you are lucky, you will witness a ceremony with music, songs and a procession.

Balangan Beach, Bali, Indonesia

This is the reason why, once your feet will be in the sand, you will notice many offers on the shore: from eggs, bananas, to the classic woven baskets of bamboo and flowers. Once you reach the temple, you will find a staircase: climb it and keep walking up to the cliff that borders the northern part of the beach. From here you will have a breathtaking view of the entire coast! Overall, Balangan Beach really deserves a stop, but honestly we didn't lie down and swim: we preferred to continue towards Padang Padang Beach, where the sea was calmer. Balang I certainly recommend it for surfing, it's a great spot, and also for the wonderful view!

Padang Padang Beach

Scalinata per Padang Padang Beach, Bali

Padang Padang Beach is a real pearl on the south coast of Bali: a small beach of golden sand and crystal clear waters, with a strangely calm and flat sea, ideal for enjoying a few hours of relax under the sun. To reach the beach, follow the signs for the motorbike parking (1500 IDR, less then 9 cents), right in front of the beach access. To get to Padang Padang Beach, after paying the entrance fee 10,000 IDR - 65 cents), you will have to go down a staircase in the middle of the jungle, crossing a passage between rocks, but I assure you nothing too demanding, do not be frightened. The beach is located in a small bay between the rocks, a truly splendid view.

Padang Padang Beach, Bali, Indonesia

Here you will find a couple of surf schools, ideal for beginners, the Warung Made (where we had lunch) and a small strip of sand where you can settle freely. I highly recommend this beach, especially for a few hours of relax: if you are looking for waves to surf, you can choose a more suitable place. This little paradise hidden among the rocks, not too crowded, is ideal for tanning while sipping coconut water purchased at the Warung on the beach and swim in the water to cool off from the scorching sun. There is very little shade, almost none if we don't count the small areas by the rocks in the afternoon: so don't forget sunscreen and a hat! Ps: be careful not to settle too close to the rocks and trees, or the monkeys will come and steal anything from you! Along the rock that borders the left side of the beach you will find some small coves that form really nice caves to explore! To refresh yourself, you can choose among the Warung Made or the few surf schools on the beach. At Warung Made we ate our first Nasi Goreng of the trip: Indonesian fried rice with vegetables and egg… delicious and very cheap!

To find out what and where to eat in this area READ ALSO:

Suluban Beach

Pantai Suluban, Bali, Indonesia

Still going south on our motorbike, we finally got to the last beach of the day: Suluban Beach.

This splendid, slightly surreal place consists of a strip of sand surrounded by limestone cliffs and caves. To get to the beach you will have to pay 5000 IDR (about 30 cents) and then walk up a series of stairs until you reach the recess in the cliffs. Along the way you will find some surf schools and once at the bottom, tide permitting, some itinerant snack vendors. Make sure you check the tide state before fetting here: when it's high the beach almost disappears, while when it's low, like when we went, the sea retreats, giving birth to a series of splendid natural pools. At the beginning of the sand spit you will find another staircase at the top of which is the Delpi Rock Cafè. This very famous place is nothing more than a Warung built on the cliff from which you can enjoy an incredible view of the sea! Here there is also an accessible swimming pool at IDR 10,000 per person (€6.50 per person). Ps: watch out for the monkeys: they can't wait to steal something from your backpack on the way down!

To find out what and where to eat in this area READ ALSO:

Pura Luhur Ulu Watu

Pura Luhur Ulu Watu, Bali, Indonesia

Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is a temple located on the southwest coast of the island, on a cliff overlooking the sea. The temple is among the most visited in Bali, especially at sunset, thanks to the splendid view and the colors of which the sea and the sky are tinged at this time. Only believers can enter the small temple, but the view and the atmosphere that hovers over this temple make it one of the favorite destinations for tourists, an absolute must on the island. The entrance to the temple is IDR 50,000 (about €3.30) and you will have to wear a sarong as a sign of respect, which will be provided free of charge at the entrance. Another rule to enter, as in all Hindu temples, is that of the prohibition of access for women during the menstrual cycle.

Danza del Fuoco Kecak, Uluwatu, Bali

To the right of the temple, the Kecak Fire Dance takes place every evening, costing IDR 150,000 (€10) per head. We had already decided to attend the show at the Ubud Palace once there, which by the way costs half, so we skipped this experience and decided to enjoy the sunset instead. At the end of the day I can tell you that it was an excellent choice: we have seen various videos of the Dance and it is absolutely not comparable to the show we witnessed in Ubud. If you are undecided about which of the two to do, choose the Ubud Palace Dance Show, without any doubt: there you will find live music, colorful dances and performances, much more typical and spectacular. Here in Ulu Watu the highlight is definitely the sunset: go around the temple and then head to the cliff east of the temple and wait for the sun to go down. It goes down just behind the temple and the view is priceless, much more than the dance!

Sunset at Pura Luhur Ulu Watu

Nusa Penida

If you look east from the coast of Sanur, on the horizon you will notice the large silhouette of Nusa Penida, the largest island of Bali, close to the smaller Nusa Lembongan. Compared to Bali, Nusa Penida is much less touristy and it has always been a very poor area, where the climate and the soil do not allow the cultivation of rice: one of the major resources is the cultivation of seaweed. Its suggestive landscapes and unspoiled villages make it a real gem, absolutely not to be missed on a trip to Bali. Nusa Penida can be visited in a day, as we did, or it is possible to stay and visit it without any rush. It all depends on the time you have: the island is big enough, on a motorbike you will be able to see the most beautiful places in one day, but not with much time to enjoy it. The ideal is to spend at least one night there, so you can also explore the beaches and enjoy a little relaxation in the unique landscapes that this island offers you. To evaluate a two-day option in Nusa Penida, take a look at my three-week alternative itinerary and..

