I consider East Bali to be the most naturally beautiful part of the island. Life is slow there, the coastal scenery absolutely stunning, and the seclusion makes it perfect for a romantic getaway. The abundance of marine life, wrecks, amazing surf break,s and beautiful beaches at Amed make East Bali also very popular with divers, snorkelers, surfers, and beach bums. Moreover, it provides a much-needed respite from the cultural overdose of central Bali. It is very easy to get overdosed with culture in Ubud. The feeling always reminded me of getting templed out in India and at that time, all you need to rejuvenate is some serene rough and tumble hinterland of East Bali.
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My day getaways to Amed
Inland central Bali has a certain landlocked charm which may make one feel a bit claustrophobic after a few days. All around you, you see streams, balsam bushes, palm trees, and villagers in sarongs, lace blouses, and flowers in their hair. Though, it sounds absolutely dreamy, which central Bali is, after a few days, one gets the craving for space which only oceans can provide. Being a space and freedom lover, the vastness of east Bali drew me like a moth to a flame and I tried visiting it as much as possible. Thus, during my entire month-long Bali stay, I had visited Amed and Candidasa twice or thrice and they were all day trips. My room at the Ubud Inn was too comfortable to ignore and the nightly rate did not allow me with many extras for splurging. So, even though the distance was quite a bit, I always returned to Ubud at the end of my Amed trips. Moreover, I liked my evenings at Ubud, where there was a lot of vibrant activities going on. It felt good to be back in the midst of action after exploring the offbeat, less touristy eastern Bali for the entire day. However, the distances were long and there have been times when I was nearly tempted to sleep at Amed for a night.
Mount Agung and the blue sea of Amed
I remember one particular trip and it was the day I visited the famous Besakih temple. The morning was still tender when I left Besakih and an entire unplanned day stretched ahead of me. I had no plans made, no one to see, and did not have any particular place in mind. Visions of east Bali’s waves and tranquility called out and I happily away towards the lovers’ coves in Amed. Nothing feels better than a Balinese sun-drenched morning. A smile played on my face as I rode through the heart of the green island. Beautiful black sand beaches of Amed beckoned lustily and it was a lovely ride through the beautiful Balinese coastline. A fresh breeze ruffled the frangipani blossoms and the mighty Mount Agung loomed in the horizon. A still-active volcano Mount Agung is the highest point of Bali and is extremely popular among day-trippers and trekkers. On clear days, Lombok’s Mount Rinjani is visible from its summit and the morning vista of Bali from there is supposedly one of the most beautiful sights in the world.
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Amed is absolutely stunning
On that lovely sunshiny day, tender green rice fields shimmered in the warm golden light as I went up and down the central uplands of Bali. I passed quaint hamlets, endless frangipani, tangly banyan, and glistening bamboo groves on the way, stopping for a break only when the turquoise blue ocean stretched visibly beyond the carpet of green. From my vantage point, it looked almost like a painting and the sight took my breath away. Huge fluffy clouds raced through an immense expanse of a clear blue sky and the rolling green hills were dappled by their play of sun and shade. Apart from the beauty, east Bali’s seclusion is also quite magical. There were many moments during my Amed visits when the road was completely deserted except for me.
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The rich marine life around Amed
A semi-arid region (being Mount Agung’s rain shadow area), the coastal strip of Amed is economically quite poor and has limited infrastructure (compared to south Bali). Salt production, fishing, and diving based tourism form the backbone of the region’s economy and the water around Amed is teeming with marine life. Beautiful coral reefs and schools of parrotfish, black snappers, wrasses, sharks, sponges, barracudas etc make it a snorkeler’s paradise. There are a few wrecks in the shallow areas too. My Amed stops were always at the Tulamben village and I liked snorkeling there. The sight of the colourful outrigger boats and deep blue waves breaking over the glistening soft black sand is very relaxing and Amed is secluded, quiet, and rural. I loved Amed’s village community-like atmosphere and the sight of cloud-topped Mount Agung towering over the sparkling curved black sand bay never failed to mesmerize me.
