I went to Bali recently with my partner, Daniel, and I was thrilled to spend most of our time on a part of the island that’s plentiful in culture, sun, and snorkelling. The relaxed diving coast and fishing village of Amed in Bali is, in my opinion, Indonesia’s most eye-opening gem.
The route to Amed is a 3-hour drive northeast of Bali’s airport along the Ngurah Rai Bypass. I recommend hiring a driver for any trips outside the main districts. For travellers who wish to drive: Rent a (narrow) car, start before 3pm, fill your gas tank at the nearest Pertamina station while it’s available in the city, and pay close attention to maps and road signs.
Our destination was Bunutan, a neighbourhood in Amed filled with warungs (Balinese restaurants), and warm, welcoming homestays that provide modest bungalows near Bali’s best dive sites. If you’re a diving novice, Bunutan has a number of dive schools where you can take a class.
The 45-minute drive (30 minutes by scooter) from Bunutan to our free-dive school, Apnea Bali, allowed us to experience more twists and turns of small village roads – shared by vehicles of all sizes, locals, and farm animals all traveling in multiple directions.
Allowing myself to become comfortable in the deep blue, I learned to free-dive to 16 meters in the Bali Sea after a beginner’s course and guided practice. We continued west along the beach to the USAT Liberty Shipwreck to explore the site amongst sea creatures, snorkellers, and scuba divers.
East of Bunutan is the Japanese Shipwreck, another popular snorkel site. Swimming only 20 meters from the beach, the shipwreck becomes visible quite suddenly. The fish and coral here are lively and vivid. Our Olympus Tough TG-2 was a charm for capturing photos and videos, and tracking the depth at which the images were captured.
A scenic drive along the east coast lead us to the Tirta Gangga Water Palace – well worth the visit at 20,000 RP per person (less than $2 CAD). We found authentic photograph ops of other travellers, farmers, exotic fowl, and locals enjoying their daily jog around the site.
For dining, we visited Warung Enak (highly rated by our dive instructors) multiple times. What are the ways of the Balinese? The staff at Enak not only provided delicious seafood and great service, but also noticed and helped us replace the flat we got on our car.
Our final morning was met with an early drive away from Amed, toward Mount and Lake Batur for more exploration toward central and south Bali.
Amed is definitely a place to return to in my future Balinese visit.
Travelling to Bali? Here are a few quick must-knows:
Visas & Airport Fees
- Visa upon Arrival in Bali: $25 CAD per person (maximum of 30 Days)
- Airport Departure Tax: 150,000RP per person (Indonesian currency), otherwise $20 CAD
- Tips on service are not practiced everywhere; Depending on the tourism impact at a venue, you may notice plus-plus on price charts “++”, meaning there are government tax and service tips charged on top of your purchase
- Tip at your own discretion if you feel that someone made a great impression on you (commonly 5.000 RP or 10%); Hand the tip directly to your server
Local Currency & ATMs in a Developing Country
- Most Amed cafes accept cash only. Public ATM booths still have yet to be installed with bank machines and cash as of mid-September 2013. Functional ATMs can be found in larger towns surrounding Amed: Amlapura, Tulamben
Dining & Drinking
- Choose food that Balinese people know how to make best: grilled barracuda, spicy fish, fish sate lilt, fried rice (nasi goreng), deep-fried bananas, and plantain chips!
Like really spicy food? It may be necessary to ask for extra spice on the side (the kind the locals would serve and eat at home)
I hope my adventures inspire you to pay a visit to Amed, Bali in the near future. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.