Best of South Bali: Bingin, Uluwatu and Nusa Lembongan

Bingin

Quite possibly THE most relaxing place on the planet. Bingin feels like how Bali should  be (perhaps in the days before mass tourism) …. think surfer vibes and rustic wooden beachside shacks, chilled beers and the sound of crashing waves.

See / Do

Beach Walks at Bingin Beach: The stairs down to the beach are a work out in their own right, but with views like this it’s well worth the climb up and down. Once you’ve made it to beach level, you’ll find it the perfect place to sit & watch the surfers, watch the sun go down, or just enjoy a walk along the sand.

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Bingin Beach: simple surfer shack bliss

Explore the High Street: Check out the high street that runs from Drifter Café all the way down to Padang Padang beach. You’ll find surfer shops, a couple of small clothing boutiques, juice bars, and food places to meet those hunger pangs.  A good walking route (which can get hot, so take water and a hat!):

  • Starting at our accommodation in Bingin village, head away from the beach along  Jalan Pantai Bingin, walking for about 10-15 minutes.
  • At the end of the road you’ll reach the intersection with Jalan Labuansait, and just prior to the intersection you’ll see Drifter Café, a perfect rest stop for your morning coffee.
  • Post coffee, you’ll turn right down Jalan Labuansait (aka the high street) to enjoy  some shopping and browsing.
  • Follow the road all the way down to the beach, which will lead you to Padang Padang beach: a perfect place to cool down with a swim or relax on the sand with book-in-hand. Make sure you have some cash on you as this beach requires a small IDR payment for entry.
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The beautiful sandy cove of Padang Padang beach.

Yoga Mornings: If you feel like some morning activity, then there are some great options in Bingin to unleash your inner yogi. The Temple Lodge has a 8am daily practice, or for a slightly longer sleep in, Mu Boutique Resort offers classes 9.30am each morning.

Massage Bliss: There is just something about a Balinese Massage that is the perfect balance for me; not as gentle as an aromatherapy massage and not as harsh as a deep tissue massage. It’s my favourite way to unwind from the fast pace of urban living. In Bingin Village you will find spas at Mick’s Place, Acacia Bungalows, Mu & The Temple Lodge.

Pool Time: Grab a good book, lather on the suncream, and settle in for an afternoon poolside. Afternoons in Bingin are steaming hot, so this is the best time to lay low and embrace your chill out time. Maybe even sneak in a cheeky afternoon Nanna nap …

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Pool time at the very relaxing Sal Secret Spot

Eat / Drink

There are a bunch of great food and drink options around Bingin, but these were our favourites from our stay:

The Cashew Tree: This is the place to go for the freshest, healthiest, veggie-loving menu options in Bingin. The cafe has a great vibe, so bring a book, a deck of cards, or any excuse to just hang about and soak it up.

Kellys Warung: The essence of Bingin life! Tucked right into the bottom of the cliffs on Bingin Beach, Kelly’s is the perfect spot to sit and watch the surfers in action. Pop by for their tropical smoothies, or grab a feed; their menu has a good selection of simple and healthy options. If you’re hungry I recommend their delicious (and huge!) wraps, with the tempah and falafel being the standouts. Kelly’s is also a prime location to grab an icy cold bintang or two and watch the sun go down.

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Kellys Warung: located right on Bingin Beach

Lucky Fish Seafood BBQ: located literally on the sand, you’ll see them setting up tables along the beach a little before sunset. Here you can select your own fresh seafood, which is then BBQ’d to perfection. We enjoyed the freshest snapper as the sun went down, accompanied by some morning glory greens, rice and an ice cold Bintang. Dinner with your feet in sand = pure heaven!

 

Coffee

Drifter: This awesome building combines surf store, art pieces (for the beach house you wished you owned!), and a cafe hidden in the peaceful garden space out the back. The coffee is strong and delicious, with either the cortado or house cold brew both as winning options. There’s also a tasty list of breakfast and lunch items if you’re feeling hungry.

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Where to stay

You’ll really want to be in walking distance of Bingin Village (if not right amongst it), and there is an array of options for any budget. We wanted accommodation with a swimming pool, value for money, and a place that felt at home amongst the sand and surf.

Sal Secret Spot ticked all those boxes and provided the best balance of value for money for a chic boutique hotel stay. The rooms are simple and come with open air bathrooms, excellent breakfasts included in the room rate, and there is a beautiful pool and garden space to relax in.

 

For something a little more indulgent, Mick’s Place is another great choice. With private bungalow-hut style rooms, surrounding a stunning pool, perched at the edge of the Bingin cliffs;  this property provides some stunning coastal (and sunset!) views.

Uluwatu

Dramatic cliffs, pure white sand and brilliant turquoise waters. This is ‘postcard perfect’ Bali. If you’re confident on a scooter (and don’t mind heavy traffic and winding roads) then you’ll be able to discover the many hidden beaches of Uluwatu. Otherwise if you prefer 4 wheels (like us!) then organise a driver for the day to take you about some of the key sights of the area. You will still get to see some incredible views!

See / Do

Sunday’s Beach Club: spending the day at a beach club is a must do when visiting Bali; and this is one of Bali’s best! You’ll be dropped off in the hotel lobby area on the clifftop, with the only way to access Sunday’s being via their private gondola down to the beach. It’s only as you make you way down that the views of the beach and stunning turquoise water is revealed. A very cool way to arrive!

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The view from the top!

