Bukit ('Hill'), a lemon-shaped
peninsula at the southernmost extremity of the island,
is a dry, rocky land. Oval-shaped and about eight
kilometers from north to south, 17 kilometers from
east to west, with a maximum elevation of 200 meters,
Bukit offers limestone caves, temples perched on
the edge of dizzying cliffs, stretches of immaculate
isolated white-sand beaches, and a dramatic coastline
pounded by Bali's most- challenging surf. This 100-square-kilometer
tableland of stunted bush and prickly pear cactus
once lay at the bottom of the sea but now sits 100-200
meters above sea level, its sides in the south rising
100 meters straight up.
Since the early 1970s, Bukit has been a popular
destination for surfers, beachcombers, seekers of
solitude, and budget travelers. It boasts some of
Southeast Asia's best surfing beaches, and is considered
among the top ten surfing spots in the world.
Be prepared for huge breakers, which can dwarf
those of Kuta and Sanur. A bonus is the dramatic
backdrop of sheer cliffs, which start at the northwest
corner of Bukit and extend all the way around to
just south of Nusa Dua. Go early in the morning
to catch the best waves.
The best time to surf is the dry season from April
through October. Strong winds during the wet season
make surfing impossible. It costs little or nothing
to surf. At most spots, the surfer need only pay
a 'board carrier'. This work provides employment
to local youths; there's even an official Board
Carrier Association. Motorbike drivers will transport
surfers and boards to the beach.
This long, beautiful, white-sand surfing (left-hander)
beach, accessible by four-wheel drive or motorbike,
lies six-km northwest of Bongol. From Balangan's
parking lot, it's a 10-minute walk to the beach-hard
to find, as there's no sign. A cave temple also
sits on the beach. Walk up to Lookout Point for
a grand panorama over Bukit and the airport.
A great place for surfing (hollow left-hander)
and relaxing. From the main highway in Pecatu, take
the dirt road to Bingin. This is the same pretty,
shady country road you take to Padang Padang.
From the parking lot, it's a short walk to the
caves where you start surfing. Really nice beach
Called Ulu by surfers, this is the most famous-and
crowded-surfing spot on the island. Waves sometimes
reach eight meters in height with straight-line
swells. Purportedly one of the best left-handers
in the world, for daredevils and goofy-footers only.
A footpath, which starts 200 meters before Pura
Uluwatu's parking lot, leads down to the beach,
look for the sign Suluban Beach 2 km.
Boys will offer to carry your surfboard and equipment
for the 45-minute trip. Motorbikes will take you
most of the way down, but this is a narrow, dangerous
path so drive cautiously if you're on your own.
From the covered motorcycle parking area at the
end of the trail, climb down to the large sea cave
at the bottom of the cliff, which opens to the ocean.
There are some other isolated and lovely beaches
for surfing, sunbathing, and swimming to the southeast
and east of Uluwatu. One such beach, with outstanding
surf, is Nyang Nyang, the turn is about 2.5-km inland.
Bukit has played an important role in Balinese
mythology. Legend tells how the gods created Bali
by taking a piece of land from Java, then shaping
the island to make it hospitable to human beings.
They created the high mountains of Batukaru in the
west, Agung in the east, and Bukit in the south.
In ancient times, Bukit was considered a dangerous
area where great herds of wild 'banteng' and water
buffalo roamed, driven south by population pressure.
Bukit served as hunting grounds for pheasant, wild
boar, and deer for the rajas of Denpasar and Mengwi.
Cattle still graze there. So inhospitable is this
land that criminals, political enemies, and debtors
were once banished here.