Mar 29 2011
For those doing a quick loop of Bali, from Candi Dasa the next logical stop is Amed, a beachside series of bays about an hour and a half north of Candi Dasa. It’s known for its black sand beaches, off-the-beach snorkelling and volcano vistas — it forms one of those all round “pleasurable place to hang around for a few days” type of a destination. We like it … a lot.
As with the first section of our round Bali trip, there are a couple of routes you can take — the more direct route makes you more or less due north via Amlapura and Tirta Gangga with a hard right at the end, while the scenic route takes you via the coast road, snaking by Ujung Water Palace and the easternmost point of Bali. You know which way we’re going to go right?
About 10 minutes out of Candi Dasa, the road winds and turns back on itself until you reach a layover for a shrine and viewpoint. We thought the summit was a mere stroll away, but it turned out to be a 45 minute more-than-strenuous slog to the summit. The views are spectacular, but when we found what looked to be an especially scenic vantage point to the north, we also found a six-foot stark naked Westerner standing there. He was friendly enough, giving us a polite wave, but we decided to keep the camera in our pocket. Aside from the odd nude Western dude, there are also a lot of monkeys.
Back onto the bike we continued on to the turnoff to Jasri beach. Jasri was once another of Bali’s great surfing beaches, but when the beach started to get sucked away, a retaining wall was built that forever changed the waves. You’ll still see the occasional rider out here, but they’re few and far between. There are two places to stay at Jasri Beach, Irene Homestay (which, when we last passed by in March 2011, was open but also for sale) and the charming and very secluded (and near impossible to find!) Turtle Bay Hideaway.
Turning around, once you’re back on the main road, take any of the next few lanes to the right and dogleg your way through to the mainish road (yup you guessed it, no signposts) and follow it through to Ujung Water Palace. Allow at least an hour to wander the grounds, longer if you decide to set up camp for lunch.
From here on you’ll be sticking to the mostly unsignposted coast road. The only town of any real size you’ll pass through before Amed is Seraya (where you take a right at the top of the hill — don’t go straight ahead!). The road is narrow and very windy, but particularly scenic and there is close to zero traffic. Fine by motorbike or a car. There is a cluster of places to stay near Seraya (including the very well-regarded Seraya Shores) but after that there is close to nothing until the easternmost bays at Amed.
While much of the pleasure in this route is just following the winding road and enjoying the scenery, one very worthwhile diversion lies about half way through. You’ll reach a small bridge with a signposted hard-right to Pantai Songan — take it!
Songan beach is a glorious little black sand beach reached by a steep stone staircase and forms the perfect spot to take a refreshing swim along the way. There’s space to park a motorbike, but if you’re in a car you may need to park a bit further away. With the deep blue of the ocean, jet black sand and white fishing boats, this is an especially photogenic spot.
From Songan onwards just keep on going. Eventually you’ll see the signpost for Golden Rock Retreat, a detox health resort marking the southernmost end of Banyuning village. From here the coast stretches for 10km or so with a half dozen beaches and villages till you reach Amed village proper. Each beach has its own pros and cons, activities and Amed has a range of hotels and guesthouses — I’ll be writing about all that in the next entry.
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