The best place to stay in East Bali is the gorgeous Amankila, comprising 33 free-standing expansive suites, spaciously set on a tropical hillside. Rise early and enjoy a sunrise walk on its private beach, followed by a refreshing swim in its three infinity pools, tiered to resemble the area’s terraced rice paddies. Then fuel up for a day of exploring with a sumptuous breakfast in the privacy of your suite’s terrace, many of which have stunning views of the Lombok Strait.
This is not an area for a walking tour so have transport arranged ahead of time. First stop is cultural hotspot Tenganan Village, one of the oldest remaining Bali Aga villages and still home to indigenous inhabitants. While taking in the traditional architecture, culture and sights is one draw, the main attraction is the double ikat weaving establishments. These traditional fabrics can take years to complete––and prices reflect the effort––however it is best to shop here as stores in Bali sell double ikat sourced from Tenganan.
Time for lunch and a great option in nearby Candidasa is Warung Lu Putu, a family-owned restaurant specialising in Balinese cuisine using local ingredients. The restaurant has a great reputation for fresh seafood, but there are also vegetarian dishes, light bites and international classics. The most popular spot is the charming garden complete with koi ponds. If you are staying in the area, the restaurant will also provide a complimentary pick-up and drop-off service.
While woven ata reed products can be bought in many places, they are unlikely to have the variety, quality and extensive selection found at Bali Handy’s Tenganan Ata Basket Factory. Here you can also see the key processes involved in making these products, from the raw material processing, to the weaving (which can take weeks to complete) and final smoking process over coconut shells, which gives the products their distinctive colour. Choose from gorgeous homeware and on-trend handbags lined with colourful batik.
Hit the road and head to the former royal palace of Tirta Gangga, often called the water palace due to its maze of fountains (including the stunning 11-tiered fountain), pools, ponds and large water features, plus intricate stone carvings, all surrounded by lush greenery and manicured tropical gardens. The water here is considered sacred and comes from a natural spring via a series of underground pipes that filter down to the nearby rice paddy terraces. It is possible to swim in one of the large pools so come prepared. This is a fantastic Instagram spot.
Time for a sundowner and dinner with a coastal breeze. Top-end options include breathtaking sunset vistas from the bar Amankila, or its ocean-view Restaurant features the fresh catch of the day, locally reared meats and produce grown on-site. Another option is Puri Bagus’ open-air Geringsing Restaurant, which serves Balinese and Western cuisine, much of it made with produce grown in its organic farm.
After a long day of exploring, sleep might be high on the priority list, but for those looking for a nightcap, popular options include The Crazy Kangaroo, New Queen Pub & Restaurant and Legend Rock Cafe –– all of which also serve food and have live entertainment. Should you wish to support a good cause, the latter contributes part of its revenue to a local educational foundation that provides support for disadvantaged children.