Explore the Medewi area
• Bunut Bolong is a 25-minute drive from Medewi.
• This tree is now an "official tourist attraction" and so you'll need to write your name in a guest book and pay a donation. The tree "guide" will show you where to do this.
• The temperature is always cooler than on the coast, so midday is a good time to visit if you want to escape the heat.
• Continue along this road and you'll reach the road that will take you to Juwuk Manis waterfall (the exact location of the waterfall is shown on this page.
Bunut Bolong is a sacred tree that's on the beautiful, winding road that leads from the police station at Pekutatan over steep, jungled hills to Singaraja. What's unusual is that over time (a long time!) a tunnel has formed in what appears to be the trunk of the tree, but is actually a gathering of the giant fig's aerial roots. The tree is spectacular and hosts its own ecosystem that supports orchids, bromeliads and ferns.
It'll take you about 25 minutes to drive up here from Medewi. You'll be driving right past a police station so if you go by scooter, wear a helmet. If you go up by car, wind the windows down as cloves and cacao pods are often drying next to the road, and perfume the air. The drive up here is beautiful and at certain points you'll get spectacular views along the coastline.
There are two small warungs (simple eateries) on either side of the road and both offer patrons lovely views. The food is basic (mie goreng, gado-gado, bakso) and very cheap.
• Take some water with you – you'll be grateful for it on the walk back up.
• When it rains the path can be exceptionally slippery – but it is well maintained and there is a hand rail.
• The walk to the waterfall is basically straight down a hill.
• Please remember to take your trash back
If you love chasing waterfalls, you'll find your bliss in Bali. There are plenty around the north of the island (head to the town of Munduk and you'll find loads) – but many of the waterfalls there are very well known. Escape the crowds and come to Juwuk Manis here in West Bali, where you're likely to have the waterfall and rock pool all to yourself.
The road from Pekutetan to Juwuk Manis is one of the loveliest on the island, and you'll see spectacular views along the coastline from the way up. The walk down to the waterfall is steep but not difficult, and you'll fprobably ind it more comfortable to walk down in walking shoes than in flip-flops. There is a pool at the bottom of the falls – perfect for swimming in. The path is well-maintained – there are stairs and paved all of the way, and there is a toilet down near the waterfall.
Scenic road across Bali
• This road is most picturesque early in the morning, so plan to leave at first light for the most scenic drive.
• It’s only about 40km from Pekutatan to Seririt, but the drive is likely to take you about 1.5 hours.
• There are a few simple warungs (eateries) along the route but there are also some very scenic viewpoints that can make for ideal picnic spots.
Scenic road across Bali
The most beautiful road you’ll travel in Bali – and a beautiful way to get from Medewi or Balian to Pemuteran. While it’s possible to drive to the north coast via the circular route (via Gilimanuk) you’d be missing out on a spectacular experience if you don’t take a road-trip on the peaceful little road that connects Pekutatan (near Medewi) with Seririt.
The road climbs from Pekutatan through Bali’s most historic rubber plantation (established by the Dutch and occupied by Japan during WWII), then in a series of beautiful switchbacks through clove and cacao plantations to Bunut Bolong, a sacred tree. If it’s dawn, the mist is likely to be rising eerily from the jungle valleys of West Bali (home to hornbills, deer and monkeys…and occasional rumours of tigers). Batukaru Volcano looms on the right – at its most spectacular against the rising sun.
As you reach the summit in the centre of the island (after about 40 mins) you’re presented with an option to continue directly northward over the high point at Puncak Sari – through the hill-town of Telaga – or detour eastwards through Pupuan. Although the Puncak Sari route looks more direct beware that road conditions can be rough (with occasional landslides) and is a smaller road with sections that can feel extremely tight if you meet a truck coming the other way. The Pupuan route is quicker and more reliable – and despite being a slightly bigger road it has equally spectacular landscapes.
The downhill run towards Seririt (40 minutes west of Singaraja / 50 minutes east of Pemuteran) passes through forested valleys and some picturesque paddies. The north coast is far more arid and you might be surprised to see cactus scrub, dragon-fruit and cashew plantations and even vineyards here (and yes, you can go wine tasting, too). It's well worth taking a slight detour when you reach the north coast and visit the Buddhist temple – click the green "Buddhist temple" button for more details.
Ngurah Rai Monument
• The monument is less than a 2km stroll along the beach from Medewi but consider breaking the trip with lunch at Puri Dajuma.
• At low tide you can walk right up to the boat across the reef but at higher tide the monument is often even more spectacular, frequently with waves breaking over it.
