Bali is famous for its kaleidoscopic sunsets which arrive on cue at around 6pm every day of the year. Whether you’d rather laze on the beach with a Bintang or sip a cocktail high above the waves, Indonesia's most popular holiday island is packed with great spots to kick back and watch the sun sink into the sea with a sundowner in hand. Read on for our favourites.
Rock Bar, Jimbaran
Vibe: seaside sophistication
Built on rocks jutting out of the Indian Ocean, this minimalist open-air bar is arguably the most stylish spot to sink a cocktail on Bali's Bukit Peninsula. Part of Ayana Resort & Spa, the Japanese-designed space, which often hosts local and international bands and DJs, features a bartop constructed using thousands of layers of recycled glass canes. Adding to the glamour, Rock Bar is accessed via an inclinator that traverses a cliff-face. Expect a bit of a wait to get in (unless you're a hotel guest, in which case you get queue-jumping rights).
Double-Six Rooftop, Seminyak
Vibe: urban-beach glamour
Bali or Bond film? It’s easy to forget where you are when the elevator doors open into this cavernous lair atop the ultra-chic Double-Six Hotel. Think: fire pits, sharks swimming in aquarium-lined walls, and staff as gorgeous as the sweeping ocean views from the circular booths.
Rooftop is one of several great bars at this newish hotel (built on the site of the legendary Double-Six Club – by the same owner). After drinking in the sunset along with a ‘nojito mojito’ (muddled lime and mango with mint, sugar and fresh young coconut water), head downstairs for a pre-dinner martini at the Prohibition era-style Sling Bar overlooking the hotel’s jaw-droppingly glamorous Plantation Grill restaurant.
La Laguna, Berawa Beach
Vibe: bohemian bliss
Located along a quiet stretch of sand between Seminyak and Canggu (look for the beach entrance via a big wooden bridge spanning a lagoon), this eclectic oceanfront bar is an Instagrammer’s dream. Take your favourite tipple in one of La Laguna's gypsy caravans, on a brightly-coloured pouf, or perched on mismatched garden furniture and snap away before darkness envelopes this enormous, laid-back oasis.
If you loved La Laguna, consider kicking on at the tropical wonderland of La Favela, the awesome Seiminyak bar/club run by the same folk.
Single Fin, Ulu Watu
Vibe: surfer chic
Perched on the cliffs of Ulu Watu, this triple-level bar overlooks the line-up of Bali’s most famous surf break. Come well before sunset to nab a good spot for watching surfers at play; while especially known for its 'Sunday sessions’ with live music and DJs, Single Fin can pack out early most evenings. Drinks aren't cheap and the food isn't memorable, but with a view like this, who cares?
If you’re not bedding down locally, consider swapping that beer for a Revolver coffee and use your own transport: taxis are notoriously hard to come by out here.
Potato Head Beach Club, Kerokoban
Vibe: playful pool party
Ku De Ta may out-chic it and the new Mosiac beach club (mozaic-beachclub.com) is fancier still, but Bali’s original beach club is still one of the best. Come to Potato Head to lounge around on a poolside daybed with Bali’s young and beautiful between 'excursions' to the swim-up bar, staying on into the evening to enjoy a magical island sunset. There’s a more upscale, clubby vibe here after dark.
La Plancha, Seminyak
Vibe: casual sandy fun
Painted in a riot of bright colours, La Plancha is the go-to place for a toes-in-the-sand sundowner between Kuta and Canggu. Come late afternoon, staff turn up the sound-system and set up rows of colourful beanbag ‘chairs’ on the sand in front of this Caribbean-esque bar. Plunk down, order an ice-cold Bintang, and watch the sun set behind the parade of holidaymakers patrolling this busy stretch of beach.
El Kabron, Bingin
Vibe: cliff-top chill
Make a day of it by heading out to this cliff-top Bukit Peninsula beach club to laze by the pool and watch surfers dance along the waves below before the sky begins to morph from baby blue to shades of pink, purple, fiery orange and scarlet red. Stay on at El Kabron (elkabron.com) for a Spanish-style dinner, or head down to the beach for a cheap seafood feast at one of Bingin’s simple seaside warung (basic local restaurants).