Climbing Gunung Batur (1,717 meters) in Bangli District is one of Bali's most heavenly experiences. The sunrise from the top is awesome. To find information on climbing Batur, in the village of Toyabungkah at the base of the volcano look for the sign CV. Jero Wijaya Tourist Service, P.O. Box 1, Kintamani 80652, Indonesia, run by I Made Suarsana. He can explain the geologic history of the mountain, show you some excellent maps of the area, and arrange guides to the top. The guide fee includes eggs and bananas cooked in the steaming fissures at the summit, but your guide should be discouraged from engaging in this environmentally polluting practice.
I Wayan Pineh, who works in Surya Homestay in Kedisan, is one of the most experienced professional guides in the whole Batur area. Wayan specializes in leading tourists to the peak and guarantees satisfaction. From the moment he knocks on your door at 0330 until you get back at 0900, He is good-natured and fun. Don't let the weather fool you; if he says it will be clear at the top, you can bet the farm it will be. Wayan also cooks the best volcano eggs and bananas, and he'll take you to see black lava and the bat cave.
The climb up Bali's highest (3,014 meters) and holiest mountain, Gunung Agung in Karangasem District of east Bali, is the most arduous of any on the island. The oval crater at the top is 500 meters across and the highest point is on the western edge overlooking Besakih. The shortest and most popular routes are from Selat via Sebudi and from Besakih Temple itself. Refer to the Gunung Agung section of the Karangasem Regency chapter for more information on tackling this imposing peak.
Sobek does a bike tour, "The Batur Trail," which costs Rp115,000. It begins with a drive up to the Kintamani area at 1,700 meters above sea level by a air-conditioned van. After brunch you ride back down a less-trafficked road, an easy-going two-and-a-half-hour trip with one hill that you can ride up in the van or on your bike. Back roads take you through dense rainforests and groves of giant bamboo, and past picture-postcard terraces and sleepy mountain villages. The price includes all transport, mountain bikes, helmets, gloves, breakfast, drinks, and buffet lunch in Ubud. For more experienced cyclists, Sobek offers an off-road tour of twisting mountain tracks, steep-sided gorges, rocky river beds, and rice terrace paths. This two-hour trip takes in superb scenery around the Was River north of Ubud. The price of Rp142,000 includes transport, equipment, refreshment, and lunch. For both tours take along voucher or payment, shorts, a T-shirt, running shoes, sunglasses, sunblock, and camera.
Iskander Wawo-Runtu in Sanur does mountain bike tours from his upland farm in Pupuan down to the sea. You can join the group for a portion of the day, or stay overnight at his house in Pupuan and do a two-day trip. You'll see beautiful rice fields, forests, rivers, steep ravines, and remote villages. Your choice of selected off-road routes for different skill levels. From the starting point in Batungsel village at 1000, the route may take any direction. The price of Iskander's tour includes well-equipped, tough mountain bikes, two guides, and transport to and from your hotel. Hotel pick-up time in Sanur is 0800, drop-off around 1800. Cost: Rp138,000 per person for a minimum of five people per trip. Contact Meru Bicycle Day Trips at the Tanjung Sari, Private Bungalows, Jl. D. Tamblingan 41, Sanur (tel. 0361-288441, fax 287930), or at Cafe Batu Jimbar on Jl. D. Tamblingan, tel. 0361-87374. For more on bicycle touring, see the "Getting Around" section of the On the Road chapter.
To avoid the heat, tennis time on Bali is 0500 or in the cool evenings. Two girls in sarung, stationing themselves at each end of the net, are your ballgirls. Although there are some fine players among them, the Balinese on the whole have a happy-go-lucky attitude toward the game. Seldom rushing the net, they leave you to knock yourself out red-faced from exertion. Learn instead to just play a steady, nonaggressive game on the red-clay courts of the island. For many tourists, this is their only chance to meet Indonesians on equal ground, and vice versa. Tennis courts are found at the Bali Beach Hotel and the Bali Hyatt in Sanur; Pertamina Cottages in Tuban (near Kuta); Hotel Tjampuan in Ubud; and the Bali Golf and Country Club in Pancasari (near Bedugul). You can find tennis courts as part of the resort complex of virtually every hotel in Nusa Dua, and in dozens of other top-end hotels around Bali. In Denpasar, courts are located at Jl. M.T. Haryono, Jl. Kamboja, Putung Karangasem, and in Tanjung Bungkak.
Australian-based A.J. Hacket Company invites you to experience the wonder and excitement of jumping off a 44-meter-high tower tied to a giant rubber band. The platform, manufactured in Australia, overlooks one of southern Bali's most spectacular beachfronts. A professional crew will take you through the preparations, then it's up to you. Or as a spectator, sit back and relax, take a swim, have a drink at the pool bar or a snack, and just watch the jumpers. You can also ride the lift to the viewing platform without jumping, and take in Bali from a new perspective-views stretch from the northern volcanoes to the surfing beach of Ulu Watu. On a clear day you can see Java. The jump only is Rp101,000 including hotel pickup, T-shirt, jump certificate, and comprehensive insurance. Second jump is Rp58,000. Photos and videos of the unimaginable event are extra. Right on the beach at the Double Six Club, Jl. 66, Legian, tel. (0361) 730666, fax 730466. Open 1000 until sunset.
