Though strong rip currents and shallow waters make the beaches less than ideal for swimming, they are still great for getting wet and enjoying the stunning scenery. Uluwatu is all about the views. Balangan, an idyllic white sand beach fringed by cliffs, is relatively quiet and is spared the annoying trinket hawkers and too many tourists. A few cafes sit near the tree line, and the water here is safe for swimming, as the waves break over the reef 200m (656 ft.) from the shore. Bingin beach is pockmarked with rock and reef, forming intriguing tide pools at low tide. Impossibles beach is another great setting for a seaside walk at low tide, but is more well-known as a prime surf break. Padang Padang is archetypically enchanting, being nestled into a pocket of lava rocks; the beach entrance is through a cave crevice. This area is great at low tide for children.
Paintball Bali, Jl. Karang Putih 1 (tel. 0361/770300; www.paintballbali.com; US$60 includes pickup and drop-off, 150 bullets, three waters, one soft drink, and a hot dog, value package US$40 includes 100 bullets, three waters, one soft drink, and fries; daily 9am-9pm), occupies about 3 hectares (7 1/2 acres) of playing fields. Facilities include individual changing rooms and lockers. Have lunch off-site as the offerings here are of the hot-dogs-and-fries variety, even though some food is included in the price. Better yet, bring your own picnic.
Take the opportunity to fly over the glittering Indian Ocean, shimmering green rice terraces, and those crazy surfers. Seeing Bali from the sky is a vibrant reminder why this island was earmarked "Island of the Gods." You don't want to go with a paragliding service that isn't up to scratch, so make sure your chosen outfitter has certification from the Bali branch of the Indonesian Aerosport Federation. I recommend tandem flights with Exo-Fly, Jl. Toyaning 24, Kedonganan (tel. 0361/705-517; www.exofly.com; US$69 family package, includes two adults and two children; daily fly time 2-5pm).
If you can't afford a night at the Bulgari, you're not alone. The spa (daily 9am-9pm), however, could be worth a day's indulgence. This is probably one of the finest spas on Bali, housed in an antique hand-carved teak joglo (Javanese house) that was dismantled in Kudos on Java, and authentically re-created on-site. Go for broke with the aptly named "Unforgettable Double Bulgari Royal Lulur" for two people, which lasts 3 hours and includes two therapists per person. Prices are steep (US$93-US$975; AE, DC, MC, V) so plan on making a full day out of your pampering and use the pool and the relaxation area.
Some of the best surfing spots in Bali and indeed the world, can be found in the sea surrounding the west coast of the Bukit. These breaks are for experienced surfers only -- they are definitely not to be tackled by novices. If the size of the waves don't get you, the razor sharp shallow reef will. The best time to surf here is during the dry season (Apr -- Oct).
Uluwatu -- Best swell: south; best size: 3 to 10 feet; best winds: southeast. Home to the famous Uluwatu temple and its colony of crazy monkeys, a casual visitor could be forgiven for overlooking the other zoo down the cliff and in the water at Salubuan Beach, break point for Bali's most famous waves. This beach has four distinct sections. The furthest out is Temples, which likes a mid to high tide and offers long, hollow rides towards the Peak, a second take-off spot directly out from Wayan Gondry's famous Green Iguana warung. The next section breaks furiously over a shallow reef and is aptly named Race Track. Speed is the key to survival here. Beyond that, towards Padang Padang, is Outside Corner, which comes into its own on only the biggest days but provides some of the most incredible heart-in-mouth surfing available on the planet. If you get it wrong here you will be washed towards the dangerously jagged rocks of the cliff-line and face a tediously long and treacherous swim back to safety. Sound like fun?
Padang Padang -- Best swell: south; best size: 5 to 8 feet; best winds: southeast. Just north of Uluwatu is not only one of Bali's premier surf locations, it's also one of Bali's nicest beaches. At Padang Padang, an easy paddle out from the lagoonlike shoreline delivers you into the gaping jaws of one of the world's most celebrated left-handers. Best on bigger swells, Padang Padang is a true proving ground for local and international surfers alike. Be sure to pop into the Sunset Grill on the road linking Padang Padang with Bingin.
