GO TO MENJANGAN FOR
• Diving and snorkelling
• Wild beaches
• Wildlife and birding
FROM THE AIRPORT
Travel by car: 4 hours
Cost: Rp800,000 with a driver
BOOK A HOTEL IN MENJANGAN
Booking.com calls Menjangan 'Banyuwedang'
If you're looking for a place where you can exhale, where you can find peace and solitude, and leave the rest of the world behind, Menjangan is it. Out here on the north-west coast of Bali, when you're surrounded by forest and close to one of the best snorkelling and dive spots the island has to offer, it'll be difficult to imagine that you're just 110km from the crowds of Kuta and the sun beds of Nusa Dua.
Off the very far north-western tip of Bali, the coral gardens around little Menjangan Island boast sublime snorkelling and diving – people have compared it to Fiji and the Red Sea – while on the mainland, the leafy Menjangan area is surrounded by West Bali National Park.
This area is home to the Bali starling, a striking white bird with a dash of blue eye-shadow, one of the most endangered birds in the world. Stringent measures are in place to protect the last of this species in the wild and, with fewer than 20 free birds in the park, it's unlikely that you'll see any. If you want to tick them off your list, your best bet is to visit the state-run Bali starling breeding centre within the park, or do a morning birding walk at The Menjangan resort.
You can't stay on Menjangan Island, but there are a few beachfront hotels and guesthouses in the area that are beautifully secluded. Some have reefs right out front, many offer boat trips to the island, and those on the beach will have views over to the volcanoes of Java.
What to do in Menjangan? Apart from snorkelling – which isn't cheap but really is worth the price tag – you could take a guided walk in the national park, drive through to Pemuteran for a meal and change of scene, or visit some of the picturesque temples in the area. Your hotel will have directions to the closest ones that are worth a visit.