Diving and snorkelling, and more diving and more snorkelling, with some beach time thrown in. Welcome to Pemuteran, a charming little village that's spread around quiet lanes on Bali's drier north-west coast.
Thanks to its proximity to Menjangan Island and its own offshore reefs, the town of Pemuteran has evolved into a fantastic base for those who're wanting to dive. There are dive schools and operators, as well as a variety of accommodation options – to suit all budgets – for travellers who're just passing through, or who want to settle into life here for a while. While Pemuteran is focussed on tourism, it remains idyllically peaceful in a way that few places farther east Bali have managed.
This northern coast is more arid than the south and the cactus-spiked lowlands give way here and there to vineyards. The town is fringed to the south by dramatic hills that look a lot like Mediterranean mountains, and sunset can be spectacular here, with a natural evening lazer-show that highlights the volcanoes of nearby Java.
Pemuteran and nearby Lovina (which is further east, and is known for sunrise dolphin watching from boats) are becoming more popular as wonderful rainy season holiday bases, but are loved year-round by visitors who are looking for a peaceful Balinese beach backdrop.
Pemuteran: local advice
Airport to Pemuteran: 165km
Travel by car: about 5 hours
Cost: Rp800,000 with a driver
...if you're looking for nightlife
Pemuteran's a pretty quiet town. It does cater to tourists, and its main street is lined with various restaurants, warungs and dive shops, but this growth has been careful and there's no tacky, touristy vibe here. There is not really any nightlife to speak of, but on Sunday afternoons from 5pm Kalimasada band plays Western, Reggae and Indonesian covers at Reef Seen, a resort on the beach.
...if you want to snorkel
There is an artificially created reef just off the beach at Pemuteran, which makes for lovely snorkelling. There are various dive outlets at the beach where you can rent mask, snorkel and fins for Rp50,000 for the day.
...if you want to chill at the beach
The beach can get really hot – the sand there is grey – so if you want to spend the day at the beach you'll need some sun protection. You can rent a beachfront lounger from most beachfront resorts for about Rp50,000 for the day.