Padang Padang

One of my bucket list things to see has always been big wave, full tube surfing. I was hoping that this trip would offer me a glimpse of that either in Bali or Thailand. It just so happened that while we were driving to Uluwatu Temple, we saw signs for the Rip Curl Cup Surfing Competition which ran from July 15 – August 26 in Padang Padang. Wha? It’s July 15! YAY!

The tagline for the event is “It’s on when it’s on.” So this means that the event, which will actually be on one day, some time within this window. The forecasters will be on the lookout for a day that looks like it would have the “epic swell” and they call it, with the surfers having 24 hours to make it to Padang Padang for the event.

Padang Padang is a small beach at the bottom of a cliff, with many steps and a cavelike tunnel to get down to it.

Padang Padang Rip Curl Cup

From the bridge at the top of the cliff, here is Padang Padang Beach, with the Rip Curl Cup stage getting set up

Padang Padang Beach

There wasn’t much surfing going on when we arrived…the “epic swell” was definitely not today…but the beach was hoppin’

Padang Padang Beach

The beach is nestled into the cliffs, with lots of cliff overhangs that provide shade and shelter (assuming it’s not underwater:-)

Padang Padang

The water looks gorgeously blue-green and is completely clear when you stand in it. These are the beach colors I’ve been looking for!

Padang Padang

When the tide is down, there are many rocky nooks and crannies to explore

Padang Padang fishing

Apparently some good fishing too…this dude is done for the day.

Padang Padang offerings

The awesomeness of Bali’s Hindu culture…there are offerings everywhere, even on the beach.

Padang Padang

Just another little area to explore

Padang Padang

Well, didn’t see much surfing here, but it was still well worth the visit.

Uluwatu Temple

So, living in North Carolina, and spending a month every summer in Ormond Beach, Florida while growing up, has me a little spoiled as far as beaches go. So, I felt a little guilty about my disappointment with Sanur. The water was a little clearer, the sand was a little whiter, the waves were a little gentler, but it just wasn’t different enough to be a wow. Poor me, right?

As an aside, I mentioned to our driver that I wanted to see some big surfer waves and the most beautiful beaches of Bali, but that I assumed we didn’t have enough time to get to such a location on our last full day in Bali. He thought differently, and suggested he take us to the temple at Uluwatu and afterwards to some of the beaches in that area. We would see cliffside ocean vistas, the temple on the cliff top, and big surf.

Well, I got what I needed with those suggestions…some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been… will finish this post with the temple itself…

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu is a Hindu temple on the southern coast of Bali on cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is one of a group of temples said to protect Bali from evil spirits. The internets says it was built in the 10th century. It also says it was built in the 11th century. And it also says it was built in the 16th century…

Uluwatu Temple

Climbing up the steps towards the top allows you to meet many different stone creatures, each of them having a more beautiful view than the previous one of the cliffs and waves crashing below

Uluwatu Temple View

Uluwatu Temple view – tada!

Uluwatu Temple top

The Uluwatu Temple at the top of the cliff

waves at Uluwatu

The yummy color of Uluwatu waves, 250 ft down

Uluwatu Monkeys

there are monkeys at the top…lots of them. They are all running around being cute, except they will steal your hat, your sunglasses, your food. they will not hesitate. We saw one monkey steal some sunglasses and then put them on and sit and pose for photos…hilarious (unless they are your glasses).

Uluwatu monkey

I got really close to this little dude. He was cool with it, and then he let me know he wasn’t cool anymore. He got up and gave me a look right into the lens that said, “Outta my face or I take that!” Needless, to say, I backed off…

Uluwatu and us

Here we are, enjoying the beauty of Uluwatu Temple.

We were fortunate, and got to the temple before the masses showed up. We had to share  a little bit, but not too much… Can definitely see why a temple was put here…the absolute beauty of the natural surroundings is the perfect spiritual foundation.

Sanur Beach Hotel

Sanur Beach is a tourist beach in Bali that is conveniently close to Ubud. It is kind of like the slower or family version of Kuta Beach which is where the party people go – so I am told. Also, Sanur Beach is a nice location to go to other places…it’s 30-40 minutes from Ubud, and 30-40 minutes from many of the beaches of the south which are cliff-side gorgeous locations.

We studied where to stay, with oceanfront access being a priority. Oceanfront access is actually not common, probably because the big fat resorts take up all the frontage. That meant we had to choose a big fat resort, and the one that had availability was the Sanur Beach Hotel. We had a very nice stay, but thought I should show you Sanur Beach Hotel just because it’s kinda funny. It IS nice, I mean, it’s a resort, right? But Aly and I jokingly described this part of our stay as being on a beached cruise ship from the 80’s.

Beach View, Sanur Beach Hotel

Here is the view from our hotel room. Admittedly, it is quite nice. There are 2 pools and they are both gigantic. Gigantism seems to be the overall theme, actually.

pool bar

You can order your umbrella drink straight from the pool! Another bar on the beach has swings for seats, haha!

Buffet Breakfast

Giant Buffet Breakfast in a giant open air space

Ship that ran aground 2+ years ago

Unfortunately, the main view from the Hotel beach is that of a government ship that ran aground 2+ years ago and may be there indefinitely…” Radar Bali underlined in a recent edition the absolute lack of action to move the ship and the mysterious reluctance of port authorities even discuss the current status of the ship, its actual owners, the circumstances of its grounding or when the Mertasari reef, opposite a popular public beach, will be free of the eyesore.”

Aly and I, of course, have many ideas of how to turn that ugly ship into some sort of public art , but somehow, I don’t think people will be very interested.

We weren’t sure if we were just being overly critical or whatever. I mean, Aly and I are not well-versed in what makes a nice resort. But after visiting some of the others on the beach we realized that some have indeed made it to the 2012 version of pampered style (recommendation if you want a big fatty resort in Sanur: Puri Santrian – AND there are many really cute smaller places to consider, even without the beach frontage).

This “research” clued me in to what a massive undertaking it is when a resort or hotel of any kind goes through a real renovation as opposed to the regular furniture replacements and surface treatment updates they do. I just never realized how much space design and allocation follows trends the same way other design-oriented parts of life do.

For instance, I never actually realized that giant open lobbies and restaurant spaces, huge pools and big-lawn outdoor spaces were kinda 80’s until I stepped into this resort. And I still couldn’t really put my finger on what felt dated until we went to Puri Santrian which is a large resort taking up a similar overall footprint. But there are more, smaller pools and each pool has twists, turns and visual breaks. The restaurants were broken into smaller areas, so even though it was all one restaurant, it felt like more, smaller ones. The grounds were a series of paths and small open areas, and the hotel itself was designed so that you could never actually see the whole hotel, you could only see parts of it from any given perspective.

So, the Puri Santrian is designed with today’s luxury in mind, which I interpreted to be exclusive intimate and personal, with romantic nooks and niches and views that only a few people could share together at a time. The Sanur Beach Hotel is designed with 80’s luxury in mind, which I think to be about BIG – being able to see everything at once, being able to meet and share the experience with the other people who are there. It seems to be more about the social part of vacationing… a party feeling without it necessarily being a PARTAY feeling.

Anyway, all this is just a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Beaches are great no matter whether you are in a beautiful spa, a beached cruise ship, a 50’s lodge or a tent.