The best locations for sunset watching in Bali include the collection of main beaches along the western coastline. Some of these spots feature several temple landmarks that add an exotic silhouette to the dramatic postcard pictures that will stay in your lasting memory. Some beaches offer unobstructed sea and sky panoramas with fiery streaks of cloud layers, while others have the lone golden disc behind tiered shrines. Such sights are simply not to be missed in Bali. While you can easily head down to any spot on the island’s west coast, we’ve gathered here the 10 best places for sunsets in Bali, where you can witness such picture-perfect moments. Besides moments of skies turning vivid crimson together with the sinking of the majestic fireball, you will also enjoy some of the most dramatic scenes during the so-called ‘blue hour’ – right after the sun sinks over the horizon, as the sky turns purple and cobalt blue, then a star-studded black.
- Tanah Lot Temple,
Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s most important landmarks, famed for its unique offshore setting and sunset backdrops. If you are planning only to visit Tanah Lot, we’d recommend entering the premises at about 5pm. This will give you enough time to explore the area, visit the sea temple and surroundings and allow you to relax and watch the amazing sunset at about 6-630pm while having a fresh coconut at one of the food stores perched on the cliff. For avid photographers this is the golden hour, and if the weather is merciful you will enjoy a spectacular sundown sight.
However, the temple is equally beautiful when the tide is high. The site of the temple being marooned at sea will take your breath away and forever be etched in your memory. Tanah Lot is sure enough to make you feel good within yourself on a spiritual level. Just sitting on the rocks, soaking in the sight of each wave crashing into the rocks with gusto, has a calming effect on your mind. The sound of the waves that fills your ears, makes you want to sit there forever. As you head out, you will take such good memories along with you, the ones of you being close to nature. You got to be there to feel it.
- Echo Beach Canggu,
Echo Beach is one of Bali’s most recently christened surf spots. The nickname overshadows its local name ‘Pantai Batu Mejan’, after a significant Balinese Hindu sea temple on site. Sharing the serene rice field-landscaped region of Canggu with other wave-riding haunts such as Berawa, Seseh and Pererenan, Echo Beach has become most popular due to its advanced reef breaks, 180-degree seascape and sunsets, and array of delicious seafood cafes set on a high vantage point from where to enjoy it all. The black-sand beach is approximately 35km northwest of Kuta and Seminyak, and a 14km drive west from the provincial capital of Denpasar. For those staying in one of the many luxury villas in Canggu, such as The Bali Dream Villa Resort, Ametis Villa and the LV8 Resort, this coastal region can be reached by a 45-minute transfer from Ngurah Rai International Airport in Tuban, South Bali.
Past the upscale area of Seminyak, the journey further west takes you to Canggu’s green expanses of paddies, which remain well-kept and tended to by local Balinese villagers. Echo Beach is at the end of Jalan Pantai Batu Mejan, the road originally named after the temple there, but which now has more signposts bearing its new nickname. Before a Balinese-style gateway that opens to a glimpse of the horizon are rows of shacks with surfboards for rent, ding repairs, and a motorcycle parking spot. Sunset dining spots line the paved alley left of the gate, starting with Sticky Fingers Osteria Italiana, then Sate Bali, Dian Café, and the Echo Beach House which is responsible for its moniker. While most open during the day, many come to life a little later with barbecues and unique boat-shaped buffets at sunset. At the far end of the cafes you will be able to see the outline of the centuries-old temple. The temple and the cafes sit on a small cliff overlooking the surf, and the black-sand beach is accessible down a few steps to the right of the gate. A hundred metres along the coastline and set upon the low-lying rocks is Sand Bar, parasols and colourful beanbags await you for great chill-out sessions.
