West Bali is an interesting part of the island, in fact it is the least visited part of Bali as far as foreign tourists are concerned. Three districts cover west Bali, which are Jembrana, Tabanan and Buleleng.
The overall geography of west Bali is dominated by the tapering range of hills extending west from Gunung Batukaru (2276m) the second highest peak in Bali. The area around Gunung Batukaru being the last true section of jungle in Bali. The southern slopes of the range receive massive rainfall and are extremely fertile with wet rice cultivation and some of finest rice fields in Bali. The northern slopes are drier and low vegetation is common throughout the Bali Barat National Park. Vineyards are found in the Pemuteran area of NW Bali.
Visitors to Bali will be offered day trips to places such as Ubud, Bedugal, Kintamani, with some choosing to take overnight stops in Amed, Lovina, Candi Dasa and Nusa Lembongan. West Bali rarely comes into the picture because of the lack of tourist infrastructure.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN WEST BALI
Bali’s west gateway, it is the cheapest inland way to reach Java.There are ferries that sail every minutes to deliver people and vehicle from Bali to Java.
The beauty of Gilimanuk’s beaches is rarely mentioned. It has a wide range of coral beaches, white and black sand beaches and mangrove forest. The exquisiteness of the underwater coral awaits anyone willing to dive in and go for snorkeling.
There are two small islands in the bay, which are barely more than sandbars – Pulau Kalong (Bat Island) and Pulau Burung (Bird Island). For tourists who want know further about the history of Bali, there is also a museum containing pre-Hindu archeology.
The villages around Gilimanuk contain a mixture of Balinese, Javanese, Madurese and Bugis architecture unique to Bali. No less beautiful are the various boats belonging to these ethnic groups.
Gilimanuk plays its role as a west seaport of Bali. Daily ferry service (Bali – Java) are run. It also offers a beautiful view from the busy harbor.
Negara is the main town in west Bali in the district of Jembrana. Most visitors to Bali will have little reason for visiting Negara, other than for the mecepung (buffalo) races in Perancak close by, or to drive through on the main road to the port of Gilimanuk.
Negara has a strong Muslim influence being located close to Java, with a large mosque in the center of town. Situated on flat land, Negara had wide streets, local warungs and sparce accommodation options. One block south of the main through road is Jl. Ngurah Rai, which is a handy place for a pitstop. Located there are a couple of banks with ATM machines, a petrol station and Hardy’s supermarket.
Highlights of Negara itself, other than the buffalo races include the bamboo gamelan orchestra which the area is famous for. This is called a gamelan jegog and some tourist buses heading to Java will stop for lunch which includes a short gamelan display. Directly to the north of Negara, following the large roads running out of downtown, one can very quickly access some lovely scenery. Simply head north on any route, most of which are dwcent enough for cars and you’ll escape downtown and be amongst Balinese villages and curving roads with great views of the coast.
There isn’t much to see in Tabanan but it’s pretty lively and makes a nice day trip from the beaches. It is known somewhat as an artisan’s town, being home to myriad skilled woodcarvers and poets at one time or another. Several shops sell carved wood items in town and festivals go on throughout the year. Tabanan’s Subak Museum showcases the agriculture of the regency.
The main draw to Tabanan is its surroundings. There are enticing villages all around the regency, including that of Krambitan, known for its traditional tektekan performances.
The 700-meter Mount Batukaru has some good trekking, while to the southwest is the regency’s main attraction, the Pura Tanah Lot temple. It is Bali’s most visited temple and has a lovely coastal setting. Tabanan also boasts 30kms of black sand beaches.
Although Jembrana, or jimbar wana (“the great forest”) is mostly known for its forested mountains, it is also a landscape of fertile rice fields, with a pleasant water reservoir and tranquil stretches of black-sand coastlines that make for easy surfing. The area is home to Christian communities in Blimbingsari and Palasari, as well as Muslim communities and important Hindu temples. The West Bali National Park, stretched over 19,000 hectares and home of the endangered Bali starling, is perfect for trekking and bird watching; its coasts hosts stunning coral reefs.
Enjoy our selection of superb accommodations, delicious restaurants, museums, dive shops and guided tours, where you can experience Bali far from the crowds – while supporting nature conservation and local communities.
Two major roads lead into West Bali, one on the north coast and one on the south coast.
The northern route links Lovina and Singaraja in North Bali to Pemuteran. This is a relatively quiet road which offers some great scenery and attractions en-route and visitors are advised to take it slowly.
Much busier is the southern route as this carries the bulk of the commercial traffic to and from Java. This road links South Bali to Tabanan in Central Bali and then to the western region towns of Negara and Gilimanuk. A car journey from South Bali all the way to Gilimanuk will take upwards of 3 hours.
Scheduled shuttle buses run from many of Bali’s main visitor centers to Gilimanuk and these are widely advertised in towns such as Kuta, Lovina, Sanur and Ubud. Check locally and book one day in advance.
Bemos servicing Negara, Gilimanuk and other parts of the south coast leave from Ubung terminal in Denpasar and Pesiapan terminal in Tabanan.
