The main reason most people come to Jimbaran Bay is for the fresh seafood, barbecued to order at one of the many restaurants and shacks right on the stunning beach. During the evening, hundreds of tables are set up on the sand to cater for the masses of visitors wanting their fill of fresh seafood, normally caught the previous night by the fleet of fishing boats that call Jimbaran home.
There are essentially five separate areas to eat along the beach and not all of the restaurants are well-patronised.
At the very northern end of the bay next to the market are a couple of warungs selling fish purchased from just across the road from the stall holders. These places are the cheapest along the strip, but lack any of the appeal that the beachside restaurants further down the beach have. They are simply there to serve barbecued seafood and don't have tables and chairs on the beach, so eat here only if you really don't care about the magnificent bay.
Just south of the market starts a massive string of more expensive brick buildings that are more upmarket than any of the other sections along the beach. These restaurants generally charge a little more for their seafood, but accompany this extra expense with toilets that are sometimes clean and a wide selection of beverages to wash your dinner down with.
Further south again at the point where the beach road turns inland begins a ramshackle bunch of buildings which house the cheapest beachfront cafes. You'll often find more local people eating here than at the other eateries because of price, but the facilities are decidedly dirtier and more basic. Still, it's possible to find a shack that serves up cheap seafood right on the beach in an environment that is hygienic enough.
Further south again and the cafes are the least attractive. They are neither well-constructed like the most northerly beachside restaurants nor colourful like the middle beachside shacks. This is the place to come for cheaper seafood when you don't want to risk one of the cheapest shacks just up the beach, but the vibe is decidedly subdued.
Yes, we're saving the best till last. At the far southern end of the beach, between the Intercontinental and Four Seasons hotels is the final cluster of seafood restaurants and we'd say this is the best area of the lot. In fact we'll go as far as to recommend a particular restaurant here, the very aptly named Cafe Bagus, and it is, well, bagus! You'll find it at the northern end of the southern patch of beach restaurants, almost beside the Intercontinental.
Another point to note is that taxi drivers are often paid commissions by restaurants, so don't leave it up to them to decide on where to go -- it's better to decide for yourself either by numbers of other diners or freshness of the seafood.
Start a meal at Cuca at the outdoor bar, where the professional staff whip up truly notable cocktails. The menu doesn't make the drinks sound particularly fabulous, but we came for one and had, hiccup, several. The iced rose, for instance, is described as: hibiscus ice, brandy, wild honey, lemongrass (90,000 rupiah). The Bali Mary is merely tomato water, vodka, Balinese chilli and citrus (95,000... Read our full review of Cuca .
We’ve written before about grabbing a seafood dinner at Jimbara in southern Bali, and we’re sorry to say that here we are writing about the same meal (yes, seafood barbecue) at the same place (Cafe Bagus, though now it’s Cafe Made Bagus), on the same piece of beach (Four Seasons end of Jimbaran beach). Why? It’s that damn... Read our full review of Jimbaran seafood barbecue.