While the coast is excellent for sunbathing, leisurely strolls, and surf and landscape photographers, the waves of Echo Beach are strictly for advanced riders. Surfers dominate the scene by day, before shifting to a more ambient dining scene by night. The beach is clean and well-kept, the result of the joint efforts among various surf schools and clubs along Canggu’s coast, which carry out routine beach cleanups along its kilometre-length. To sum up, Echo Beach serves as one of the island’s best surf spots, and a great place to chill with a laid-back vibe, great views, and delicious seafood.
- Seminyak Beach,
Seminyak Beach is a world apart from its neighbouring beach resort areas – the likes of Kuta and Legian to its south – chiefly in the type of crowd it attracts. Bali first emerged as a tourist destination for vagabond surfers, attracted to these south-western shores by its dramatic waves, with Seminyak Beach itself offering its splendid coast of gold to dark sand and gorgeous sunsets. However, the coast has over the recent years become popular with resident expats and now has a refined feel to it. Here you’ll find a fashionable almost chic scene, with rows of designer boutiques along its main roads and side streets; a handful of the island’s best dining venues, and world-renowned nightlife and entertainment spots that host international gigs.
Seminyak nowadays is also home to some of the most chic resorts and villas on the island, and they in turn are surrounded by many luxury spas and dining outlets. The fine selection of lavish beachfront hotels started with the Oberoi, built during the hippie-and-surf craze of the seventies, and went on to become a landmark, lending its name to the whole north-western end of Seminyak and the road that runs through it (now officially ‘Jalan Laksmana’). Clearly not for backpackers and budget travellers, Seminyak now has quite an extravagant mix of luxury stays with the likes of The Samaya, Anantara Seminyak, the ultramodern W Retreat & Spa, and a collection of other five-star villas added to the scene.
The main Jalan Raya Seminyak extends north from Jalan Raya Legian, and ends at Jalan Raya Kerobokan and the westernmost end of Kuta’s Sunset Road. Jalan Raya Seminyak branches into three main streets: Jalan Dhyana Pura, Jalan Laksmana and Jalan Petitenget in its north. Each has its own characteristics and typical collection of venues. Jalan Dhyana Pura (also administratively referred to as Jalan Camplung Tanduk) features an eclectic row of bars; mostly a gay bar scene with go-go dancers, and leads down to the Anantara Resort that hugs the Seminyak beachfront. Jalan Laksmana has been fondly nicknamed ‘eat-street’ by expats for its concentration of great restaurants. Further south from here, Jalan Petitenget is home to most of the area’s notable establishments, such as Potato Head Beach Club and Ku De Ta. Seminyak Beach comprises three adjoining coastal strips, namely Pantai Arjuna or ‘Blue Ocean Beach’ that borders Legian, Petitenget Beach, and way up north to the quieter Batubelig Beach. As Kuta typically rocks on with its lively beach crowd and budget stays, and Legian with its eclectic bar and nightlife scene, Seminyak outshines the two as the island’s most prized beach resort area. Undercurrents are usually strong, and surfing is mostly for the advanced. Other activities to be enjoyed along the coast include horseback riding that starts from the Umalas stables in Canggu in the north, down to Seminyak’s Petitenget coast and Legian’s Blue Ocean Beach area. Seminyak sunsets are not to be missed, best enjoyed while chilling out with friends around the chic poolsides of WooBar at the W Retreat, or down on the beachfront lawn of Ku De Ta or the Potato Head Beach Club.
The main Jalan Raya Seminyak extends north from Jalan Raya Legian, and ends at Jalan Raya Kerobokan and the westernmost end of Kuta’s Sunset Road. Jalan Raya Seminyak branches into three main streets: Jalan Dhyana Pura, Jalan Laksmana and Jalan Petitenget in its north. Each has its own characteristics and typical collection of venues. Jalan Dhyana Pura (also administratively referred to as Jalan Camplung Tanduk) features an eclectic row of bars; mostly a gay bar scene with go-go dancers, and leads down to the Anantara Resort that hugs the Seminyak beachfront. Jalan Laksmana has been fondly nicknamed ‘eat-street’ by expats for its concentration of great restaurants. Further south from here, Jalan Petitenget is home to most of the area’s notable establishments, such as Potato Head Beach Club and Ku De Ta.