Two other companies have emerged: Adrenalin is located to the south on the Kuta-Legian line, and Bungee-Bali (tel. 0361-758362 or 941102) offers Bali's highest and only waterfall jump.
Based at windy Bukit Peninsula's Bali Cliff Resort, the qualified professionals of Waterworld, tel. (0361) 771992, offer instruction and tandem glides for those wanting to try it first. One of the best locations on the island to take off. No cliff-jumping involved, just a gentle breeze to lift you off the ground. It's easier than it looks, and on a clear day you'll see Bali from a new perspective.
Five in the morning is golf time; get two hours of exercise and breakfast under your belt by 0800. The finest course in Asia and one of the world's top 50 is the Bali Golf and Country Club in Pancasari near Bedugul just north of Lake Bratan. Judged fifth in the world for technical design and service, this 18-hole championship course features tall trees and flowers in riotous colors separating its grand, panoramic fairways. For reservations and information, call tel. (0361) 71791 or 288944, fax 71797. Other courses are the Bali Golf and Country Club on Nusa Dua, tel. (0361) 771791 or 771793, and at the Grand Bali Beach Hotel, tel. (0361) 288511, in Sanur. All courses have caddies available for hire. You might get a discount by contacting Bali Discount Golf (tel. 0361-286044); they provide transfers, greens fees (18 holes), club hire (full set), caddy, and golf cart (Nusa Dua only).
It's a long, pretty drive down bumpy country roads to the Pony Tour facility deep in Tabanan Regency for this full-day guided circular tour. Horses allow you access to an area only three kilometers west of Tanah Lot, yet almost totally unaffected by tourist development. After a safety talk you'll get a five minute riding lesson to assess your experience and find a suitable mount. You may be led or ride unassisted. Helmets are available as are ponchos if it rains and a fanny pack to carry valuables.
The word "pony" is used because it sounds safer, but these are actually retired racing horses from Java and Sumba. A variety of heights are on hand-from small ponies to larger horses. These aren't your ordinary, trail-weary steeds, they are well cared for and cost as much as seven million rupiah. Like Indonesians, they are small but very strong and highly spirited-miniature versions of classic Arabian stallions. After the horses are fitted with English saddles and snaffle bits, you head out a narrow path through stunning rice fields, bushland, and across rivers. The guides are absolutely first-rate. Ketut, looking like an American Indian chief and always in control, is a magnificent guide and horseman. He'll explain rice growing techniques and you'll get a wonderful tour of a traditional Balinese compound with an explanation of each building. Later you'll ride along the beach, the perfect place to learn. You'll get the quickest cantering lesson you've ever had and see displays of horsemanship that would measure up to any seasoned cowboy or rodeo star.
On returning to the stables, mediocre Balinese food is served cold and there are too many flies; better to eat a pack lunch on the beach instead of near the stables. Nevertheless, this is one of the most glamorous and exciting activities you can do on Bali, an unforgettable day for anyone who loves horses and the Balinese culture.
The Rp115,000 price includes transport, lunch, and refreshments. You're picked up in an air-conditioned van at your hotel in Kuta or Legian at 0830, Sanur and Nusa Dua at 0800; also pickups from Ubud, returning around 1500. Bring long pants, a strong pair of shoes (no thongs), sun hat, sunblock, and a bathing suit and towel if you want to swim in the ocean. Changing rooms are available at the stables. Sign up at the Mesari Beach Inn, Jl. Dhyana Pura in Legian, or call P.T. Bali Jaran Jaran Kencana, Loji Garden Hotel, Legian, tel. (0361) 751672 or 751746, fax 751746. Office hours 0800-1600; after office hours tel. 751672 or 751572. Also ask about the Sunset Pony Tour.
Considered a mecca for warm water surfing, Bali gets the full force of ocean swells breaking over shallow coral reefs. Winds blow away from the land, bringing trade winds which give shape and consistency to the waves. Bali offers good surf all year long, but the best, most consistent swells are from June to August. It's the best known surfing locale in Indonesia.
The island experiences a hot, wet season (Nov.-Feb.) and a long, cooler dry season (March-Oct.). During the dry, winds for the most part are from the northwest and often accompanied by rain squalls, creating large waves on the Nusa Dua-Sanur side of the island. When the winds are too strong, though, Nusa Dua is usually blown out. Also during the dry season, the northeast tradewinds make respectable offshore breaks at Uluwatu, G'Land, and Nusa Lembongan Island. The months in-between have variable conditions and winds. Bali's worst wind for surfing is a southerly. The Nusa Dua headland, for example, will divide the flow on both the Uluwatu and Nusa Dua sides. Tides also play a big role in the type, duration, and size of swells. The best tides come in during the full and new lunar phases.