• If you feel like a stroll the beach east of the monument is one of the most attractively unspoiled (and usually deserted) in Bali.
Ngurah Rai monument
What appears at first glance to be a beached boat, stranded high-and-dry on the rocks in front of Puri Dajuma Resort, is in fact a unique concrete memorial to Bali’s greatest freedom fighter. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai landed at this spot in Pekutatan in 1946 with a force of freedom fighters who planned to oust the Dutch colonial forces.
There are still old people in Pekutatan who remember the night that the freedom fighters arrived in the village. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai led a force of 95 men, spearheading what was called the People’s Security Army (so presumably the boat was somewhat bigger than the one represented by the monument – with its crew of four).
If you’re wondering why the great war hero’s name is familiar it might be because Bali’s international airport was named after him – and if you’re curious about what he looked like, check his photo on the front of a 50,000-rupiah banknote.
Ngurah Rai and his 95 men died in a puputan (a ritual fight to the death) during a Dutch airstrike at The Battle of Margarana – about 40km east of this spot – on 20 November 1946. For years the monument was in a state of disrepair but these days it is repaired and repainted each year before Independence Day (17 August).
* DID YOU KNOW
Some people might tell you that the landing can’t have been 1946 because Indonesians consider that their country was already independent in 1945. In fact, Indonesia declared independence in 1945 but there were still four more years of fighting, until The Netherlands finally transferred sovereignty in late 1949.
• The paddies are particularly spectacular in the early mornings and late afternoons.
• Stroll right through the paddies and into the little village of Kampong Loji, where you might see fishing boats being made by hand.
• There are a few little stalls in Kampong Loji where you can buy a cold drink – a good way to support the village.
The beautiful expanse of paddies between the main road and the beach at Pulukan really is a sight to behold. The farmers are friendly and welcoming and you will often see offerings being made at the little bedugal shrines to Dewi Sri (a goddess who, experts say, was probably here before the arrival of either Islam or Hinduism).
This is a landscape in constant change. If you arrive later in the rice-growing season you’ll see a verdant green carpet that stretches out towards the Indian Ocean – when you’ll see a lot of bird-life including egrets, kingfishers and sometimes, along the beach, Brahminy kites (like Balinese bald eagles).
During the season after harvesting you’re also likely to see hundreds of waddling ducks. As with so many things on this spiritual island, there is more to the ducks than meets the eye. Pengangon bebek (duck herders) – like a Balinese Pied Pipers – usher their flocks through the harvested paddies, bringing the sound of cheerful quacking to sunlit equatorial mornings. The penyisih staffs they carry – traditionally a tall feather-tipped bamboo with a white cloth flag halfway up – are often handed down from generation to generation are invested with magical spirits.
How to get here
If you’re staying in Medewi then head across the Pulukan bridge and down the little track (now cemented) on the right, before the petrol station. Driving from the east you can also take either of the two turnings southwards off the main road – they will both lead after a short and pretty drive into these paddies.
• The temple is open for visitors around 8am until 5pm, but you can take a look at it from the outside at any time.
• Everyone is required to wear a sarong when at the temple. If you don't have one, you will be able to borrow one from the office.
• When you arrive you'll need to sign the visitors book in the office, and foreigners are required to make a donation of Rp20,000 per person. There is a parking fee of Rp5,000 per vehicle.
• There are various temples in the complex. Be sure to walk down the stairs to the beach, where there are a few more cave temples.
Bali’s forgotten sea temple – Rambut Siwi – is the least known of the island’s celebrated coastal temples that protect Bali from evil forces from the sea. If there is just one major temple on the island where you can really soak up the atmosphere with a sense of spirituality and solitude, this is it. (Also, this clifftop temples has an exceptional view of the coastline.)
The sprawling temple grounds are refreshingly peaceful and, unless there’s a ceremony, it's usually deserted – a world away from the tourist bustle of the famous sister temples at Uluwatu and Tanah Lot. You can sometimes hire a guide to show you around the temple but if you can also wander in blissful solitude among the sculpted stonework and evocative statues. If you're interested in learning more about the design of temples and how they're used, take a look at the relevant section inside the hugely informative book, Secrets of Bali (find out more here) Take in the incredible views over miles of quiet beach before you descend to the haunting grotto cave at the foot of the cliffs.
How to get here
Rambut Siwi is just south of the main West Bali highway and easily recognized by the traffic gathered by the road. This traffic is not actually for visitors to the temple, however, but has stopped here to take advantage of "drive-through blessings" offered by the priests on the roadside. Turn in through the big gateway and a pretty drive across lovely paddies will get you to the temple.