Down a windy Bukit road you’ll find the charming cliff-side village of Bingin, home to some of the best sunsets in Bali, a burgeoning food and yoga scene, and most importantly, a perfectly hollow left.
The wave at Bingin is short but sweeter than Pocari Sweat. Surfable on all tides, Bingin is a cracking tube on low and a workable wall on high. Medium to near low tide is best, and the more west in the swell the better. The tight takeoff zone is about the size of an elevator and typically packed with local tube wizards and hungry visitors, so you’ll need to pick your windows wisely to get lucky.
If you’re chasing a perfect left pit then Bingin might just be heaven, as long as you actually snag a wave and then remember to kick out before the perilous Greedy’s end section turns your dreams to a bloodied nightmare. Manners are essential, as is thick skin – literally. Can you count to three? Good, because that’s all you’ll really need to remember. A good ride at Bingin will generally allow for three consecutive turns or a draining three-second barrel to a finishing maneuver. Anything more than that and you’re on dry reef – and it’s sharp!
The perfect patch of reef at Bingin is actually the terminus of the much larger Impossibles reef that stretches south all the way to Padang Padang. As its name suggests, Impossibles is often a long, down the line speed run that will try its best to run off and section too far ahead of you. Don’t expect to do many turns, but bring your quad or channel bottom and take the high line and you could bag the longest ride of your trip out here. Impossibles is best accessed via Padang Padang beach to the south.
The next wave to the north of Bingin, visible from the lineup, is Dreamland. Once a mellow sunset spot for locals and visitors in the know, Dreamland is now a mega beach resort catering to busloads of zombie tourists. The waves can still get fun though. Most days, Dreamland resembles your typical hometown beachbreak – mushy and mellow peaks spread out across the beach, with fun reforms to be had on the inside at lower tides. When the swell picks up, there’s an A-frame reef outside offering more thrilling drops and a barreling right and left tapering into a channel on lower tides. Watch out for near-drowning tourists getting throttled in the inside shorebreak.
On the Beach
Bingin is Bali’s version of an Amalfi Coast village. There are more quaint accommodations packed into the terraced cliff here than an Airbnb search, and they all boast great views of the waves. These days there’s plenty to do around Bingin, even if the surf is flat. Cashew Tree hosts regular yoga classes and a daily group Kickboxing training if you’re looking to get your Van Damme on. For nightlife, Thursday nights go off at Cashew Tree with eclectic live music and a lively dance floor. Mü Resort does its own morning yoga with an amazing ocean view, and it’s an idyllic spot to marinate on a lawn chair with a drink for the afternoon.
To get to Bingin, turn onto Jl. Pantai Bingin where it intersects with the main road directly in front of Drifter Surf Shop and follow the signs along the scenic pastoral road to the Bingin parking lot. From the parking lot you’ll have to walk with your gear down a few hundred steps of winding stairs to access the beach. On the way down you’ll pass plenty of warungs, so take your pick and settle in for a few hours. Salam’s is the OG of the bunch and he’s always good for a few laughs, a good yarn and the coldest beer on the cliff.
You can leave your gear safely in the warungs while you surf, on the proviso you order a post-surf meal, drink or massage. There’s also a cool beach scene on the sand at Bingin and it’s fun to go exploring in the rockpools up and down the base of the cliffs. Stick around to enjoy the famous Bingin sunset and you just might meet your dance partner for Cashew Tree on Thursday night.
Finding decent equipment and repairs on the Bukit used to be a struggle and usually meant a trip into Kuta. Fortunately, these days it seems there’s another well-stocked, full-service surf shop popping up every day. Here are the best:
Just up from Padang Padang, White Monkey is a surfer’s surf shop. Fins, leashes, sunscreen, reef booties, even one of those goofy surf hats – you name it, White Monkey’s got it. Best of all, their racks are bursting with top-flight performance shortboards from the best shapers in the biz, including the largest selection of …Lost surfboards on the island. White Monkey is also where you can score the latest edition of BELLY Mag.
You won’t find a more core local surf shop than Daya Surf. Owned and operated by Bukit surfing legend Mega Semadhi, Daya will keep you in the water with essentials like leashes and fins, or style you out with some dope threads from their underground clothing line of the same name. Even if you just need a bar of wax, stop by Daya to say what up to Mega and find out where the waves will be firing and the fish will be biting. They can book fishing trips too.
Want to pretend you’re Gerry Lopez hiking down the cave to surf empty Uluwatu in the 1970s? Be sure to stop by Drifter first. This is the place for high-end groovy single fins and retro shapes, hand crafted by venerable old-time shapers. Resin tints and tribal inlays rule the racks here, and the shelves are well stocked with durable goods from Patagonia. Drifter also boasts the most complete library of surfing periodicals, books and films in Bali, including BELLY Mag.
Your trusty shred sled get some Bali tattoos courtesy of those sharp Bukit reefs? There’s a small army of board repair specialists operating just before the stairs down into the cave at Uluwatu. Dodo Ding Repair, all the way on the left if you’re walking down towards the cave, does the best work. Doctor Ding is a close second. These guys haven’t met a snapped or buckled board they couldn’t revive – and they have an uncanny ability to match that original magic rocker.
