I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we took a freediving class in beautiful Amed, Bali a few weeks ago. Today I wanted to share a little more about Eastern Bali since we loved it so much and spent a fair chunk of time there. I think it’s such a shame that some people come to Bali and see only Kuta. Bali is a lot more than surf and Bintang and I wanted to share with you my little guide to this piece of Eastern Bali that is widely known as Amed.
It’s only in recent years that Amed has been easily accessible by tourists, so it is still quiet (in comparison with other parts of the island), rural and unfortunately rather poor. Some villagers still earn a meagre living from artisanal salt making and I urge you to pay them a visit and buy some salt from them. They are quite ubiquitous and you will find ladies trying to sell you salt everywhere on the main road. I paid 20,000RP for 1KG of salt! Volcanic salt is said to have a high concentration of beneficial minerals and the pyramid shaped crystals make a tremendous affordable present to take home that rivals any pricier fleur de sel. The salt making process itself is a fascinating one to witness. I visited the one located behind Warung Ole in Amed Town.
Possibly in order for other villages to benefit from Amed’s tourism boom, “Amed” now refers to the seven towns of Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas, which we thought made it a little annoying to find anything at first, given the area sprawls over 15km. Renting a scooter made wandering the area a breeze and the coastal scenery is truly beautiful. Wikipedia mentions that Amed is all about the beaches, but I beg to differ. Amed is all about being in the water rather than on the shore, scuba diving, snorkelling, free diving or stand up paddle boarding, all at the foot of majestic Mount Agung. Not being able to pick our poison, we tried them all.
We took the level one freediving course with Fusion Freediving and Yoga and I can’t recommend them enough. If you want, read what I wrote yesterday about how freediving helped me feel more relaxed and in control of my mind. Amed is a spectacular place to take a freediving course. Fusion’s advantage is that they are based in Amed bay itself, so you get fantastic views of Mount Agung while out on the water. It really transforms things into an almost magical experience. In the afternoon of our last day we went on a fun dive which exceeded our expectations – after trying a few deep dives in the blue water, we headed out to the corals in Amed bay and got to play with Fusion’s camera and underwater scooter. A great way to put our new skills to the test. We loved the fact that Fusion let us take a copy of all the photos from the day – the ones we took ourselves and the ones our instructors Sam and Bob got of us while underwater.
There’s a million dive centers and many dive sites in the greater Amed area, but the one sight that is not to be missed in my opinion is the USAT Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben some 30km north, a ship that was torpedoed by the Japanese in WWII. It is an extremely popular dive site however, so making the journey from Amed could mean that you get there late and have to share the wreck with hundreds of other divers. We actually stayed the night in Tulamben in order to get up at the crack of dawn to be able to dive while it was still relatively quiet. The shore dive entry in the large pebbles and big surf was rather weird – there was some tumbling over with our tank on entering the water and the visibility was not amazing that day, but it was my first ship wreck and it was awesome to be inside this sunken boat so close to shore. We also did the coral garden in Tulamben and it was beautiful. We booked our dive and room with Aqua Dive Paradise and it was a really good locally own little business with Balinese divemasters.
Snorkelling in Jameluk and Tulamben is excellent. There’s a big healthy reef a few meters off the shore and we saw a huge variety of fish and corals including a triggerfish, mating cuttlefish that threw ink at us (!) and an octopus, all about two meters off the shore. Jameluk is home to the quirky underwater mailbox, a little monument cum artificial reef where we loved to practice our breath-hold and duck diving, as well as the Japanese shipwreck, a small boat sunken vertically about 20 meters off shore. You can also snorkel over the USAT Liberty wreck in Tulamben. There is another small wooden wreck in Jameluk that we were not able to locate and apparently some elusive statues in other places we could not find either (we saw images of a mermaid and a head). Let us know if you know where those things are! We’d love to go take a peek next time!
STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING (SUP)
There is one place where you can hire a board by the hour (next door from Apneista), but no one unfortunately offers lessons. We decided to try it anyway and found it so easy that we were glad we didn’t pay extra for a lesson. After a couple of minutes, we were both able to find complete balance and paddle out to sea. What a glorious and different way to discover the surroundings of Amed! It’s also a great workout. We will definitely be doing more of that in the future.
We stayed in two different places that both had positives and negatives. The first place was Kadek Homestay in Amed. This was a great find – good value at 180,000RP (knocked down from 200,000RP), spacious room with a comfortable bed and a great balcony. The garden is beautiful and exits right onto the beach. However, we stayed in room #4 and the bathroom had a terrible smell from the drains that was being masked by an automatic air freshener – which we promptly turn off upon moving in, only to later discover its true purpose. Even after leaving the windows and doors open and ceiling fan running for most of the day, the smell was very pungent and noticeable when entering the room. This prompted us to move to the brand new Joli Homestay in Jemeluk. Our room there was incredibly spacious, airy, clean – almost villa-like inside. The shower was wonderful, as were the bed and mosquito net. The family was very accommodating with the wifi – we both need it for work, and they moved the router into our room for the best connection. Our room felt a little unfinished (the tap in the bathroom didn’t quite work, there is a kitchen area without much in it right now) but even in that state it’s way, way above the usual backpacker standard and a fantastic value for money at 150,000RP.
EATING ALL THE VEGAN THINGS
There is a string of little warungs spread between Amed and Jameluk offering a similar quality of food. They mostly all have a few vegan options to chose from such as gado gado, chap chay and curries. We mostly hovered between Warung Ole, Warung Amed (awesome cheap green juices) and Warung Enak. They are all very flexible and will make you something off menu if you ask, replacing chicken by tempeh. The goal was to stuff ourselves silly with as much tempeh as possible. Never. Enough. Tempeh.
Thanks to Sam and Bob at Fusion Freediving and Yoga for snapping some of these shots!