Spectacular views and rambunctious monkeys greet visitors to this northwest Bali temple, situated on the coast in a religiously significant place where the mountains meet the sea. The temple was founded in the 16th century, but archaeological discoveries indicate the site may date back to prehistoric times. It is located about three hours north of Denpasar in the Buleleng Regency, on the coast in Banyupoh town .9 miles (1.5 km) east of Pemuteran. Pura Pulaki is also one of the few “drive through” temples you’ll come across in Bali.
At a small roadside shrine just outside the temple gates, busy priests flick holy water onto devotees who drive up for a quick blessing. The stately black volcanic rock gates were built in 1983. The temple’s origins are credited to 16th-century High Priest Dang Hyang Nirartha. According to legend, he was led to the holy site by a pack of gray macaque monkeys, who then took up residence in the temple as guardians. Digging at the site in 1987 uncovered prehistoric stone tools, and along with various ancient accounts and other discoveries, have led to the belief that Pura Pulaki has been a holy site for a very long time.
The interior of the temple is divided into three areas, which get progressively more sacred the higher up it is carved. The architecture here is not a highlight, as most of the shrines and monuments are made of concrete and painted in garish colors. They are also mostly covered in cages to protect them from the scavenging monkeys who have run of the place. In a weird reverse zoo effect, there are also cages to protect people from the monkeys in some viewing areas. A number of temple staff wanders about brandishing sticks and slingshots, so it’s all rather safe, but mind your bags, glasses, cameras, and other loose items just in case.
The big draw here is the epic vista of the Javanese Sea with the temple in the foreground. The best views and photos are available at the top, where a path exits the temple and winds into fields of local corn. Be prepared to climb more than a few stairs in search of your perfect viewpoint. As is common in Bali, a sarong and sash are required for entrance to Pura Pulaki, and are available for rent near the gate.