Apr 28 2011

Driving around Bali: Lovina to Pemuteran

Published by at 11:57 am under Driving around Bali

From Lovina it’s an easy ride along the northwest coast of Bali to reach the diving and snorkelling beachside hideaway of Pemuteran. The road skirts the coastline for much of the way and aside from the rising hills to the south it’s really a bit of an uneventful ride, with junction town Seririt being the only settlement of any size that you’ll pass through.

Bye Bye Lovina

Bye bye Lovina!

Compared to the mirror image road that runs along the southern coast, this one is delightfully light traffic wise, and while a couple of minor points of interest are dotted along the way, most will choose to simply barrel between Lovina and Pemuteran.

If you are wanting to break up the trip, your first stop should be at the Banjar Hot Springs, some 11km to the west of Lovina: lookout for the sign reading “Air Panas Banjar“. From the turnoff it is another 5km to the springs themselves and this is a hit especially with domestic visitors — it’s just a shame they’re not further along the road from Lovina so you’d have more grime to wash off.

Wash off the grime at the Banjar hot springs

Wash off the grime at the Banjar hot springs.

For a more serious diversion, take a left when you reach Seririt and head inland (and uphill) to the mountain town of Munduk. We’re actually covering Munduk later in this series so won’t get into it now, but if you’re not planning on heading further west to Pemuteran, Seririt marks the last point where you can divert inland.

Pemuteran is known for four things. It’s famous for a trio of temples, a reef regeneration project and for being a jumping off point to both stunning Menjangan Island and also West Bali National Park. You’d think with this many highlights Pemuteran would be a bustling tourist town, but, while the beach is indeed lined with places to stay, it’s actually a very sleepy spot – those in the know love it though. Most of those frolicking on the beaches of Kuta reckon this is too far a drive to bother with.

We disagree!

Before you even roll into town you’ll pass by the three temples: Pura Pulaki, Pura Pabean and Pura Melanting. The easternmost, Pura Melanting, is arguably of most interest to casual visitors, so if you’re after a quick taster, stop here.

Travelling with young kids means you always get to see sunrise. This one in Pemuteran.

Travelling with young kids means you always get to see sunrise. This one in Pemuteran.

Pemuteran is home to an interesting reef regeneration scheme, and you can snorkel right off the beach here. The coral is still busy being, umm, regenerated, but there are plenty of fish to gawk at.

The beach itself isn’t one of Bali’s best, but the setting, with mountains looming behind the ocean, makes for some great pics. At the eastern end of the beach is an active fishing village and should you be interested you could probably organise a boat trip from here.

Much of the beach is lined with mid-range and up resorts. Those on a budget will be off the beach, but don’t fret as some good budget digs do lie on the off-beach side of the road.

It's more enjoyable to walk along the beach than over them there mountain things

It's more enjoyable to walk along the beach than over them there mountain things.

Once you’re done with Pemuteran itself, take a trip to the pier for Menjangan Island, from where you can arrange a boat transfer across to the island for a spot of snorkelling (or diving). When the visibility is clear and when there isn’t a ton of plastic on the surface (a common problem), the reef and fish here are world class and certainly the best we’ve seen anywhere in Bali so far.

Even the boat landings in West Bali are scenic!

Even the boat landings in west Bali are scenic.

The boat trip doesn’t come all that cheap, and comes with a mandatory guide (who will snorkel with you) so try to rustle up a group in Pemuteran, else hang out at the pier and try to wangle your way onto someone else’s boat. Allow a full day to really get the most out of a trip. The best sites are the “drop-off” and the “coral garden”. Be sure to get the boatman to show you the bat cave midway between the two.

No photoshop required. The water really is that blue.

No Photoshop required. The water really is that blue.

The second trip out from Pemuteran is trekking into West Bali National Park. A trek here will take you through the forest to hang out with the local macaque monkey population and, if you’re lucky, other animals. The forest is hot and humid and at times physically demanding, so take plenty of water. Long pants and long sleeve shirt are not necessary but sturdy shoes are and a moderate level of fitness is advised. Trekking can be arranged through any of the hotels in town or at one of the local shops advertising tourist services.

West Bali National Park and not a dodgy tailor shop in sight

West Bali National Park and not a dodgy tailor shop in sight.

Recommended beds
In Pemuteran, budget travellers should head straight to Kubuku, while we suggest flashpackers make a beeline for Taruna Homestay or Tirta Sari Bungalows. If you want to spend more, we were very impressed with both Pondok Sari, while friends highly rate family-friendly Taman Sari. At the top end, Amertha Bali Villas and Matahari Beach Resort are the two luxe options in central Pemuteran.

Stormy skies on the Menjangan run

Stormy skies on the Menjangan run.

Next stop? Medewi!

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