When I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was going to Bali, she immediately said to me “if you do one thing only in Bali, then that one thing has to be visiting the Rock Bar in Bali. She then went on to say that I must be there for the incredible sunset and advised me to get there early. I then thought to myself “mission accepted”.
The Rock Bar Bali is an open air bar that can only be described as a world class venue that is both visually stunning by day and equally so at night. The Rock Bar is nothing short of an architectural feat and the designers have certainly runaway with the concept of having a couple of ‘drinks on the rocks’ as this bar has been built into the rock face some 14 meters above Jimbaran Bay. Whether you are with a group, as a couple or like me flying solo, the Rock Bar makes you feel right at home. The venue has succeeded in creating a magical atmosphere with candle lit tables, lounges and vistas with private spaces, all with the incredible backdrop of the ocean.
Visiting the Rock Bar Bali is as quintessential as having high tea at the Ritz in London. You simply cannot go to Bali without witnessing a spectacular sunset from the famous Rock Bar or trying one of their signature cocktails.
I visited Rock Bar in Bali on a Friday night in mid January, which is more on the quieter side of the tourist season. I had planned to be there early to take a few photos of the Ayana resort where the Rock Bar is located (and just maybe I might get a chance to swim in the famous ocean pool). I caught a taxi from my hotel in Legian, which cost me around 124,000 rupiah or around $12 AUS for a 45 minute taxi ride to Jimbaran. That’s pretty good value in my book, how I wish taxi’s were this cheap in Australia! The taxi took me right up to the entry after going through a security check and then I began immediately exploring the resort, which I will add is pretty huge! The first task was to find where the Rock Bar entrance was, so when it was time to start thinking about lining up I could get to the entry point quickly. The Rock Bar opens at 4 pm but people will start lining up at 3.30 pm. So after I had wandered around the resort, had a look at the ocean pool, I decided to just hang around the resort bar and sit on the lounges which are located close by the entrance to the Rock Bar.
As the resort is quite large, there are plenty of places to sit and have a drink prior to entering and you can keep your eye on the Rock Bar entrance as to when people start forming a queue.
The Ayana Resort bar is quite a nice place to have a drink as it over looks the ocean and is also close to the entrance to the Rock Bar.
So at around 3.45 p.m. I made my way over to the top of the stairs to where the inclinator lift was located, which takes you down to the Rock Bar. There are two queues, one for the public and the other is for hotel guests. Hotel guests receive priority entry. The little lift that takes you down is quite slow and holds about 8 people, including the operator. This is the only entry into the venue (although there is another but more on that later). There is no entry fee into Rock Bar.
From inside the lift you will get some spectacular shots of the Rock Bar at the top and once you are descending down, you will also notice lot’s of different areas with seating on various levels. I was amongst the second group of people to enter the Rock Bar. Once you are at the bottom, you will be asked to give your name and you will be escorted to a table.
If you are there before 4pm, you can get some spectacular shots of the Rock Bar below prior to being asked to officially queue up. I got these shots around 2pm whilst no one was around, apart from the staff who police the area.
This area (the main bar) is reserved for hotel guests only. So if you have called in for the evening from out of town, you will not be seated in this area. I was allowed to go and take some photographs of the bar before the crowd arrived. Don’t miss an opportunity to get a shot like this, just ask if you can go up there to take a photo and they will oblige you for a couple of minutes. Especially if it’s right on 4pm. When I was there there were only 2 hotel guests in this area, so it was no problem to ask the staff to take a couple of photos for me.
Rock Bar staff getting prepared for the sunset crowd rush.
This is the area near the second bar and the toilets. As the bar and seating is basically on the cliffside, it receives the full force of the sun and believe me it is ridiculously hot there. Staff will offer each guest an umbrella for shade and they come around regularly with cool and moist towelettes to combat that heat. The music begins to start up and begins with mellow beats that eventually progresses later on to more up tempo popular tunes.
One of the lowest areas of the Rock Bar that gets a splashing from the crashing waves.
The sunset is not the only reason you come to the Rock Bar, but for the delicious cocktails they serve. The bar staff or should I say cocktail mixologists are working overtime keeping up with guest requests. There is plenty of staff around to make this all run smoothly, as you aren’t waiting too long for a cocktail. You will also be assigned a waiter that will look after your needs and they are only too happy to get you what you want. The staff are very polite and friendly. As a solo traveler I came here alone and the staff couldn’t have been any nicer. My waiter often came over – not only check on me but to chat with me throughout the evening, as did a few other staff members.
The cocktails at Rock Bar have been reported as having low strength alcohol and I would pretty much agree with this, as I had four cocktails which had little affect on me or perhaps it was just me on the day. Having said that, they taste absolutely delicious regardless and some of the cocktails come out with some spectacular theatrics … rather like you are witnessing a science experiment! Try a “Blood Diamond” and you will be in for a treat when it arrives!
The Rock Bar Bali food and cocktail menu. Cocktails start at around 165,000 rupiah, which is on a par with what I would pay for a cocktail in Australia.
My waiter was concerned that I was only ‘dining’ on cocktails and that I should have something to eat. I had to explain that I had had a late lunch! I was actually planning to go elsewhere for dinner but those plans didn’t materialise, so I caved in and got some nibbles as I ended up staying longer than I thought.
The moment that everyone who visits the Rock Bar starts to approach and camera’s are at the ready. Staff help out by offering to take photos for you. The sunset lasts quite a while going through quite a few different phases. The sunset is nothing short of magnificent. The whole sky just becomes this beautiful amber hue and to the East the sky takes on a pink hue.
So back to where I mentioned earlier about the other entrance to the Rock Bar. This is handy to know as a lot of people will leave the Rock Bar pretty much after sunset and the result is a bottleneck of people trying to get into that little lift that holds a mere 7 people. You could be standing there for a long time waiting for your turn in that lift. If you are fit and don’t mind taking the stairs then you can avoid this queue totally.
During the day, as I was exploring the resort (when I was hoping to have a swim in the ocean pool) I found another entrance which is actually part of the stairs that will take you to the Kisik Bar and Grill restaurant and subsequently to the Ocean Pool. You can access these stairs to exit the Rock Bar rather than taking the lift back up. It’s just a matter of walking past the pool and heading for the pathway beyond the last lot of tables.
The stairs that lead down to the Ocean pool, there are about 5 flights of stairs if my memory serves me correctly. Have your camera ready here too as you will get an amazing view of the Ocean Pool as I did below.
The magnificent Ocean pool at the Ayana Resort and Spa with the Rock Bar tables and lounges in the background.
Must knows & Tips
Opening hours are from 4 pm to 1 am (2 am on Fridays and Saturdays)
A dress code applies: No singlets, board shorts or alcohol branded clothing (You will have to leave your Bingtang singlet at home for this place)!
Wifi is free to the public at Rock Bar Bali (Gives you instant bragging rights on social media)
Sunset is by far the busiest time to get to the Rock Bar, so plan ahead if you can and get there early for the pick of the tables and good photo opportunities of the main bar.
Bring a wide brimmed sun hat or cap – you won’t regret it as the sun is harsh beating straight down onto your head.
Kids are welcome.
Edit: Since writing this article, The Rock Bar Bali has constructed a number of new platforms, gaining an extra 225 seats for patrons.
You might also be interested in reading about the resort where Rock Bar is located here:
The Rock Bar Bali is located at the Ayana Resort and Spa
Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera
Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia
Website & Social media links