East Bali, Indonesia
Some of Bali’s most bewitching rice fields and clutch-my-pearls-worthy landscapes are here and sauntering along the seaside roads of East Bali is one of the island’s greatest pleasures. Vistas of terraced rice paddies, black-sand beaches and bamboo forests take the place of bars, cafes and trendy shops, with snorkelling, swimming and boat trips offshore.
When to go
Dry season, between April and October, is 'high season' with inflated rates. November through March are the rainy months, but don’t be afraid of visiting in low season as the downpours can be refreshing and rarely last all day.
PlanesInternational flights service Bali’s Denpasar Airport, aka Ngurah Rai International Airport (www.baliairport.com) daily. Bali operates on a US$25, 30-day visa on arrival system, payable in multi-currency (US dollars are preferable). The queues in peak season don’t bear thinking about so use a VIP Service/VOA Service (www.voabali.com) to do the dirty work for you. For an extra US$30 bucks on arrival, they whisk you through the crowds to your transport of choice. The drive north-east from the airport to East Bali will take around an hour and a half along the coast. Your hotel can arrange transfers.
BoatsOddly, there is no regular boat services to the East, but you can charter your own starting from around US$500 and sailing from Sanur. Charter includes lunch, fishing and snorkelling equipment (www.enadive.co.id).
AutomobilesThe best way to explore East Bali is with a hire car. It’s also worth spending an extra US$15 a day on a driver. That way you get to gawk and gasp as you explore the seaside villages and countryside backwaters without having to worry about dodging potholes and the occasional stray dog. Several tourist areas are wound together by the coastal road: inland Sideman, with its beautiful scenery and lush, stepped vistas; Manggis for its boutique resorts; Tulamben, Padangbai and Amed, all known for their divine diving and snorkelling; and Candidasa, a long established if slightly tired resort area.