Impossibles -- Best swell: south; best size: 4 to 8 feet; best winds: southeast. This long stretch of reef runs north from Padang Padang down to Bingin and owes its name to the incredibly fast and long waves that explode along the "picture perfect" reef. Though widely heralded as an oasis of sorts, given the right swell period and direction, Impossibles can still deliver unbelievable waves that will be etched forever in salt across a surfer's memory. It's rare that surfers actually make it, so expect an absolute beating if you are outrun by the watery freight train and left to battle with the coming wider, wilder sets. Surf it on the mid-tides and on larger swells.
Bingin -- Best swell: south; best size: 3 to 5 feet; best winds: southeast trade winds. This is one of the best, albeit shortest, left-hand barrels available in Bali. A short, hollow, and punchy ride, Bingin is fondly followed by hordes of local and international surfers looking for an easy bit of tube time.
Dreamland -- Best swell: south-southwest; best size: 3 to 5 feet; best winds: southeast trade winds. This was once one of the most beautiful and picturesque beaches on all of Bali -- fully deserving of the apt name. Now the charming, old warungs are gone and the once pristine landscape has been butchered for a monstrosity of a hotel structure to be implanted on the once amazing cliff-face. The golf course hosted the 2008 Indonesian Cup Tournament, for those surfers who fancy a bit of golf trivia.
Wave wise, Dreamland is a mellow option surrounded by more serious waves, and thus attracts hordes of less skilled surfers. This is still a good option for a cruise session and is best on lower tides. Keep your eyes on everyone and don't forget your mouth guard as collisions are common here.
Balangan -- Best swell: south; best size: 4 to 8 feet; best winds: southeast. Balangan is a left-hand wave breaking off the headland to the north of Dreamland. It can be found easily these days owing to the signs and newly sealed roads delivering you straight to this once semi-secret location. As a fast and hollow wave, Balangan has the habit of catching surfers unaware as the bigger sets loom much further out than where the pack normally assembles. Sitting further out than the pack can pay dividends: As the big sets come your new friends will watch with jealousy as you take off free from trouble as they contemplate their own imminent smashing. Surf here on the mid- to higher tides.
If you are walking around the cliff tops here, look out for the craggy rocks and be sure not to stub your toes while watching the waves. Also look out for the green snakes. They look friendly but are among Bali's most dangerous.
Green Balls -- Best swell: south; best size: 4 to 6 feet; best winds: west-northwest. Located just near the Bali Cliff Resort (on the peninsula's southern face), the main wave at Green Balls is the right-hander at the bottom of the stairs. On the other side of the channel the left-hander can get good too, with lighter winds or days when there is some north in the breeze. You can check the wave from the cliff top, which is a blessing given the 500 or so steps down to the sand. Hire a local to help you with your gear and take plenty of water. It's a long way down and in this case, what goes down must come back up.
Surf Board Repairs -- If you ding your board, "Cookie the Legend" will fix it for you. From the bottom of the stairs to Uluwatu Surfing Beach, go left. He's the last one in a string of warungs before you reach the cave. You can't miss it.
Sand Fleas -- Depending on the time of year and the flow of certain currents you may encounter sand fleas on Uluwatu beach. They seem to be particular to Uluwatu and nobody knows why. It could be because the water here is a bit cooler due to its depth and sand fleas migrate with the flow of currents and in cooler climes. They are invisible at first but once you start feeling the bite, and take a closer look, you'll see they look like sand. They are perfectly harmless, yet can be very annoying. Repel them with heavy-duty mosquito repellent or very strong citronella.
Resident Monkeys -- Watch out for local monkeys at Pura Luhur Uluwatu that like to help themselves to hats, handbags, cameras, and anything else they can get their mucky hands on. They are usually happy to exchange your valuables for some fruit, but try to avoid this tedious and potentially dangerous negotiation.