Pemuteran - the place to snorkel and eat!

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May 9th 2015
Published: July 14th 2015
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Tanah LotTanah LotTanah Lot

The traditional Balinese temple located on a small, rocky island - enjoyable but fairly heavy with tourists
On our sixth day we headed north-west from Benoa to Pemuteran via Pura Tanah Lot Temple on the west coast. We knew the drive would be quite hilly and take around 4 hours so we wanted to go with a driver we trusted. A friend back home had recommended Ketut to me (Facebook ‘Zoe Diex’ – because there’s a million Ketuts!). Ketut was very friendly, spoke great English and took us to heaps of hidden local gems. We would recommend him without hesitation.

There was an entrance cost of $7AU (70,000IDR) at Tanah Lot, the traditional Balinese temple located on a small, rocky island. On the walk down we stopped for local gelato for $2AU (20,000IDR) but also spotted fresh coconuts and satay stalls. We enjoyed our time at Tanah Lot but felt it was fairly heavy with tourists. On the drive north from Tanah Lot we saw flying kites everywhere. Ketut explained this was to celebrate end of wet season. We much preferred the Ulun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake Bratan which cost $6AU entry (60,000IDR). The stunning water vista and expansive gardens were both relaxing and rejuvenating. Ketut drove us back up
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake BratanUlun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake BratanUlun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake Bratan

Strict entry regulations - "pleace" beware ladies, you cannot enter if it is 'that time of the month'!
the hill to Mendari Restaurant for lunch, which was a bargain at $10AU (10,00IDR) per head for a buffet of largely Indonesian cuisine. The place was totally packed but worth it for the filling lunch and clean loo stop.

We finally made it to our accommodation in Pemuteran at around 3pm. Trijaya Guest House, which was about $45AU (45,000IDR) per night in shoulder season) was homely and comfortable. With alcohol being quite scarce in the north it was nice to see Trijaya offered soft drinks and Bintangs (25,000 IDR for a large Bintang). Their homemade brekky of fresh tea, coffee, fruit and homemade Balinese dishes were delicious, particularly the Piseng Goreng with palm syrup and Coconut Crepes and steamed banana. However, if you aren’t keen on ‘eating like a local’ I would suggest you request a Western continental breakfast. The family also booked us onto a snorkel tour to Menjangan Island and cooked our lunch for the day, which was absolutely delicious!

We were pleasantly surprised by Pemuteran – the seemingly sleepy town which we considered little more than the gateway to Menjangan Island turned out
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake BratanUlun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake BratanUlun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake Bratan

George grounds around this beautiful, serene temple.
to have the most amazing coral formations, and ridiculously cheap and delicious food! The sun had begun to set when we walked down to the main beach of Pemuteran (the easiest way to access the beach is to turn down the street which leads to Taman Sari villas). There is a great snorkel map outside the Reef Gardeners of Pemuteran (we will post a picture) and the beach is well signed for “access and exit” points. Snorkel hire is available at Reef Seen. We waded in right out from Reef Seen, with beautiful coral appearing after a few meters.

We had read that by the early 2000 the reefs of the Pemuteran Bay reached a critical state due to uncontrolled bomb and cyanide fishing. In 2006, the Reef Gardeners project was accepted for funding through the Bali Rehabilitation Fund set up by the Australian Government after the Bali Bombs to help create new jobs for the local people. Between 1996 and 1998, over 75,000 Crown of Thorns starfish were removed from the Pemuteran Reefs coupled with the repair of broken corals, effectively hundreds of years of coral growth was saved. This paired with
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake BratanUlun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake BratanUlun Danu Bratan Temple at Lake Bratan

Stunning views across the lake
the United Nations recognised “bio-rock installations” (electrical currents attached to the reef to increase growth) makes for one glorious reef! The colours were probably the most vibrant we saw in all of Bali. No joke. Unfortunately due to poor visibility on our final day we missed out on seeing the famous Underwater Temple Garden - a dramatic coral garden alongside a 15-30m rock wall.

The first night in Pemuteran we stopped at the popular La Casa Kita for dinner - expect to pay around $7AU (70,000 IDR) for a surprisingly authentic wood fire pizza. Dinner for two, including beer, set us back just $20AU (200,000 IDR). It was nice to see the listed prices included ALL government taxes and surcharges for a change too!

