Surfer’s don’t care about resorts
cold showers do the trick.
They don’t need fancy restaurants
fried rice and Bintang will suffice.
Techno clubs and drugs don’t woo them
they’d rather rise for the surf.
Reggae and relaxation suits them fine
to ride well they have to hang loose.
They conquer fear and boundaries often
focused only on the direction of the wave
so go where the surfers go
if rugged gems are what you crave.
In my two years of following wave riders
all across the world
nowhere quite embodied their lifestyle
as much as Bali’s hilly South Coast.
Where the road dips and rises wildly
the fearless ride recklessly
cows graze in grass on the sidelines
simplicity still outnumbers luxury.
Golden sand beaches nestle
at the base of craggy cliffs
surfers walk down stone carved steps
absorbed by the waves in the distance.
Balangan is long and gorgeous
with just a string of local warungs
barrels break over a reef bed
thrilling, and lots of fun.
Hippy yogis chill
on Bingin’s striking white sand
surfers ride the short and crowded wave
or paddle to Impossible for a long left hand.
Vacationers clutter Padang Padang
thanks to Eat Pray Love
but early morning surf sessions
can be quietly observed from the road above.
Experts only at Uluwatu
when it’s big and low tide
paddle out from inside the cave
or sit back and watch the pros ride.
Immersed in surfer heaven
by the dramatic cliffs
and glowing sea
“I want to live here!”
I professed effortlessly.
But after struggling to communicate in Vietnam
wandering the street markets in Thailand
and staying in rugged villages in Cambodia
now, in my easy paved existence in Indo
I wondered where did all the Balinese go?
I saw them in fleeting moments
on a procession leading up the hill
or playing by the ocean on a rainy day
but never eating on the roadside
or owning the wailing waves
in fact even the sacred temple
appeared to be a tourist trap.
Feeling like a vacationer instead of a traveler
passing my lazy days
the more I opened my eyes
the more questions I raised.
I witnessed luxury resorts
popping up on this once rugged coast
I met partying tourists from Kuta
and found stores selling designer clothes.
And after a month in Lombok
a world less discovered where I befriended locals
being back in Bali I wondered
what future does this place hold?
So book it to the Bukit
before there’s too much change
go now to the Bukit
while the surfers still rein.
The Best of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula
$10 for a yoga class, $5 for breakfast
Built up on the cliff overlooking Bingin, The Temple Lodge is yogi heaven. Elegant rooms surround the infinity pool with expansive ocean views and guests can enjoy onsite yoga and massage and organic healthy food. If you can budget it, I highly recommend staying here, otherwise stop in for a Hatha yoga class in the morning followed by raw muesli and homemade yogurt.
250,000 rupiah ($20) for a bungalow for 2
These bungalows may be the most luxurious I stayed in anywhere in Bali. The big bed had soft white linens, an elegant wrap around mosquito net, and they even sprinkled yellow orchids on the bed. The bathroom had a huge hot water shower with excellent water pressure. I could hardly believe how nice the place was for the price. The grounds are small and intimate with a swimming pool, though it was still under construction when I was there. A big breakfast of fruit salad, tea, juice, and a choice of pancake or eggs and toast is included in the price.
$3-7 for breakfast and lunch
This darling cafe on the main street in Padang Padang has a wide variety of international dishes from huevos rancheros to healthy quinoa salad. Check out the bakery country for freshly baked goodies.
$5-10 for breakfast and lunch
Get your fill of green juice, organic salads, and other healthy goodies at Buddha Soul in Padang Padang. It’s an idea spot to sit for a few hours checking in at the online “office” while nibbling on some fruit and muesli and taking a shot of wheatgrass.
$7-10 for Western dishes, $7 for cocktails
If you make it to Uluwatu, you will most certainly find yourself sipping on a beer while watching the surfers from one of the many oceanview decks at Single Fin. This bar always has good music, great vibes, and you can’t beat the view. The Bukit shuts down early most nights, surfer’s need their beauty sleep before rising with sun after all, but Single Fin is the one exception. On Sunday nights they host the biggest party on the peninsula, and possibly the most fun party in all of Bali, with live Reggae music starting at sunset and DJs playing all night long. Don’t miss it.
20,000 rupiah per person
It may be overrun with tourists and monkeys intending to steal your stuff, but the Uluwatu temple’s dramatic views are worth a visit. Apparently on full moon days at sunset many locals come dressed in traditional attire.