The very best of Jimbaran: luxe hangouts and rural bliss
Once famous for being a rural fishermen’s village, Jimbaran is getting fancier by the day. New restaurants, luxe beach clubs, drink spots with killer views, one-of-a-kind spas, the legendary fish market; this is one glorious pocket of Bali to lose a few weeks to. From the jet set crowd that follows Michelin stars, to the laid back kind that follow bungalow bars – Jimbaran satisfies the whole swanky spectrum.
Sundara Beach Club
The beach of Jimbaran Bay is famous for its tranquil waters (a true luxury in Bali, known for unforgiving waves and cruel back currents), soft velvety sand and scenic sunsets. Any dreamy day in Jimbaran could end watching the sky morph from raspberry to lavender while strolling by the sea, but for something unique, we suggest having a few lazy laps in the Olympic-size, Versace-style pool of Sundara Beach Club.
Owned by the fab Four Seasons Hotel, the Sundaara Beach Club is the epitome of luxury. Thankfully for those who can’t afford to check-in, it’s open for the public to come and enjoy. Sit back at one of the chic cabanas toasting icy Wasabi Martinis to the descending planes beside you; if those folks in the air could see you, they’d know that torturous flight was worth it!
Sundara Beach Club: Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay, +62 361 708 333, www.sundarabali.com
Check other Bali pools with the breathtaking view.
Fish & seafood warungs
Wondering if Deep Purple wrote ‘Smoke On The Water’ while enjoying a Jimbaran vacation? We can’t say for sure, but it’s highly probable. Every evening, the whole bay area gets wrapped up in fragrant fumes, when chefs from the dozens of seafood warungs along the beach start throwing coconut shells onto their grills.
That’s what made Jimbaran attractive for tourists years ago, and as the line of buses waiting to park suggests, its allure hasn’t diminished. The highlights of dining at this beachside food-court are endless: you can pick your snapper, clams, crabs or the whole lobster at the stall, playing the seafood pro and assessing the freshness of the daily catch. Then dip your toes in the sand (or even in the water as some tables are close enough to the sea, but beware of the rising tide!) and soak in this barefoot bliss, stuffing yourself with the grilled underwater goodness.
Too touristy? Too good to care!
Seafood warungs Jalan Four Seasons Muaya Beach
Another touristy staple but an absolute must for all the first timers in Bali. As the name says it, Rock Bar sits perched on the giant rocks at the foot of a cliff. To access this second to none sunset spot, you will need to use a tiny funicular that slides down the hill – but fear not, it’s slow enough to get all your ‘Aaahing!’ and ‘Ooohing!’ done. Pick the tall chairs at the edges of the bar to be as close to the ocean as possible, snack on the amazing tapas served on the chunks of solid volcanic rocks, down a glass of bubbles, and take a moment to relish in how luck you are!
If you’ve left your selfie stick at home, don’t worry – there will be lots of them to borrow from your neighbours.
Rock Bar AYANA Resort and Spa Bali Jl Karang Mas Sejahtera
This spa takes the concept of water therapy to a whole new level. One of the world’s largest aquatonic pools, the water at the Thermes Marins Spa & Aquatonic Pool at Ayana Hotel is directly supplied from the underlying Indian Ocean and warmed to optimum temperatures to provide the curative properties of seawater.
Jets streams of 12 hydro-massage stations, micro-bubbles and geysers do all the magic while you enjoy the stunning ocean view. Just relax and feel that extra-fat being terminated and muscle tension being melted away. It’s exercise sans actual exercise! To top up the effect, follow the dip with a special thalassotherapy treatment, including seawater circulatory showers and therapeutical mud wraps.
Thermes Marins Spa AYANA Resort and Spa Bali Jl Karang Mas Sejahtera
Bamboo is yet another great spa, but with a whole different ambiance: here, Mother Earth reigns supreme. Bamboo wood is used not only to create an impressive interior, but also to perform some unique therapeutic treatments.
One such therapy is the Verbena Bamboo, where well-oiled bamboo sticks are rolled all over the body with the pressure switching from gentle to more intense. This technique promotes circulation, release deep muscular tension knots and delivers a gentle lymphatic drainage.
Throw in a facial with some uber-promising name (does Divine Secret to Everlasting Youth sounds sufficient?) and greet the Jimbaran with the brand new you!
Bamboo Spa Jl. Raya Uluwatu
Cuca, a tapas-style restaurant and the latest talk of the island, is being called one of the top gourmet destinations in Bali. Set in a tranquil coconut grove, this sleek modern dining room is home to some serious experiments.
Chef Kevin Cherkas mastered his skills at the 3 Michelin star Arzak Restaurant in San Sebastian, the 3 Michelin star El Bulli in Roses, and the 2 Michelin star La Broche in Madrid – do we have your attention? What he does at Cuca is turn ordinary Indonesian ingredients (he claims almost 100% of them are local) into extraordinary dishes. And the result is mind blowing.
Come hungry, leave room for dessert and don’t leave without trying the signature Bali Breakfast that looks like a simple sunny side-up, but is in fact a delicate mango sphere that breaks like a runny yolk and blends with the whipped coconut and crispy frozen passionfruit soufflé. Paradise found.
A beautiful breezy pavilion with a vintage feel that is great for a five o’clock sweet or aperitif, Balique is all about charming, colourful decadence. Antique bric-a-brac and tasteful imitations have been carefully collected or created by the owner, Belgium-Moroccan decorator Zohra, to create a bohemian, chic yet cozy setting, dreamy enough to help you lose track of time.
Balique Jalan Uluwatu no. 39
+62 361 704945
Jimbaran fish market
The epicentre of local life. The Jimbaran fish market is a busy, messy, smelly bazaar where only Poseidon himself is not for sale.
All the rest of marine life is displayed at the stalls: prawns of varying sizes from petite to gigantic, fishes with obscure names you’ve never heard of (red snapper is so last season!), voluptuous octopuses, massive bricks of tuna flesh and sword fish the size of a deer.
Your sea critter of choice can be cleaned, beheaded, scrubbed, cut and converted into a neat filet. You can take it home in a bag full of ice or ask the local cook to grill it for you for a small fee, get your Bintang at the next kiosk and march to the beach for a spontaneous picnic by the sea.
Jenggala is one of the major players in the local ceramics business and is extremely popular among Japanese visitors. Its headquarters, main studio and a flagman store are all conveniently set up in Jimbaran. The screaming white interior of the shop, designed by the Sydney-based architect, feels more like a cool modern arts museum, which may feel very refreshing in the middle of an average sizzling day in Bali.
You will find not only some beautiful plates, vases and tea sets on show, but can also drop your kids off for the paint-a-pot class or see local ceramics in action while chilling in the city-style cafe.
The lagoon of Jimbaran is famous for its mellow, consistent waves, and there are spots to suit any taste. Toro Toro is a fun right-hander and one of the less crowded waves on the island. Padang Rights is a mild and cheerful reefbreak a short drive from the main beach that is safe for beginners and intermediates. Moby Dick’s, accessible by boat, is a semi-secret left-hand wave good for those who know what they are doing. Advanced surfers can also drive their van to the nearby legendary spots of Balangan, and further up to the iconic Padang-Padang, to get some of the best waves in Bali.