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Steve Williams

Bali Resort recommendation needed

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Hi folks,

I've had to change up some plans and now I'm a little confused. My wife and I will spend 10 days on the Pelagian this July and then will be on Bali for 5 days. I'd like to find a nice resort where we can kick back, do some great diving and still be close to some of the sites and cultural places that Bali has to offer. I've thought about a couple of days in Ubud and a couple at Tulamben but I'm not crazy about moving that much. What would you folks who've been there a bunch recommend? It will be our 25th anniversary while we're there so I'm looking for a reasonably nice place. Since I haven't been there it's hard to get a good idea on the scale of the island and the time it would take to get around.

 

Any thoughts appreciated,

Steve

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Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary!

To give a sense of distant, Denpasar airport to Tulamben took abt 3hrs at night. Tulamben to Menjangan (west of Bali) took abt 3.5hrs during the day passing thru villages & fields. Drive from Tulamben to Ubud would be abt 3hrs (or more?), could be quite enjoyable, maybe you can arrange for some sight-seeing on the way? There are some uber-chic hotels at Ubud...

We stayed at Tulamben Wreck Divers previously but Tauch Terminal & Mimpi Tulamben would be more luxurious. Heard good things abt Seraya recently (macro stuff), the beach would be black sand, instead of the black stones at Tulamben...

Mimpi Menjangan has "villa-type" rooms, very nice too (altho the standard ones are already quite good!)...

Edited by xariatay

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Steve,

We spent some time in Bali in October and did a 5 day 4 night dive safari with Aquamarine Diving. We stayed at Mimpi Menjangan and Mimpi Tulamben and liked both. One thing I wanted to mention is that you will be there in Mola Mola season. Our favorite place of the dive safari to stay was a nice little boutique resort called Watergarden Hotel, in Candidasa on the east coast, south of Tulamben. From there, it is a quick ride to Padang Bai, where the boats go out to Nusa Penida/Nusa Lembongan, to see the Mola's. We really liked the atmosphere at the Watergarden. The rooms have large patios that come right to the edge of beautiful koi ponds and gardens. It is very nice and comfortable.

http://www.watergardenhotel.com/

That said, one of my favorite parts of Bali is Ubud. It's considered the cultural and arts center of Bali. There are lots of great places to stay at all ranges of budget. If you can, I'd recommend spending 2-3 nights in Ubud. The Balinese culture is so unique and beautiful, that it would be a shame to miss out on the experience.

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Hi Steve,

 

I've been to Bali several times for both dedicated trips there and just passing through. Most of the diving is on northeast, or northern side of the island. Tulamben (where the Liberty wreck is) is sort of the de facto "center", but there are other places as well. I've stayed twice at Mimpi Tulamben and once at Mimpi Menjangen (about 5 hours west of Tulamben, near the western corner) and can recommend both. I've also heard good things about Scuba Seraya. I echo Indoreefs comments: You should really spend a couple/few days in Ubud, the "cultural" center. (It's at about 2000 ft., so elevation's really not an issue unless you go up and over via the volcano). There is every kind of accommodation there imaginable. The center part has become kinda busy, but that just means more restaurants and shops - it is not a late night, party kind of places like Kuta or the other areas in the south. With that said, once you step 50 yards off the main streets, you leave that hustle behind. There are beautiful rice fields and traditional craft villages all around that area. It's about 3 hours from Ubud to Tulamben, good road with some great scenery.

 

You will love, love, LOVE Bali!

 

Phil

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Thanks for all the advise folks. Really appreciate it. I'll do some more surfing on the web and check out your suggestions.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Steve it's been a few years since my last Bali visit but Mary and I did five trips there between 1996 and 2002. Our two favourite areas to dive were Tulamben and Menjangan Island and concentrated mainly on those two areas in the latter trips. A good friend of mine was up there last month staying in Ubud and diving on the west end of Bali around Menjangan and Pemuteran. You can read about it on his Blog:

 

http://blog.aengusm.com/

 

Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary, ours is next year and we're still considering many options for our dive trip to celebrate.

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Thanks Ross,

Aengus sounds like a lot of fun. I appreciated his honest view of things. It helped a lot.

