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.
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.