Sudden, powerful cyclones in the Indian Ocean dramatically increase the size of swells. The waters around Bali have the advantage of being warm year-round; in the wet season the average temperatures are in the 80s F, but a vest or spring suit is needed during the dry when temperatures can drop into the 70s at exposed locations. The dry season is best because there's less humidity and evenings are cool.
The best surfing spots are crowded during the dry season, but since there are so many the experienced wave rider is always able to find his own retreat. Pride of place goes to Uluwatu and nearby Padang Padang on the Bukit Peninsula, which get swells churned in storms in the Indian Ocean during the wet season. For more detailed info, look up each surf spot in the travel chapters.
Uluwatu, famous for its left break, is ringed by high cliffs which surfers must climb down to reach a large sea cave. This is the only way to paddle out to breaks with names like The Race Track, the Peak, The Bommie, The Inside Corner, the Outside Corner-about seven breaks in all. If the current is too strong to reach the cave or the reef in front, make for the beach. Get here from Kuta by bemo (30 minutes), then walk about three km. Or get a motorbike, which will take you most of the way in. Padang Padang, north of Uluwatu toward Kuta, can be reached by walking a cliff path from Uluwatu, then climbing down to the beach, or by car or motorcycle from Kuta. The very shallow, hollow left here is treacherous because of the cliffs. It's not for beginners, and don't surf if there are too many surfers. Very popular is Bingin, near Padang Padang, a hollow left best at medium to low tides.
Kuta and Legian beaches are not an episode out of Baywatch. With a vicious undertow, the inviting appearance of the waves at Kuta Beach can be deceptive. An average of 40 people still drown each year off Kuta and Legian. Always stay within the clearly marked red and yellow flags. Lifeguards constantly patrol the beach during daylight. Kuta Reef, a long stretch of coral about one km out to sea, is best known for its left-hand break. Most riders take an outrigger to this reef, then get picked up again at a specified time. When the wind turns offshore at Kuta, surfers evacuate for Sanur on the other side of the island where the wind is onshore.
Sanur's famous hollow right-hand break is considered by many the best on the island-when it's working, which is only about 25 days a year. Sanur is sheltered from most waves so the swell needs to be big to get in here. When it does, the walls line up down the reef for long, fast rides. It's imperative that you pull out before the final dredgeout or you'll be driven against the reef. Nusa Dua offers a consistent right-hander through the wet season, though consistency means big crowds. Hire a boat for the return trip because the best waves are far offshore. On the way out are lefts and rights but the outside rights are the main attraction-steep takeoffs and fast bowling walls. This high quality wave is known as the Sunset of Bali. In this same area, just in front of Club Med, is a very fast, difficult right-hander known as Sri Lanka.
Surfing is a big attraction at Nusa Lembongan, a small isle off the southeast coast. Three of the most superb though deadly breaks in the world can be found off the west side of the island. This uncrowded surf is reasonably accessible from Sanur, just two hours by motorized boat. You can stay in very inexpensive and comfortable beach inns strung out in the small fishing/surfing village of Jungut Batu. The adjacent, larger island of Nusa Penida to the east, has abundant surf but dangerous coral. Other locales include Tanjung Sari, Serangan, Canggu near the village of Krobokan, Medewi about 75 km west of Denpasar, and Padangbai on the east coast. The jetties at Candidasa were built to protect the beach and create a nice environment to swim in, but the surf is located out to sea. Nearly all of these surfing spots have warung where you can do the dharma bum thing: eat, drink, nap, even stay overnight in makeshift thatch shelters.
Surfers usually charter bemo to their favorite beaches. From Kuta, it costs a group of four around Rp15,000 to have the bemo drop you off in Uluwatu and pick you up three hours later. A motorcycle (Rp12,000 and up per day) can travel the more difficult tracks to remote beaches, although in the wet season the tracks become muddy and slippery. Get a strong board strap (with foam padding) or sew a strap to your board cover so it can be carried on a motorcycle.