Ferries run from Ketapang ferry terminal, Banyuwangi, East Java to Gilimanuk every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day. The journey itself takes about 45 minutes but loading and unloading may extend that time considerably. Since Bali has been the subject of terrorist interest from Java security has tightened enormously – be prepared for delays.
This remote region of Bali lends itself to to getting around by hire car or motorcycle. Cars for rent are not all common here so best to bring it in with you from one of the main tourist destinations. You will find motorbikes easier to come by, especially in the beach communities of Pemuteran and Medewi Beach.
ATTRACTIONS IN WEST BALI
West Bali National Park covers some 770 square kilometers and is the dominant feature of this region. All visitors should check in and purchase permits (Rp 25,000) at the main park ofice in the village of Cekik south of Gilimanuk. Visitors intending to visit only Menjangan Island (part of the national park), please see below. For treks through forest and into the hills of the national park, proceed to the ranger station at Sumber Klampok about 20 minutes west from Cekik. A guide is mandatory and will cost between Rp 200,000 and Rp 500,000 depending on the length and nature of your trek. Discuss all of this and make plans with the staff at the Cekik park office. If you are very lucky you might get to see a Bali Starling, Bali’s only endemic vertebrate species.
Vibrant marine life in uninhabited Menjangan Island is a renowned diving and snorkeling destination. This is part of West Bali National Park and boats with a guide can be chartered at Labuan Lalang just to the west of Pemuteran on the north coast. Dive operators in Pemuteran can arrange everything for you as well as other dive trips along this very attractive stretch of coastline. If the water does to appeal so much, then you can walk around in the island in about one hour and there are lots of good photo opportunities.
Jatiluwih, Bali, provides spectacular Bali panorama of Bali rice terrace from the plateau area until the costal side (west Bali). Jatiluwih is a favorite Bali tourist destination famous with the beautiful rice terraces. Jatiluwih fields filled with rice paddy in the beautiful rice terraces is one of Bali attractions for tourists who visit this really special Bali place in their Bali holiday. The green of Bali rain forest in the hill at backside of Jatiluwih is adding the peaceful atmosphere – Bali Paradise.
Jatiluwih Rice Terraces are located about 20 km. from Tabanan, West Bali, the road climbs up high into the hills to Jatiluwih 850 meters above the sea level. The view here is one of the finest imaginable – The terraced paddy rice fields stretching in endless contours over hills and valleys as far as the eyes can see.The distance from Denpasar to Jatiluwih is about 48 km and it is situated in upstate of Tabanan town (28 Km).
Bali Jatiluwih is surrounded by cool atmosphere because it is located in the height of 700 meters above sea level. Besides its nature potency, Jatiluwih have a hugh cultural potency, especially history of the Petali Temple existence that is related to the power of Ida Dalem Waturenggong King in Keraton Gelgel (1460 – 1552).
Remote black sand beaches. The south coast of this region is fringed by black sand beaches and fishing villages that attract few visitors. The most well known of those is Medewi Beach. This is a surf destination but also a great place to experience laid back life in a tiny Balinese fishing village. Just relax and do not expect to see too many other visitors. On the north coast at Pemuteran there is a more developed but still very relaxed beach scene which centers on diving, snorkeling and marine conservation. Lots of accommodation options here to suit all budgets.
Jembrana Regency have the unique tradition of Buffalo Race, in Balinese word called” Sampi Makepung”. The race is held on a course and the riders ride in a cart pulled by two water buffalos. The course is two kilometers in length. The races are pretty exciting and present a riot of spectacle with the buffalos decorated colorfully and the winners hailed loudly. The Buffalo Races are part of the harvest festivities which run between July and October. If you are on the island during this period make sure to see the races.
The events are organized and sponsored by the local government in order to promote the local tourism industry.It’s a tradition of bull racing which has been passed through generations in Bali’s society, specifically in Jembrana. It started off as race between farmers during their spare time when they were plowing the field in the harvest season.
RAMBUT SIWI TEMPLE (Pura Rambut Siwi)
This temple is about equidistant between Negara and Medewi Beach. Located on a low cliff top overlooking a breathtaking panorama of paddy fields and the mountains of West Bali National Park on one side and black sand beaches on the other. The temple itself was built by the 16th century Javanese sage Dang Hyang Nirartha, also the creator of Tanah Lot temple. According to legend, he made a gift of his hair to the temple. Hence the name Rambut Siwi, which literally means ” Hair Worship”.
ACTIVITIES IN WEST BALI
Trekking and birdwatching in West Bali National Park are key activities in this region. You might, just might, even get to see a Bali Starling, one of the rarest birds in the world with just a handful left in the wild.
Surfing is top class on the south coast beaches with the regional surf scene is being centered at Medewi Beach.
Diving and snorkeling around Pemuteran and Menjangan Island rates up there with the very best in Bali. At the same time, get to learn about marine conservation initiatives for which Pemuteran is a key center in the whole of Indonesia.
WHAT TO EAT
A key culinary specialty of this region is Ayam Betutu (hot and spicy chicken). Chicken is boiled in a broth of local spices for up to 3 hours and wood-smoked (Betutu means smoked). It is normally served with steamed rice and plecing kangkung (hot and spicy spinach). This unique dish will certainly please foodies and even the most jaded of travller will appreciate the truly delicious flavors.
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