Indonesia_Bali

Bali, Indonesia

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IN BRIEF:

Bali is a big island (150km x 80km), located to the East of Java in Indonesia. It has long been popular with surfers and package-tourists from the Southern hemisphere. Tourist numbers have grown even more with the availability of low-cost international flights.

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People go to Bali for the surf, volcanoes, temples, scenic rice-terraces and luxury spas – not the snorkelling. There is a good range of fish species in spots with coral reef, but the coral itself is generally in poor condition.

Many beaches in Bali have breaking waves at the edge of the reef, making it hard to reach the drop-off without getting cheese-gratered to death on the shallow corals on the way.

There are detailed accounts down the page, but here is a short summary of the spots I visited:

Kuta/Airport/Nusa Dua – I believe this area is all ‘sand and surf’ – no coral reef here.  Not a good place to snorkel, as you will likely get run-over by a surfer.
Sanur – has some good coral, but the surf breaking on the reef mades it dangerous to reach.  It would be OK from a boat or if you can find a day with flat seas.
Nusa Lembongan/Ceningan/Penida – these three (inhabited) islands 15km off the South East of Bali have some nice underwater sights, but also strong currents. For safety’s sake, you need to use a boat to reach anything decent.
Padangbai – much hyped, but disappointing coral and conditions.  The fish are friendly, as they have become accustomed to humans.
Candidasa – as far as I can tell, there is no snorkelling from the beach here. Boat trips to some small rocky islands 2km offshore seem to be the main show in town. (I didn’t go on one).
Amed – there are some patches of decent coral in the villages a few km East of Amed. At the ‘best-of’ spots in this area , the ratio of live-to-dead coral is 60/40, which is as good as you will get in mainland Bali. This is probably your best option.
Menjangan Island in the far North West corner of Bali is said to have nice corals.  I intended to get here, but time did not allow it.  It is only accessible by boat trip (not off-the-beach).

Dry (=busy) season in Bali is July-September. Rainy season is December to March. Peak temperatures are in the 30s year-round.

Lots of people use Bali as a destination for their two-week beach vacation. If you are going to Bali anyway, then give the snorkelling a look, but don’t make a special trip to Bali for the snorkelling.

Best-ish seascape:
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Typical seascape:
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All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.

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IN NOT-SO-BRIEF:

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Orientation – General

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of Bali. The snorkelling and beaches are not that special compared with other places in Indonesia and South East Asia.  Moreover, it seems that most people who sit down and write about Bali have some compulsion to tell you what an amaaaazingly, aaaawesomely, fantaaaaastical Paradise-on-Earth it is.

But it isn’t.

It’s almost as though they are selling something. 😉

With expectations so over-inflated, it’s not surprising that things seem disappointing on arrival.

You’ll get the unadulterated truth here.

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I have visited most of the spots in this article a few times over the years, but never while clutching an underwater camera. So in 2016, I gritted my teeth, took an extra 20 million out of the ATM, and snapped my way around as many of Bali’s noted snorkelling spots as I could.

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Bali Practicalities:

Transport:

Fly into Denpasar international airport in the South of the island.  There are also ferries from Java in the North West.

There isn’t much local-style (=cheap) transport in Bali. Most locals own their own motorbikes.  Tourists are mostly limited to taxis or ojeks (motorbike taxis).  You will have to haggle your socks-off to get anything like a ‘locals’ price.

There are some bemos (cramped minibuses), but it is difficult to figure-out where to find them or where they are going.  Hardcore cheapskates can start here.

Perama is an honest and reliable travel company with shuttle-bus service to several parts of the island (Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, Padangbai, Candidasa, Amed, Lovina). (They used to also go to the airport, but that leg was suspended the last time I checked (2016)). It is wise to book bus tickets a day or two in advance.
Perama Shuttlebus Page   Perama Mainpage.

You can rent motorbikes/scooters (and cars) pretty easily.   You are supposed to have an International Drivers Licence to drive in Bali.  Some cops make a nice income from ‘accepting’ bribes from foreigners who don’t have the right papers.   This seems to be more common in the South. Motorcycle helmets are compulsory. Many locals don’t bother with them. Foreigners who don’t use helmets are asking for trouble from both the police and the road surfaces.

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Can’t get your motorbike started? Here are a couple of tips:
(1) Many bikes are fitted with a sensor on the side-stand which won’t let you start the engine if the stand is down.  Kick the stand up before pulling both brake handles and pressing the start button. (2) If there is a metal plate covering the hole where you want to put your ignition key, rotate it away by putting the hexagonal protrusion on the back of the key in the hexagonal hole next-door to the ignition and turning it clockwise, exposing the hole for the main key.

Most bikes have a small compartment under the saddle where you can store your helmet and/or valuables.  Most unlock via a keyhole on the rear wheel arch, near the back of the saddle. Some others just have a special position on the main ignition key slot which unlocks the saddle. The hole to fill up the benzin tank is under the saddle, too.

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In areas with lots of tourist traffic, guard against pickpockets &  other petty-crime. Expect pushy touts/hawkers:

A guide to Toutspeak:
Touts’ standard method of approach is to shout “YESS! <servicename>”.   The purpose of the “YESS” is to grab your attention and the <servicename> part is one of a selection from:

taxi/transport;
massage;
sleeping;
sunglasses;
t-shirt;
hat,
bot;
something;
silence.
‘bot’ is boat (trip); ‘something’ (if whispered) is drugs; ‘something’ (if spoken) or  ‘silence’ means they definitely want to sell you something, they just haven’t figured-out what yet, so they thought they’d stop you anyway while they decided.

The locals just ignore touts as if they weren’t there, or maybe just give a dismissive wave of the hand. Don’t feel compelled to be polite.

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There is heaps of mid-high range accommodation all over Bali.

For cheapskates, there are a few backpacker dorms for about 100 000 IDR.  Old-school Losmen/Penginapans are few on the ground and well hidden.

IDR is Indonesian Rupiah. Prices were correct in 2016, but inflation is high in Indonesia and you might have to apply a hefty multiplier in future years.  USD is American dollars.

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Orientation – Snorkelling

Bali is known as a surfing destination.  Usually, if a beach has good surfing, then it won’t have good snorkelling.  Apart from the risk of getting clunked on the head by a surfboard, the underwater topographies/environments needed for surfing and snorkelling are generally different.

That said, there are several locations in Bali which are no good for surfing, but are OK for snorkelling.  I didn’t have time to cover all 15,000km of the coastline, so have relied on received wisdom about the best spots to check-out.  The areas I covered are marked on the map above, and by the burgundy-shaded areas on the detailed maps, below.

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The reef is fringing reef, and the drop-off (where all the interesting life is) is often waaay out from the shore.   It can be upto a 500 metre walk across knee-deep sandy/rocky shallows before you can start swimming. Of course, it depends on the location – often it is more like 30m. But, either way, there will likely be some walking to do, so bring something solid to wear on your feet in the sea. Getting horizontal as early as possible is best for you and the environment.

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Underwater visibility has usually been an unspectacular 3-5 metres when I’ve visited, despite it being in the dry season (July/August).  Presumably, this is the norm and is due to swells and surf coming in from the ocean.

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I didn’t experience any problems with currents around mainland Bali.   Nusa Lembongan is a different story, where you generally need to use a boat if you want to be seen alive again.

See here for more, generic, safety stuff.

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Bali is the home of the Mid-to-Hi-End Resort (and Spa).  In many resort towns on mainland Bali, there is no access to the sea because people have plonked upmarket resorts over all the access roads and won’t let outsiders through.

At some remote beach locations, villagers have put up a toll-booth on the entrance road and you can’t get in unless you pay the fee.

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Coral reef (alive or dead) provides welcome shelter for fishlife and there is usually a decent range of fishies around.  Everyone in my East Indonesia Common Fishlist is represented.

 

You will find lots of these small Damselfish in reefy areas:

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(btw, mouseover any photo containing a fish to see the species name displayed at the bottom left of your browser).

Other than those species, fish numbers aren’t especially high. You are more likely to find one or two specimens from a wide range of species, rather than big schools of the same species.

Other than those already pictured in my East Indonesia Fish list (that link again), here is the range of fishes you might expect to see:

Angelfishes: Emperor, Pearlscale, Regal, Semicircle, Six Banded
Butterflyfishes: Panda, Longnose, Vagabond, Oval spot
Damselfishes: Sergeant Major, Chromis, Black, Bicolour Chromis, Golden, Lemon, Threespot Dascyllus, Whitebelly
Rabbitfishes: Coral, Foxface, Virgate
Snappers: Black Banded, Black, Blubberlip
Surgeonfishes: Blackstreak (AKA Epaulette) Surgeonfish, Dark Surgeonfish, Sailfin Tang, Lined Bristletooth, Longnose Tang, Orangeband Surgeonfish, Humpback Unicornfish, Yellowmask Surgeonfish
Triggerfishes: Blackpatch, Indian, Orange Lined, Picasso
Wrasses: Barred Thicklip, Bird, Cigar, Cleaner, Rockmover, Six Bar
Random: Scalefin Anthia, Great Barracuda, Longfin Batfish, Spotted Boxfish, Duskytailed Cardinalfish, Twotone Dartfish, Topsail Drummer, Scribbled Filefish, Flagtail Grouper, Blue Finned Trevally, Lionfish, Long Jawed Mackeral, False Clown Anemonefish, Parrotfish, Blackspotted Pufferfish, Map Pufferfish, Razorfish, Tassled Scorpionfish, Many Spotted Sweetlips, Trumpetfish
(N.B. Those are Library pictures from my specieslist and weren’t taken in Bali). 

