Ever since some time in the 1970s, Bali has been the holiday destination of choice for thousands of Australians.
The young and young at heart flock to the bars and nightclubs of traditional favourites like Kuta, families enjoy the resorts in Nusa Dua and Seminyak, while Ubud, an hour’s drive up into the cooler hills region, is considered to be the cultural heart of Bali.
But there is another side to Bali – and it’s on the other side of this tropical paradise.
Tucked away on the north-west corner of Bali and spread over 190sqkm is the West Bali National Park. It is home to forests, mangroves, a vast array of birdlife and rare animals. And, surprisingly nestled in 382 hectares of the park, is The Menjangan – an intimate, boutique nature resort.
Far from the busy bustle of the coastal regions or the hectic streets of Ubud, The Menjangan is relaxed, casual and quiet – offering guests the opportunity to restore themselves amid the peaceful surrounds and natural beauty of this unspoiled region.
The resort offers a variety of accommodation, from the Monsoon Lodge deluxe rooms or larger suites surrounding lush gardens and the pool, to luxurious, absolute-beachfront villas at Sentigi Beach (with exquisite outdoor bathrooms) and the luxury of The Residence, a 1000sqm private estate with en suite bathrooms and balconies overlooking the sea.
Transport between Monsoon Lodge and Sentigi Beach is via safari-style mini buses which are fitted with spotlights for nocturnal animal spotting.
This is my kind of retreat – it is blissfully quiet here, with nothing but the breeze, the birds and the occasional monkey to disturb you.
The Menjangan, the native deer which roam freely through the park and the resort named after them, amble past the beachfront villas, seemingly unworried by guests chilling nearby on sun beds.
I’m very happy with the idea of a restful break, and am even quite prepared to take laying around to the next level with a traditional massage in one of the open-air gazebos, but if that’s still not active enough – there’s more. The resort offers kayaking, snorkelling and diving, along with horse riding, bird watching, trekking, bike riding or cooking classes.
I’m ever mindful of my next meal, so was pleased to find there are two restaurants here – the Bali Tower restaurant housed in a remarkable five-level tower, constructed around five enormous 33m-long logs, or the Pantai seafood and grill restaurant on the beachfront. And, at the end of the day, there’s no better place to watch the sunset than from the very top of the Bali Tower which offers 360-degree views over the park and the ocean.
The staff here are fabulous – warm, friendly and nothing is too much trouble for them.
The Menjangan is a few hours drive from Denpasar, but the resort is happy to arrange return land transfers from anywhere in Bali – and, take it from me, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort to experience this very special part of Bali.
South Australian writer Amanda McInerney writes about travel and food on her Lambs’ Ears & Honey blog, where this article was originally published. While in Bali, she was a guest of the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism.
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