Seminyak Beach comprises three adjoining coastal strips, namely Pantai Arjuna or ‘Blue Ocean Beach’ that borders Legian, Petitenget Beach, and way up north to the quieter Batubelig Beach. As Kuta typically rocks on with its lively beach crowd and budget stays, and Legian with its eclectic bar and nightlife scene, Seminyak outshines the two as the island’s most prized beach resort area. Undercurrents are usually strong, and surfing is mostly for the advanced. Other activities to be enjoyed along the coast include horseback riding that starts from the Umalas stables in Canggu in the north, down to Seminyak’s Petitenget coast and Legian’s Blue Ocean Beach area. Seminyak sunsets are not to be missed, best enjoyed while chilling out with friends around the chic poolsides of WooBar at the W Retreat, or down on the beachfront lawn of Ku De Ta or the Potato Head Beach Club.
- Kuta Beach,
Kuta is where the modern era of tourism in Bali began. It is known for its long sandy beach and great waves for surfing (beginners and intermediate), as well as its wild nightlife and high concentration of bars, nightclubs, and hotels. It is popular with younger travelers and those on a budget s there is still plenty of cheap accommodation to choose from. Traffic is really mad sometimes and it can get really busy, but it is still a great place to meet people and have fun.
There is not much you can see and enjoy in Kuta itself, but the white sandy beach extends beyond the airport into Jimbaran. Known as Bali’s number one sunset site, every late afternoon hundreds of people gather to watch the spectacular sunsets and enjoy a meal of fresh seafood from one of the many beachside cafes. The sunsets here are spectacular around December, so don’t forget your camera. Another place you should visit is Ground Zero, where Balinese residents and foreign tourists alike still keep coming to put fresh flowers at the Memorial. A Bali Bomb Memorial Event is also held every year, hosted jointly by the Indonesian and Australian governments.
Kuta attracts a very international and mixed set of travelers. Some travelers find Kuta to be overdeveloped and overwhelming, while others love the action and liveliness. As a historical center of tourism, it should not be missed. Many Australians love this place and come here since decades – first as backpackers and now with their families. It’s simply a very easy going place, yet very busy. It offers everything you need for a fun holiday while the prices are still low compared to Seminyak for example.
- Jimbaran Beach,
Jimbaran Bay, locally known as ‘Pantai Muaya’, is where seafood dining and sunsets combine perfectly with a great sea panorama. The collection of 17 beach restaurants joined together in a single cluster is a must-do on most visitors’ lists. To the left of the curving bay is the low-lying hill speckled with the villas of the Four Seasons Resort, and nearby is Sundara, a fine dining and chill-out spot for those with a penchant for luxury. To the far right is Ngurah Rai’s landing strip. Right ahead, in between, is the gorgeous combination of sand, surf, sky and sunset.
Jimbaran seafood cafes must already be on your must-visit places for your Bali holiday, especially if you’re a seafood lover. Not only is Jimbaran Bay one of Bali’s best places for memorable sunsets, but it is also the most popular coast to enjoy grilled seafood. Seventeen seafood cafes line the white-sand beach locally known as ‘Pantai Muaya’. Mostly open afternoon until late, each of the venues within the row of Jimbaran seafood cafes in the bay offer fresh-grilled seafood served at candlelit tables on the sand. As the sun goes down, the horizon features faint lights from the Ngurah Rai airport and traditional fishing boat lanterns at sea.
‘Meals on wheels’ dot the beach with street vendor-style grilled sweet corn as snacks. Some peddlers also offer handicraft items. On the entertainment side, occasional strolling musicians roam throughout the Jimbaran seafood cafes, and help set the mood, playing songs by request for diners.