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You are unlikely to see any “big” fish (Sharks, Mantas, etc.) while snorkelling in mainland Bali.  In Nusa Lembongan, the chances are better (but still not great).

You might sometimes see dolphins while taking a ferry to other islands.

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OK, on to the detailed sections.  If you want to go straight to a particular section, do a local browser-search  [Edit>Find (on this page)] on one of these textstrings:

Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida
Padangbai
Candidasa
Amed
Amed Area 1 – Amed (West)
Amed Area 2 – Amed ”Proper”
Amed Area 3 – Jemeluk
Amed Area 4 – West Bunutan
Amed Area 5 – Bunutan
Amed Area 6 – (West) Lipa
Amed Area 7 – (East) Lipa
Amed Area 8 – Lean
Amed Area 9 – Selang
Amed Area 10 – (North West) Banyuning
Amed Area 11 – Banyuning and the Japanese Shipwreck
Amed Area 12 – Aas
Amed Area 13 – Batukeseni
Amed Area 14, 15 – Eastern Villages
Amed Area 16 – Gili Selang
Tulamben
Pulau Menjangan / Pemuteran

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Sanur

Sanur is a 4km strip of clear, white-sand beach, 12km North East of Bali’s International airport. The area has had 40 years of tourist development and now has a gazillion hotels and a Dunkin’ Donunts (!).  The area is often characterised as being suited to the ‘older’ crowd, as things are more quiet and genteel than in other parts of South Bali.

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This map was at the lifeguard station:
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All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
The burgundy line is the area I snorkelled.  The lighter blue sections are shallower water.

All Bali Map

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I had heard that there was good coral in Sanur, so I took a day to check it out.

Enquires to the locals suggested that there was no “best bit” for snorkelling in Sanur – it is good all along the coast.

Judging by the moored boats, there was a current running Northwards, so I walked South a long way, then waded into the sea at Point “b” on the map, ready to drift back up North.

The first thing to note is that it is a looong way from the beach to the reef.  The intervening 500m (yep, 500m!) is just knee/waist deep weedy, flat sand, filled with good-old boys line-fishing with fruit bowls on their heads:
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The second thing to note is that after your 500m walk across the sandy shallows, the reeftop you reach runs wide and shallow before it slopes off into the depths.  ‘Wide and shallow’ makes for breaking waves and shallow, sharp coral for the waves to grate you against:
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The surf was mild the day I visited, but it was still darned-scary getting through the breakers across the shallow corals.

If you make it alive out to the deeper (2m +) reeftop, the coral there is pretty sweet. This is the run from b to c on the map:
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The water isn’t especially deep here and there were still waves breaking over these corals, but they are deep enough that you won’t get scraped across them.

Sanur surf-snorkelling tips: (1) When a wave is about to land on your head, hold onto your mask to prevent it getting knocked off, (2) swim diagonally away from the beach because the waves will push you towards the shallow corals.

There weren’t many fish around – a few Lined Surgeonfish and Butterflyfishes.

Underwater visibility was pretty poor, because of the waves.  I’ve photoshopped some of the murk out of the water in the pictures.

I had planned to snorkel all the way back up to Jalan Hang Tua (near d),  but the current did a 180 degree turn at point c and I couldn’t swim against it to continue North, so decided to get out there.   It was especially scary getting through the surf here – when had I got in the water I had chosen a deep stretch (=less surf), but I didn’t have that luxury when it came to getting out again.  I survived, but probably shaved a few years off my lifespan with the stress! Not recommended.

If you are looking for a surf-free zone to get out of the water – the place where the Lembongan ferries leave (d) has been dredged to let the boats through:
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Of course, you might have to play chicken with a ferry.

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There didn’t seem to be any surf to the North of Area d.  I’m not sure if that is because the reef there is deeper, or just because there is no reef there at all.

After the event, I noticed that the area I had snorkelled in was level with the mainland street “Jalan Karang” (‘a’ on the map).  Jalan Karang means “coral street”.  I guess it is possible that, by luck, I had picked the latitude with the best coral.

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That’s all I got for Sanur.  In summary – nice coral, but too dangerous to snorkel from the shore. Maybe there are days without surf.  Boat trips might be an option.  There are plenty of places on the shoreline selling snorkelling boat trips for 40 USD.

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Sanur practicalities:

Sleeps:
There are hundreds of midrange hotels in Sanur.

Keke Homestay and the Watering Hole are widely considered to be the only ‘cheapies’:
– Watering Hole (200 000 IDR on website, will take 175 000). 20 rooms on Jalan Hang Tuah 37; about 100m back from the beach, on the right.
– Keke Home Stay  Asking 200 000 IDR. 7 rooms. Jln Danau Tamblingan 100,   0361 361 287282.

…but hardcore cheapskates should be able to find cheaper in the Sindhu area (near c on the map). e.g.
Julia 1 Homestay 130 000 IDR  Linky.
or
Bintang Bungalows (backpacker dorms) 90 000 IDR  (Map).

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Eats:
You can get cheap (localstyle) eats in the beachside market just North of where Jalan Hang Tua hits the beach.

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Transport:
Perama buses call-in at Sanur – there are a few per day going to various points in North and South Bali.  There are a couple of agencies on Jalan Hang Tua (near d) that sell tickets for these. Or your hotel/guesthouse can probably book one for you.

There are fast and slow boats from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan/Penida. Tickets and departures about halfway between c and d on the map.  Or get tickets from agents and touts anywhere.

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Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida

These three inhabited islands are 15km off the South East of Bali.

All Bali Map

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There are some nice underwater sights here, but also crazy-strong currents. You need to take a boat-trip to safely get to anything decent.

I thought these islands deserved their own page.  It’s over here.

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Padangbai

Padangbai is the main East-coast port for ferries to Lombok.

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All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
All Bali Map

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Padangbai town has a wide, yellow-sand beach running along the bay.  It serves mainly as a car-park for boats, but travel guides try to romanticize it and make it sound more appealing that it actually is. You wouldn’t want to swim there.  Apart from the industrial-scale car-ferry terminal 100m to the West:
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(That’s the ferry on the right).

..the Eastern half of the bay is 0wned by about 10 of these bad-boy Gili Island speedboat ferries, each coming and going three times a day:
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…plus all the pushy transport touts that come with them.

Padangbai isn’t the quiet backwater it once was – if you still have an old guidebook which uses words like “charming” or “peaceful” about Padangbai  – it is ready for the trash now.

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Most guides will point you at ‘the Blue Lagoon’ for the snorkelling. Their listed accolades include ‘fantastic’, ‘amazing’, ‘world-class snorkelling’ and ‘crystal-clear waters’ – this is about as far from the truth as you can get.

The bay/beach itself is OK, but nothing special:
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..and the corals are all-but completely dead.  This is the sum-total of the snorkellable, living coral there:
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Underwater visibility has been atrocious every time I have visited (always in dry-season). Low-viz never helps with forming a good impression of a place – hopefully, on a clear, calm day it all looks a bit better.

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On the upside, there is a decent range of common reef-fishes there:
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The fish have been around tourists for many years and aren’t scared of you. It is not often you see Flutemouths up this close:
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Or Squid:
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This snap of some Convict Tang was almost too murky to post:
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Other reef fish pics that were too murky to post included: some Parrotfish, an Orange Spined Unicornfish, a Barred Thicklip Wrasse, a Black-Backed Butterflyfish, an Oval Spot Butterflyfish, two Orange Band Surgeonfish, a Birdwrasse, and a Spotted Boxfish. (These are library pictures, not taken in Bali).

 

On my latest visit to Padangbai, the Blue Lagoon had some small waves in the bay which made it difficult to get in & out of the water. Stumbling between the bouldery coral-remnants in the shallows is no fun.  The best place to get get in/out of the water is at the North (left) end of the beach.

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The water was cooooold (about 24ºC, I’d guess).

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To get to the Blue Lagoon, walk East along the seafront road. At its Eastern end, the road spits in two and both offshoots go up hills.  The right turn leads to a temple, and the left one to the Blue Lagoon. Take the left one and walk up the winding hill for about 300m.   Then, you will see signs for the Blue Lagoon on the right.  There is a car-park and a pay-barrier/booth there on the right. Walkers can get in for free, cars have to pay. I’m not sure about motorbikes.  There are steps down to the beach on both the left and right sides of the carpark. There are a couple of restaurants on the hill at the back of the bay. They rent out snorkel gear.

At highwater spring tides, the beach is underwater.

Note that there is also a resort called “Bloo Lagoon” further along the road – make sure you are following the signs for Blue Lagoon (the beach), not Bloo Lagoon (the resort).