How to get to Nusa Penida

Traghetto per Nusa Penida da Sanar, Bali

The best way to reach Nusa Penida is taking a boat from the port of Sanur to Toya Pakeh, one of the main villages on the island. We bought the ticket directly in the offices at the port, which we reached by taxi from our accommodation, again via Grab, paying 17,000 IDR (€1.10) in total. To find out more about transport in Bali READ ALSO: Bali, Gili Islands and Lombok: how to plan your trip to Indonesia on your own

We chose the Billabong Fast Cruise company, paying IDR 150,000 (€10) each return. The ride is nearly 40 minutes and the first boat leaves at 8:00am, then every half hour, while the last ride back to Sanur from Nusa Penida is at 4:30pm. To get on the boat you will have to enter the water and you will get wet up to at least your knees, so I do not recommend moving with a trolley or bulky luggage. It's all very good but safe, don't worry!

Exploring Nusa Penida on your own

Scooter a Nusa Penida, Bali

As in Bali, even here in Nusa Penida we rented a good old motornike rented for the day, so that we could explore the island on our own and not get stuck in traffic, which is less intense here than in Bali, but gets much worse nearby of the major points of interest, due to the very scruffy streets. If the conditions of the roads in Bali scare you, do not drive to Nusa Penida: here it is definitely much worse, especially off the main road that runs along the island. The asphalt is quite uneven and in many places full of holes and mud: going by car or minivan will slow you down a lot, so I feel like saying that with a little calm and prudence, the best option is still a motorbike. As soon as you arrive in Toja Pakeh you will find many rentals to choose from: we negotiated up to 70,000 IDR (€4.60) for the whole day, with a full tank of petrol included.

Toya Pakeh

Toya Pakeh is one of the main village of Nusa Penida, where the port that brings tourists from Bali is located. Here you will find many places to rent scooters, tourist agencies for excursions, snorkelling and diving, and also some delicious cafes.

In particular, I suggest the Wyns Cafè Penida, right in front of the harbor alley, where we had an excellent breakfast before starting the exploration of the island, and the Alily Coffee Shop, a small café that also houses a craft shop on the ground floor, next to the cash desk.

To find out what and where to eat in Nusa Penida READ ALSO:

Angel Billabong and Broken Beach

The first stop of our day in Nusa Penida is in the south-west of the island, at Angel Billabong and Broken Beach: with a single stop and a few minutes' walk, you can visit both, after parking on the cliff at 5000 IDR (about 30 cents). Angel Billabong is a beautiful natural cliff pool overlooking the sea. When the tide is low you can go down and swim: unfortunately when we went it was so low that it was completely dry! Definitely more sensational was Broken Beach, a wonderful beach completely enclosed in a circle of rock that lets the sea water enter only from a small point. From above you can go all the way around the cliff that surrounds it, while at the base it is only accessible by sea by boat! Truly a spectacle of nature, absolutely unmissable!

Broken Beach, Nusa Penida, Bali

Kelingking Beach

Kelingking Beach is certainly one of the most outstanding places in Nusa Penida: a stunning dinosaur-shaped beach located on the southeast of the island. The viewpoint on the cliff is the most crowded with tourists queuing to take a photo, located in front of the parking accessible for 5,000 IDR (about 30 cents). To reach the beach you will have to go down a very steep descent of about 40 minutes, but I assure you that it is worth it. If you visit Nusa Penida in the day, I suggest you skip the descent and continue, if instead you stay at least one night, get off and enjoy this paradisiacal and uncrowded beach.

Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, Bali

Diamond Beach and Atuh Beach

Diamond Beach is by far the most beautiful beach of Nusa Penida, located in the north of the island: the entrance to the parking lot will cost you 10,000 IDR (60 cents) absolutely deserved! The spectacular staircase that takes you to the beach will guarantee you a breathtaking view of the bay with its cliffs overlooking a turquoise sea that will make you lose your mind. To the left of Diamond Beach, you will find Atuh Beach, another wonder of incredible colors, where the white sand meets the crystalline blue of the sea. Here too, as for Kelingking Beach, if you have time, don't stop at the viewpoint on the cliff, but go down to the beaches and relax in these wonders of nature: there are few such beautiful beaches in the world!

Crystal Bay

Crystal Bay is one of the places we missed, since we only had one day in Nusa Penida, but it is one of those places that I recommend you visit if you decide to extend your stay on the island. It is a splendid beach where you can swim with the Mola Mola (giant sunfish) and swim to an ancient Hindu temple.

Manta Point and Palau Menjangan

For snorkeling and diving lovers, these are the two spots that I had saved for Nusa Penida. Here you can explore some of the most beautiful underwater places in the world, just book an excursion in one of the many tourist agencies in Nusa Penida or even in Sanur. If you have time do not underestimate these experiences and make at least one. If you are not a diver, I suggest you at least snorkel at Manta Point, which is within everyone's reach and quite exciting!

Here we are at the end of the second part of our 2 week trip to Bali, Gili and Lombok. To recap how we split day two and day three: Second day:

Third day:

Take a look also to the other destinations of this trip:

To find out what and where to eat along the various places.. READ ALSO:

If you think this post is useful, please like it or a comment, while if you need more information don't hesitate to contact me!

Have a nice trip (:


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