This is one of those travelogues where the title says one thing, and I wind up caveating it with a "Trust Me!" As you see below, Tanah Lot is indeed the perfect place to watch the sun setting over Bali, just not on a day like the one when I went there.
To be fair, during the rainy season (Nov-Mar), Balinese sunsets are a challenge. The rains build up in the northern volcanic mountains (see Lake Bratan) and slowly follow the gentle tropical slopes to the south, eventually engulfing the entire island by mid-afternoon. Your only hope of getting a real sunset that time of year is when the rain gods decide to take a whole day off -- but that does not mean you should forsake Tanah Lot. The fractal coastline is an absolute marvel regardless of the weather!
As the first photo shows, Tanah Lot is a mix of sandy beaches and picturesque volcanic rock formations. Paths extend above the beach in both directions from the parking lot/market, inviting you to see the entire coastline. Small family temples are commonly found among the catanques. For example, there's one hidden in the bush above the arch in this photo.
However, the main attraction is the largest temple, the Pura Tanah Lot, shown on its rocky island perch here. This is how it appears at low tide, with the island's rocky caves exposed. At high tide, only a tiny path connects the island to the mainland (seen just slightly off the right).
The locals have a number of gimmicks to entice the curiosity of the tourist. For example, a cliff to the left of this photo has a series of snake-infested caves which, for a fee, local guides will take you in order to touch one of the snakes (don't worry, they are completely harmless). Such services are only available at low tide.
Well, seeing at how this particularly gray January day produced nothing but torrential rain at sunset time, this travelogue is going to cheat a bit. My friend and travel companion Veronica Siwi took this picture at Tanah Lot the previous May during the dry season. Tanah Lot provides several great (and strategically placed) vantage points for viewing the sunset, but they get very crowded. It is suggested that you seek a prime spot at least 30 minutes before sunset and stay there!
Trip taken 23 January 2002 -- Page last updated 28 October 2006