Although a visit to Bali is one of the world's best surfing holidays, don't take on too much at once. Familiarize yourself with the coral reef breaks, and ease into it, taking on more formidable breaks gradually. For protection against the merciless Balinese sun, always wear sunscreen and a T-shirt. In case of broken bones, cuts, or infections from live coral reefs, get yourself to the Nusa Dua Clinic on Jl. Pratama 81 A-B, tel. (0361) 771324, or the new emergency annex at Denpasar's Sanglah Hospital on Jl. Bali 5, tel. (0361) 235546. All the top-class hotels have resident physicians who are familiar with surfing injuries. Watch when paddling across shallow reefs; the reef-dwelling sea urchin is a brownish sphere covered in 20- to 25-cm-long spines. With a needle, remove the spines very carefully without breaking them. Urinate on the wound or place it in thick mud to relieve the pain. Hot water or methylated spirit baths help too. Surfers may also be called upon to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A well-equipped first-aid kit, including elastoplast and needles to remove sea-urchin spines, is a must. Refer to the Health section later in this chapter
What to Bring
Bring a snorkel, fins, mask, wetsuit vest, small daypack, surfboard repair kit, silver tape, at least five blocks of wax, and the widest, waffle-bottom running shoes you can find. For most of your surfwear and accessories, shop at Rip Curl on Jl. Legian Kelod, tel. (0361) 754455, but expect high prices compared to Australia or the U.S.A. Bring your own board as most of the ones available in Bali are pretty ratty by the time they're old enough to be hired out. Better ones are available at higher prices (Rp7000-10,000 per day). California and Australian-style short boards are okay for the breaks at Kuta Beach, but you'll need at least a seven-foot board for the bigger waves at Uluwatu and Padang Padang. For fast waves, like Uluwatu's, a semi- to full-gun design is recommended. If you don't have a good travel cover, use bubble plastic. Take special care in packing detachable fins in your luggage or consider taking along extras. You can't count on replacing them here. Hardsole wetsuit booties are critical when walking across coral reefs at low tide. A wetsuit vest gives warmth in cold winds and protects against falls on coral.
Garuda's baggage allowance is 20 kg (44 pounds) in economy class (based on weight, not the number of pieces). A surfboard is considered part of this allowance and will be transported at no extra cost as long as the entire weight (including surfboard) does not exceed 20 kg. Garuda personnel often look the other way, but don't push it.
A few outfits in Benoa, Sanur, and Nusa Dua specialize in surfing excursions on private boats to premier surfing spots around Bali and Indonesia's southeastern Islands. A weeklong safari to Lombok and Sumbawa is organized by Mainski Inn on Nusa Lembongan. They'll take you to some wonderful breaks that can't be reached by land. Contact Offshore Adventure, P.O. Box 636, Epping 2121, N.S.W., Australia, tel./fax 02-868-1265. About US$100 per person per day, all expenses paid.
Price depends on the number of people in your group and where you start. Dives are not much less than you'd pay in the U.S., Europe, or Australia, they're quite reasonable considering the personalized nature of the tours and the amenities: two tanks, weightbelt, wetsuits, refreshment, and experienced dive masters. Also lunch, transport to the site, excellent Balinese-style accommodations, even porters to and from the beach. Operators will pick you up at Kuta, Legian, or Sanur for free. But from the Ubud or Tanah Lot areas, there's an extra charge of Rp15,000. Shop around and carefully examine an operator's "Diving Menu." There could be as much as a Rp46,000 difference in price. One way to save money is to arrange your own transportation to the site and rent directly from the dive shop there, or bring your own equipment: a mask, snorkel, and fins rent for Rp6000, marine gloves Rp4000, B.C.D. Rp10,000, regulators Rp10,000, wetsuits Rp6000, underwater torch Rp15,000, motor marine camera Rp30,000. Rental gear varies in quality, but some outfits use top-class Bauer compressors and Scubapro equipment.
Typical prices from any of the southern resorts like Sanur: one dive in Sanur/Nusa Dua Rp128,0005, Padangbai Rp153,000, Tulamben/Amed Rp162,000, Nusa Lembongan/Ceningan/Penida Rp195,000, night dive Rp128,000, extra dive Rp34,500, overnight dive (room and board) Rp218,500, beginner dive Rp230,000 full day, Rp175,000 half-day. For certification: PADI/CMAS course (if over 15 years old) Rp805,000, two-day Advance Open Water Course Rp655,000.
Bali is one of the best places to learn how to dive. Even though the island is not the best dive locale in Indonesia, it does have the greatest concentration of dive operators. Most are in and around Sanur, and most hotels have dive desks or can put you in touch with an operator who not only sell half-day trips to Nusa Dua and Sanur, but also fully equipped, all-inclusive safaris lasting from three to 14 days. Agencies can also can arrange for parasailing, jet skis, paddle canoes, waterskiing, and banana boats.
Baruna Water Sports, tel. (0361) 753820 or 751223, the oldest and largest dive operator on Bali, handles about 35,000 guests each year. Baruna has the only privately owned decompression chamber on Bali, state-of-the-art compressors, dozens of boats, and 35 guides. The company is under the ownership of a 55-year-old German with over 6,000 dives under his belt. They have sales counters at the Bali Beach Hotel, tel. (0361) 288511, ext. 764, and Bali Hyatt Hotel, tel. (0361) 288271, ext 93, in Sanur, and at the Bali Sol Hotel, tel. (0361) 71350, and Putri Bali Hotel, tel. (0361) 71020, ext. 7737, in Nusa Dua.
