Escape the crowds and head north to Pemuteran - a quiet village surrounded by ocean, towering mountains & Bali's famous National Park
Ahh Pemuteran – the calm and ever-peaceful neighbourhood in Bali’s north that was once an undiscovered traditional fishing village. Today, with its beautiful backdrop of a calm clear bay, nestled between majestic mountain tops and neighbouring the West Bali National Park, Pemuteran is slowly revealing itself to the more adventurous Bali visitor, quietly declaring what is so unique about the Island of the Gods…
And with rumours of a second airport in Bali operational by 2022 in neighbouring Kubutambahan, Pemuteran could soon be a staple destination on every Bali bucket list. So, to explore this lesser known island gem before the sound of morning prayer disappears and tourists flock by the bus-load to this oasis of calm, we enlisted expat and resident Rebecca Foreman to tour the Pemuteran coast to find the very best places to stay, eat and play in this up-and-coming neighbourhood.
From stunning waterfront resorts and villas, to day trips to Menjangan (Deer) Island – one of the best places to snorkel and dive in Bali, FYI – here’s are the best hotels and restaurants in Pemuteran, plus all the awesome things to do to tick off your Pemuteran itinerary.
Happy adventuring, Honeys!
WHERE TO STAY IN PEMUTERAN
Matahari Beach Resort & Spa
Nestled between lush mountains and the deep blue Java Sea, Matahari Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect place to experience pure, unadulterated luxury in an oh-so natural setting. As the only five-star resort in Pemuteran, it’s easy to see why it has had the honour of hosting royalty throughout the years, with its Balinese-style architecture and breathtaking surrounds, home to a gorgeous pool, yoga pavilion, diving school, and of course, the nearby ocean. Choose to stay in the hand-crafted and lavishly decorated bungalows (harmoniously built using local materials), or for families and friends travelling together, go for the private and exclusive two-bedroom Cempaka Villa. And to really ease into the slower pace of Pemuteran? The award-winning Parwathi Spa is where you can bliss out with divinely luxuriant signature treatments (try the four-hands massage), before a fabulous feast at the resort’s two signature restaurants. Dine beachside at the casual Leon Beach Bistro, or up the opulence at Dewi Ramona Restaurant for a finer feast of European-inspired treats. Think fresh grouper wrapped in banana leaf, pan-fried scallops with a chilli-coconut foam, and even lobster thermidor “a la Matahari”. All of the produce is locally-sourced where possible from organic plantations and neighbouring farms, and every dish is truly delicious.
Matahari Beach Resort & Spa, Jl Raya Seririt, Gilimanuk, Desa Pemuteran, p. +62 362 92312, e. [email protected]
Taman Sari Resort
Home to Pemuteran’s only white sand beach, Taman Sari Resort is a go-to for families, couples and groups of friends. The standouts here are the six beautiful, privately enclosed, tropical pool villas, all with kitchenettes, cable TV, DVDs, sky showers, daybeds in temple gardens and ponds with mountain views. Or for more modest budgets, there are also suites and rustic bungalows. The resort also has its own beachfront restaurant, bar and pool for some serious down-time and sunset watching, and don’t forget those spa offerings, perfectly positioned near the pool so that you can keep an eye on the kids while having a relaxing reflexology treatment.
Taman Sari Resort, Pemuteran Dusun Pemuteran, Gerokgak, Pemuteran, p. +62 362 94755, e. [email protected]
Kinaara Resort & Spa
Located in Pemuteran Village and nestled on one hectare of tropical landscape under lush green palm trees, Kinaara Resort & Spa offers two types of traditional Indonesian-style accommodation: the Lumbung Suite or – if a thatched roof is more your style – the Walekayu Suite. Relax and hang by the natural spring water swimming pool with its shaded pool bar under the palm tree and take in the stunning hillside scenery and surrounding natural gardens, or try any number of trekking or diving activities, yoga, or even a cooking class.
Kinaara Resort & Spa, Jl Raya Pemuteran, Pemuteran, p. +62 362 343 7271, e. [email protected]
Located in the mountains a short drive west of Pemuteran, you will find the luxurious, private villa retreat of Sumberkima Hill. Here you can soak up views of the Bali Sea, the volcanoes of Java and the West Bali National Park right on your doorstep – perfect for families, couples, friends and yogis to relax and enjoy dreamlike views in all directions. Choose from two restaurants, Suma and Senja, serving up only the best in fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Don’t forget to check out the in-house Yoga Shala with stunningly lush tropical views, before any number of treatments or beauty therapies at the spa for skin, hair and body.
