In the Neighbourhood: East Bali
Pack your bags, we’re going on a road trip! East Bali is a-callin’ with its gorgeous beaches, beautiful temples, and mighty mountains, including Bali’s highest, Mount Agung.
Would you like salt with that? Look out for the handpainted wooden signs for salt (garam in Bahasa Indonesia) on the side of the road at Kusamba and buy directly from the families that have been making salt from seawater using the same method for hundreds of years. Once you’ve seen the hard work that goes into producing this condiment you’ll never look at it in the same way again.
Stop at Padang Bai and catch a ferry to Lombok, which leaves daily. It’s not just a launching point for the islands either; Padang Bai is a really pretty place where you can easily stay a night or two. Blue Lagoon Beach is a great place to snorkel and there’s good scuba diving in the area too.
Further up the coast, you’ll reach Candi Dasa. It’s a coastal town but don’t expect any beach because it’s sadly been eroded away. If you’re willing to drive out of town a bit you’ll come to Pasir Putih, which translates to white sand. It used to be a well-kept secret but judging by the number of people on the beach we think the word may be out! This hidden gem at the end of the a winding track also houses great warungs directly on the beach that serve incredibly fresh catch-of-the-day seafood. Definitely worth a detour.
If you’re wanting to eat or drink in Candi Dasa, stop in at Vincent’s, where they serve a delicious mix of Indonesian and Western food and also have some very cool jazz nights.
Alila Manggis needs no further introduction, this place is heaven on earth. There’s a great spa, you can take Balinese cooking classes, and it’s even a hit with the kids.
Tirta Gangga is a totally charming water palace and a beautiful place to spend an hour or two. Jump across the stones that dot the water features or, for a small fee, take a dip in the restorative spring waters. It’s a wee bit slimy as you get in but definitely refreshing.
Further up the coast, you’ll hit Amed, famous for its incredible snorkeling and scuba diving. If you’re picturing palm trees and white sandy beaches, be warned, the sand is volcanic black and rocky in places. Despite this, it’s an incredibly beautiful place and the fishing boats that dot the sand make it picture perfect. You can also indulge in a bit of omm and take a yoga class, or try your hand (and lungs) at free diving.
Just outside of Amed, you will find Tulamben, which main attraction is diving at the US cargo ship wreck, Liberty, often sited as one of the best dive spots in the world. Even if you’re not a diver, you can snorkel out to the wreck and the coral reef.
Last but definitely not least, the jewel in East Bali’s crown has to be Mount Agung. Yes! You can climb her but keep in mind there are two ways to ascend, one of which is an absolute killer, so whatever you do, take a guide! Don’t forget to stop by Besakih, Bali’s mother temple located on the slopes of Mount Agung.
Congratulations – your road trip is now complete!
Thanks to our friends at AirAsia for flying Chris to Bali for this research trip.
Top image: Alila Manggis