Surf, sun, and Bintangs pretty much sums up the story behind our mini three day vacation, within our major getaway. After what felt like weeks in Ubud (it was a long time ago when I began writing this post) the retreat was long over and not to long after we settled into our first home stay in Ubud. We finally made the trip to see the Green School, found our first WWOOFing spot – which did not work out, a huge bummer, but it was for the best. Like moving to any place it takes time to get comfortable, for Bali it was taking longer then I anticipated. But we were becoming familiar with the major streets and side roads, discovered good places to eat, grocery shop, pick up essentials, that sort of thing, it was like we were almost becoming commoners. Almost.
During it all, all the moving around, watching things unravel, seeing Bali in its true form, and just thinking a lot, I was feeling trapped and unsettled and not very happy (but this went for both Cecilley and I). This feeling – all the feelings – really bothered me. I didn’t like not liking Bali and missing things. I was out on a grand adventure, don’t be a baby, Jill!
We realized it was time to see something new. Although Ubud has many great qualities, we just needed a break from the business and noise, a place to think and clear our heads. And some beaches! There is nothing wrong with needing an escape. But where would be go?!
After examining the Lonely Planet little book on Bali we decided on Bali’s southern most beach hub, Ulu Watu. If you’re a surfer listen up. The surf is grand in Ulu Watu, coming from a complete bystander’s opinion and word of mouth from actual surfers. The waves there are crazy cool. Apparently there are special reefs in these parts that make the wave break to the left(?), if I was real surfer I may know what that actually means. As for onlookers and people watchers these beaches are quite dainty, a little on the rocky side, but capture cliff side sunsets so wonderfully you will run out of space on your camera.
Ulu Watu is well worth discovering with your rash guard and surf board, but if you’re like Cecilley and I and don’t go for the waves but for the remote beaches instead, Bingin Beach was my favourite. With plenty of cute (and cheap) surfing hostels you will have no difficultly finding a place to store your things and rest your head. For all the other hours of the day you’ll be at the beach, eating the cheap and yummy eats, or like all the surfers do at the end of a long day enjoy a cold Bingtan.
There were many things to do at Bingin Beach, yoga and surfing being the two most popular activities. Although Cecilley and I didn’t take any classes, we did practice on our own. The beach is great for yoga! There was a spa and yoga place nearby and one hostel had sunrise classes, but only certain mornings of the week. We happened to be there at the wrong time, which was a huge bummer.
Ulu Watu is about an hour, if not a bit longer, south of Ubud. Cecilley and I caught a bus to Kuta then flagged a cab for the rest of the way. Buses are the cheapest mode of transport in Bali and going through a travel organization makes it pretty easy. Cabs here are tricky. It’s wise not to take a cab without a meter, otherwise you run the risk of getting scammed – Cecilley and I learned this the hard way. The cab company to use in Bali is Blue Bird, should you ever need one. Don’t make deals with the Taxi guys on the streets holding the signs (you’ll see these guys everywhere) unless you know what the cost of your trip should be and are up for barding. It can work, Cecilley and I learned the easy way.
Ulu Watu is a good destination point given there are three beaches very close to one another, Ulu Watu Beach, Bingin Beach, and Padang Padang Beach, all of which are beautiful but offer very different experiences. All reef beaches with cliffs and beautiful look offs, Bingin was by far the least busy, the best for soaking in the rays and feeling relaxed. I can’t say much for Padang Padang because we didn’t stay long. It was the busiest of the three and crowed in comparison. I wasn’t thrilled by it, but we also didn’t spend as much time there. But the reviews from people I’ve talked to say it’s beautiful you just have to find the right spot. I think we were in the wrong place. Ulu Watu, like Bingin, had lots of surfers. It too was a little more of the tourist spot with lots of surf shops, restaurants, and lots of beach spots to discover. We didn’t spend too much time at this one either, we had a bus to catch to get back to Ubud that night. But should you go take the time to explore all of it. If we had more time we would have. Some secret beach gems are located in these parts of Bali and I can only behind to picture how beautiful they’d be.
If you are traveling between beaches, going by foot is doable, but keep in mind you’ll be in for a long hike, which Cecilley and I ended up doing for part of the way. Cabs are scarce, so your best option is biking or going by scooter or motorbike. Or you can hire a driver for the day.
Other than a few bumps along the way – some very good traveling/learning experiences for the two of us – it was the perfect weekend escape. If more yoga had happened, or maybe even a beach run, that would have been perfect. But everyone needs a break from everything once in a while. So no yoga or running was completely acceptable.