Following the bloody defeat of the three
princes of the kingdom of Badung in 1906, the
Dutch administration was relatively benign,
and southern Bali was little affected until a
fateful day in 1936 when Californians Bob and
Louise Koke opened their idea of a little tropi-
cal resort on then deserted Kuta Beach.
Mass tourism took off - or landed - in
1969 when Ngurah Rai international airport
opened. The first planned tourist resort was
conceived in the early 1970s, by 'experts' work-
ing for the UN and the World Bank. As luxury
hotels were built at Nusa Dua, unplanned
development raced ahead from Kuta to Legian.
People made the most of their opportunities,
and small-scale, low-budget businesses were
set up with limited local resources.
At first tourism development was confined
only to designated areas such as Kuta, Sanur
and Nusa Dua, but the boom of the 1990s
saw it spreading north and south of Kuta,
extending beyond Jimbaran Bay, and north
of Nusa Dua to Tanjung Benoa. All the while,
real estate speculators grabbed prime coastal
spots around the Bukit Peninsula and north
along the beach from Seminyak.
The annual cycle of more visitors bringing
more money was disrupted after the millen-
nium by the seemingly never-ending series of
terrorist attacks, natural disasters elsewhere in
Indonesia, various economic crises and other
unsettling events that persuaded many visitors
to stay home.
Pain was felt throughout tourist-dependent
South Bali; slowly but surely though, visitors
returned, development continued on parts
of the Bukit Peninsula and Nusa Lembongan
and somehow the traffic - which never got
better - got worse.
Today the peninsula is a busy part of Bali
where the hubbub begins immediately south
of the airport. Quiet Jimbaran has a picture-
perfect beach and bay, while surfers revel at
places such as Dreamland and Ulu Watu. The
south coast is barren and dramatic. But in the
east, Nusa Dua soldiers on, a vast gated resort
with calm seas and scores of resorts and thou-
sands of hotel rooms. Bukit has a multitude of
personalities you'll want to get to know.
Just south of Kuta and the airport, Teluk Jim-
baran (Jimbaran Bay) is a superb crescent of
white sand and blue sea, fronted by a long
string of seafood warung (food stalls), and end-
ing at the southern end in a bushy headland,
home to the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. It's
mostly a somnolent kind of place except in the
evenings as the sun goes down, when the tour-
ists arrive and enjoy the spectacle while feasting
on freshly caught grilled fish at any number of
simple beachside joints. Once it's dark, you can
see twinkling lights far out to sea: fishing boats
bringing aboard the next night's meals.
Facilities are limited. Jl Raya Ulu Watu
has some small markets and Jl Ulu Watu
II has ATMs and mini-markets. For most
things head to Kuta or Nusa Dua. Expect to
pay 1000Rp for vehicles to the beach.
Much of South Bali was once home to little more than a few sand-pounding fishermen. But
oh how times change! Once making merry on the sand became popular, it guaranteed that
South Bali would be the focus for visitors to the island.
Kuta, Legian and Seminyak are the tourist hub. But from there spokes of interest radiate
throughout this dry region, surrounded by blue ocean and most of Bali's best surf breaks.
The Dutch made Denpasar an administrative centre, and today it is the centre for Bali's
commercial life and much of its population. It can both appeal and repel with its frenetic
pace. That's not the case just east in Sanur, a pleasant enclave of mellow beach resorts and
many foreign residents.
Dangling below Ngurah Rai airport, the gently domed Bukit Peninsula combines wild
beaches and surf breaks near the culturally vital Ulu Watu temple with the more genteel
climes of Jimbaran. The latter is home to discreet luxury resorts and beachside seafood
joints for the masses.
On the east side, Nusa Dua is a gated enclave of huge resort hotels. To the north, Tanjung
Benoa has more local flavour and is popular for the watersports possible just offshore.
Further offshore, and easily seen from anywhere facing east, the islands of Nusa Lembon-
gan and Nusa Penida lure fun-seekers and the adventurous. Diving is world-class around
the islands. Surfers and those looking for a mellow vibe flock to Lembongan, while Penida
is for those who want to discover life that's been unchanged for decades.
Sights & Activities
The temple Pura Ulun Siwi (Map p130) dates
from the 18th century. In the mornings, the
streets are the scene of the morning market ,
which sells some amazingly huge cabbages.
The Ganeesha Gallery (Map p130) at the Four
Seasons Jimbaran Bay (see p129) has exhibi-
tions by international artists and is worth a
visit - walk south along the beach.
One of the best in Bali, the smelly, lively
and frenetic fish market (Map p130) is well
worth an early morning exploration. And
out on the water, Jimbaran is a good place
to access the surf breaks off the airport. See
p82 for details.
Relishing freshly grilled seafood and the
sunsets from Jimbaran Beach ( opposite )
Watching a full moon rise over Nusa
Penida from Sanur ( p139 )
Discovering the Bukit Peninsula's hidden
beaches such as Dreamland ( p131 )
Tossing a banana to a monkey at Pura
Luhur Ulu Watu ( p132 )
Hot and arid, the southern peninsula is known
as Bukit ( bukit means 'hill' in Indonesian), but
was known to the Dutch as Taffelhoek (Table
Point). Once a reserve for royal hunting
parties and a place of banishment for
undesirables the Bukit Peninsula was
The Jimbaran area is home to some of South
Bali's most luxurious resorts, as well as more
Pura Luhur Ulu Watu