Sumberkima Hill, Taman Ayun, Desa Sumberkima, p. +62 812 8212 9211, e. [email protected]
Puri Ganesha Homes by the Beach
As the name suggests, Puri Ganesha Homes by the Beach are four individually and tastefully designed private houses that use Indonesian antiques and fabrics – situated right by the beach. The master bedrooms command stunning sea views and spacious garden bathrooms with cool terracotta floors. Chill poolside by day, snorkel over lunch, and bliss out with a therapeutic day-bed massage. And to feed your tummy as well as your soul, Puri Ganesha prides itself on being a member of Slow Food Bali, so rest assured that every effort has been taken to use only organic and local ingredients on its menus. No red meat here, only simple, fresh and seasonal chicken, seafood, salads and vegetable dishes served up in the houses, dining pavilions, petit beachfront restaurant or by request on the beach by torchlight. This is a gourmet paradise for vegetarians and vegans who want to taste the unique flavours of the north.
Puri Ganesha Homes by the Beach, Desa Pemuteran, Gerokgak, p. +62 8123 932 984, e. [email protected]
THINGS TO DO IN PEMUTERAN
Explore the deep blue sea
For both experienced and beginner snorkelers or divers, there really is no better way to pass the day in Pemuteran than checking out some of Bali’s most vibrant coral reefs. Menjangan (Deer) Island is famed for hectares of stunning coral reef, great drop-offs, light currents and ideal water temperatures and visibility. The indigenous tropical fish here are abundant and if you’re very lucky, you may catch manta rays and whale sharks too. There are plenty of diving companies nearby who will arrange pick-up and drop-off with lunch, equipment and national park fees included, but if you’re a diver, we’d suggest the five-star PADI-recognised Blue Corner Dive Centre or Bali Diving Academy. And if you don’t fancy a day on the open seas? Stick to the shoreline and check out the award-winning Biorock coral restoration project, located directly in front of Taman Sari Resort. Or, don’t get wet at all and just head out for a morning of dolphin watching.
Visit a Buddhist Monastery & Bali’s Hot Springs
Have your concierge organise a tour to Brahma Arama Vihara Buddhist Monastery (known as the biggest Buddhist temple in Bali) in Banjar North Bali – a one-hour car drive east of Pemuteran. This active Monastery is much more than just a tourist attraction and there is a working Ashram located close by. The Monastery provides a breathtaking view in serene and peaceful surroundings, with dramatic domes and architecture inspired by the famous Borobudur temple in Java. And, while you’re in the area, why not check out the Banjar Hot Springs too, just ten minutes from the Monastery. These springs, set in a beautiful flowered garden, were made by Japanese Colonists hundreds of years ago and built with bathing in mind, also used for their special healing properties thanks to the Brimstone in the water. You can choose to relax in one of three baths, where a good soak in 38ºC sulphur water will eliminate any hint of tired aching muscles. Steer clear on Balinese holidays as can get very crowded.
Surrender to spa treatments and yoga
Pemuteran is home to many uniquely traditional spa facilities offering the essence of regional wellness. Many of the bigger hotels are home to fabulous spas, namely Parwathi Spa at Matahari Beach Resort & Spa. Parwathi Spa is the ultimate sanctuary of relaxation and was built to resemble an ancient Balinese Royal Water Palace. The spa program, including a daily morning yoga session, delivers a stunning selection of traditional Balinese healing treatments, with its signature two, four and six hand massages. Other notable spas include Hill Yoga & Spa at Sumberkima Hill Private Villa Retreat where you can enjoy a signature Balinese Healing Massage from local healer ‘Sri’, who’ll apply pressure to body ailments through Balinese acupressure techniques. There is also a drop-in Hatha yoga class here located in the Shala, which has the most breathtaking views of Pemuteran.
Take a hike
Take a guided trek through the West Bali National Park and get back-to-nature with an experienced national park guide who can point-out local flora and fauna, some 175 species of plants, 14 of which are endangered species like Bayur, Ketangi, Sonokeling, and Burahol Cendana (or sandalwood). Check out sunset or moon rise at the top of the Beratan Mountain, where you can see a stunning ocean and mountain forest views as well as a splendid sunset over the volcanoes of East Java. During the full moon period (2 days before and after), it is possible to see the sun setting and full moon rising at the same time. And if you’re really into your hiking, make an overnight trip to Ijen – the ‘Green Crater’ in Eastern Java with a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-coloured acid crater lake and active sulphur mine. It takes an overnight trip to get there, but the experience is certainly worth the trek.