Southward from the InterContinental Bali Resort, an intersection at the new Jimbaran Corner leads you to Jalan Bukit Permai, also named ‘Jalan Four Seasons’ after the resort. Pantai Muaya spans a kilometre along the bay, positioned between these two five-star hotels. The large parking space under an arching signboard and billowing smoke from the burning coconut husks are hard to miss. All local drivers know the way to the Jimbaran seafood cafes. If you stay at the above hotels, simply take an easy stroll along the sand and pick an unreserved table. Although its ‘first-come, first-served’ most of the time, reservations are necessary during the holiday seasons when it is usually packed. A local taxi cooperative holds a monopoly in the area. You can come in by any public transport, but going out leaves you no other option. In case of no meter, negotiate your destination and rates beforehand.
- Tegal Wangi Beach,
Tegal Wangi Beach is one of the most unique ‘hidden’ beaches to grace the western rim of the southern Bukit Peninsula, and despite the fact it’s not very well-known amongst locals, it is ‘in plain sight’, and publicly accessible. Tegal Wangi Beach is named after the temple perched on top of the limestone cliff that overlooks the coast, reachable via a paved road just to the right of the entrance of the glitzy Ayana Resort and Spa in Jimbaran.
Tegal Wangi Beach offers breathtaking seascapes with cool natural features – low tides and crimson sunsets reveal seaweed-covered stony barriers that add an abstract border and foreground to its wider ocean views. This beach was, quite casually, kept a secret among wedding photographers over time, admired for its simple and barren beauty making particularly exotic backdrops. The best time to visit is before sunset and around the ‘blue hour’ (18:00 – 19:00).
A hundred meters or so down the winding road from the Ayana, a car park adjacent to the Pura Tegal Wangi temple is obstructed by a high wall, which adds more mystery to first-time visitors – or instead deter them altogether. But once you find your way in, small glimpses of the ocean panorama are visible behind the hill’s shrubbery. It’s these views of the Indian Ocean from a hundred meters up from Tegal Wangi Beach that draws young local couples to the grassy headland, all laying claim to each of the their ‘favourite spots’.
From this vantage point southward you’ll be able to observe the glimmering torches of the wharfs in the distance and the famous Rock Bar of the Ayana Resort. It’s quite an overwhelming idea that you are experiencing the same great views of luxury, for free (simply bring your own drinks!). Fishermen’s boat lights speckle over the silky waves and you can also see the virtually endless flow of airplanes approaching and landing at the Ngurah Rai Airport runway in the far north. Down below on the white sand there are usually a few photographers with their tripods and brides and grooms-to-be dressed in their best for their pre-wedding photos. You can head down to the sands of Tegal Wangi Beach, carefully descending via a stony walkway.
Due to its natural features and absence of any lifeguards, extra caution should be taken at all times around Tegalwangi Beach, up on the hills and down on its coast. The grassy headlands are borderless and while they provide breathtaking unobstructed panoramic views, they can be quite hazardous during strong winds. Swimming around the waters is not recommended due to the rocky beds and strong undercurrents, but low tide does reveal small pools that are enjoyable to have a soak in.
- Balangan Beach,
Balangan Beach, locally referred to as Pantai Balangan, is one of Bali’s most popular and most scenic, featuring a gorgeous half-kilometre stretch of golden sand bordered between vegetated limestone cliffs and a reef with one of the longest left-hander breaks on the island. This surfing paradise attracts wave riders from around the world, who enjoy most of the south-western Bukit coastline together with Balangan’s sister breaks of Dreamland, Impossibles, Padang Padang, Suluban and Uluwatu further south. Balangan Beach shares the same vicinity as Dreamland, set only a kilometre apart and separated by a small headland that serves as the famous signature Hole 15 of the New Kuta Golf Course, from where players get the best bird’s eye-view over both beaches and the ocean horizon. The coastline is accessible down the namesake Jalan Pantai Balangan, an approximate 7-kilometre (4.3-mile) ride west from the Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park, and 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) south from the main hub of Kuta. Preferably by taxi, or ask your hotel concierge for available shuttle services.