 

Cheers,

Steve

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As RSD said, I 2nd doing the sightseeing first then hit the diving around Bali. It opens up the ability to travel over the mountains to get to the better sites vs traveling round them. Now the thing is what balance of the 5 days you have do you want to spend sight seeing vs diving? The best places to stay are in Ubud and the southern end of Bali, with a few gems in Seminyak and Manggis. It's also a matter of budget as there are nice places with prices at $50 to $10000 a night.

If you want to dive 4 dives aday, staying around Tulamben gives you access to the best sites and you can do it by boat (which to me is the best way to do the wreck with a camera). I default to Scuba Seraya, as I know the owner very well and the place is very good value for money, especially the villas (note that the outdoors bath tub has no hot water) with the sala bed etc. It's also right on top of Seraya secrets, which is a very good macro site.

The next door Villa Markisa is also pretty good and a little better decor wise. If you want nicer amenities, check out the newish Siddartha in Kubu. A bit farther out but nice accomodations and free EAN (but no bathtub is a no no for my gf). Tauch Terminal is also decent but less intimate.

There is a new route that links Ubud via Besakih to Tulamben but I haven't got an altitude reading of the entire road yet so I don't know if it's safe driving post diving. It does go up between Batur and Agung so the altitude is pretty high.

With 5 days, I suggest you just head to Tulamben and dive there for 3 days. Then 2 days sight seeing (again a budget of what you want to spend would give a better idea of what to recommend, "reasonable" is different for different folks). I think a view of the Ayung valley at full moon is probably the most romantic view you'll get in the hill areas but only a handful of hotels have that view. Ubud has quite a few of the best restaurants in Bali. As does Seminyak and Jimbaran (well not to me but many people think so). You only really have 2 days to enjoy the sights of Bali so I suggest you either stay in Ubud and enjoy the padi fields and temples around the area. Alternatively, you can get better beach sunsets and sea views plus the ubiquitous Ulu Watu and the Kechak dance by staying in the south around Jimbaran. Otherwise you'll be stuck in the car traveling as traffic can be vicious and getting around is slow. No point trying to do everything and really rushing through the island in 2 days and really see nothing. Depends on what you want to do. There are spa resorts and holistic yoga retreats to be had. There are also tourist traps which is what Aengus' blog complains about. Many ways to do things but obviously he hasn't been around the nicer beaches in southern Bali.

If you want to try see some molas, stay at one of the nicer places in Seminyak or Sanur (much closer but accomodations and beaches are lacking compared to the west coast) and go to Penida and try your luck for molas and mantas. It'll probably be your best pelagic diving since the Pelagian's haunt in "Wacky toby" will have limited big fish opportunities.

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Thanks for all the great advise Drew. We won't actually be spending any time at Wakatobi this trip. We'll board the boat there then head southwest ending up 10 days later around Komodo. Given good weather we should have a good combination of big animals and macro subjects. Hopefully we'll get an opportunity to shoot some Molas somewhere along the way.

Given what you folks are telling me I think I'll add a couple of days in the front end to check out Ubud before the boat ride. Then find a nice resort from all the recommendations here for the backend.

 

Really appreciate the help,

Steve

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Steve, check out the Villa Markisa resort in Tulamben: IMHO it's the best resort in the area, catering only for a max of 16 clients with personalized dive schedules (dive when you want, where you want and as long as you want provided that you surface with at least 20 bars in your 12lt alu tank .... Nitroz and 15lt stell tank available). If you decide to go there, please do not hesitate to spend my name with Christiane Waldrich, the owner and a very good friend of ours. Christiane is a nudibranch enthusiast and all her diveguides are perfectly trained to spot every critter that lives in the surroundings. Christiane can organize all sort of trips in the surroundings (she's been living in Tulamben for more than 8 years): Ubud, water-gardens palace, ancient villages, temple and the likes.

 

We have been there for two weeks in August 2009 and we were so happy we left there part of our scuba-diving kit .... We are already booked in late June for another two weeks, including the David Behrens seminar on nudibranchs.

 

All the Best ..... Francesco

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If you are doing the Bali part of the trip after the Pelagian, then there aren't any altitude problems unless you want to stay in Ubud after diving in Tulamben.

