Bali’s rugged west coast really is the wild wild west with rocky windswept beaches, traditional Balinese villages far from the tourist centers, jungle covered mountain slopes and protected national parks teeming with unique flora and fauna. Head west to ride ridiculous waves, play Robinson Crusoe on deserted beaches, explore forests teeming with wildlife, or head out on the sea to discover underwater playgrounds.
Few tourists come to Bali without making a trip to the iconic Tanah Lot temple, but not so many venture further along the west coast. If you do head west from Tanah Lot, you’ll eventually hit Balian Beach, an up-and-coming, yet still relatively unspoiled surf destination. The left-hand break here is consistent, the beach is rarely crowded, and you can find a few comfortable guesthouses and hotels scattered along the coast. In addition, there are chilled out cafes and beach bars where you can get good grub and grab a cold one as the sun sets over the sea.
For surfers who really want to get off the beaten trail, Medewi is just a bit further west down the coast. The long pebbly beach here is often deserted, and intrepid surfers are likely to have the boss left-hand break all to themselves. For those who want to settle in for a while, there are simple surfer guesthouses as well as beach cottages and an eco-resort nearby.
As you make your way to the far west tip of Bali, you will pass by many intriguing traditional villages. Negara is famous for its mekepung water buffalo races that take place almost every weekend between July and October. Join the crowds to watch the mighty beasts pull chariots sporting ornately dressed villagers around the racetracks. Further inland you will find the two unique Christian Balinese villages of Palasari and Belimbingsari, which are Catholic and Protestant respectively. Stroll the streets in either town to see fascinating churches that are a mix of Balinese and Old World architecture.
For many people, the main draw to West Bali is Taman Nasional Bali Barat, otherwise known as West Bali National Park. The park encompasses 19,000 hectares of protected forests, mangroves, coral reefs and coastlines, and boasts hundreds of plant and bird species, monkeys, wild deer and pigs, pythons, iguanas and many more exotic animals. Trekkers can grab a guide and head off into the wilderness, while divers and snorkellers can catch a boat to the legendary Menjangan Island, where you will be rewarded with vibrant corals and marine life, mysterious underwater caves and stunning drop-offs.
The Menjangan West Bali National Park – This massive sprawling retreat is a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the national park. Choose from rooms that are surrounded by jungle, directly on the water or perched on a spectacular cliff overlooking the sea.
Staying at Villa Mandalay is like having your own little slice of paradise all to yourself, as the villa is surrounded on all sides by shimmering rice fields that flow all the way to black sands of Seseh Beach and the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The central focus at the villa is the long green-tiled pool that starts just below the living room and ends with a bamboo pavilion that seems to float over a water garden. The seven bedrooms (of which you can book four, six or all seven) are tastefully designed with polished wooden floors, contemporary furnishings and intriguing Indonesian artworks, and additional features like a sauna, meditation pavilion, and ‘pitch and putt’ golf course set Villa Mandalay in a class of its own.