Dive into new Bali experience
IF 'glamping' is glamorous camping then we need a new term for the next level of roughing it in style.
The newly opened Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Camp and Dive Centre has been dubbed Bali's affordable version of the Maldives.
It's like Bali's little secret; situated in the relatively untouched northwest of the island, about four hours (depending on traffic) from the craziness of Kuta.
Admittedly, boarding my Tigerair flight from Perth, I began to wonder if this was the right way to kick off my few days of indulgence.
But the budget airline genuinely surprised me with their service and the fact it has the lowest cancellation rate of all major Australian domestic airlines.
After a fairly smooth transfer from Denpasar, we were greeted with a much-needed refreshing cold towel and a welcome drink.
Walking through the resort, past the safaristyle tented rooms and villas, it became clear this was more than just glamping.
Flown in from South Africa, the heavy canvas tents play with your senses, with the light and sounds of nature just outside but the luxury of an airconditioned suite with all the hotel trimmings on the inside.
What I liked most were the little details: the bedside driftwood and seagrass lanterns that looked like they belonged on an old-fashioned street, the picnic hamper used to house the toiletries, a wicker wardrobe and rustic storage baskets. And just to remind you you're definitely not camping: a minibar encased in a wooden chest.
Situated on 16ha of beachside land, the resort predominantly caters for outdoor enthusiasts.
Operating the Pasir Putih Dive Centre, Bali Hai Diving Adventures offers guided scuba diving and snorkelling around Menjangan Island.
Just a 20-minute boat ride from the resort and I was immersed in what could easily be mistaken for a scene from Finding Nemo, with more species of coral than I could count, fish that resembled trumpets and electric-blue starfish.
There is also the option of kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddle boarding.
But if relaxing and pampering is more your idea of a Bali getaway, you can indulge in a massage or bath overlooking the water in a private spa pod, sit back with a cocktail at Pasir Putih Beach Club and Bar while watching the deer (yes, deer) gallivanting on the shore, or laze by the infinity pool, where you can even enjoy a floating breakfast.
Day trips are also on offer, with the Atlas Pearls farm and Hatten Wines – the only vineyard in Bali to use local grapes – not far away.
This boutique retreat was definitely a new experience for this Bali-lover and one I hope to have again soon.
The writer was a guest of Tigerair, Bali Dynasty Resort and Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Camp and Dive Centre.
Next week we travel to Bangkok and visit a 100-plus-year-old market run by a stallholder who has worked there since World War II.