The Menjangan is an eco-friendly jungle hideaway nestled in West Bali’s National Park in the north of the island. It’s a pretty long journey from the airport, but it’s definitely worth it. Arrive at night if you can when everything is candlelit, it has a magical atmosphere and leaves you to wake up to the magnificent setting in the morning.
Book well in advance so you can nab one of the 7 beach villas, ideal if you’re travelling alone. These are directly on the beach about 10 minutes by car from reception, and are near the Pantai Restaurant and Mangrove Spa. If you prefer to be by the pool you have a choice of Deluxe Monsoon Lodge rooms which are very spacious or one of the suites which are a bit more private and massive. All of these rooms are closer to reception and the Bali Tower Bistro with its amazing views, but a short jungle ride away from the beach and watersports centre. The Residence is ideal for families as it’s independent with its own butler and pool and it sleeps 6 across 3 bedrooms. The cliff top views across the bay and coastline are stunning. Around the hotel there are drinking water taps where you can fill up your metal water bottle (in your room on arrival) to prevent the use of plastic bottles.
One of the best activities at The Menjangan is a morning’s snorkeling. You head to Menjangan Island and spend an hour snorkeling in crystal clear waters over the reef, before stopping for lunch. Then after snorkeling for another hour you head back. In total the trip is about 4 hours, not only is it lovely being on a boat but the different species of fish and sea life really is worth the ride. If you’re a diver or wanting to do a diving course then this is the place to be, the reef is stunning and you can dive up to 18m.
If, like me, you’ve never really taken to horses, don’t be seduced by the word ‘sunset’ in the ‘horse riding at sunset’. Just because it sounds romantic doesn’t mean you’re suddenly going to enjoy horse riding. Leave it, you won’t enjoy it. If on the other hand you’re a natural then you’ll probably love it, especially if doing it with a fellow aficionado. You’ll ride through the jungle and end up on the beach, though if the tide is coming in you won’t actually ride on the beach. Early-risers, bird-watchers and nature-lovers should do the early morning trek (starts at 7am) through the jungle, but come prepared, don’t wear shorts, accept that you might get muddy and I suggest that should it rain the night before you re-arrange for another morning and that you book this activity in before your last morning so you aren’t having to pack muddy shoes.
The Mangrove Spa is a simple affair with 3 open-air pavilions looking across the sea; the therapists are skilled and there’s nothing better than being pampered surrounded by a sea breeze. Pantai Restaurant, right on the water’s edge, has a huge menu combining Malaysian, Balinese, Western and Indonesian dishes. The west-sumatran sweet curry of beef, coconut milk & cinnamon, fried garlic & shallot is a deliciously sweet and fragrant dish and one I had more than once! Follow that with fermented sticky and black rice porridge, vanilla gelato, palm sugar syrup – yum!
Taking the coastal route from The Menjangan toward Seminyak offers an endless stream of ocean viewing, with opportunities to take a salt-water dip and some and sun to break up the journey.