Other operators in the Sanur/Nusa Dua area include: Dive & Dives, Jl. Bypass 23, Sanur, tel. (0361) 288052 or 289309, offers a four-day PADI open water course for Rp600,000. Request an English or Japanese instructor. They run a well-stocked shop with US Divers, Scubapro, Sea Quest, and TUSA equipment, as well as rentals and service. Oceania Dive Center is efficient, well managed, and very enthusiastic. Their office is easy to find, only 200 meters before the first traffic light if coming from Kuta at Jl. Bypass no. 78XX in Sanur, tel. (0361) 288652 or 288892, fax 288652. All divers insured to Rp50 million. Oceania is Bali's only dive outfit selling expensive, good quality scuba gear, and the rental equipment is reliable.
Bali Marine Sports, Jl. Bypass, Blanjong, Sanur, tel. (0361) 287872, 288776, or 289308, fax 287872, P.O. Box 672, Denpasar. Barrakuda Bali Dive, Jl. Pratama 34 A, Nusa Dua, tel. (0361) 772130, ext. 731, fax 772131.
In other areas try: Bali Diving Perdana, Jl. Danau Poso Gang Tunjung 30, tel. (0361) 286493, fax 288871, which offers an introductory scuba diving program. Lessons start in a freshwater pool or their protected saltwater basin, then go out for the real thing. They also have the full range of tours to Tulemben, Menjangan, and other sites. Ena Dive Centre offers special PADI international dive courses in both English and Japanese. Head office is at Jl. Pangembak 7, Denpasar, tel. (0361) 287945 or 287134. Besides the specialized dive outfits listed, a number of boats make day trips which include snorkeling. Call the agency representing the sailing ketch Golden Hawk to join a cruise over to Nusa Lembongan for Rp177,500 per person (capacity 30 people). You anchor in a small bay and go snorkeling (and skin diving with a day's notice). Climb a small hill and see the sun setting over Bali.
Balinese dive guides don't have literature, the best operators employ guides proficient in both English and Japanese. Bring your own information or learn Indonesian. You don't want just a floating babysitter, but someone who can point things out like turtle-sand mantras. For Pulau Menjangan, you'll need interpretive material. Anyone really serious about diving in Bali, as well in the rest of Indonesia, should get ahold of the latest Periplus Travel Guide Underwater Indonesia by Kal Muller. This excellent dive guide contains color photos, essays on reef ecology, local geography, history, charts of site conditions, and maps.
Bring your scuba certification-whether PADI, BSAC, NAUI, SSI, or FAUI. Bali's dive operators will not take you out without an internationally recognized certificate. If you want to learn how to dive, dozens of companies specialize in PADI and introductory one-day courses using fully qualified teachers and divers. Although virtually every piece of equipment you could possibly need is available on Bali, hardcore divers might consider taking along their own masks and regulators. Before diving, your instructor will make an offering to the gods of the sea. Always go with a dive master or guide who knows the area, and who's made the dive before. Make sure your guide is paying attention to your safety. Don't let him take you somewhere beyond your skill level, and make sure you don't get bad air.
Despite the explosion of tourism since the 1960s, Bali still has at least 10 very attractive sites, each offering different skill levels. Only at Sanur and Nusa Dua do you have to be experienced. Always try to dive with others of the same skill level. It's not very satisfying for anyone when amateurs dive with experts, which can happen if it suits the needs of the dive operator. For more information about individual dive sites, refer to the travel chapters.
Padangbai, 90 km northeast of Sanur, is a favorite scuba spot where you can dive from the beach or a boat offshore. Dives are from three to 20 meters, and the current can be very strong. This underwater wonderland is populated by fish of every size, shape, and color, including harmless reef sharks. Dive along the coast or take a prahu to the spectacular reefs offshore or around Pulau Kambing. Ideal for the open water diver course, there are several isolated bays nearby with white beaches, numerous inexpensive accommodations, and restaurants. When diving off the islands near the east coast in the Candidasa area, for example, the waters can be very cold so you'll need a wetsuit.
Balina Beach, a resort between Padangbai and Candidasa in east Bali, employs an impressive team of five professional dive guides, a dive master, and a PADI open water instructor. Rates start at Rp80,000 for two dives on Pulau Kambing, which has fascinating Blue Hole, large turtles, napoleon fish, pelagic tuna, and reef sharks between three and 40 meters. Tours are available in English, Dutch, or German. Room rates for the Nelayan Village Cottages: Rp70,000-90,000.
Five specialized dive losmen have sprung up southeast of Amed. These small northeastern resorts rent snorkeling equipment and arrange for transport and boats. This "lost coast" has beautiful, solitary, stony black beaches. Enter the water down a sandy slope followed by a dropoff (three to 33 meters) with fully grown anenome, gorgonia, sponges, and fish of all sizes.
