Gilimanuk is as west as you'll get on Bali. Overlooking the Bali Strait, from Gilimanuk you can see Java to the west with the jaw-dropping peaks of Gunung Raung and Gunung Ijen sitting atop it. If you thought Balinese volcanoes looked big, wait till you see these.
While the vista is beyond impressive, given it is located midway between Pemuteran and Medewi on a western spur off the round-Bali road, pretty much the only reason you'd actually find yourself in Gilimanuk is if you're arriving or departing Bali for Java.
The town is built around the main ferry terminal which operates 24 hours a day transporting just about everything (except rabid dogs) back and forth. It truly is a sight to be seen and locals often joke that the port doesn't run as well as it could because there are simply too many ferries running.
The ferry ride between Bali and Java takes around 45 minutes to an hour to cover the few kilometres between the two ports. Despite the small distance, the currents here are treacherous and while there has long been discussions about bridging the waters, these plans have been strongly resisted by the Balinese authorities and, at least for now, there is no bridge on the horizon.
Food-wise, fruit sellers can be found at the entrance to the bus terminal and there are some simple shops 100m south of the ferry terminal along with many warungs on the road out of town. You won't struggle to find simple fare, with everything from ikan bakar to nasi campur easily available. It's all very local and affordable, but be prepared to negotiate if the price seems too high.
Aside from the ferry terminal Gilimanuk is also home to the muck diving site known as Secret Bay. While you could base yourself here, Permuteran is just 30-40 minutes away and is a far more pleasant place to stay — plus there are no dive operators based in Gilimanuk.
For onwards travel, the bus station is beside the ferry terminal and has buses to all major centres in Bali including Denpasar, Tabanan and Singaraja.
The police station is located approximately 300m south of the ferry terminal and an ATM can be found about 1km away and ojeks and dokars are available to take you to it and back for 7,000 rupiah.
By Adam Poskitt.