Sandwiched between bustling Seminyak, clogged Kerobokan and the locale of the moment, Canggu, is Umalas – Bali’s golden mile. The area began as a residential extension to the then newly developed Seminyak. Many expat businessmen and women set their homes up in the area so that they could be close to their working premises while still enjoying a peaceful Balinese surrounding. These days, Umalas is one of the island’s most exclusive locations, with the rent prices well above the average.
The compact neighbourhood consists of 3 main streets: Jalan Umalas I, Jalan Umalas II and Jalan Bumbak. All three are dotted with private estates and commercial villa complexes. But it’s no concrete jungle.
The area boasts tranquil rice fields, strolling cows and significantly less traffic than other areas of Bali. There are a variety of cafes in the area that cater to the exotic tastes of its inhabitants: Middle Eastern, Vietnamese and even Georgian restaurants are in the mix. The infrastructure is just as eclectic with horse stables, a chocolate factory and a children’s ‘rock school’ all based in the area.
Once you’ve spent a bit of time in the area you will get to know the shortcuts that conveniently connect Umalas, via its rice fields, to the Petitenget area, famous for its social scene, and Canggu, known for its hip beach bars and coffee joints.
Although there is no beach in Umalas, there are many within close reach. The closest is Pantai Batu Belig, a relatively undeveloped and relaxed coast with just a few beachfront establishments including the glamorous Mosaic Beach Club, opened by the local celebrity chef and Frenchman Chris Salans.
A bit further away, but still easily reached by car or motorbike, is one of the island’s best surf spots, Berawa Beach.