Sambirenteng, a village on the northeast coast between Tulamben and Tejakula, is a new dive site about 100 km from Kuta. One of the best dive losmen on Bali, a long coral reef 15 meters from the hotel is terraced down to 35 meters. Since this entire area is under protection, the stock of fish is enormous. The German-run Alam Anda dive complex, tel. (0361) 752296, issues CMAS certificates and offers dive tours for only Rp50,000, using high grade equipment in top condition. Kadek, the Balinese dive master, is outstanding. Stay in one of six spacious bungalows (capacity five persons) for Rp90,000. Twenty-five km to the northwest, Tulemben, is a superb dive site. The main attraction is the wreck of an American merchantman one and a half km to the east. Sunk during WW II, it's now completely overgrown with anemone, gorgonia, sponges, and corals, making for dramatic and adventurous diving to depths of 10-40 meters. Ideal for divers of all levels. Stay at Paradise Palm Beach Bungalows (Rp25,000 d) with a restaurant and excellent snorkeling right out front.
Remote Pulau Menjangan, an island surrounded by coral reefs off the northwest coast, is in the middle of a 6,600-hectare marine reserve. Offering outstanding unspoiled diving, these deep waters abound in dolphins, black marlin, whales, yellowtails, and 10-meter toothless whale sharks. Full of gorgonians and black coral trees, the wall is similar to the one at Bunaken (North Sulawesi). To get to these reefs you must hire a boat at Rp42,000 per hour (four persons maximum). If you're alone, it's the same price, so wait for other people to go in with you. Day trips to Menjangan are possible but the long distances make it more practical to stay at nearby Pemuteran or Lovina.
Lovina Beach, on the north coast west of Singaraja, offers sloping underwater topography, and dives from three to 27 meters. The calm waters of the Bali Sea create pool-like conditions ideal for snorkeling, underwater photography, and safe dives for families and beginners. Spice Dive, the only dive operator in Lovina, has an office in Arya's. They offer scuba certification courses and photo albums of various dive locations.
Pemuteran, 50 km west of Lovina, is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island with great dropoffs just one km offshore. Excellent Australian dive master Chris Brown runs Reef Seen Aquatics Dive Centre, tel. (0362) 92339. Their modified dive prahu take you out to the reef. Stay at first-rate Pondok Sari Beach Bungalows where they rent snorkeling mask and fins at Rp15,000 for five hours.
The coral reefs at Nusa Dua, Sanur, and Lovina are popular snorkeling locales. In front of Sanur's beach is a long barrier reef only two to 12 meters below the water with a variety of corals, sponges, and tens of thousands of fish. Nusa Dua is known for its beautiful white beach and a variety of stunning corals, fish, and sponges; dives between three and 20 meters are the most rewarding.
Nusa Penida dive sites can be reached in two hours by boat from Sanur. Dives vary in depth from three to 40 meters and offer white sandy bottoms, cool crystal-clear water, and a tremendous assortment of colorful fish. Nusa Lembongan, one of two small islands off Nusa Penida, has also become a mecca for divers. The beach slopes gently out to the reef, and the best diving is from five to 20 meters where you'll see famous underwater sea grottoes. No dive operators yet in the main resort/fishing village of Jungut Batu.
Along with ordinary surfing, windsurfing is gaining great popularity; see brightly colored sails leap over waves off Kuta, Sanur, and Candidasa. July and August are the best time to windsurf. Ideal wind velocity is 15 km/hour, and you can windsurf all the way from Sanur to Serangan Island. Sanur Wind Surfing Centre, probably offers Bali's best service, charges Rp25,000 per hour and gives windsurfing lessons (Rp30,000) and surfing tours around Bali. Make reservations at Jl. Sekar Waru II, No. 1, Belanjong, Sanur, tel. (0361) 288976, or at their counter on Jl. Duyung on the south side of the Bali Hyatt Hotel next to Banjar Restaurant.
The safest areas to swim are the coral lagoons abutting Sanur, Nusa Dua, and Candidasa. Kuta and Legian boast excellent bodysurfing with crystal-clear water and top-to-bottom tubes. For your own safety, swim only between the red and yellow flags, never after sunset, and don't swim deeper than your body length. The undertow off Kuta/Legian is extremely treacherous and unpredictable. One of Bali's nicest, least known beaches for swimming is at the airport end of Kuta in Tuban. Virtually all of the luxury-class hotels, and a growing number of small, moderately priced hotels, have swimming pools, open to nonguests for Rp2000-3000.
Six hundred meters of slides and other aquatic thrills make up this beautifully landscaped three-and-a-half-hectare park. Two twisting, looping jungle rides, an adventurous run on a two-seat tube raft, 250-meter-long circular lazy river rapids and cascading waterfall, water race tracks where you can reach speeds of 50 kph, children's area, large pleasure pool with underwater music, underwater volleyball, and a swim-up bar. The water here is chlorinated by a state-of-the-art saltwater system, and the park offers a tranquil environment undernearth a large, shady, coconut grove with no vendors. Food ranges from croissants and gourmet sandwiches on fresh bread to homemade ice cream and an honest burger. There's swimgear and accessories shops, changing rooms, showers, lockers, and towel rental. The staff keeps a careful eye out for young children. Located on Jl. Kartika Plaza in Tuban, open 0900-1800, tel. (0361) 755676. Adults Rp15,000, children (five to 12) Rp8000, children under five years free. Season passes and group rates available.