 

As Drew mentioned, it depends on how much diving versus touring you want to do. We are spending a few days in Bali again this month

 

How about this scenario:

 

Go to Ubud when you arrive back from the Pelagian. We are staying at Pertiwi Resort. It's right on Monkey Forest Road. Walk south to the monkeys and the daily morning market to the north. Go buy some wood carvings. I left my fins on the Pelagian to make room for wood carvings. I also shipped some back. There are other some other things you can visit while you are there.

 

Tulamben. Make it special. Choose Mimpi and use Tulamben Wreck Divers or if it is just the two of you, Jeff Mullins. Scuba Seraya would be my next choice, as it sits right on anexcellent dive site.

 

You can then drive back to the airport from Tulamben without the altitude issue.

 

We have been using the same guide/driver for several years. Komang Wardiapa komang@bali-go-round.com We are going to his village in the north to spend time with his family on our upcoming trip.

 

Debbie trusted him enough to hand him a very expensive piece of art to ship back to the states for us when I didn't want to wait for a full container.

 

He's taken very good care of us while each time we were in Bali. Highly recommended.

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Ubud is under 1000ft so it's fine if you want to go there from Tulamben. It's going to places like Bedugul, Kintamani etc where you'll get altitudes upwards of 1500-5000ft.

I'd do Ubud and whatever sightseeing at the end of the trip and do the diving before the trip. That way, you can test the housing and have a few days should your bags go missing, buy stuff you need on the trip etc. What better way to break jet lag than to eat, dive and sleep. Also any souvenir shopping can be handled without having to leave it at some office somewhere etc.

I recommend you take a guided walk around the padi fields in Ubud, especially when the light good (7-9am, 4-7 depending on when you go). If you want to splurge on nice accommodations, this is the place to do it, especially if you go to places off the main town center of Ubud. There are 2 very decent restos in the town center, Lamak (nice decor and food is good) and Nomads (good for tapas but a bit touristy). My fave restos are Mozaic, Cascades and Kemiri. You'll need reservations on weekends or daily if high season.

I'll reiterate my recommendation to dive the wreck and most of the sites south of it from a boat. This is much easier with a camera and you can finish up on the section of the wreck you want to concentrate on or wherever without having to swim back to the rocky shore (especially important when the waves get a bit big!). You also drop right next to the school of jacks and shoot them vs having to swim out to them only to find they've moved. With the dropoff, you can dive it no matter which way the current is going with a boat, whereas you are limited in direction from shore. If you get bored of the wreck on a crowded day, you can swing up to the coral gardens or other sites adjacent to the wreck and the boat picks you up wherever you end up. At the resorts with boats, the crew will unload everything for you if you want. I tend to carry my own photo rig as I think it's unfair to put ask other people who can't ever afford to pay for any damage to be responsible for my rig. But that's just me.

IMHO, the Mimpi Tulamben is not an alternative to the other places I've stayed at in Tulamben. The place is getting old and only the ocean view cottages are nice (except for the price they are not worth it). The restaurant is unimpressive (but then again Tulamben in general isn't a place for haute cuisine :good:).

Outside of Southern California, Penida is one of the few places where molas are seen regularly, so if you haven't seen one before, I'd make an effort to try. Plus the ones in CA are different from the Indo ones anyways.

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Wonderful ideas and info guys. Superb help, thank you.

 

Drew, the mola's are one of the reasons we picked this trip for our anniversary. My wife (girlfriend then) met her first one off the old sailboat on the way back from Santa Barbara Island on what must have been close to our first date. She was duly impressed and has always wanted her picture with a Mola. I said as I usually do. "We can do that". They better show up or I'm in big trouble. Anybody know a Mola incantation?

 

Thanks again for all the help,

Steve

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Lamak (nice decor and food is good)

 

Pricey, food over rated. Nice decor.

 

Cafe Wayan, good food, good price. Can't go wrong at Kemiri.

 

I really like Mimpi, but the restaurant was actually worse than any of the other fine establishments in town and far more expensive. If you dive at Seraya Secrets you can lunch at Seraya, which was good enough to plan around.

 

There is a Wayan restaurant in Tulamben. It was the best of the bunch, except it was just one guy cooking one meal at a time. No complaints for $11 for two.

