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Away from the vibrant nightlife and beachside hubbub of central Kuta, South Kuta is a low-key, laid-back region. Encompassing the upmarket resort of Jimbaran, with its famed rustic beachside restaurants and glowing red sunsets, South Kuta stretches past the five-star resort of Nusa Dua all the way to the Bukit Peninsula – the southernmost tip of Bali. Here, limestone cliffs tumble into turquoise waters and stretches of white-sand beach front some of Bali’s best surfing waves.
Jimbaran, just south of the international airport, is South Kuta’s main town, although large it is not. The small village is home to a beautiful beach, local seafood restaurants, colourful markets and a small temple. Like much of this region, holidays here are all about relaxing, indulging in a spa treatment and being charmed by the traditional fishermen’s boats and friendly locals.
The Bukit Peninsula is almost a separate island, attached to Bali by a mere sliver of land. The landscape here is different to the rest of the lush region, and the dry limestone cliffs are ruggedly beautiful and afford far-reaching Indian Ocean sunset views. As with many of Bali’s most famous spots, surfers in search of the finest waves were the first foreigners to venture here, hunkering down in rustic shacks while they learnt to tame the powerful breaks. While today, plush hotels and their fine-dining restaurants dot the peninsula in resorts such as Nusa Dua, the Bukit is still a surfing hotspot with experience wave riders flocking here to take on the likes of the Uluwatu reef break. By far the region’s most famous wave, Uluwatu is in fact five waves and should be attempted only by experienced surfers.
If surfing isn’t your thing, then head for Uluwatu’s highly revered temple instead. Pura Luhur Uluwatu is a Balinese sea temple and one of nine directional temples on the island, perched impressively on a steep cliff towering dizzyingly above the crashing sea. The temple is inhabited by monkeys who, despite their cute appearances, are notorious and well-practiced pickpockets.
Uluwatu also hosts the Kecak Fire Dancers who perform one of Bali’s most treasured and iconic dances. This ancient traditional art, which is performed in a cliff-top amphitheatre, is based on a Balinese ritual and involves chanting, dancing and acting out an intricate plot. There are flames and extravagant costumes and a magical atmosphere.
South Kuta is one of Indonesia’s most entrancing destinations. Small-scale resorts can be found nestled in quaint fishing villages, and local traditions and unadulterated natural beauty still shine through. While world-class golf resorts and spas offer touches of luxury, it is the beaches which are the piece de resistance of the region. Hidden at the base of cliffs, you’ll find strips of pure white sand with the electric blue sea lapping between giant boulders. From the famous Green Bowl beach to the perfect and uncrowded tropical paradises of Balangan Beach, Bingin Beach, Padang-Padang Beach and the aptly names Dreamland Beach, you could be lounging on a different one every day of your holiday.