Penyu Dewata, Box 666, Sanur, tel. (0361) 89211 or 89212, is a nine-hectare water park in Padang Galak in the delta of the Ayung River. The olympic-size pools are cleaned regularly, certified lifeguards are on hand, and there's a cafeteria, lockers, and changing rooms. Children can take lessons from qualified and experienced instructors.
For years local Balinese fishermen trolled "feathers," brightly colored lures of plastic or rope, baiting the Spanish mackerel that populated Bali's waters. Farther out, jukung plied the waters off Nusa Penida for prized red snapper. With the rise of the Japanese market in the late 1980s, fleets of fishing boats based themselves at Benoa, which also became Bali's sport fishing base.
There are dozens of operators to take tourists game fishing. One of the best tours is onboard the Simone II, a high-tech, high speed, American designed vessel powered by twin 300-hp motors. It's equipped with game rods from 20 to 80 pounds, a tower overlooking the large aft deck, a shower, toilet, fridge, microwave oven, and a "V" berth.
Passengers are picked up at their hotel at 0800; the Simone departs Benoa around 0830 for the fishing grounds. These waters harbor several species of dolphin, whales, sharks, and giant manta rays near Nusa Penida. The predominant species are the yellowfin tuna, blue an, dogtooth, Spanish mackerel, wahoo, and mahimahi. Off the coast of Candidasa and the south coast of Lombok are the game angler targets-sailfish and black marlin. Below the 100-meter-high cliffs at Nusa Penida is the habitat of large tuna. The area off the southwestern coast is known for big yellowfin tuna. Releasing rare billfish is encouraged, preserving these species and bringing enjoyment to other anglers. At the end of a hard day's angling a delicious buffet lunch is served, unless a catch results in instant sashimi.
Trawling and coral fishing is offered by the Sea Rover for Rp690,000 per day (maximum four persons). Departing Benoa Harbor at 0900, returning at 1600, the price includes return hotel transport, an experienced crew, ice cold beer, soft drinks, or mineral water, delicious box lunch, fishing equipment, and bait. The Rover sails down Bali's coast, following the birds to the best fishing spots. For more information on both the Simone III and the Sea Rover, contact P.T. Tour Devco Benoa, tel. (0361) 231591, fax 231592. Book at least a day ahead; for extensions, book one week ahead.
A one-day fishing tour is offered by the Ena Dive Center. Pick-up is at your hotel at 0800, then climb aboard a specially built outrigger with trawling and deep sea fishing gear for the trip to Nusa Penida. Off Nusa Lembongan you can also enjoy snorkeling in unspoiled coral gardens. Rp138,000 per passenger, four passenger minimum. For reservations, call tel. (0361) 287945 or 286446, fax 287945, or visit their office at Jl. Tirta Ening 26 Sanur, Box 3798, Denpasar. Bali Marine Sports, Jl. Bypass, Blanjong, Sanur, tel. (0361) 287872, 288776, or 289308, offers a "sea tour with fishing" to Lembongan, designed along the same lines. The White Marlin fishing boat can be chartered for eight hours to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida: for deep sea excursions Rp805,000, coral fishing Rp172,500, troll fishing Rp218,500. Reserve a place by contacting Bali Camar Yacht Charter, tel. (0361) 720591 or 771956, fax 720592.
Glass-Bottom Boat Tours
The Sea Rover departs at 1030 from Benoa Harbor, returning at 1300. For Rp35,000, the tour includes onboard tour guide, soft drink, delicious lunch box, equipment, coral viewing, snorkeling, a visit to Turtle Island, and transport back to your hotel. Children under 10 are half price. You dive on a rugged, colorful reef, teeming with tropical fish. Contact P.T. Tourdevco, Benoa Harbor, tel. (0361) 231591, fax 231592, or their home office at Jl. Segara Werdi 6, Tanjung Benoa, tel. (0361) 72535. Other outfits, like Bali Marine Sports, Jl. Bypass, Sanur, tel. (0361) 287872, 288776, or 289308, fax 287872, charge only Rp25,000 per person, with a minimum three people, for a one hour tour. A variation on the glass-bottom theme is the Beluga Submarine Tour. Experience exotic underwater scenes from the comfort of a sophisticated submarine. With the help of specially designed floodlights, you'll be able to observe tropical fish, delicate corals, and unusual plantlife. For more information and reservations, call P.T. Submarine Safaris Asia, Jl. Segara Kidul 3, Tanjung Benoa, Bali, tel. (0361) 80361. The Island Princess sails on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday and is one of the cheapest excursions available. For only Rp113,000 you get hotel pickup at 0800, morning and afternoon tea or coffee, fresh fruit, a flame-grilled barbecue, snorkeling, game fishing (trolling), and a bus tour of Nusa Penida Island. Book where you pick up their brochure, or call direct to Island Explorer Cruises, Jl. Sekar Waru 8, Sanur, tel. (0361) 289856.
