With hundreds of exchange students studying in Bali with Asia Exchange every semester, we like to share some travel tips for Bali goers. One of the more infrequently visited places, at the very North West tip of Bali, is Menjangan Island. Udayana University intern, Isabelle, took a weekend trip to this nature reserve, and shares her experience with you here.
Just a hundred meter outside the northwest coast of Bali lies the small island of Menjangan. The name of the island means “deer” in Bahasa Indonesia and comes from the fact that this little island is full of majestic deer’s. The island also has 77 temples and is considered sacred for the Balinese. Menjangan island is surrounded by stunning coral reefs that attract divers from all around the world. It ranks 3rd on Discovery Channel’s list of The World’s 10 Best spots for snorkeling. I decided to visit the island and see for myself if the island is as magic as it sounds!
To explore Bali it is convenient to rent a car with a driver and that’s what I decided to do with my friends for the weekend! The big car including driver and fuel, cost 1 million IDR per day, and we decided to stay one night up in North Bali, about 1 hour from Menjangan Island. We could choose exactly where we wanted to go, so the first day we visited the beautiful rice terraces Jatiluwih, which are marked as a world heritage. We continued our trip up north and made a stop at the majestic Banyuwangi waterfall.
The North part of Bali has many waterfalls that are unknown for most tourists, so if you have an opportunity to go there, talk to the local people and you will be surprised how many great waterfalls there are in this area! In the end of the day we checked in at a homestay in a little mountain village called Munduk. This village is a popular place to stay for hikers that like the more quiet parts of Bali. You can find plenty of accommodations in Munduk in the price range from 200K-500K IDR per night depending what standard of the room you want.
Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5 am. Our homestay family had already prepared breakfast for us with traditional Balinese rice cakes and coffee. We jumped into the car and we drove one hour east to the harbor where the boats leaves to Menjangan Island. The island is situated in the protected marine reserve of the Bali Barat National Park which has a quite high entrance fee of 300K IDR per person. On top of that we rented a boat, a guide and snorkel equipment so the price ended up to be 415K per person.
Our first stop with the boat was on the south side of the island where there is a cool drop-off that making the spot great for snorkeling. We saw amazing shaped corals and tropical fishes in all the colors of the rainbow. I loved to see the small clown fishes playing and it was an amazing experience. The current brought us 100 meters up the island where we jumped up to the boat again. Just being on the boat is such a cool adventure by itself, watching the white coral covered shores and crystal blue ocean under us.
We anchored the boat and went ashore on the island. Menjangan Island is covered by bushes and the walk around the island was quite hard. All you could hear was the bells from the different ceremonies going on in the temples around the island. We tried to be as quiet as possible, partly to not disturb the ceremonies and partly not to frighten the deer, which we knew would be on the island.
After only a short walk we could see some deer in the shade under the trees. They were very peaceful and had big horns The deer are swimming the 100 meters between Bali and Menjangan island when it is low tide and, if you are lucky you can see them between the islands. We snorkeled in another spot around the island which is known for having reef sharks but at this time of the year it is too hot in the ocean for them at this spot. I was quite relived over that since sharks is one of my biggest fears and was happy just watching the colorful fishes around me. Around 4pm we went back to the harbor in Bali and drove the 2,5 hours back to our villa in Seminyak.
The best part of this trip was to see that the corals around this island were still so healthy. The warmer air and ocean surface temperatures brought on by climate change impact corals and alter coral reef communities by prompting coral bleaching events and altering ocean chemistry. These impacts affect corals and the many organisms that use coral reefs as habitat and for me to see that the corals around the island are still healthy and alive made me really happy and was worth the whole trip.
Writer of the article, Isabelle, is currently doing her internship to Udayana University in Bali. Read more about studying in Bali, or find out if you would be interested to apply for an internship with Asia Exchange.