“Have we hopped to a different island?!” I marveled, as we drove from the southern coast to Amed Bali. Towering volcano peaks hanging over expansive ocean vistas, dozens of green rice paddies, and no hotels in sight. For miles.
These unspoiled Bali images were a far cry from Central Kuta’s debauchery.
A ride through East Bali will whisk you away to a completely different world. Aside from Candidasa, only small, picturesque fishing villages dot the coast. Besides my Blooming Lotus yoga experience, my stay in this region was my favorite part of my last 12-day holiday in the island.
My Amed Bali
Amed was love at first sight for me. Its unique volcanic sand beaches serve as stark background to colorful coral gardens beneath. Above, endless mountainous panoramas sprinkle its narrow, twisting roads. Intimate hotels and B&B’s are scattered throughout the area, but without overwhelming it.
This region of Bali might be known as a diver’s paradise, but it’s also one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited. Below, a breakdown of my lovely stay.
1. Rent a scooter and try Balinese cuisine
Another traveler and I split the cost of a scooter, which cost 60,000 rupiah (about USD $4.50) a day without much negotiation. The fun vehicle allowed us to explore nearby villages and catch some stunning panoramas and sunsets. Better yet? We penetrated some hidden, narrow alleys in order to practice our Bahasa Indonesia while sampling authentic Balinese delicacies.
Make sure you catch a sunset from Jemeluk Beach viewpoint and try lawar (crunchy-and-tender veggie mix, soaked in local spices) with babi guling (suckling pig–a rarity in a Muslim-majority country).
2. Appreciate black sand beaches
Amed really made me appreciate the beauty of black sand beaches. Made out of a mix of volcanic ashes and marine shells, they serve as a stunning background to the colorful tropical fish and variety of coral.
I caught myself saying “most white sand beaches are overrated” more than once. And this comes from a girl who grew up swimming on the white powdery beaches of Puerto Rico!
The exotic contrasts found on East Bali’s coasts are on a category of their own. Whether you dive, snorkel or simply swim, the crystalline waters will allow you to catch a glimpse of this gorgeous underwater world.
Thanks to Bali Reef Divers, I got to marvel not only at the underwater gems of Amed, but also Bunutan, Seraya, and even Tulamben for no additional charge. My all-you-can-dive package included pretty much all dive sites in the stellar region — scenic drives as added bonuses!
My 11 Amed Bali / Tulamben dives were incredible. My favorites?
- The fast-and-furious drift at Bunutan, where we saw day octopus, were we spotted a day octopus, small cuttlefish, several blue-spotted stingrays, and at least 3 different types of eels.
- USAT Liberty Wreck night dive, where we saw a huge, fat moray eel twitching like crazy while EATING two whole fish! We also swam with massive hammerheads, tiny skeleton shrimp, decorator crabs, and even a baby lion fish.
- Diving with sharks at Lipah Beach — the most stunning black-sand-colorful-creatures contrast dive of all. Pregnant and nursing white-tip sharks abound; box fish; unicorn fish; lots of vibrant, colorful coral; and even more blue-spotted rays.
- Underwater Museum at Jemeluk Beach — breathtaking on the surface and beneath! Saw some fascinating sculptures, my favorite being a huge globe made with carved statues of famous figures. Buddha, Greek Gods, Jesus Christ, and even Virgin Mary were among them. Moreover, I had the cutest yellow baby box fish play with me!
3. Surface intervals at an intimate beachfront resort
After living on a USD $23 a month, 2.5 m x 3 m shoebox room for a year in Malang, I was ready for more comfortable digs. My Amed Bali vacay was adventure-packed–with 3-4 dives a day, I needed an intimate place to relax.
The Puri Wirata Dive Resort served as the perfect base. Located in Bunutan village, right on the outskirts of Amed, meant we were far enough from most lodging–in our own isolated slice of paradise. Yet, still close enough to all the spectacular dive sites, beaches, and viewpoints.
The suites were huge, making them a great value, plus spread out throughout the grounds. Moreover, with two separate oceanview pool areas, fellow guests were even more scattered. Even though there were a few locals offering cheap massages from the public beach, the coast was deserted most of our stay.
It was a very intimate, relaxing experience.
Given that there weren’t many great choices when it came to seaside restaurants in Amed, I was relieved to prove that delicious, generous portions were served at the Puri Wirata restaurant as well. Add to that those fantastic views from the dining areas and now it makes sense why our scooter trips were far in between after a day or two!
4. Not PADI certified? Give diving a try. Really.
My friend Moe wasn’t a diver, so he was quite at ease upon arrival at the Puri Wirata Dive Resort. He could scooter around, taking in all the stunning vistas, in addition to relaxing by two oceanview pools. Still, after just one day of exploring Amed Bali, he couldn’t help but think: why not give diving a try!?
There’s something called Discover SCUBA. It takes about half a day or so. During the short introductory course, they stick you in a safe, confined environment (a shallow pool!) with full equipment so you get a sense of what it feels to breathe underwater.
Feeling comfy? You’ll get to explore some black sand beaches underneath, sprinkled with colorful corals and bizarre creatures in the open ocean!
You can’t get over it after a few attempts? No worries: at least you tried it out.
But what if you love it?!
Let me tell you a little secret: I had a minor panic attack during my own Discover SCUBA experience in Hurghada, Egypt. I had to keep telling my brain that there was air in my freaking mouth, that I could breathe.
Why the heck was I freaking out, then!?
I kept repeating those phrases to myself for several minutes. Finally, as I emerged, I was alright. It seems like all I needed was a strong shake. Years later, I’m a certified rescue diver!
Fortunately, Moe moved on to complete his PADI Open Water course as well. Needless to say, his trip to Amed Bali was that much more memorable because of it.
Seeing that video brought back so many wonderful memories, especially of the wreck and muck diving. You have no idea how those creatures of the underwater world, whether big or small, can change your life…
…or how one small village can leave you whispering “I just want to leave it all behind and stay with you…”
I will never forget you, my dear Amed Bali <3
Special thanks to Birger and the stellar team at Puri Wirata Dive Resort and Bali Reef Divers for gifting me one of my most memorable experiences in Indonesia, free of charge. Every word on this article, however, is nothing but my honest opinion. Both your grounds and Amed Bali are magical.
Like my first muck diving experience at Lembeh Strait, the microorganisms and other marine life in East Bali captured my heart and soul. Moreover, the wonderful staff at both your hotel and dive shop made me feel like family. I can’t wait to go back to practice my Bahasa Indonesia and see my new brothers and sisters again!