The two principle sites for commercial outings are off Candidasa (Karangasem) on the east coast and Lovina (Buleleng) on the north coast. However, you have a fairly good chance of seeing dolphins anytime you go out on a boat in Bali's waters. On average five or six boats follow the dolphins, then turn off their motors to experience the dolphins flipping, diving, and blowing. In a split second they're gone. You may go out and not see one dolphin-it's hit or miss. Kids sell tickets on the beach for Rp6000-15,000 including breakfast and drinks. Book the day before and give them your room number. They'll wake you up 15 minutes before departure.
Sobek Whitewater Rafting
Run by Sobek Adventures, with 18 years in the business, this fast, exciting, yet safe two-hour trip on the stunning Ayung River is a blast. Not only is the Ayung Bali's longest river but it flows year-round. The nine-km run is expensive, but rafting is one of the best ways to see things you normally can't, namely one of Bali's last original rainforests. This excursion is just dangerous enough to be scary but it's not life-threatening. There are 21 rapids in all, but none hairier than Class II. You'll raft under a large, pounding waterfall, ram into stone walls, take on water, and piroutte with your skilled captain. If you're with a young group, there's lots of splashing, passenger dunking, and raft bumping, so if you want a sedate experience choose a group of older thrill-seekers.
The trip is a botanist's delight and the safest means to enjoy nature really close up. Sadly, you won't see much wildlife. First you'll descend a twisting hillside track to the river where you receive a stern safety lecture about water safety, rafting commands, and what to do if the raft capsizes. It's all very safe with high-standard bright yellow helmets, paddles, and life jackets required-plus Rp58,000,000 insurance coverage.
The service and facilities are international standard. Each Avon self-bailing raft holds four to six people, depending on size. The captains are well trained and extremely capable but also know how to have fun. They have pulleys, throwbags, and first-aid kits and know how to use them. Ask for the Batak, Jungle Johnson-the most experienced. In spite of the first sharp bend, the overall run is ideal for children because the river is shallow. If the raft turns over you can just stand up. Two snapshots of your gasping, screaming group are provided. Copies are available at the end of the trip for Rp3500 apiece.
The cost is Rp145,000 (you may be able to get a 10% discount from Cafe Wayan in Ubud). Book where you see the red raft brochures on hotel and restaurant countertops, or phone one of their English-speaking guides at (0361) 287059. Their headquarters is at Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai 56 X, Sanur. At no extra charge Sobek will pick you or your group up in an a/c van at your hotel almost anywhere on Bali. A new private road leads to the rafting base in the mountain village of Begawan.
Bring a voucher or payment, shorts or bathing suit, loose-fitting T-shirt, towel, Teva-type sandals or rubber-soled river shoes, hat, sunblock, a change of clothes (changing rooms and showers available), and a camera (they have a dry bag). Near the village of Kedewetan at the end of the trip, a big Indonesian-style, all-you-can-eat buffet, catered by Ubud's Cafe Wayan, is waiting for you. First-class dining! Without lunch the cost is Rp135,000. Sobek also offers Class IV Wild Whitewater on the West Bali River, leaving Kuta at 0700 and arriving back at 1700. This trip is Rp150,000 because it takes longer to get there. Limited space so confirm your booking in advance.
Other Rafting Outfits
As a result of Sobek's wild success, a whole slew of rafting companies has opened up. Offering tours to the island's first Class IV river, is Bali Safari Rafting, Jl. Hayam Wuruk 88 A, Denpasar 80235, tel. (0361) 221315 or 221-316, fax 232-268. For those who enjoy the spills and thrills of whitewater rapids, the full day excursion includes transfers, lunch, and experienced guides for Rp149,000. The run down the Telaga Waja River starts from Muncan, 17 km from Klungkung. Be prepared for a quieter, yet faster wilderness ride than the Ayung River. You'll paddle through a spectacular waterfall and plunge five meters from the Bajing Dam into churning whitewater. Also check out Bali International Rafting, with offices in Kuta at Jl. Raya Kuta 16 M, tel. (0361) 757052, 757053, or 757054, fax 752956; Ayung River Rafting, Jl. Diponegoro 150 B, tel. (0361) 238759 or 224236, fax 224236; Arha Bali Rafting, Jl. Muding Indah II/4, Krobokan, tel./fax (0361) 427446, who advertise the longest (12 km) whitewater adventure on Bali on a Class II-III river for Rp149,000.
Sobek offers a kayaking tour using small, inflatable, new-designer kayaks that can't roll-completely safe for beginners. Tour an excellent section of river through tropical rainforest and vine-hung gorges. The price of Rp100,000 includes world-class guides, splash-proof camera bags, a great meal at the end, and hotel pick up in Nusa Dua (1100-1115), Kuta (1130-1145), Sanur (1145-1200), and Ubud (1245-0100).