Bali is renowned for its legendary sunsets, and in the late afternoons a daily ritual takes place as hundreds of residents and visitors make their way to the beaches on the west coast to farewell the sun as it sets behind the horizon. While enjoying a cocktail or an icy cold beer, many people are hoping to see the much-coveted green flash – a fleeting spot of intense green light an instant after sunset, caused by light refracting in the atmosphere. This is best seen when the sun sets over the ocean, when it is absolutely clear all the way to the horizon, but be warned it will be gone in the blink of an eye, so don’t blink!
At the end of the day, however, this isn’t the only sunset phenomenon in Bali. Visitors also flock to Pura Tanah Lot, one of the island’s most dramatic and venerated sea temples, dedicated to the sea spirits and founded by Nirartha, one of the last Majapahit priests to come from Java in the 16th century. The temple is perched on a craggy wave-lashed rock just at the edge of the frothing white surf and glistening black shoreline, and is probably the most photographed sight in Bali. It can only be reached at low tide and the surrounding rocks are rumoured to be inhabited by sea snakes. The best, albeit the most crowded, time to visit is in the late afternoon when you can see the splendid profile of the temple silhouetted against the setting sun.
Likewise, Pura Luhur Uluwatu, on the southwest tip of the Bukit Peninsula cannot be missed. This 11th century temple is balanced on the very edge of a narrow rocky cape, overhanging perpendicular cliffs 70 metres above the crashing breakers of the Indian Ocean. Its grey volcanic stone, glowing with the radiant colours of the setting sun, will leave you with a lasting and haunting memory of spiritual Bali. While here, you may also wish to watch the famous Kecak Dance, which is performed daily at 6:00 p.m. If you get a good seat at the back of the amphitheatre, you will also get a view of the sunset.
There are numerous rustic beach bars and rooftop bars as well as stylish upmarket beachside venues all along Bali’s west coast from Tabanan to Canggu to Seminyak to Kuta to Jimbaran to Uluwatu, but one of the finest places to catch the sunset is Sunset Beach Bar & Grill at InterContinental Bali Resort. This casual, alfresco beachfront bar offers a refreshingly unpretentious, ‘toes-in-sand’ informality, fanned by ocean breezes and with the best front-row seats to unparalleled 180-degree sunset views across Jimbaran Bay. With its top-notch service, Sunset Beach Bar & Grill provides a variety of open-air seating arrangements: sit-up bar stools at the thatched-roof central bar and serving station, or scattered across the sand bank, a series of beach-facing tables and chairs, bean bags and private cabanas – all shaded by mature trees. An extensive bar menu covers global beer brands, boutique wines, spirits, non-alcoholic beverages and healthy juices, but the signature here is a vast selection of innovative sundowners and cocktails. These include a full range of Mojitos, Daiquiris, Martinis and Margaritas, as well as Sunset Pitchers of Sangria or Pimm’s – great for sharing with friends along with some light snacks such as Sunset Beach Bar & Grill’s contemporary seafood bites and Mediterranean favourites. And who knows, while watching the sunset, you might even get to see the elusive green flash!