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Exclusive and a bit dated Candidasa
Candidasa in comparison to Amed was more upscale, old school and expensive. It was also located in a relatively remote part of Bali and was pretty. Known as one of the oldest tourist destinations of Bali, Candidasa has none of Amed’s beaches, Ubud’s culture, or Kuta’s party scene. More popular with elderly tourists than any other segment, there are lots of excellent restaurants, hotels (with open-roofed bathrooms, private coconut groves) and a handful of beautiful Gili islands (Gili Tepekong, Gili Biaha, and Gili Mimpang) nearby. Many Amed patrons make day trips to Candidasa for its pristine Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach), Blue Lagoon, and Pantai Labuan Amuk (Black Sand Amuk Bay). The old coastal town also has the beautiful Tirta Gangga and holy Goa Lawah. Popularly known as the Bat Temple, Goa Lawah is another one of Bali’s 9 directional temples and supposedly protects the island from evil forces of the ocean.
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Amed Travel Guide and Tips
How to Reach: Amed is located North East from Amlapura and can be reached within thirty minutes by car from there. Public transportation includes a 2 hours bus ride from Denpasar’s, Batubulan Terminal to Amlapura, then changing to a memo (a three-wheeled motoped) to Amed (another 30minutes drive). The bemo will usually stop at the village, but you need to mention that to the driver or else you may get taken you directly to Jemeluk Beach. Shuttle buses to Amed are also available from Lovina, Candidasa, and Padang Bai. Amed Sea Express offers pick up and drop services to Lombok, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Public transport is nearly nonexistent in Amed and the best way to explore that stretch of eastern Bali coast is by foot. A few taxis and bemos might be available and bargaining is practiced while deciding on a fare.
Where to Stay: There are plenty of accommodation options in Amed ranging from diver’s shack, homestay to comfortable resorts and snorkeling/diving gear can be easily rented from any of these places.
Things to do in Amed: There are plenty of dive operators all along Amed’s coast and it is advisable to hunt around (and check the operator’s equipment) before selecting one. Every morning a village fish market comes alive and it is possible to buy the best seafood at cheapest prices from there. Most Amed guesthouses prepare the catch bought by their guests for a charge and also organize sailing and fishing trips. Apart from diving, Amed offers yoga classes, Mount Agung treks, and paddleboarding. Check out this blog post for more Amed activities.
Diving in Amed: Amed is a great diving destination for both learners and experienced divers and offers amazing wreck, drift and free dives. Night diving at Liberty is very popular and it is advisable to stay at Amed for a few days to experience the richness of Amed’s marine world to the fullest. Tulamben is the most popular Amed village and other bases include Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah Beach, etc. Jemeluk and Lipah Beach have the best wreck diving and there’s a great drift dive at Bunutan. The protected bay of Cemuluk is ideal for snorkeling and further south, Banyuning has beautiful coral gardens and a small wreck.
Mount Agung activities: Mount Agung can be accessed through organized treks or small group tours. Solo trekking is also possible and a night start is necessary to reach the summit for sunrise. It takes around 12 hours to reach the summit and warm clothing is advisable for the trek as its quite cold at the top. The organized treks usually cost around 84 USD/person. Refreshments, transfer and Mother Temple is also included in these packages. For complete Amed information, check out this comprehensive guide.
What to do in Candidasa
Candidasa offers some beautiful offbeat cycling and cultural tours for intrepid travelers. The authentic old Balinese village (Bali Aga) at Tenganan is one such place. There’s another Bali Aga at Trunyan village on the shores of Lake Batur near Kintamani, but it is isolated and residents are less welcoming than the ones at touristy Tenganan. Both the villages are unique for fiercely upholding the ancient pre-Majapahit Balinese culture and their rituals, beliefs, dialects etc are nowhere found in Bali. Bali Agas have rigid village systems and villagers must live and marry from within the community. Tenganan Bali Aga also offers excellent woven basket ware, beautiful intricate double weave Ikkat fabric called Geringsing and sometimes the blood spectacle, ritual combat of mekare kare is staged for tourists. Tenaganan tours are easily available anywhere in Bali, but for Trunyan it is advisable to hire services of a local guide.
The extreme northeastern point of Bali
The farthest eastern point of Bali is dominated by the beautiful Mount Seraya and the narrow coast juts out into Straits of Lombok as ravines and steep ridges. There are a few boutique hotels scattered along Bali’s easternmost coast and the area is riddled with secluded coves and bays. It is possible to hire an outrigger boat of a local fisherman for some independent exploration. Sometimes the locals offer basic home stay facilities for a fee.
Follow the rest of Indonesia series
- Lombok Island solo trip
- Lombok beaches and local life
- Exploring the lesser-known Gili Islands
- My Java stay in a nutshell
- Yogyakarta Travel Memories
- My experience of a Borobudur sunrise in Java
- Mount Bromo and the Sea of Sand
- Ijen Volcano and the Blue Fire
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