If you’ve ever heard Bali described as the land of 1000 temples, it’s an understatement.
There are actually more than 6000 temples on the island, central to the cultures and traditions of the Balinese people.
Also read: 49 incredible things to do in Bali
And apart from the usual temple up on the cliffs, or those you may chance upon along the streets, did you known that there are seven notable sea temples in Bali?
They are founded in the 16th Century by a Majapahit monk named Nirartha to honour the Hindu sea gods.
Legend has it that each sea temple is visible from the next, forming a chain stretching around Bali’s coast that must be seen to be believed.
1. Bali’s First Sea Temple: Pura Gede Perancak
A stunning temple that greets visitors with white stone entranceways, the Gede Perancak Temple is known as the place where the monk Nirartha first set foot in Bali so many years ago.
Overlooking the river Perancak, the temple is located close to a village of the same name, Gede Perancak, which was once an abandoned ruin.
Photograph by Budi Astawa at Kirara Photography
Now after rebuilding, it’s standing proudly in all its former glory, and more.2. The Magic Lock of Hair: Pura Rambut Siwi
The Rambut Siwi Temple comes with an unusual history.
When the monk Nirartha visited the spot in the 16th Century and proclaimed it holy, he left something behind – a lock of hair, which was donated to the villagers.
The villagers then built a temple around it and named it Pura Rambut Siwi, which literally means ‘The Temple For Worshipping The Hair’.
Despite its strange past, the Rambut Siwi Temple – one of the largest Hindu temples in Bali – remains a wondrous sight, settled on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean.
3. Pull up to a cliffside car temple at Pura Paluang
We can bet that you’ve probably never seen a place like this. Pura Paluang is perhaps peculiar – a bit out of the ordinary as it is a temple of cars. Yes, you read that right, it is a temple that features two cement car replicas on a raised platform.
Photo via maemelalikenusapenida
And guess what, this isn’t the only instance when the Balinese sculpted forms of transportation. In fact, it is fairly common on Nusa Penida, and if you’ve been to Pura Jagaraga in North Bali, you may have even spotted a bicycle and car chiselled into stone.
Photo via mr_edp
There isn’t a clear explanation of this place if you trace back through history, but some locals will insist that the temple and its car-statues predate the first automobile.
Whatever the reason for the temple’s construction, it is an arguably weird and wonderful place that sits atop the dramatic cliffs of Nusa Penida, roughly 200 metres above the sea.
Photo via candrapopo
Photo via appril.n
Tanah Lot (which in Balinese means Land in the Sea) is certainly one of the more well-known seaside temples in Bali.
Featuring heavily on postcards as well as in Balinese mythology, Tanah Lot Temple is famous for its magnificent sunsets, photographic potential, as well as for that large population of poisonous sea snakes, believed to guard the area from evil spirits.
5. To-Die-For Clifftop Views: Pura Luhur Uluwatu
The Luhur Uluwatu Temple, often known simply as Uluwatu Temple, is another Balinese coastal temple famous among both visitors and locals.
Perched on the edge of a high ocean cliff, this temple offers visitors an unforgettable stunning view of the horizon that you won’t want to miss.
Photo via Suphakaln Wongcompune
And do stay for the popular evening Kecak Fire Dance (a Balinese dance and music drama), set against a backdrop of Uluwatu’s breathtaking cliff edge views.
Hanuman being burned in Lanka, a Ramayana episode in Kecak dance performance
Not only is the temple known for its many photography points, gorgeous sunset vistas, but you may also have heard of the occasionally pushy group of monkeys that call the temple home.
Remember to watch out for your belongings – these mischievous little creatures would love to pick your pockets!
A meditating women had her slippers stolen by a monkey
6. Bali’s Hidden Gem: Pura Mas Suka
Probably one of the least known of Bali’s seaside temples, even the most dedicated visitor will find little information on Mas Suka Temple.
But did you know, the temple is actually a spectacular sight?
Isolated on the edge of a high cliff overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean, Mas Suka Temple appears as though it suddenly stops at the edge of the abyss, with amazing ocean vistas on show for its few foreign visitors.
7. The Unknown Treasure: Pura Sakenan
Located on the small Serangan Island, Sakenan Temple is popular with locals, but rarely visited by outsiders despite its stunning surroundings.
Nestled on the coastline, with the serene ocean at its back, the temple is also an epitome of gorgeous traditional architecture.
The best time to visit Sakenan Temple?
During the Balinese festival of Kuningan, which actually coincides with the anniversary of the temple!
8. The Unknown Monkey Temple: Pura Pulaki
Pulaki Temple, located near Pemutaran, is a beautiful temple with a strange and amazing myth.
When the monk Nirartha visited the temple in the 16th century, legend goes that he was guided by monkeys through the thick forest.
So as he went on to establish the Pulaki Temple, it’s no surprise that he gave the monkeys guardian status.