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Bias Tugel (aka Pantai Kecil (Little Beach) or White Sand Beach)

There is another remote beach about 1km to the South West of town, variously called Bias Tugel / Little Beach / White Sand Beach.

To get there, take the flat road between the Perama office and the (big, Lembar) ferry port; then turn left after ‘Bamboo Paradise’; and follow your nose up and over the big hill.

The beach there is more picturesque than the other two, but the snorkelling is much the same as (actually a little worse than) the Blue Lagoon.

On my latest (camera-totin’) visit to Padangbai, I didn’t come to this beach, so – no pics of this area.

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Practicalities:

Padangbai is conveniently small and there are plenty of sleeps there, starting around 150 000 IDR (@2016). There is a list on wikitravel.

Padangbai’s main (waterfront) drag is a hell-hole of pushy touts hassling people as they get on/off the fast ferries to the Gili Islands. If you are waiting for a boat, go to the East end of the road and park yourself at the one of the diveshops’ cafes to avoid the worst of it.  Better still, continue Eastwards & try the two sunset warungs up the left fork, just after the road splits and goes up the hill towards the Blue Lagoon.

There are several places in town that rent-out motorbikes. Expect to leave your passport as a deposit.  The guy next to the Mandiri ATM on the seafront seems sound.

There are slowboat (car and passenger) ferries to the port of Lembar on the island of Lombok leaving hourly from the huge jetty at the bottom of the main road into town.

There are speedboat ferries (each carrying 80-150 people) going to the Gili islands and Nusa Lembongan leaving from the smaller jetty, 300m North East of the big one.  In high season, there are about ten speedboat operators going to the Gilis, each going about three times a day.  For Nusa Lembongan, there are one or two departures per day.

There are Perama buses going North and South from Padangbai to other spots in Bali. The Perama office is on the main road out of town (Jalan Pelabuhan), 20m North West of the entrance to the bigboat jetty.

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Candidasa
All Bali Map

Mid/high-end resort town, Candidasa was on my the way from Padangbai to Amed, so I thought I’d have a quick stop here to look at the off-the-beach snorkelling.    It seems that there isn’t any.  I asked around in a few dive shops and they looked at me like I was crazy.   One of them directed me down this small side road, which eventually led to the sea (most of the coastline in Candidasa has no public access – it is blocked-off by “guests-only” resorts). The scene there was all boring shallows and some unfriendly-looking surf on a distant drop-off.
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I decided against snorkelling there.

It seems that the main-draw for the snorkelling in Candidasa is boat trips to these cute offshore islands:
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I didn’t try it.  If you want to try it,  there are plenty of willing boatmen hanging out here.

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Amed

Amed Orientation

The Amed area is on the East of Bali, on the North side of the bulge made by Gunung Lempuyang/Seraya.

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All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions. With this big one, click once to expand it to the size of your browser, then click it again to zoom in further. 

All Bali Map

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The area often referred to as “Amed” is actually a string of ten villages, spaced-out over 8 km of coast.  “Amed” is the name of the first (Westernmost) village, but the word is commonly used to cover all of them.  The full list of villages (going West to East) is:  Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipa, Lean, Selang, Banyuning and Aas,  In this article, I say “the Amed coastline” to refer to the whole strip and just “Amed” to refer to the village of Amed, itself.

Actually, with the passage of time and the march of the tourism industry, there is less and less to distinguish the villages from each other, as they merge into a single, amorphous strip of tourist resorts. When you are on-the-ground, it is hard to know which village you are actually in (it’s not like there are any “welcome to Banyuning” signs).  Resort names are a good way to figure-out where you are and some resort names are included on my maps for this purpose. This is not intended to be a full list of resorts – in reality, there are about four times as many.

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Amed is more developed than you’d expect. All that marketing-brochure stuff about Amed being ‘a hidden paradise’ and ‘the real Bali’ is 20 years old and doesn’t really apply any more.  For sure, it is quieter than the dusty, noisy warrens of hell-holes like Kuta, but don’t expect it to be the undeveloped paradise that the resort websites all ‘blah-blah-blah’ about.

The views of the beaches from the clifftop headlands are very nice and all those white outrigger fishing boats (jukung) parked-up on the beaches makes for a pretty photo-op.  But I am dismayed by all the concrete (and stolen coral!!) we have poured over the place to build our air-conditioned, infinity-pooled gin- palaces.  Oh, and by the scummy, opportunist, hangers-on that they attract. Expect touts and hawkers cruising the streets, trying to separate you from your money.

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Getting there: Driving up from the South, follow the main East coast highway until you see the blue road sign for the right-turn to Amed. This is in Culik village (not that there is anything to indicate the fact). After turning right, just follow your nose for another 4km.

Amed is a two hour drive from Padangbai, and probably about 4 hours from Denpasar airport.

Reliable tourism firm Perama have one bus a day between Amed and all points South (Candidasa-Padangbai-Ubud-Sanur-Kuta-(Airport)). I believe the “Airport” leg is now cancelled, but check with them (email).

There is a ferry from ‘Amed’ to/from the Gili Islands in North West Lombok. It actually  arrives/departs from Jemeluk village (Area 3 on the map). Tickets are sold by travel agents everywhere.

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Getting around:  The area is quite spread out, so unless you want to be incarcerated in your spa, you will need some transport.  There are plenty of taxis and ojeks in the busier (Westerly) villages.  In the quieter ones, a resort’s receptionist can telephone one for you.

A better option is to rent a motorbike/scooter. These cost 50-100 000 IDR per day. The road surfaces around the Amed coastline aren’t fantastic, but are safe-enough if you drive slowly.   You can also rent cars/jeeps. You are supposed to have an international drivers licence to drive in Bali.  Look out for traffic cops tapping up licence-less foreign drivers for fines (although this is more of a problem in South Bali – in Amed there doesn’t seem to be much of it  going on).

Accommodation:
There are a gazillion mid-to-high range resorts and spa retreats to choose from. Prices start around 400 000 IDR (@ 2016).  There are also a handful of homestay resorts, starting around 200 000 IDR. There don’t seem to be any old-school, cheapo Losmen/Penginapans.

Travelfish have a clickable, zoomable map thingy which lists about a third of the available resorts.

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Amed Snorkelling Orientation

The Amed coastline is typically comprised of a 500m long crescent bay with a black sand beach, followed by 1 km of 20 metre-tall cliffs.  And repeat. And repeat. And repeat…..

The bays often have some coral at each end. The slope of the seabed is fairly flat and you typically have to go more than 50 metres out from the beach to reach coral deep enough to have survived the tide and surf.  Coral condition is generally shabby, although a few areas have patches of coral in decent condition. Generally, the corals are better in the more Easterly bays, although Jemeluk (Area 3) is a reasonable compromise if you don’t want to stray from the more-developed Westerly end of the Amed coastline.

Robust coral species Porites (“hump/lump” coral) is the most abundant species of coral, but there are a few spots with decent diversity of other species.

Where corals are dead, they often still retain their three-dimensional form, leaving some interesting bommies and small pinnacle-shapes to look around.

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Coral reef (alive or dead) provides shelter for fishlife and there is usually a decent range of fauna around.  Everyone in my East Indonesia Flistlist is represented.

You will find large numbers of these small Damselfish in reefy areas:
Damselfish_Lemon-Damselfish_Pomacentrus-moluccensis_P4133849_.JPG Damselfish_Chromis_Black-Axil_Chromis-atripectoralis_PB300815_.JPG Damselfish_Bicolour-Chromis_Chromis-margaritifer_IMG_1399.jpg

The electric blue Demoiselles in the foreground of this picture are common on the Amed coastline.
Indo_Bali_108_Jemeluk-3a_Coral_20160810_P8100404.jpg
I think they are Pomacentrus alleni, but it is difficult to get up-close to see them properly; and there are several other species which look almost identical.

You are unlikely to find any “big fish” (sharks, etc).

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On the maps, I have marked the beaches in yellow, but, in reality, the sand is black.

As you go Eastwards along the strip of villages, the beaches gradually turn from black sand to bigger-and-bigger black stones.  At the stony, Eastern end of the strip, getting in and out of the sea can be difficult because: (1) these stones are slippery and (2) being hit by a wave when your foot is wedged between two big stones is a good way to break your ankle.

Amed is not known as a surfing area, but there were enough breakers in the shallows to make getting in and out of the water a pain in the ass.  Apparently, the fishermen go out at 5am, because there are no waves at that time of day and they can easily get their boats into the water from the beach.

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When I visited (August), there were no significant currents.  What little current there was flowed parallel to the coast, so it shouldn’t cause you any problems with getting washed-out to sea.  In theory, the powerful “Indonesian flowthrough” oceanic current runs along the coast here (East to West), but I think you’d have to swim a looong way out to catch it.

Underwater Visibility was unspectacular at 3-5 metres.  There hadn’t been any rain for a month, so presumably, this is the norm in dry season and is due to swells and surf coming in from the ocean.   Visibility was slightly better in the mornings than the afternoons.

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These notes were made over two days of driving along the Amed coast on a motorbike, jumping into the sea at as many places as possible.  With over 15 km of coastline to cover, I couldn’t get to it all!