Entry is only via purchasing a day pass which includes use of the sun loungers, plus use of equipment for kayaking, snorkelling, and stand up paddle boarding. Unfortunately for us, we chose a high-wind, high-tide day so we couldn’t make the most of what was on offer. But still, it’s a beautiful place to spend the day relaxing beachside with a good book. Tip: The day pass tickets run on a first come first served basis, so make sure you arrive early to ensure you have the best pick of the sun-beds (as they fill up quick!).

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Uluwatu Temple: officially known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu. The draw isn’t the structure itself (Bali has more impressive temples dotted around the island), but the striking coastal views. This Hindu temple is one of the oldest in Bali, originally built in the 11th century, and is still a popular place for local ceremonies today. You’ll need to hire a sarong; to make sure you are respectfully covered on your legs and shoulders. Also best to watch out for the pesky local monkeys; they will literally snatch the sunglasses right off your head.

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Sunsets at Single Fin: This bar and restaurant is situated in a prime spot along the Uluwatu cliffs. Perch on seats overlooking the ocean for prime surfer watching, and THE most amazing sunsets. It’s also a really fun vibe; think cold beers, old school hip hop tunes and various balconies and nooks to hang out on. It’s a super popular destination for sundowners so make sure you get there a good hour before sunset, so you can secure a seat with a view.

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Nusa Lembongan

Wanting to escape even further away from the crowds of Bali, then Nusa Lembongan is a relatively easy and quick boat ride away. Nusa Lembongan is probably best known for its incredibly clear waters, small boats moored in beautiful natural bays, snorkelling with manta rays, and laid back island life.

Where to stay

For me, coming to Nusa Lembongan was all about finding accommodation with views over the picture perfect bay. We also wanted to splurge on a private pool villa, to really indulge in some quiet down-time away from it all.

We stayed at Tenang Villas and it was the perfect choice for us. Great location being an easy walk from cafes and restaurants, our own private pool, and views overlooking the bay of Jungut Batu Beach. The one bedroom villa was modern and well laid out, and came with a fridge full of beers ready to go! The staff were also excellent, offering to help book restaurants, transfers to other parts of the island, tours, activities or (my favourite) an in-house Balinese massage.

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Pool views from the 1 Bedroom Villa

 

We loved our time here so much we returned to stay in the two bedroom villa with friends!

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Bay views from the pool decking of the 2 bedroom villa

We also arranged our ferry boat transfers from Bali to Nusa Lembongan through Tenang Villas. The transfers include the 45 minute boat trip with Rocky Fast Cruises (from Sanur Beach), plus a free pick up and drop off in Bali. This really was worth pre-booking, taking the stress and effort out of the process.

See / Do

Beach Strollin’: Get your step count up and walk as far as you can along Jungut Batu Beach. It might not look like a long walk from your villa views above, but be prepared with suncream, a hat, and some water.

Rent a Stand-Up-Paddle Board: If you’re ready for some more activity, then perhaps its time for a SUP! You can rent the boards from the dive shop located on Jungut Batu Beach.

Wake up for Sunrise: I normally prefer a good sunset over a sunrise (I really do love my sleep!), but a sunrise on Nusa Lembongan is a must do. The sun will rise directly over the beautiful bay of Jungut Batu Beach, with views of Mount Agung on the horizon. It really is magical to see the colour of the sky change so dramatically; from purple to pink, to  the soft peach glow of early morning. Worth the early wake up call, and you can always go back to bed!

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Massage Time: When in Bali, get a massage! Tenang Villas arranged to have a massage therapist come to us in the villa for an hour long Balinese massage, and it was pure bliss. Very affordable and definitely worth it.

Mornings at the Yoga ShackLife is all about balance, and if you like to mix your relaxation out with some activity, then this Yoga Studio is a great option. With daily morning and afternoon sessions, simply drop by 15 minutes prior to the session to secure your spot. Located at Secret Garden Bungalows just behind Jungut Batu beach.

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Eat / Drink / Coffee

The Deck: Coffee, breakfast, lunch, happy hour cocktails. You name the time of day, and this place delivers the goods! This cafe / bar is perched in what is probably the best location on the island, with stunning views over the boats moored on Jungut Batu beach and stretching all the way to Mount Agung on the horizon.

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Hai Bar & Grill: This is the cutest place for a pizza and beer night (or even fish & chips with cocktails if that’s more to your fancy). Located on Mushroom Bay beach, under the shelter of an open plan bamboo and straw roof, this restaurant completely nails the island holiday vibes. Don’t worry that this is located on the other side of the island: the restaurant offers free pickup and drop off from any part of the island!

Muntigs: This makes for an excellent date night choice, with candlelit tables beautifully laid out around the pool, and really stand out service. The food is also very high quality and prepared to perfection; the highlight for me being the delicious and refined Nasi Goreng served up with chicken satay.  Located upstairs above The Deck.

Ginger and Jamu: It is a bit of a walk from the hill of Jungut Batu along the beach to this cafe, but trust me, it’s worth enduring the heat of the walk. This cafe is probably best known for its healthy food, smoothie bowls and coffee. All the produce is too the highest quality and made with love … I’m even going to go as far as to say this was the best coffee on the island! Also its location right smack bang on the sand aint so bad either.

 

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Sandy Bay Beach Club: Located on Sunset Beach, this is another restaurant worth driving across the island for (with free pick up and drop off service included too!). We visited for lunch; an excellent choice of burgers, BBQ grilled seafood, and ice cold ciders & wine. The beach club has a pool overlooking the ocean, so pack a day bag and make the most of a lazy afternoon poolside.

 

 

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