Tour a trio of temples
Organise a temple tour through any number of well-known tour companies to visit three well-known temples in the area of Pemuteran. The Pulaki, Pabean and Segara Temples are perfectly nestled between mountain and sea. Pura Pulaki is the main temple for Pemuteran, backing up against the hills and home to the legendary guardians, a friendly tribe of grey macaque monkeys. Then, across the road on grounds bordered by the ocean is Pura Pabean, a temple exhibiting an unusual style of Balinese and Chinese decoration. It is not uncommon to see local fishermen praying for safe journeys and good yields here. You’ll then discover at the foot of Pura Pabean, next to the sea, is the much older temple and much more basic Pura Segara temple. There are a number of other notables you could include on your temple tour, including Pemuteran, Melanting and Taman National Bali Barat – just don’t forget to wear a sarong or scarf in order to enter any of the temple areas.
WHERE TO EAT IN PEMUTERAN
Dewi Ramona Restaurant
For a truly unique dining experience in Pemuteran, head to Dewi Ramona Restaurant at Matahari Beach Resort & Spa. There are many words to describe this stunning restaurant, but flawless is one that does it justice. The flavours of Bali combined with only the best locally sourced produce makes this blend of traditional and European fare, expertly and beautifully presented, a unique dining pleasure. The desserts are the very best you will find in the area too, particularly the creme brulee accompanied by freshly prepared mango sorbet, or the gooey chocolate sponge with sweet chilli sorbet. Delish! And once dinner draws to a close, head next door to Wayang Bar, with its impressive drinks list to complement the Balinese baroque style décor that takes you deep into the very mystical and mythological world of Balinese Hindu life. This is a dining experience not to be missed.
Dewi Ramona at Matahari Beach Resort & Spa, Jl Raya Seririt, Gilimanuk, Desa Pemuteran, p. +62 362 92312. e, [email protected] Open daily.
Frangipani Bar & Restaurant
Tucked away in a two-storey villa just off the main road is Frangipani Bar & Restaurant – a local Pemuteran treasure serving up a vast selection of western and Indonesian dishes. All the favourites can be found here, including traditional Balinese staples like Ayam Betutu (chicken slow-cooked in banana leaves) or Babi Guling (Balinese suckling pig) plus iconic seafood dishes like Lobster Thermidor. Salads, soups, pastas and delicious desserts also make an appearance, plus a great selection of cocktails, beers, spirits and wonderfully attentive staff.
Frangipani Bar & Restaurant, Jl Arjuna, Banjar Loka Segara, Desa Pemuteran, p. +62 813 3841 8668. Open daily 11am – 10pm.
La Casa Kita
A small family-run Italian restaurant in the heart of Pemuteran, La Casa Kita serves up a variety of Western and Indonesian favourites, not forgetting the only wood-fired oven in town. Drool-worthy thin crust pizzas anyone? Delivery is also available, as is open-air seating set amongst a well-groomed lawn. The bar offers cold beer and wine options as well as plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.
La Casa Kita, Jl Raya Gilimanuk-Seririt, Pemuteran, p. +62 852 3889 0253. Open daily 2pm – 11pm.
For a much more local dining experience, check out these carefully hand-selected traditional Warungs (small Balinese-owned restaurants), offering up a taste of Pemuteran at extremely affordable prices…
This local roadside shack is always heaving with passers-by and anyone in the Pemuteran culinary know! Warung Setia offers classic Indonesian and Asian dishes (hello Nasi Goreng and Prawn Pad Thai) as well as all your western favourites, awesome fresh salads, sushi, a great selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes – even gluten-free options too. If you don’t mind a wait or a little roadside noise, then this is the place to plonk down and take your time for fresh, local fare for just a few dollars.
Warung Setia, Jl Seririt, Gilimanuk, Pemuteran, p. +62 852 3831 1212. Open daily 11am – 11pm.
Warung Kadek Merry
This small Balinese Warung serves up their very special brand of Indonesian and Balinese fare with a smile. Seafood is bought daily from the local traditional market or the village fishermen, t0 create fresh dishes like grilled calamari or tuna, mixed seafood curry and even sashimi – or perhaps vegan curry is more your style. It’s all catered for here with a focus on fresh local ingredients to assure top-notch food quality at reasonable prices. There’s even a free shuttle pick-up service around the Pemuteran area. Double win!
Warung Kadek Merry, Jl Raya Seririt Gilimanuk, Pemuteran p. +62 819 3644 1881, e. [email protected] Open daily 11am – 10pm.
Words by Rebecca Foreman
Currently living the island life in Bali with her family, Rebecca fills her days with travelling, writing and reviewing, often with the kids in tow. Follow her bountiful island adventures on her Instagram page.