If you’re looking for a more polished finishing touch, bring your beloved board to the boys at Studio Ding Repair (on the main road across from Ulu Thai, just before the Bingin turnoff) for some TLC. Eko, the owner and manager, earned his diploma from the legendary Naruki school of ding repair in Kuta, mastering his craft for nine years before taking his expertise out to the Bukit. These guys are black belts at board rehabilitation and will have your ride looking brand new, often overnight. They do some mean sprays and board art as well.
Eat & Drink
Food on the Bukit has come a long way from the days when a club sandwich was a delicacy and a week straight of nasi goreng became nasty boring. Every warung and cafe in the neighborhood is stepping up its foodie game. Most of the dining establishments highlighted here are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but we’ve organized them according to our favorite meal to stop by for a bite:
Drifter serves up healthy, mouth-watering breakfast bowls and plates in a relaxed garden setting. The fast wifi makes it an informal co-working space and a great place to meet fellow travelers. Killer smoothies, too. Try the Superbuzz – it’ll have you done with your emails and back in the water in a flash.
For gourmet plates at backpacker prices, check out Suka Espresso opposite Thomas Beach. There’s a reason this place is buzzing with happy customers all day long: They serve coffee so good you’d think you were in Seattle, but with a healthy dose of tropical sun and surf.
Little known secret: The gourmet and healthy café movement on the Bukit actually started at Land’s End. After a morning surf at Ulus, it’s worth the quick hop across the Uluwatu bridge to enjoy their bomb smoothies and breakfast burritos. Order a large Managa and veggie burrito with black beans, and you’ve got the perfect Uluwatu morning.
Bukit Café don’t play when it comes to good food. These guys make everything from scratch and serve up the kind of portions that keep hungry surfers happy. From savory vegetarian and vegan options, to classic surf and turf, to creative weekly specials like the Hawaiian Tuna Tower, Bukit Café is a can’t miss when you’re in Uluwatu.
Ulu Resto is the OG spot for tasty, clean food on the Bukit, and still a surfer staple in Uluwatu. Wayan, the owner, worked in restaurants in Amsterdam for 15 years perfecting his menu before returning home to Bali to open his own restaurant. The grilled mahi mahi sandwich and chicken curry in a pineapple boat are longtime favorites.
At the top of the big hill, before you drop down to Bingin, Pizzeria Italia is a slice of authentic, family-style Italian food on the Bukit. No gimmicks, just tasty pizzas and pastas, done right and at a reasonable price. The homemade gnocchi is so good you can smell it all the way from Padang Padang.
La Barraca is a modern take on Italian, with flavors on par with fancy restaurants in Sydney and San Francisco. Another excellent date spot on the Bukit.
Who says vegetarian cuisine can’t be amazing? The Cashew Tree will make any veggie hater a believer (they also have meat options) with their creative, savory dishes. The communal dining tables and cabanas make it a great place to visit with a large group or meet some new friends. And don’t forget their live music sessions on Thursday nights, when the place turns into a hopping dance floor.
The new local favorite for dinner, Casa Asia (just down the Bingin road) is a great spot to bring a large group for a quality Italian feast. It’s a festive atmosphere at night here, combined with quality recipes straight from Italy. It’s also where you’ll find the best eggplant parmesan in Bali.
Ulu Thai has been serving up fresh Thai food favorites for over ten years and is still going strong. They set a nice romantic ambiance at night, with candles and a garden setting. It’s a good date spot to add a little spice – literally – to dinner.
After a successful remodel and menu redesign, The Mango Tree officially serves the best Mexican food in Uluwatu. They have a Taco Tuesday deal with beer-battered fish tacos fried to golden perfection and margaritas so tasty you’ll think you were in Cabo. Stop by Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings for live music. You might even catch the proprietor, Indo surfing pioneer and all around good dude Jim Banks, ripping it up on the guitar.
The party schedule on the Bukit is generally as follows: Wednesday nights feature live acoustic performances at Single Fin, which offers cocktails, live music and people watching all above the legendary wave at Uluwatu. Thursday night is all about the aforementioned Cashew Tree. Any evening is a good evening to catch the sunset over Uluwatu at The Edge, but a Friday evening Bintang is the best. Owned and operated by Uluwatu legend Made Lana, The Edge serves the coldest beer on the cliff and has the best view of the action at Racetrack. Lana is the host with the most, unless he’s out putting on a clinic at Racetrack.
Saturday night draws a large full-moon-party-kinda crowd to the Padang Padang Beach Party during the dry season. There’s also an informal pre-party in front of the Padang Mart that can get pretty rowdy. And, of course, Sunday in Uluwatu means sweaty, sticky debauchery with a few hundred of your closest friends at Single Fin.
If you’re looking for a classier, less-spring-break alternative, pay a visit to OMNIA Day Club just down the road. This place combines the most spectacular view on the island with an amazing modern space to lounge for the day and boogie after sunset. World-class cocktails and dining where you don’t have to worry about sloppy drunks sweating on you. They have special DJ lineups on Sundays and are open all week for a taste of the high life.