In several places, I found it impossible to get to the sea because the only access from the main road to the beach was through private resorts.  They didn’t like it when a non-guest asked to walk through their resort to get to the beach. I couldn’t cover those places.

Some other bays had obvious, publicly-accessible tracks down to the beach.

At some others, I had to walk down dried-up river beds or rainwater run-off ditches to get to the sea.

I have given details of the public-access-paths that I found.   I daresay that I have missed some.

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If you are looking for a particular beach/village, then do a local browser-window search [Edit>Find (on this page)] on one of these textstrings:

Amed Area 1 – Amed (West)
Amed Area 2 – Amed ”Proper”
Amed Area 3 – Jemeluk
Amed Area 4 – West Bunutan
Amed Area 5 – Bunutan
Amed Area 6 – (West) Lipa
Amed Area 7 – (East) Lipa
Amed Area 8 – Lean
Amed Area 9 – Selang
Amed Area 10 – (North West) Banyuning
Amed Area 11 – Banyuning and the Japanese Shipwreck
Amed Area 12 – Aas
Amed Area 13 – Batukeseni
Amed Area 14, 15 – Eastern Villages
Amed Area 16 – Gili Selang

If you are just looking for the best bits, go to sections 9, 11  and 12 (Selang, Banyuning and Aas). Maybe Jemeluk, too.

And is there a single ‘best-bit’?  I would declare it a draw between Selang’s A9c and Aas’s A12d.

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OK, on with the detailed Area-by-Area, stuff:

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Amed Area 1 – Amed (West)

Indo_Bali_086_Amed-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.

Beaches are marked in yellow on the map, but they are actually black sand.

Linky to that “all Amed area” map again.

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I drove up from Padangbai.  Turn right off the main highway where signposted and drive the 4km bumpy road to Amed. You will know you have reached the coast when you see this right-hand bend, and it’s smaller lane to the left, leading to the beach:
Indo_Bali_087_Amed-1a_Turning_20160810_P8100416.jpg

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So, here is your first Amed beach:
Indo_Bali_088_Amed-1a_Beach_20160809_P8090048.jpg
The ‘black sand’ beach isn’t all ‘crystalline and sparkly’ like you were imagining. Actually, ‘muddy-grey sand beach’ would be a more accurate description.

Underwater, the landscape is much the same:
Indo_Bali_089_Amed-1ab_Sandy-Bottom_20160810_P8100421.jpg
just flat, gray featureless sand going on for miles.  Not a good spot for snorkelling.

The angle of the seabed is surprisingly steep.  You only have to be 15 metres from the beach to already have 4 or 5 metres of water underneath you.  This means that there is only a narrow strip of seabed you can explore by snorkelling.  I did 500 metres of it (1a to 1b on the map) but didn’t find anything interesting.

Oh, wait, I did find one thing interesting:
Indo_Bali_090_Amed-1ab_StingRay_20160810_P8100420.jpg
but, really, that was all.
(mouseover any photo containing a fish to see the species name displayed at the bottom left of your browser).

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—————————————————————
Navigational Beacon:
If you are only interested in the best bits, then skip forward to Area A3d. 
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That first stretch (Area 1)  is more like ‘Amed-West’ than Amed village, itself.  The beach is 1km long with relatively few resorts (about ten) spread along its length.  There is more of a spacious feeling here than at other places East from here.

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Back on the road, and driving East along Area 1, I didn’t notice any other tracks with access to the beach – it was all private houses or hotels.

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Amed Area 2 – Amed ”Proper”

Driving round a left-hand corner at A2a, you hit Amed village ‘proper’.  This area is more built-up – with all the tourist-industry staples like dive-shops, travel agencies, restaurants, hotels etc, packed together in this ‘towny’ section.

Received wisdom says that the underwater scene here is still just lots of flat, grey sand, so I didn’t stop.

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Amed Area 3 – Jemeluk

Just around the corner from Amed town is the first of the main touristic bays – Jemeluk.

Jemeluk has a nice, crescent-curved bay and is known as a snorkelling spot.  It looks sweet from the clifftop headland at its East end:
Indo_Bali_104_Jemeluk-3_Bay_20160809_P8090049.jpg

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Indo_Bali_102_Jemeluk-map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map. 

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The best of Jemeluk’s snorkelling is towards the East end, but lets start chronologically in the West at Area A3a. (btw the A in A3a stands for Amed and isn’t written on the maps).

Access to the beach from the road isn’t too difficult at the Western end of the beach.  There are lots of small business taking-up the space between the road and the beach, but I found a friendly dive-shop who was quite relaxed about letting outsiders pass over their land.

This first picture is quite typical of what you will find in the shallows of the ‘reefy’ spots on the Amed coastline:
Indo_Bali_108_Jemeluk-3a_Coral_20160810_P8100404.jpg
We have some scrappy, (mostly Porites species) coral, some Sergeant Major Damselfish and a couple of Moorish Idols.  There are lots of those foreground electric-blue Demoiselles around the Amed coastline.

By the way, the big area to the North West of A3a is very shallow (you can see the waves breaking over it in the picture of the bay).  The breakers kept me out of it, but I would guess it is too shallow to find much of interest there.

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Continuing East from Area A3a into Area A3b, you hit a long, boring patch of flat sandy bottom:
Indo_Bali_112_Jemeluk-3b_SandyBottom_20160810_P8100403.jpg
Like with Amed, this plain sandy bottom stretch is dull, dull, dull and it takes up a sizeable section of the bay.

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On land, and level with point A3b, is a narrow road going from the main road to the beach.  This is the main access to Jemeluk beach and is quite busy, but it does provide you with somewhere to park your motorbike.  The boat to the Gili Islands departs from this part of the beach.

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Back out at sea, on that boring sandy bottom, keep your eyes open and you might find something interesting hiding in the grey darkness – maybe a small Squid or some passing Mullet:
Indo_Bali_113_Jemeluk-3b_Squid_20160810_P8100406.jpg Indo_Bali_114_Jemeluk-3b_Mullet_20160810_P8100407.jpg

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The grey, sandy bottom continues unabated until Area A3c, when the coral starts to make a comeback.

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But things only start getting interesting as you approach point A3d, which is marked by two yellow buoys:
Indo_Bali_117_Jemeluk-3d_Buoy_20160810_P8100395.jpg
You can see that this is quite far from the beach, perhaps 80 metres.

Here is some of the coral slightly West of the buoys:
Indo_Bali_120_Jemeluk-3d_Coral_20160810_P8100394.jpg
Although it is not in great condition, you can see that the reef is taking on some three-dimensional character here.

There are a few hardy soft-corals dotted around:
Indo_Bali_121_Jemeluk-3d_Soft-Coral_20160810_P8100393.jpg

You might expect the buoy to denote the ‘best-of-the-best’ bit, but the area underneath it isn’t very impressive. Somebody has sunk this huge statue-thingy there:
Indo_Bali_122_Jemeluk-3d_Statue_20160810_P8100398.jpg
I bet there’s a great story behind that!

The statue is pretty big. For a sense of scale – that yellow Trumpetfish sniffing around the base is about 30cm long.

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The best of the coral in Jemeluk is slightly to the North East of the buoy. Here’s a Foxface Rabbitfish swimming past one of the better bits:
Indo_Bali_124_Jemeluk-3d_Coral-Formation-Foxface-Rabbitfish_20160810_P8100391

You can see that the reef has a nice form. Thirty years ago, this was probably a lovely coral garden.

…before all the coral stompers got to it:
Indo_Bali_125_Jemeluk-3d_CoralStompers1_20160810_P8100392.jpg Indo_Bali_126_Jemeluk-3d_CoralStompers2_20160810_P8100400.jpg
There’s a couple more for my hall of shame.

Getting away from the stompable depths into deeper water, there are some patches of decent, healthy coral:
Indo_Bali_129_Jemeluk-3d_Deeper-Coral-Chromis-Fish_20160810_P8100399.jpg

But, continuing deeper, as the shallow reef drops off to diver-depths, the seabed is all sand and broken-up fragments of long-gone Staghorn coral:
Indo_Bali_130_Jemeluk-3d_BoringSandyDropoff_20160810_P8100397.jpg

Turning around and coming back-in a little shallower again (3-5 metres), at Area A3e (about 80m East North East of the Buoy):
Indo_Bali_132_Jemeluk-3e_Bayview_20160810_P8100388_.jpg

…you are away from the main crowds, and the coral is healthier:
Indo_Bali_133_Jemeluk-3e_Coral_20160810_P8100389.jpg Indo_Bali_134_Jemeluk-3e_Coral_20160810_P8100390.jpg

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Keep looking out into the blue.  The Amed coastline has a few schools of these Longjaw Mackeral
Indo_Bali_135_Jemeluk-3e_Longjaw-Mackeral_20160810_P8100378__.jpg
opening up their big mouths to hoover-up the plankton (and anyone else) who gets in their way.  Look out!

There was also a nervous pack of Longfin Pike passing by:
Indo_Bali_138_Jemeluk-3e_Longfin-Pike_20160810_P8100369.jpg

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Back on the reef, you have all your standard reef fish.  They seemed more chilled-out here than in other locations.  I guess that they are used to tourists and don’t feel as threatened as at other places.

