Pemuteran is a seaside destination located in the far northwest of Bali, an area that sees far fewer tourist arrivals than those towns in South Bali. Getting here can prove to be a hassle if you're travelling by public transport from the south, and is expensive if chartering a car and driver. But those with determination are rewarded by one of the most charming seaside locations in Bali with a long stretch of beach punctuated by excellent snorkelling opportunities.
The snorkelling at Pemuteran is interesting for the reef regenerative project that is underway. Metal frameworks have been set up in all manner of shapes and sizes underwater and then a moderate electrical current is pumped through them. This has sped up the coral growth and while it still has a way to go before it comes close to what is at Menjangan Island, there are nevertheless a lot of fish and you can snorkel straight off the beach. Note there are clear entry and exit points where you should enter. This is especially important at low tide.
The main reason people visit Pemuteran is so they can dive or snorkel majestic Pulau Menjangan, a dry, scrubby island 2km offshore surrounded by the best coral reef in Bali. While damaged in the past through tourism, bleaching and attacks by crown of thorns starfish, the reefs have been done very well through a restoration project, and today the waters boasts massive drop offs, cliffs, caves and a spectacular array of fish. It is absolutely world class.
While you will see a lot of fish at both Pemuteran and Menjangan, you'll all too often see the dreaded "plastic bag fish". It's known for its distinctive colouring, often reading mie goreng. On our first day of snorkelling at Pemuteran, the amount of rubbish floating on the water was amazing. According to locals it comes and goes depending on the currents and while a concerted effort is made to remove it on a daily basis, it just keeps coming. So keep your fingers crossed for an offshore breeze when you arrive!
Accommodation in Pemuteran itself is located along two bays backed by a 2km stretch of road that runs through the middle of the village. Most of the beachside hotels and resorts are priced at the higher end of the price scale, but there are some more affordable options just a short walk from the water, with a couple of true budget guesthouses set on the far side of the main road (though still just a five minute walk from the water). There are a few outlying resorts, particularly near the pier to Menjangan, but they're mostly self-contained affairs.
Surprising given the beachside location, there is nothing in the way of free-standing beachside restaurants. If you want to eat by the water, you'll need to be eating in one of the hotel bars or restaurants. That's not to say the food isn't generally quite good, it's just a bit pricier. For cheap local eats, head to the warungs that line the main road where you'll get all manner of dishes with a bowl of bakso costing 5,000 rupiah, but the setting, beside a moderately busy road with a lot of trucks, isn't exactly sublime. There is one life-save though, Warung Cordon Bleu has the best ikan rica rica in Bali!
The closest ATMs to Pemuteran are in Gilimanuk to the west and Seririt and Lovina to the east, so make sure you arrive cashed up. Some of the more expensive resorts accept credit cards. Rudimentary internet facilities are available at a number of roadside stalls throughout town. Some of the hotels and guesthouses provide WiFi (though not always for free).
By Adam Poskitt.