Photo: Fish for dinner?

Introduction

Our rating:

Blazing sunsets, the glow of seafood barbecues and golden sands are Jimbaran’s principle lures. Combine these with calm waters ideal for families, a combination of luxury resorts and traditional life, and proximity to the airport and popular attractions in southern Bali, and you’ve found a semi-laid-back alternative to Kuta, Legian or Seminyak.


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Immediately south of the east-west runway at Ngurah Rai International Airport which cleaves Jimbaran’s gently sweeping arc of sand from frenzied Kuta to the north, the bulk of the area is a mix of residential and small businesses punctuated with a few rather grand hotels along the coast. Historically, the west coast of Jimbaran was foremost a fishing village, and this remains a significant industry—well that is to say fish is big business here, even if there may not be that many to catch in the sea anymore. Interestingly, in the past, the east coast was a notable producer of salt and lime, nowadays a thin strip of mangrove forest.

A great beach for kids. Photo taken in or around Jimbaran, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

A great beach for kids. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Jimbaran Beach with its generally clean sands, and placid waves is a pleasant spot for swimming and sunbathing with fewer of the hassles of the beaches in Kuta and Legian. However, this stretch isn’t one of the shadiest, brutally exposed to the beating Balinese sun, so do slap on the sunscreen. It’s also possible to rent a shady deckchair—kick back, take in the serenity and watch the endless stream of planes arriving and departing to the airport in the north, which surprisingly, you can hardly hear.

While Jimbaran is a surf beach, the break is small and most of the time a long way offshore, giving toddlers and young children plenty of shallow, relatively safe waters to run amok. In fact, the whole vibe in Jimbaran is chilled out in a mass tourism kind of way. The accommodation options on offer tend towards the higher end but a handful of budget and midrange digs are tucked away in the backstreets.

This beach research thing can be a real killer. Photo taken in or around Jimbaran, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

This beach research thing can be a real killer. Photo: Stuart McDonald

While there are plenty of places to stay in Jimbaran, the largest influx of visitors arrive for the setting sun as large swathes of the beach are enveloped in plumes of smoke as mountains of coconut husks are set alight for the nightly sizzle of seafood barbecues at a series of beachside warungs. Yes, you’ll pay more for seafood here than you may elsewhere, but the dreamy setting couldn’t be any more romantic—with your toes in the sand while the waves of the bay lap the shoreline, add the flicker of candlelight, a serenade from a strolling musician (or not!), and when the sunset really turns it on, this is a really photogenic affair.

You may wonder where all the fresh seafood comes from—the beach is also home to the Jimbaran fish market—you’ll often see dozens of jukungs—traditional outrigger fishing boats—anchored offshore, but in the early morning they run up onto the beach to deposit the morning’s catch. And while we’ve been told the catch continues to dwindle, if you are in the area, a visit to the market is well worth it—you’ll be fighting off chefs and buyers from some of Bali’s top restaurants as this is where many of them do their shopping.

Pay attention to the flags, especially in monsoon season. Red flag? Don’t swim. Photo taken in or around Jimbaran, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Pay attention to the flags, especially in monsoon season. Red flag? Don’t swim. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Other than lazing in the sun by day and feasting on seafood at night, there’s little else to do in Jimbaran although the beaches and other attractions of the Bukit and watersports over at Tanjung Benoa are within easy reach. For a rainy day activity, nearby Jengggla offers the opportunity to paint a pot for a unique souvenir, and the Turtle Sanctuary at Serangan also isn’t too far away. On a final note, Jimbaran’s convenient access to the airport, makes it worth considering as a first or last night stop.




Orientation
Jimbaran encompasses the narrow isthmus that connects the dangling southern Bukit to the rest of Bali. Heading south from the airport, Jalan Ngurah Rai Bypass runs parallel to Jimbaran Beach to its west, continuing to Nusa Dua and the Bukit peninsula. Two parallel roads west of Jalan Ngurah Rai Bypass, Jalan Raya Uluwatu and Jalan Pantai Kedonganan (the latter skirting Jimbaran Beach) are interconnected with smaller east-west running roads to make up Jimbaran.

Most of Jimbaran’s accommodation is towards the centre of the bay, with much of the southern end given over to the InterContinental Bali Resort, and, on the southern headland, the sprawling Four Seasons Resort. You’ll have no trouble finding a bite to eat, well that’s if you like seafood, much of the four kilometres of sand is lined with seafood warungs and restaurants. You’ll find ATMs and convenience stores mostly on Jalan Raya Uluwatu.

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Jimbaran.
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