This Titan Triggerfish is chilled-out because he is getting a scrub-up from a Cleaner Wrasse:
Indo_Bali_140_Jemeluk-3e_Titan-Triggerfish_20160810_P8100367.jpg

But this Flutemouth is uncharacteristically relaxed – they don’t usually let you get this close:
Indo_Bali_141_Jemeluk-3e_Smooth-Flutemouth_20160810_P8100362.jpg

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Heading back towards the shore at A3f, the coral continues OK, and then starts to fade out as the water gets shalllow:
Indo_Bali_143_Jemeluk-3f_Coral-Parrotfish-Lattice-Butterflyfish_20160810_P8100385 Indo_Bali_147_Jemeluk-3f_Coral_20160810_P8100368.jpg Indo_Bali_152_Jemeluk-3f_Coral_20160810_P8100357.jpg

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There is a narrow track next to (West of) ‘On the Beach’ resort’s restaurant.  From the beach, follow it and take an early left, then right, and it leads to a public dirt-track up to the main road. This is a good option for getting access to this, more interesting, end of the beach. You can park your motorbike on the main road and walk the 100m to the beach.

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—————————————————————
Navigational Beacon:
If you are only interested in the best bits, then skip forward to Area A9/Amed 9.
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Amed Area 4 – West Bunutan

Indo_Bali_202_Bunutan-4-5_Bay_20160810_P8100343.jpg

Indo_Bali_200_Bunutan-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map. 

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Driving East out of Jemeluk up the hill past the Jemeluk Sunset Viewpoint (=restaurant), the road moves inland for the next section of coast.  From the main road, you can just see Area 4’s black sand beach off in the distance across some fenced-off grassland.

The only place with a road going down to the beach was at Coral Bay Bungalows resort.  They have a sign up outside saying “AC, Swimming Pool, Restaurant, Cold & Hot Water  COME & ENJOY PLEASE”  but I think that this means “come and spend money on staying at our resort” rather than “feel free to use our access-road to get to the beach”.    I didn’t bother.

Driving East past Coral Bay Bungalows, into Area A5, the road moves closer to the coast and you reach a strip of densely-packed mid/high end hotels and resorts.

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Amed Area 5 – Bunutan

None of the resorts here allowed access to the beach for outsiders and I couldn’t find any public tracks, so I concluded that I couldn’t get to the sea at all in Bunutan.   In retrospect, looking at the satellite pictures, it seems that there is a decent access road/track at the far Eastern end of the beach.  You’ll have to try that one for yourself, I’m afraid.

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Amed Area 6 – (West) Lipa

Indo_Bali_250_Lipa-West-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map. 

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The next stretch of coast road (which I’m calling West Lipa, but one lone-source calls ‘Pupuan’ (?)) is on high ground, about 30 metres up a cliff.

There is no public access to the sea through the private resorts here (indeed, I believe that the cliff is so steep that many don’t have sea-access even for their paying guests).

This is another stretch I had to skip.

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Amed Area 7 – (East) Lipa

Indo_Bali_300_Lipa-East-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map. 

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The next bay (officially, just ‘Lipa’, not East Lipa) was another one with wall-to-wall resorts and not much welcome for outsiders.

I found a public track down to the beach starting from opposite “Le Jardin” Bed & Breakfast.

Later, I found another track starting from a nondescript point further West (at GPS 8º 20’ 58.2’’S, 155º 40’ 51.2’’E) Linky.

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The sand on this stretch of coastline is yellower than before, with a layer of black-sand dusted over the top of it.  And the black sand here is blacker (and more attractive) than the muddy-coloured stuff further West:
Indo_Bali_306_East-Lipa-7a_Beach_20160810_P8100329.jpg

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Starting in the water at the West end of the beach, West of Hidden Paradise Cottages (and their not-so-hidden “Tunpek” restaurant); the coral in the shallows at A7a was OK, but unspectacular:
Indo_Bali_308_East-Lipa-7a_Coral_20160810_P8100328.jpg

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As with Jemeluk, the middle of the bay (A7b) had no coral and was all boring, sandy bottom:
Indo_Bali_310_East-Lipa-7b_Sandy-Bottom_20160810_P8100320.jpg

But look closer, and you might spot some Garden Eels living there:
Indo_Bali_311_East-Lipa-7b_Garden-Eels_20160810_P8100324.jpg
Garden Eels are fun little fellas who live in big colonies. They spend their days all swaying about in the breeze, waiting for some food to float past. They are shy and if you get too close, they will all slink back into their burrows until you have gone.    I haven’t seen this particular variety before, I guess that it is the Banded Garden Eel, Heteroconger polyzona.

Actually if, you go back and look at the ‘boring sandy botttom’ picture from Jemeluk, you can see some intriguing holes in the sand there, too.

Following the sandy bottom out into deeper water just leads to a sudden sandy dropoff:
Indo_Bali_312_East-Lipa-7b_Sandy-Dropoff_20160810_P8100319.jpg
which in turn leads to some more sand……

There is a blue buoy near A7b. There is nothing remarkable underwater here, but at the surface, the buoy is about level with the Western access-track back to the main road, if you are looking for it.

A7b to A7c: sand, sand, saaaand.

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The coral starts-up again at A7c, where we start to flip between coral
which is OK:
Indo_Bali_314_East-Lipa-7c_Coral_20160810_P8100315.jpg Indo_Bali_315_East-Lipa-7c_Coral_20160810_P8100316.jpg

and is quite good:
Indo_Bali_316_East-Lipa-7c_Acropra-Coral-n-Blue-Green-Chromis-n-Flagtail-Grouper_20160810_P8100314

and non-existant:
Indo_Bali_318_East-Lipa-7c_Bottom_20160810_P8100312.jpg

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The snorkelling is a lot better at A7d.  The sign outside Pondok Vienna Restaurant and Bungalows, boasts that it is ‘the best snorkelling area’.

Near the black buoy, 150m out from the beach:
Indo_Bali_321_East-Lipa-7d_Black-Buoy_20160810_P8100311.jpg

…it is quite decent:
Indo_Bali_322_East-Lipa-7d_Coral_20160810_P8100307.jpg Indo_Bali_323_East-Lipa-7d_Coral_20160810_P8100306.jpg Indo_Bali_325_East-Lipa-7d_Coral-Virgate-Rabbitfish_20160810_P8100310.jpg
…but I’m not sure how many of the umbrella-renters get out this far.

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The most attractive spot around here was at A7e, where this head of Porites coral had been split in two.  Some sea fans have moved into the currenty gap in the middle to hoover-up any passing food:
Indo_Bali_327_East-Lipa-7e_Split-Acropora-Coral_20160810_P8100301_.jpg Indo_Bali_328_East-Lipa-7e_Fans_20160810_P8100302.jpg

This Humpback Unicornfish was nearby:
Indo_Bali_329_East-Lipa-7e_Humpback-Unicornfish_20160810_P8100308.jpg

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There were some folks snorkelling at the rocky headland at A7f, so I took a look over there:
Indo_Bali_330_East-Lipa-7f_Coral_20160810_P8100297.jpg Indo_Bali_331_East-Lipa-7f_Coral_20160810_P8100298.jpg
…but it wasn’t spectacular.

Heading back towards the East end of the beach (near Pondok Vienna), there were some patchy, but OK corals:
Indo_Bali_333_East-Lipa-7f_Coral_20160810_P8100299.jpg Indo_Bali_334_East-Lipa-7f_Coral_20160810_P8100296.jpg

Things get scrappy again as you reach the shallower waters:
Indo_Bali_336_East-Lipa-7f_Coral_20160810_P8100295.jpg

Btw, Pondok Vienna Restaurant/Bungalows have a sign outside advertising free parking, which might be useful.  I think they expect you to buy some food/drinks/beach umbrellas while you are there, though.

As to their claims that they have  ‘the best snorkelling area’ – I would put them a short nose behind Selang’s A9c and Aas’s A12d.

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Amed Area 8 – Lean

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Continuing East from Lipa bay, the road climbs 20 metres up to another ‘clifftop’ stretch.

As you go past swanky restaurant “Sails”, you can look down and see some Porites coral in the shallows, but you can’t really get to it (as the hillside is very steep and rocky).  There are the remnants of a stone path and an artsy stone-archway which, presumably, once gave Sailers access to the water, but are long-since abandoned.

Continuing East, the road soon descends back down to sea-level and you are at Lean Beach.
Indo_Bali_353_Lean-Beach-8_Bay_20160810_P8100275.jpg

Indo_Bali_351_Lean-Beach-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map.

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The road comes very close to the beach as you first reach the bay at A8a. You can park-up at the side of the road and hop down a 70cm high wall onto the sand.

I also found an access track at A8c, mid-beach.

