As one of Bali’s most photographed and mythological natural features, this unusual island temple is one sight you won’t want to miss.
Tanah Lot is one of Bali’s most iconic attractions. The rocky cliff is home to Pura Tanah Lot, a small temple perched precariously above the Indian Ocean. Join the crowds in the late afternoon to capture one of Indonesia’s most captivating sunsets.
Pura Tanah Lot has been a site of pilgrimage for over 500 years. “Tanah Lot” means “Land in Sea” and the Hindu site is dedicated to the god of the sea. The arched cliff is subject to coastal erosion, but artificial rocks now support the island in an un-obtrusive way.
At low tide, you can walk around the cliff in your bare feet and admire the temple’s architecture. Venomous snakes in the caves below are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits. Banded sea snakes are indeed common here, although you’re unlikely to see one.
Watch the worshippers follow the flattened rock bridge to access the temple rock. Notice how all who come to pray cover their legs with sarongs. The men also wear an “udeng,” a folded Balinese headdress, and the women a “kebaya,” an Indonesian blouse-dress.
Local Hindus perform the Kecak Dance each night at sunset. One of the best spots to admire the often spectacular sunsets is from the Enjung Galuh temple, so you can see the arch of Tanah Lot. The Batu Bolong Temple on the headland is another good spot.
Tanah Lot sits just outside Beraban village in the district of Kediri, near Tabanan, on Bali Island. There is an entrance fee for Tanah Lot; children get a 50 percent discount.
Tanah Lot is open to visitors during daylight hours, but worshippers can come here 24/7. The temple is about 45 minutes by car from both Denpasar and Kuta and about an hour from Ubud, depending on traffic. There is no public transportation available later in the day, but metered taxis are cheap. If you have a flight to catch in Denpasar, factor in at least an extra hour for the return trip to Tanah Lot. If you are coming by motorbike or private car, you’re asked to pay a small fee for parking near the island rock.