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Can't go wrong at Kemiri.

Sure can. They messed up the order more than once but fixed it quickly. Still great tasty pan asian food and consistent quality.

I can't believe you like Cafe Wayan. It's probably the crappiest of the mid priced restos in Ubud. It was great in the 90s but many have surpassed it.

As for Lamak, I suppose it's more expensive, but their signature dishes are tasty and consistent in quality. I ate there many times last year and each time the quality was good. I guess it's horses for courses, much like Mimpi Tulamben as a place to stay. After staying at the other resorts, I won't go back. I guess I'm very biased about having a sala with mossie nets to read when I'm not diving. None of the other resorts have that.

 

Steve, one important tip. If you want to have quality wine or champagne to celebrate, BYO from the DFS. Indo is going through a bit of an 'adjustment' period since the customs guys can't be bought anymore so the good stuff is subject to a 200-300% tax.

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I've done Bali twice. I love diving Tulamben. In such a small area, there's a number of different sites with a pretty good bit of variety and the black sand is a nice background for all those critters. Scuba Saraya is nice as well. Both Tulamamben and Saraya are so casual. You can pretty much go out any time you want. Although the entry on those rocks with the surf is a little tricky. I got really lucky and saw a Mola Mola being cleaned at The Liberty early one morning in May.

 

Personally, I didn't think the marine life at Menjangan was nearly as good as Tulamben or Saraya. And the boat ride to the dive sites at Menjangan is more than a short, quick ride. Since the dives sites are far away, it's not just a spur of the moment option to just go out. However, if you do decide to go to Menjangan, the Bali Tower Restaurant at Menjangan Resort is a great experience, very romantic for couples. I stayed at Mimpi Menjangan. It's pretty nice.

 

I've also been out to Nusa Penida/Nusa Lembongan once. When I was there, we saw about 3 mantas, but the visibility wasn't great. I'll second The Watergarden. It's nice.

 

I will also second the vote for Aquamarine. In my experience with them they were very professional and on the ball. They're more expensive than doing it yourself, and in Bali doing it yourself is really easy IMHO, so I didn't end up using them my second trip. But for a first time trip, it's a great option.

 

I hope you have a good trip. It's a great place. I love Ubud and the monkeys.

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I appreciated his honest view of things. It helped a lot.

 

Great to hear, glad it helped, amazed someone actually read it!

 

Cheers,

Aengus

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I will also second the vote for Aquamarine. In my experience with them they were very professional and on the ball.

 

I third Aquamarine, they are wonderful in arranging a great Bali dive experience. Also their guides are excellent in finding what you request and they will allow you to dive until you run out of air, 70+ minute dives with them are not uncommon.

Bali diving is wonderful, may you have a great 25th!

 

Elmer

Edited by eyu

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If you are really interested in seeing Mola's, then as Drew said, Nusa Penida is where you have the best chance to see them. You can take a boat there from Candidasa or some of the places further south, such as Sanur or Nusa Dua. I know Aquamarine has their boats in Candidasa.

 

I stayed at Pertiwi Resort on my second trip to Bali and can recommend them as well. It is centrally located, if you want to stay in the middle of everything. It is right on the main shopping/restaurant strip, Monkey Forest Road, but tucked away far enough from the road to be very peaceful. If you walk to the very back of the resort and climb up a small grassy embankment, it will take you to a small back road by the rice fields. If you turn right, it will take you by a few small art shops where the artists live and you can get the same stuff they sell on MFR for prices much cheaper. Plus you can have more relaxed conversations with the local artisans than on busy MFR. The road will take you past Casa Luna, famous for their restaurant and their cooking classes. If you are interested, their cooking classes run from about 8am to 1pm including lunch that you cook and may include a market tour. It is very popular, so may be wise to check out their website and plan in advance. Their set cooking menu varies daily. Continuing further, the road will end at the main road, Jalan Raya Ubud. Turn right to go to the palace or main market and to get back to MFR. Near the palace is a very popular local restaurant, Ibu Oka, I think on Jalan Suweta. They do one thing, spit roasted pig (babi guling) and do it well. They are only open for lunch from about 11am till they run out, about 2pm. It is popular with the locals as well as tourists, especially since featured on Lonely Planet and Anthony Bourdaine and gets crowded. So get there early to get the best cuts and ask for the Special. It was definitely in the top 5 best pork dishes I have ever had. Lunch plate with a large Bintang beer for less than $5. I also liked Bebek Bengil for the crispy duck. The tables to the back have nice rice field views. One other place that I thought the food was just phenomenal was Indus. Get there during daylight to enjoy the spectacular views. Near Indus is Naughty Nuri's, an expat hangout that serves great Asian BBQ ribs. I think the owner is from New Jersey. These are all pretty popular, well known places. I'm sure others have some great hole in the wall places to recommend.