Lean beach is browny-yellow sand:
Indo_Bali_354_Lean-Beach-8_Sand_20160810_P8100280.jpg

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Underwater, starting at A8a, the coral is unspectacular:
Indo_Bali_356_Lean-Beach-8a_Coral_20160810_P8100283.jpg

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but is a little better, further-out at A8b:
Indo_Bali_358_Lean-Beach-8b_Coral_20160810_P8100282.jpg

…where I also found this unusual soft coral:
Indo_Bali_359_Lean-Beach-8b_Soft-coral_20160810_P8100286.jpg

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Heading back into the shore, midbeach at A8c, was again, OK, but unspectacular:
Indo_Bali_362_Lean-Beach-8c_Coral_20160810_P8100281.jpg

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I guess that Longshore drift is a problem in these parts as there are several rocky groynes around, including these, which protect some kind of mini-harbour/repair yard (?) for fishing boats.
Indo_Bali_363_Lean-Beach-8c_Groynes_20160810_P8100279.jpg
They also divide the beach up into two sections.

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I got back on my motorbike and headed off to the Eastern part of Lean Beach only to find, again, that there was no beach access for the public allowed through the swanky resorts there.  I didn’t see any public tracks, either.

I guess you could get to the beach here by going back to the Western half of the beach and then swimming round the groynes.

But I didn’t.

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Amed Area 9 – Selang

 

Just the other side of another elevated rocky headland is Selang Bay. This is quite a sweet spot, with a sandy beach and some decent coral:

Indo_Bali_403_Selang-9_Bay_20160810_P8100268.jpg

Indo_Bali_401_Selang-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map.

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For access, I used a signposted track at the East end of the bay (A9e), but it looked like there was also another one, halfway along the bay (level with A9c).  My photos also reveal a steep track down to the beach at the West end of the bay (A9a), but that one might be private/for resort customers only.

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Generally on the Amed coastline, the coral at the West end of each bay is in poor condition, but here at A9a, the ‘Westy’ corals are better than their equivalents in the other bays.
Indo_Bali_406_Selang-9a_Coral_20160809_P8090208.jpg Indo_Bali_407_Selang-9a_Coral_20160809_P8090210.jpg

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At Area A9b, there are a few patches of this unusual ‘columnar’ coral:
Indo_Bali_410_Selang-9b_Coral_20160809_P8090214.jpg Indo_Bali_409_Selang-9b_Coral_20160809_P8090213.jpg
It might be Psammocora digitata, but I’m not sure.

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Similarly uncommon are these Blackspine Unicornfish (Naso minor):
Indo_Bali_412_Selang-9b_Blackspine-Unicornfish-Naso-minor_20160809_P8090219.jpg

Other notable fishies in the area include a Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray, Orangeband Surgeonfish, Blackspotted Pufferfish and some schooling Wideband-Fusiliers:
Indo_Bali_411_Selang-9b_Blue-Spotted-Ribbontail-Ray_20160809_P8090217.jpg Indo_Bali_414_Selang-9b_Orangeband-Surgeonfish_20160809_P8090216.jpg Indo_Bali_415_Selang-9b_Blackspotted-Pufferfish_20160809_P8090194.jpgIndo_Bali_413_Selang-9b_Wideband-Fusiliers_20160809_P8090199.jpg
…plus  an Orange Spined Unicornfish, Panda Butterflyfish, Whitebelly Damselfish (Library pictures).

 

…and a Crinoid (cousin to the Brittle Star), perched up on top of a coral bommie:
Indo_Bali_417_Selang-9b_Crinoid_20160809_P8090215.jpg

Continuing East past A9b, there is some decent coral:
Indo_Bali_418_Selang-9b_Coral_20160809_P8090206.jpg Indo_Bali_419_Selang-9b_Coral_20160809_P8090205.jpg

…mixed in with some more skanky bits:
Indo_Bali_420_Selang-9b_Coral_20160809_P8090204.jpg
Generally, the ratio here is about 60/40 live/dead.

Halfway along the beach there is a rocky strip which, at high tide, divides the beach in two. Level with this ‘halfway’ point at A9c, is the Selang’s best underwater spot which has some very respectable coral:
Indo_Bali_424_Selang-9c_Coral_20160809_P8090201.jpg

Hiding under this big chunk of coral is an Emperor Angelfish:
Indo_Bali_426_Selang-9c_Coral-Emperor-Angelfish_20160809_P8090198.jpg
A lot of the coral around here is this Porites species “hump” coral.

…but there are also occasional patches of other coral species:
Indo_Bali_429_Selang-9c_Coral_20160809_P8090200.jpg Indo_Bali_430_Selang-9c_Coral_20160809_P8090197.jpg

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Veering out to deeper waters (5m) near A9c, the coral is in healthy condition:
Indo_Bali_432_Selang-9c_Coral_20160809_P8090189.jpg

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Continuing towards the East end of the bay at A9d you have a mix of bad:
Indo_Bali_434_Selang-9c_Coral_20160809_P8090196.jpg

and OK corals:
Indo_Bali_436_Selang-9c_Coral-Demoiselles_20160809_P8090193.jpg Indo_Bali_437_Selang-9c_Coral_20160809_P8090202.jpg

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And starting your return to shore along the stretch A9d to A9e, is also a mixture:
Indo_Bali_440_Selang-9de_Coral_20160809_P8090188.jpg

…expectedly, getting shabbier as your reach the surf-battered shallows:
Indo_Bali_441_Selang-9de_Coral_20160809_P8090187.jpg

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The East end of the beach is classic black sand.  In this bay, it is pure-black and quite beautiful:
Indo_Bali_442_Selang-9e_East-Beach_20160809_P8090224.jpg
(That’s swanky AquaTerrace in the background).

Going East from Sealang bay, the road rises again, passing behind Aquaterrace, then turning right and running parallel to the coast, along the top of the cliffs at A9f.  There is a brick wall all along the North side of the road, and expensive resorts hidden behind it. There is no chance of getting to the sea from here.

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Amed Area 10 – (North West) Banyuning

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After ‘Villa Horizon’ resort, the coastline takes a right-turn and starts to run more North-South than East-West.  As you head South towards Banyuning village, the road is still on the clifftop, up away from the sea, but you might notice signs for  ‘Amed Dream Ibus Beach Club’ and  ‘Stairway to Heaven Bungalows & Restaurant’.  I’m calling this North West end of Banyuning village “Area 10”.

Indo_Bali_452_Banyuning-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map.

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There is stretch of sandy beach at the bottom of the cliffs here, but I don’t think the two swanky resorts want to share it with the outside world.  Stairway to Heaven Bungalows has a sign saying “Beach Access Stairway to Heaven Villas”, but is ambiguous whether that means  “Beach Access for guests of  Stairway to Heaven Villas” or  “Beach Access and access to  Stairway to Heaven Villas”.  Amed Dream Ibus Beach Club is more direct, with a sign saying there is a ‘minimum spend on entry’ and also that ‘in-house guests have full access’. Presumably, outsiders can pay to get-in for the day.

To hell with exclusivity! I just swam there from the next bay to the South:
Indo_Bali_455_Banyuning-S2H-10_FromTheShipwreck_20160810_P8100253.jpg

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The corals at the North (West) end (A10a) are unimpressive:
Indo_Bali_456_Banyuning-S2H-10a_Coral_20160810_P8100264.jpg Indo_Bali_457_Banyuning-S2H-10a_Coral_20160810_P8100263.jpg

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But this bay does win big kudos points for having some healthy, blue Staghorn coral mid-way along (A10b):
Indo_Bali_460_Banyuning-S2H-10b_Blue-Staghorn-Coral_20160810_P8100261.jpg
This beautiful patch is about 5 metres deep.

…but there is also a (less healthy) version 2-3 metres deep, at A10c:
Indo_Bali_462_Banyuning-S2H-10c_Coral_20160810_P8100260.jpg

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Continuing south towards A10d there is more (not so colourful) Acropora species corals:
Indo_Bali_464_Banyuning-S2H-10d_Staghorn-Coral_20160810_P8100258.jpg
Indo_Bali_465_Banyuning-S2H-10d_Acropora-n-Chromis_20160810_P8100256.jpg
Nice!

Far from the beach, in deeper water, things weren’t so good – with lots of dead Table Corals:
Indo_Bali_467_Banyuning-S2H-10d_Dead-Table-Coral_20160810_P8100257.jpg

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The section near the headland at 10e, is a mixed-lot. Mostly, it was all flat, broken herbaceous bottom, with only a few Demoiselles to liven things up:
Indo_Bali_469_Banyuning-S2H-10e_Demoiselles_20160810_P8100255.jpg

..but there was also the occasional explosion of pretty soft corals:
Indo_Bali_470_Banyuning-S2H-10e_Soft-Corals_20160810_P8100254.jpg

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I actually did this bit from South to North, starting from the next bay (A11a), and helped by a slight current.  Afterwards, I didn’t fancy swimming against the current, so I climbed-up Stairway-to-Heaven’s, stairway to, err, the road; past their restaurant (drawing a few askance looks) and walked back to the shipwreck from there.

“The shipwreck” ? You ask.

Yes, we are finally at Banyuning’s main claim to fame – the Japanese Shipwreck (A11a)

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Amed Area 11 – Banyuning and the Japanese  Shipwreck

The Japanese shipwreck is a small (?15m) steel vessel, sitting partly broken-up in just 8 metres of water.  It is very easy to reach – it is only 20m away from the beach; marked by a black buoy and surrounded with snorkellers and divers.  It’s highest point is only 2 metres below the surface, so it is easy to snorkel.

