Wild West

Those who make the ef­fort to visit far-flung West Bali will find soli­tude in na­ture and some of the best div­ing and snor­kel­ing around the is­land.

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It may be a four- to five-hour drive from the air­port, but the sparsely pop­u­lated west­ern reaches of Bali are well worth the schlep for its un­spoiled scenery. In the north, the bulk of overnighters stay at the beach­side vil­lage of Pe­muteran, which has be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar for its laid-back charms, div­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, and fo­cus on marine con­ser­va­tion— Pe­muteran lays claim to the world’s largest ar­ti­fi­cial Biorock reef project. The neigh­bor­ing wa­ters have ex­cel­lent vis­i­bil­ity and vir­tu­ally no cur­rent, mak­ing it an ideal area to spot tur­tles and an abun­dance of fish swim­ming amid the reefs. Far­ther to the west, the dive sites of Men­jan­gan Is­land are fa­mous for their co­ral walls, which in some cases reach a depth of over 60 me­ters. Th­ese are adorned with all man­ner of soft corals, sponges, and boast the high­est con­cen­tra­tion of Gor­gonian seafans in all of Bali. The un­der­wa­ter to­pog­ra­phy here is also suit­able for snorkel­ers, who can ad­mire the pro­fu­sion of marine life and corals at the top end of the sheer drop-offs. Men­jan­gan Is­land is also part of West Bali Na­tional Park, a re­serve of 19,000-hectares that en­com­passes mul­ti­ple ecosys­tems from the deep off­shore wa­ters to man­groves, dry sa­vanna, low­land jun­gle, and pri­mary mon­soon for­est. The park shel­ters no less than 160 bird species, and is known as the last re­main­ing habi­tat for the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered Bali star­ling. Sev­eral up­scale re­sorts have been built right on its doorstep, which means you can get first dibs on a bird­watch­ing tour or div­ing ses­sions at Men­jan­gan Is­land be­fore other vis­i­tors come from Pe­muteran.

Snorkel­ers at Men­jan­gan Is­land, named for the lo­cal deer that also roam the grounds of nearby re­sorts.

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