 

I'm not a morning person, but one suggestion while in Ubud is to get up and about early. There are some great photo ops early in the morning. Women praying and leaving offerings in front of their homes/businesses, men working in the rice fields, etc. And if you go to the main market early, you beat the crowds and may get better deals before the "tourist prices".

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Super info guys! Thank you!

 

Steve

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Hi Steve,

 

You've already gotten a lot of great information. Add me to the list of those who think Scuba Seraya is a great place to stay. I stayed there one year ago in October before heading to Wakatobi. I loved the atmosphere at Scuba Seraya and would go there again in a heartbeat. Although I didn't do any massages there, some folks in our group got them. In Bali, the massages are very inexpensive especially compared to cost of massages back home. You can do shore dives nearby and you can also go by boat to dive the wreck of the Liberty. I also took a photo workshop from Jeff Mullins, who lives in Tulamben. it was well worth the money spent. Jeff's wife Dawn served as a spotter on our dive at Seraya Secrets and located a Mimic Octopus, Coleman Shrimp and other cool things.

 

When in Bali, I would try to attend a Kecak dance if you have the time. I've attached an image of this not-to-be-missed performance that is quite special.

 

Also if you or your wife is into shopping, I can give you the name of a kind and courteous local man named Eddy that I hired for 1/2 day. He used to live in the United States so speaks perfect English. For only $25, he took me around in his air-conditioned car to the local shopping places to buy silver, artwork and other assorted things that I bought as gifts for friends and relatives back home. It was money well spent.

 

Enjoy your anniversary trip! Bali is a wonderful place and I think you will have a great time.

 

Ellen

 

 

Kecak_Dance_Ubud_Bali_PA110160.sized.jpg

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Thanks Ellen,

I appreciate your thoughts. My wife is a world class shopper, seriously into the thrill of the hunt. She doesn't spend alot of money, just enjoys the sport of it I think. From all everyone has said and what we've read. I think she's going to enjoy Bali.

 

Great shot of the dancer, are there some special events like this that we'd need to book reservations for ahead or just roll with it when we get there?

 

Cheers,

Steve

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Steve, better be prepared with cool towels and smelling salts for shopping overload! Better yet, take a look around the house and see what you need/want - furniture, stone sculptures for the yard, all kinds of serving utensils, art work, carvings, whatever - Bali is shopping heaven! Maybe even take some measurements for custom book cases, cabinets, bed frames, etc. If you go overboard, I have a good shipping agent I can refer you :P

 

Phil

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Steve,

You usually do not have to make any reservations in advance for the performances. If you go early, you can just show up and pay at the door and get a decent seat. I agree with Ellen that the Kecak dance is well worth it. Sometimes they combine it with the fire dance which is interesting as well. Another one I could recommend is the Barong Dance, which is often done in the morning around 9am. If you are given an opportunity to visit a temple celebration (Odalan), do it. You can see some performances there and not for tourist benefit. You can also see the Balinese worship and Gamelan orchestra's play. It is the temples anniversary, which occurs ever 210 days and with the number of temples in Bali, there is usually always one going on somewhere. Full moons are a good day for the Balinese and many occur on full moon. The Balinese are usually very welcoming to tourists who want to take in their culture, but you have to wear proper traditional attire (sarong and waist sash) to enter the temples and only Hindu's may enter certain parts of the temple. It is best to go with a guide during these festivals so they can take you where appropriate and also explain their customs and religious rituals. You and your wife are gonna LOVE Bali!!

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