Getting there is effortless thanks to clearly marked signposts bearing names and directions. At its end is the main entrance, and parking fees range between IDR 2,000 and 5,000 for motorcycles and cars. The beach is only a dozen steps down from the cliff, but it’s a good idea to head up the hills beforehand and take a peek from the vantage point for great panoramic angles. The golden stretch of sand meets the vast blue ocean, and you can see from afar the surfers having fun in the breaks. Those into photography will love to linger on for the dramatic sunsets from above. It is swimmable here, but bear in mind it’s a predominantly a surfer’s playground. There are no lifeguards on duty. Several thatch-roofed and stilt terrace warungs (traditional food stalls selling simple meals, snacks and refreshments) and cafes dot the eastern side of coastline, where surfers usually ‘refuel’ in between their thrills. Best time to come with a surfboard if you’re a pro is around the dry season (between May and September) when south-westerly winds create from 2.5ft up to 10-feet swells which can roll on for a good 500 metres.
Non-surfers can simply enjoy the view and the coast itself, with parasol-shaded beach beds available for rent, or you can simply bask under the sun, and bury yourself in the soft sand. At low tide, the reef near the limestone cliffs reveal exotic seaweed covered rock formations and pools, offering even more dramatic sunset angles. Great budget accommodations are available around Balangan Beach, such as the Balangan Garden Bungalow and the Balangan Cottage, which each feature rustic styling with modern amenities.
- Dreamland Beach,
Dreamland Beach is among the collection of ‘hidden’ beaches of Bali: stretches of white sand secluded by limestone cliffs that line the rugged coastline of the southern Bukit Peninsula. The beach became highly accessible following the mega development of the Pecatu Graha and Pecatu Indah Resort projects that, at the turn of the millennium, transformed the 400Ha hilly terrain into the ‘New Kuta’, with Klapa beach club, resorts and the New Kuta Golf course onsite. Despite rampant development over its limestone landscape, Dreamland Beach retains much of its rugged charm on the sand, particularly for beachgoers, day-trippers and surfers who enjoy some of Bali’s best reef breaks near the shore and close paddle outs to the neighbouring world-class reef breaks, namely Balangan up north and Impossibles down south (both for advanced riders). On the sand, you can choose deck chairs and parasols for rent, or enjoy a cheap massage (IDR 50,000 – 100,000 or USD 3.50 – 7). Hard bargaining is advised.
Much of the local ‘warung’ food stall scene of yesteryear is gone, however some small shops can be found and beach peddlers offering cold soft drinks and Bintangs still roam free. Expect some flotsam and jetsam during the wet season with westerly winds (usually between October through April), as well as the common crowds over the local holidays and mid-year school breaks. Some sections of the beach are swimmable, but further out the currents are strong. Stay on for the dramatic sunsets.
- Uluwatu Temple,
As one of the island’s six key temples, Uluwatu Temple shares slight similarity to the allure of Tanah Lot, with its exotic temple shrine silhouette against a vast sky and ocean backdrop. The temple looms 70 metres above the cliff base and there are several spots around the temple, including an open-air amphitheatre nearby, where you can watch a Kecak ‘fire dance’ against the setting sun. Grey long-tailed macaques on high walls occasionally pose for your shots for free.
Uluwatu Temple, or Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars, is renowned for its magnificent location, perched on top of a steep cliff approximately 70 metres above sea level. This temple also shares the splendid sunset backdrops as that of Tanah Lot Temple, another important sea temple located in the island’s western shores. Pura Luhur Uluwatu is definitely one of the top places on the island to go to for sunset delights, with direct views overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean and daily Kecak dance performances. Balinese architecture, traditionally-designed gateways, and ancient sculptures add to Uluwatu Temple’s appeal.