Indo_Bali_480_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck_20160810_P8100239.jpg

Indo_Bali_481_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck_20160810_P8100240.jpg Indo_Bali_483_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck-Schooling-Snapper_20160809_P8090173 Indo_Bali_482_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck-SgtMajors_20160809_P8090171.jpg

Indo_Bali_484_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck-Anthias_20160810_P8100236.jpg Indo_Bali_485_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck_20160810_P8100237.jpg

Shipwrecks work somewhat like coral reefs – they provide shelter from the underwater current.  Small fish take advantage of the shelter and come to live there.  Then, bigger fish come to feed on the smaller fish.  Hard and soft corals take-root on the rusting hull. Filter-feeders take up residence on the upper & outer edges to catch the passing breeze. Pretty soon, a whole food-chain has built up and the boat becomes a reef in itself.

As shipwrecks go, this is a modest one (the USAT Liberty, 20km up the coast in Tulamben is the big-daddy shipwreck round these parts).  The main draw of the Banyuning one (apart from the simple novelty-factor of it being a shipwreck) is the soft corals growing on the outer surfaces; plus the higher-than-normal numbers of fish hanging around it.

The history of the vessel is vague. It was probably a tugboat. Nobody even knows whether or not it was actually Japanese.

There are some beautiful pictures on the web of soft corals growing on the wreck.  Underwater visibility was terrible on both days I came here and it didn’t look as picturesque as expected.  The Gorgonian Sea Fans growing on it seem to be a thing of the past.

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Exploring the area around the wreck, diving down through the murky waters into random spots was mostly like this:
Indo_Bali_487_Banyuning-SE-11a_Bottom_20160809_P8090179.jpg

However, in the deeper waters directly out (North East) from the wreck, there are a few nice Sea Fans:
Indo_Bali_491_Banyuning-SE-11a_SeaFan_20160810_P8100244.jpg

..and some decent coral:
Indo_Bali_492_Banyuning-SE-11a_Coral_20160810_P8100248.jpg

This Blubberlip Snapper lives on the wreck, but now-and-again when he gets spooked, heads-off into the deeper waters to the North East:
Indo_Bali_490_Banyuning-SE-11a_Blubberlip-Snapper_20160810_P8100247.jpg
This was the only “big” fish I saw anywhere in mainland Bali.

Heading South from the shipwreck, parallel to the beach, in 2-4 metres of water, the coral was unimpressive:
Indo_Bali_494_Banyuning-SE-11a_Coral-SouthOfShipwreck_20160809_P8090168.jpg Indo_Bali_495_Banyuning-SE-11a_SouthOfShipwreck_20160809_P8090169.jpg

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Shipwreck Practicalities:
Snorkelling the shipwreck is user-friendly.  There is a small, free, car/bike-park at the side of the road on the cape overlooking the beach (at A11a). From there, you can walk 5 metres down some public-access steps to the black pebble beach. There is even a cafe on the beach which rents out snorkel-sets.

From the beach, you can swim out the 20m to the black buoy and the wreck:
Indo_Bali_479_Banyuning-SE-11a_Shipwreck_20160810_P8100233.jpg

Banyuning’s underwater pebbles are bigger than those on the beach.  Big enough to make it tedious getting in/out of the water if there is any swell/surf.

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There is alternative access to the beach 200m further South East in the village (after Kawi Karma resort), where there is chilled local guy offering free parking and free use of a track that leads down to the beach. He hopes you will rent some snorkel gear from him, but it isn’t mandatory.

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Driving South along the rest of Banyuning bay:
Indo_Bali_478_Banyuning-SE-11a_Bay_20160809_P8090142.jpg
…you have the usual ‘guests only’ resorts blocking-off access to the beach.

There was a public track just after the bridge, so I took a dip mid-bay (at point A11b):
Indo_Bali_497_Banyuning-SE-11b_Bottom_20160809_P8090161.jpg
These silty rocks continued out until the bottom was 5+ metres deep.  Yuk.

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Back on the road, towards the South end of the bay, I found a narrow, concreted path to the sea between two breeze-block walls. My goal was the black buoy at A11c, in the hope that it had been put there for snorkelling trips to tie-up on.

Clambering in the water over the stony beach:
Indo_Bali_500_Banyuning-SE-11c_Beach_20160809_P8090145.jpg

….there were a a few spots of decent coral on the Northern side of the black buoy:
Indo_Bali_502_Banyuning-SE-11c_Coral_20160809_P8090146.jpg

..but most of the area is rather barren:
Indo_Bali_503_Banyuning-SE-11c_Coral_20160809_P8090147.jpg

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At the buoy itself:
Indo_Bali_504_Banyuning-SE-11c_Black-Buoy_20160809_P8090148.jpg

…there were a few OK patches of soft coral:
Indo_Bali_505_Banyuning-SE-11c_Coral_20160809_P8090149.jpg

Here is a Ribbontail Ray foraging for food in the grey sand:
Indo_Bali_507_Banyuning-SE-11c_Ribbontail-StingRay_20160809_P8090152.jpg
and a Checkerboard Wrasse holding-out for his scraps.

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Swimming South from the buoy, then slowly back into the beach, things continue OK, but patchy. Here are some of the better bits:
Indo_Bali_509_Banyuning-SE-11c_Coral_20160809_P8090153.jpg Indo_Bali_511_Banyuning-SE-11c_Coral_20160809_P8090155.jpg Indo_Bali_510_Banyuning-SE-11c_Coral_20160809_P8090154.jpg

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Amed  Area 12 – Aas

Indo_Bali_523_Aas-12a_Bay_20160809_P8090077.jpg Indo_Bali_524_Aas-12a_Bay_20160809_P8090053.jpg

Indo_Bali_520_Aas_Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map.

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Aas is the last village on the strip to have tourist accommodation.  It is another bay apparently without access to the beach, unless you are a resort-dweller. But I did eventually find a narrow track to the beach – next to ‘Fishermans Cottages’ Resort, at the North West end:
Indo_Bali_526_Aas-12a_FishermansGuesthousePath_20160809_P8090084.jpg

The beach is mainly large stones/pebbles (25cm diameter), which are a pain-in-the-ass to walk on (moreso when trying to get in/out of the water in fins/swell/surf/undertow).  Happily, there is a short stretch of sand at the North West end of the beach (A12a), which makes life easier:
Indo_Bali_527_Aas-12a_Beach_20160809_P8090138.jpg

As with all the other bays on the Amed coastline, the coral at the North (West) end is not the best:
Indo_Bali_529_Aas-12a_Coral_20160809_P8090137.jpg

Further on, there were some spots of nice Soft Corals:
Indo_Bali_530_Aas-12a_Coral_20160809_P8090136.jpg Indo_Bali_531_Aas-12a_Coral_20160809_P8090135.jpg

Surprisingly, the coral condition takes a dip for a long stretch around A12b:
Indo_Bali_533_Aas-12b_Coral_20160809_P8090134.jpg

But things really pick up at A12c, level with Meditasi Resort:
Indo_Bali_536_Aas-12c_Meditasi-midsea_20160809_P8090130.jpg

Indo_Bali_538_Aas-12c_Coral_20160809_P8090131.jpg
Indo_Bali_539_Aas-12c_Coral_20160809_P8090129.jpg Indo_Bali_540_Aas-12c_Coral_20160809_P8090128.jpg

The roadside sign outside Meditasi Bungalows says “No Internet, No TV, No Stress! Coral Garden – Good Snorkelling!” The scowls I got when I asked if I could pass through their resort were a bit stressful, but the bit about the snorkelling is right!

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Slightly further South East at A12d:
Indo_Bali_544_Aas-12d_Coral_20160809_P8090123.jpg Indo_Bali_545_Aas-12d_Coral_20160809_P8090121.jpg
This area A12c/d has some of the best corals on the Amed coastline.

It is not all lovely, though.  There is also a fair bit of this around:
Indo_Bali_546_Aas-12d_Coral_20160809_P8090120.jpg
The ‘Live-to-Dead coral ratio’ here is about 60/40, which is as good as you’ll get in these parts.

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There were some nice fishies around this area. This lone Pyramid Butterflyfish was the only one of its kind that I saw in Bali:
Indo_Bali_547_Aas-12d_Pyramid-Butterflyfish_20160809_P8090124.jpg

And schools of Panda Butterflyfish are quite uncommon:
Indo_Bali_548_Aas-12d_Panda-Butterflyfish_20160809_P8090116.jpg

You might have to dive down to get up-close-and-personal with them. Or, if you stay on the surface, you can photograph the whole group of fifteen:
Indo_Bali_550_Aas-12de_Panda-Butterflyfish_20160809_P8090115.jpg

The Indian Triggerfish is another  species I saw here, but in very few other places:
Indo_Bali_552_Aas-12de_Indian-Triggerfish_20160809_P8090113.jpg

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Continuing South East, past Meditasi, there are some lovely fields of branching and bracket corals:
Indo_Bali_551_Aas-12de_Coral_20160809_P8090114.jpg Indo_Bali_553_Aas-12de_Coral_20160809_P8090112.jpg Indo_Bali_554_Aas-12de_Coral_20160809_P8090111.jpg

Again, it is not all sweetness and light. Staghorn corals are the species most susceptible to storms &  temperature changes. There is plenty of dead-stuff too:
Indo_Bali_555_Aas-12de_Coral_20160809_P8090110.jpg

Just past Villa Skydancer, at A12e, there is a black buoy about 120m off the beach;
Indo_Bali_557_Aas-12e_Black-Buoy_20160809_P8090086.jpg

Here, this Oval Spot Butterflyfish was making an escape-bid:
Indo_Bali_558_Aas-12e_Oval-spot-butterflyfish_20160809_P8090109.jpg
Otherwise, the buoy is not marking anything spectacular.