Day two in Pemuteran we were off to Menjangan Island Marine Park at 8am. Menjangan Island is a small island located 8 kilometres to the north-west of Bali island and is part of the Indonesian archipelago. Menjangan actually means "Deer" in Indonesian (though we didn’t spot any). We went with Kubuku Dive tours booked through out hotel. The cost was $37AU per
Trijaya Guest House, PemuteranTrijaya Guest House, PemuteranTrijaya Guest House, Pemuteran

About $45AU (45,000IDR) per night in shoulder season - was homely and comfortable!
person (37,000 IDR) excluding gear hire (40,000 with hire). There was just seven of us on the Jukung-like boat, which had a large canopy protecting us from the sun. If there’s one tip for visiting Menjangan it’s to wear sunscreen! You know when the locals are checking you’ve packed sunscreen that there must have been a bunch of tourists before us going home red at the end of the day. Our tour leader (whose name escapes me) was hilarious! Such good value – even teaching us some Balinese phrases which came in handy later with getting the locals to warm up to us. “Sieng kenken” (sing kenken) meaning don't worry / no worries and “sieng lah pes” (sing la piss) meaning no money. I could always find Matt at the markets by listening for his voice saying “sing la piss!”

We hopped in the water at around 11am on the north side of the island at the Coral Garden dive site. There was lots of SPS coral in bright colours, inquisitive Wrasse fish and plenty of other colourful fish. We hopped back in our boat to head to the south side of the island for our packed lunch. There was about 13 boats in all, seemingly run according to nationality. One thing we noticed in the north of Bali was the large number of European tourists, specifically French and Dutch. Pemuteran and Menjangan was one of those rare places in Bali where it was a novelty to be Australian (as opposed to the “hey maaaate!” you get from the Kuta locals before you’ve even opened your mouth).

After lunch we jumped back in the water at the south-western end of the island. The water was so warm here I had to swim over the ‘drop off’ just to cool off, on more than a few occasions. We also kept a banana from lunch to feed the fish with. It makes for fun pictures if you have a Go Pro (incidentally all our underwater pictures were taken on a Go Pro Hero 4). We spotted some anemones and Nemo’s (clown fish) on this side of the island, as well as one elusive Powder Blue Tang.

It was back to the mainland at about 2pm, just in time for us to
Turtle Project at Reef SeenTurtle Project at Reef SeenTurtle Project at Reef Seen

Scratching the 7-year old Hawksbill “Buddy” on the back. Daily feeding at 4:30pm - Entry cost is a $2.50AU donation (25,000 IDR)
freshen up at our Guest House before heading down to the 4:30pm Turtle feeding at the Turtle Project at Reef Seen. Entry cost is a $2.50AU donation (25,000 IDR) which is well worth it just to scratch the 7-year old Hawksbill “Buddy” on the back – he clearly enjoys it because he even does a little happy dance!

For our last dinner in Pemuteran we chose Warung Taruna. Set amongst the Waruna homestay it is the number one ranked restaurant in Pemuteran. We asked our homestay family about it and it turns out the owner is their brother-in-law! They picked us up from our guest house (which was good because it would have been around a 25 minute walk from the Taman Sari side of town). We had Lumpia Bali (Balinese Spring Rolls), Sate Be Siap (Chicken Satay), Kare Ikan Laut (Seafood Curry) and Krorak Kacang Lilit (green beans with grated coconut and Balinese spices). They asked if we would like it spicy / not spicy which was a welcome change. Warung Taruna was definitely one of the best eats we had in Bali!

It was with a
Baby TurtlesBaby TurtlesBaby Turtles

sad heart we left Pemuteran – we could have easily have spent a third day there exploring the reef and the local temples (we heard from the Dutch they were amazing, sans tourists too!). However, we were a bit excited for Ubud up next!

Additional photos below
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Dinner at Warung TarunaDinner at Warung Taruna
Dinner at Warung Taruna

We had Lumpia Bali (Balinese Spring Rolls), Sate Be Siap (Chicken Satay), Kare Ikan Laut (Seafood Curry) and Krorak Kacang Lilit (green beans with grated coconut and Balinese spices)

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