Without a doubt, what makes Uluwatu Temple spectacular is its cliff-top setting at the edge of a plateau 250 feet above the waves of the Indian Ocean. ‘Ulu’ means the ‘top’ or the ‘tip’ and ‘watu’ means a ‘stone’ or a ‘rock’ in Balinese. Several archaeological remains found here prove the temple to be of megalithic origin, dating back to around the 10th century. There are two entrances to Uluwatu Temple, from the south and the north. A small forest lies at the front and hundreds of monkeys dwell here. They are believed to guard the temple from bad influences. The serpentine pathway to the temple is fortified by concrete walls on the cliff side. It takes about an hour to get from one end to another as there are several fenced points along the way to stop. The views from the bottom of the water surging up against rocks and the ocean horizon are remarkable. The Balinese Hindus believe that the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva become one here. That belief results in making Uluwatu Temple a place of worship of Siva Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe. Pura Uluwatu is also dedicated to protect Bali from evil sea spirits.
Behind the main shrine in one of the courtyards of Uluwatu Temple lies a Brahmin statue facing the Indian Ocean, considered as a representation of Dhang Hyang Dwijendra. The two entrances to the temple area are split gates with leaves and flowers carvings. In front of each of them are a couple of sculptures shaped like a human body with an elephant head. A heritage of the 10th century is the one-piece winged stone gate to the inside courtyard of Pura Uluwatu. Winged gates are not commonly found on the island. An addition to Pura Uluwatu in the 16th century is Pura Dalem Jurit. There are three statues in it, one of them is of Brahma. There are two stone troughs in the temple area. If both of them are joined, they create a sarchopagus (Megalithic coffin). Uluwatu Beach, below the cliff, is one of Bali’s best internationally-known surfing spots.
- Nyang Nyang Beach,
Nyang Nyang Beach in Bali is a pristine 1.5-kilometre stretch of coastline and also one of Bali’s least visited beaches. This is partly due to its far-flung location and the long trek required to reach it. Still, it makes for a prize destination for day-trippers and beach lovers exploring the southern Bukit peninsula, and offers great surf for those looking for waves to ride all for themselves. The beach is located in the Pecatu area, half a kilometre’s drive southeast of the Uluwatu Temple. There are several routes branching off from the Jalan Uluwatu main road that leads down to two halves of Nyang Nyang Beach, one of them is via Jalan Batu Nunggulan and right at the cliff edge of Villa Plenilunio. From this end, you need to continue on an approximate half-hour trek down moderately rugged terrain and flight of stairs – a journey well worth it thanks to the splendid views over the limestone hillside covered in lush greenery and flowering bushes. Sounds and views of the ocean accompany your steady descent.
Depending on the route you chose, the flight of stairs usually doesn’t end at the coast, but on flat grassy plains. Beyond this is the prize view when you sink your feet into the coarse sand. The deserted terrain is bordered by slanting cliffs as far as your eyes can see, with thin mists hanging above the ocean. Out at sea you will be able to see the natural reef that breaks the incoming tides, allowing for calm and clear waters bordering the coast. The long coastline makes for a good walk, with virtually no other human in sight most of the time, other than occasional local seaweed farmers tending to their crops, or bold and lonesome surfers out on the reef break, having their thrill of a lifetime (only for the advanced, and those really determined on carrying their boards down and up the hill again). There are actually two halves of Nyang Nyang Beach, divided only by a broad grassy headland. Near the western end of the eastern half of Nyang Nyang, you’ll be treated to a lone split shipwreck on the sand. You can stay on for sunset here or make the climb up again before dark. It has also become a camping site for die-hard travellers and weekenders as the deserted ambiance makes it an excellent spot for bonfires under the stars and for those willing to set up tents and camp the night. Swimming out is not recommended; obviously there are no lifeguards on patrol. Also, be in good shape and bring adequate rations and drinking water – there are also no food stalls or peddlers, other than one at Nyang Nyang Beach’s western half, selling drinks and colourful beach cloths.