I stepped off the 30-hour Singapore Airlines plane ride to Denpasar, Indonesia and was immediately transported to Uluwatu Surf Villas : the most relaxing and cliff hanging-view hotel just about an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive away. I recommend this town as your first stop in Bali as you need to relax and hang form the long haul and aid your jet-lag. Airport pick-up is complimentary and so is breakfast! As you ascend up the stairs into the airy lobby, which is essentially a hut with a restaurant, bar, and gift shop, you are entranced by the yellow plush chairs, wooden tables that seem to be used for co-working in the afternoons, a welcome coconut, dangling metal and bronze light fixture, and a beautiful blue tiled back bar. All of this overlooks the pool and beach where the surfers get after it. I headed straight to the infinity pool where I watched friends, couples, and individuals sit back and watch the waves trail off into the sunset. I met a pro surfer named Eric who informed me that I would definitely not be surfing at this beach because the rough waves were meant for those who had surfed more than once unlike me. It was nice to talk to a friendly human who knew the area after flying so long and it kicked my vaca off on the right start!
Uluwatu is not a walkable town—AT ALL. I tried walking 20 minutes one way and it was so hot after doing the math I knew if I went any further and didn’t find something, I might dry up on the side of the road. Have no fear, you can literally spend all day at Uluwatu Surf Villa relaxing, enjoying the sun, yoga, a walk on the beach (it is rocky FYI), and then get a car at night to take you to see the fire dance or visit another hotel/restaurant. The rooms were my favorite for my entire trip throughout Canggu and Ubud as well. I stayed in two kinds: Jungle View and Ocean View. Jungle View is two stories with a patio and hammock, dreamy canopy bed, right beneath the outdoor yoga deck, and has a gate access path down to the front lawn cliff that leads to the beach steps. The Ocean View was the best hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. Perhaps because I forgot that it was a 3 bedroom villa with it’s own private pool overlooking the beach, hammock, kitchen, and massage bed. I had to move to this room because it was the only available on my second night so I went for it so I didn’t have to leave the property, but by the time I got to Bali I had forgotten about these arrangements. I frolicked throughout the whole “apartment” blasting Elton John (had just seen Rocketman) and laid out on the lawn chairs reading listening to the waves and dipping into the pool before my friend Leslie joined me late that night from New York. After a year of hustling on my PR business, Chekmark Consulting, the burnout hit me and this day to myself really beat the heat! The best part is you can set up all the following activities below when you get there through the hotel and don’t need any reservations.
WHERE TO EAT:
- Suka Espresso – This was my favorite smoothie ball in Bali! I went here two days in a row. It’s an Australian-inspired, outdoor cafe and breakfast all day. Get the Morning Greens with tuscan kale, mixed quinoa, avo, broccoli, lemon + basil pesto and add halloumi and poached egg; Mango Smoothie Bowl with Pineapple and Banana; Red Velvet Latte.
- Mana – This is the restaurant at Uluwatu Surf Villa that was just redone and brought on a new chef. It’s not the best meal in Uluwatu (that is Suka, duh!) but it gets the job done and has menu options for all. Go for the Crab Omelette with Miso Salsa, Macha Som Tom Salad, on Sourdough Bread. For dinner go for the Cauliflower Tacos on homemade mana corn tortillas for something light and the Roast Chicken with Brazilian Black Beans (don’t know why these were SO good), Turmeric Rice, and Tortillas.
- Bvlgari Hotel – This is the one splurge we dove into in Uluwatu, but it was still super affordable. As soon as we got dropped off into the volcanic stone entrance, a golf cart drove us through windy roads throughout the villas up to the bar and restaurant. The luscious ride reveals all the flowers and green beauty. Grab a negroni at Il Bar which is a terrace that overlooks the island onto the ocean while watching the sunset. You’ll lay in a daybed and have delicious Balinese snacks. Then head over to Sangkar restaurant (love their ceramics which are also from Kevala) which is also on the edge of the cliff. The kind waiters are all adorable and the bill was only $85 for 2 making it the most expensive here, but also,… Bvlgari!
WHAT TO DO:
- Yoga at Uluwatu Surf Villas– Class is 90 minutes everyday at 7:30 a.m. or 4 p.m. $8.
- Fire Dance – The hotel arranged transportation and my ticket for me. My driver took me out to the Uluwatu Temple which is on a cliff and help set me up for success to enter the Kecack & Fire Dance. With little English, we did a lot of sign language and smiles. He wrapped an orange tie around my waist to hold up a purple skirt that covered my legs. He walked me to the arena where the fire dance was to take place and pushed me up the auditorium seating where I grabbed a seat. The hour show which was $2 was wild! A Balinese dance without any music but a choir of 70 men singing, chanting, and banging to tell a Hindu story with Sita and Rama. Fire, jumping, a monkey costume, and a sunset. The driver waited for me and took me right back to the hotel. What a sweetheart and so easy!
- In-Room Massage – Massages are super cheap in Bali. Order one to your room at the Surf Villas!
- Walk Down to Single Fin– This is where you’ll find an ATM and you can walk around to see some surf shops and restaurants. On my trail down through the jungle through this area, I met a beautiful woman named Roni selling woven yarn bracelets, belts, necklaces, that she told me took between 5 hours and all day to make. Don’t miss this. These are the best ones I saw all throughout Ubud, Uluwatu, and Canggu.
- Shop at Kevala Home– This is the best ceramics shop on the island. When you leave Uluwatu and head to Canggu, have the driver stop here (there is also one in Ubud). I got a volcanic white plate, rice bowls, wooden spoons, nesting bowls, all for only $70. You won’t see designs or colors with this good quality anywhere else.
- Shop at Uluwatu Surf Villa Gift Shop– Make sure to pick up some blankets, ceramics, and especially the Bali perfume bottle. Makes a great gift and keeps you feeling like you are on the island when you’re back home.
- Omnia Beach Club or Sundays Beach Club – I didn’t make it to any of the wilder beach clubs because I was well, meditating and healing my life away, but these are two that were recommended to me if you want to party!