Here are some more corals on the journey South East, towards the end of the bay:
Indo_Bali_560_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090087.jpg Indo_Bali_561_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090107.jpg Indo_Bali_562_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090088.jpg

Most of the better corals are far away (100m) from the beach, in 2-4 metres of water. Taking a quick diversion back towards the beach and into shallow waters, you can see that the coral is in poorer condition there:
Indo_Bali_565_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090105.jpg

Back in the deeper waters, this final stretch from A12e-to-f had some respectable corals, and decent species diversity between the standard Hump corals, starcorals, branching corals and even some Gorgonian Sea-Fans:
Indo_Bali_568_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090093.jpg Indo_Bali_569_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090094.jpg Indo_Bali_570_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090096.jpg Indo_Bali_571_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090102.jpg

Eagle-eyed people might find a Map Pufferfish lurking in the depths:
Indo_Bali_576_Aas-12ef_Coral_20160809_P8090090.jpg
Super eagle-eyed people might even spot a Six Banded Angelfish running-off in the background.  I also spotted an Emperor Angelfish, Semicircle Angelfish and a Regal Angelfish here (but the photos were rubbish – these are from my specieslist library).

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At the South East end of the bay is another swanky resort (??Golden Rock?):
Indo_Bali_577_SE-END_20160809_P8090101.jpg
As there is no road-access, if you get out here, you will have to stumble along the rocky beach back to the track at A12a, limboing under a hundred outriggers on the way.

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Although the beaches having tourist accommodation end here, of course, the coastline continues and there are several more villages and beaches along it.  I continued-on to the most Easterly point of the island.

Indo_Bali_601_Eastern-Villages-Map.jpg
All images on this site are clickable for bigger versions.
Linky to “All Amed” Map. 

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Amed Area 13 – Batukeseni
Linky to “All Amed” Map. 

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The next village is (I think) called Batukeseni:
Indo_Bali_602_Batukseni-13_Bay_20160809_P8090069.jpg

The locals have fashioned the big rocks on the beach into a smooth slope:
Indo_Bali_603_Batukseni-13_Beach_20160809_P8090073.jpg
Too smooth, in fact. I slipped on my ass and flapped around for a while in the swells before giving up trying to get in the water.

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Amed  Area 14, 15 – Eastern Villages

At the next village (14), the road goes very wide around the back of the village. The road is over 1km away from the coast and the only track I saw going towards the sea looked steep, slippery, narrow and very long. I decided against trying to get to the beach, but here’s a nice photo of it from the roadside.
Indo_Bali_629_Eastern-Villages-14_View_20160809_P8090054.jpg

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At the next village (15) the road took a similarly wide berth around the edge.  I couldn’t see any track at all into this one.    Here’s another snap from the high ground:
Indo_Bali_631_Eastern-Villages-15_View_20160809_P8090056.jpg

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Amed Area 16 –  Gili Selang
We are now at the Easternmost point of Bali.  At the end, there is a rocky island called “Gili Selang”:
Indo_Bali_634_Gili-Selang-16_View_20160809_P8090058.jpg

In fact, I started my explorations at this end of the Amed coastline  – mainly because I had heard there was decent snorkelling at Selang and my crap-map didn’t have Selang (Amed Area 9) marked on it.  I thought that this ‘Gili Selang’ might be it.   But is isn’t. Gili Selang (Amed Aread 15) has nothing to do with Selang (Amed Area 9).

The island Gili Selang looked pretty flat on my map.  Before arriving here, I had imagined it might be possible to snorkel around it.  I wasn’t counting on the 30 metre drop from the cliff to get to it.

Actually, it looks like there are a couple of tracks down to the sea if you have an hour or two to scramble down them to investigate (I didn’t).  Anyways, here’s the view of the rocky causeway going to the island, taken from the temple that looks out over it:
Indo_Bali_635_Gili-Selang-16_Causeway_20160809_P8090060.jpg

Apparently, the currents are crazy here (especially to the East and South sides of the island), so it’s probably not a good idea to try snorkelling.

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Bali’s coast road continues beyond this.  It is possible to drive all the way around the bulbous Eastern peninsula, eventually arriving back on the main road, 4km out of Candidasa.

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Tulamben

005_All-Bali-Map.jpg

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Tulamben is known for the shipwreck USAT Liberty.  This American cargo ship was holed in 1942 by a Japanese submarine torpedo and the listing ship was towed to Tulamben beach, where it sat until the 1963 eruption of Gunung Agung shook it back into the sea.

The shipwreck is a big attraction for divers.  It sits in 30 metres of water, but is so tall that its highest point is only 3 metres below the surface, so, in theory, it makes for interesting snorkelling, too. It is only 50m away from the beach.

I have come here three times to try and snorkel on it.  Each time, the underwater visibility was atrocious (less than 2 metres). So, I have never really seen it.

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The beach is made up of big (15 cm diameter) stones, which are a pain when it comes to getting in and out of the water, especially if there are any waves.

That’s it.  If I ever get to see the wreck, I’ll tell you what it is like!

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Pulau Menjangan / Pemuteran

All Bali Map

Pulau Menjangan is said to be one of Bali’s most famous dive sites and apparently also has good snorkelling. It was on my list of places to visit on my last trip, but I ran out of time, so didn’t get there.    This is just a dump of my planing notes, incase it helps…
Pulau means ‘island’.

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Pulau Menjangan is on the North West corner of Bali, inside the National Park –  Taman Nasional Bali Barat.

Access is via boat-trip only.  This isn’t off-the-beach snorkelling.

It seems there are three ways of getting to Pulau Menjangan:

1) Find your way to the National Park visitor centre at Labuahan Lalang (via private transport or maybe on a public bus going to Gilimanuk, the port for Java).  From there, you can charter a boat and the (compulsary) National Park guide. Get there early to try and find other folks wanting to share boat costs; or try to drum-up a crowd in one of the nearby towns the night before. Prices (@2015) are 465 000 IDR for one person; reducing (not linearly), as you find more and more people to share your boat. The price includes the 200 000 IDR National Park entrance fee and the guide. Travelfish have a helpful article about this method, including the prices for different sized groups:
travelfish.org/sight_profile/indonesia/bali/bali/pemuteran/1067

2) Book an all-inclusive tour through travel agents/dive shops in the nearby towns. Here’s one out of Lovina for 450 000 IDR.
lovinatours.com/menjangan-snorkeling-package
I have no idea if this operator is any good, I just found the link on google a minute ago.

 

3) Get a seat on a dive boat out of nearby coastal town, Pemuteran.

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Trips to Menjangan typically spend two hours snorkelling at two spots on the island, plus the travelling time there and back.

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As regards the underwater world there – most accounts are from divers, who seem to like it. Pictures/video on the internet suggest that at snorkelling depths, there are decent patches of softcorals in most places, but depending where your boat driver takes you, the hard corals are either (a) mostly dead, or (b) really rather nice. It might be something of a lottery. Here are some snorkelling pictures taken from a (dive-shop’s) blog:

Cute subtitles aside, I’m not all that impressed with consistency of the reef, considering the hassle and cost of getting there.

There is accommodation in nearby towns Pemuteran and Singaraja. Historically, there haven’t been  any options for low-budget types, but there seem to be more low-end places available now. Check Agoda. Also, Wikitravel talks about cheap accommodation (Pondok Wisata Lestari, 0365 61504) 2km NW of the main (Cekik) Park HQ; and also about a  bring-your-own-tent camping setup at the park HQ.

National Park entrance fees have ballooned crazily in the last few years.  There might be extra park fees for taking in a camera or videocamera. Check that.

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Pemuteran is a town 12 km East of Menjangan and is a popular jumping-off point for the island. There is accommodation and lots of diveshops there.  Some people point off-the-beach snorkellers to an artificial reef project in Pemuteran bay, which tries to stimulate coral growth on wire frames by running electricity through them.  Visitors’ accounts of it generally applaud the initiative, but say that there is not enough coral growth to make it worth a special visit.

It seems that Pemuteran beach is made out of mud. It seems popular with divers looking for unusual critters in the muddy-depths, but that the off-the-beach snorkelling isn’t great, with low visibility and (apart from the intriguing sculptures on the artificial reef and its fishy residents) not much to see. Before deciding to travel here, you might want to check reviews by people who have already been.

Note that there are no ATMs in Pemuteran.

Linkies

Nusa Lembongan (to follow)
Tezza

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Originally written: Sep 2016    Last updated:  Sep 2016

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