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If the crowds of Kuta or Ubud prove to be too much for you, there are still plenty of options for a more relaxed holiday in Bali. One such choice is a quiet cluster of fishing villages collectively known as Amed.
It’s about a 3-4 hour drive from the airport out to Amed. Along the way, you can stop to visit Goa Lawah, also known as the “Bat Cave.” It’s not just a clever name; this traditional Balinese Hindu temple is home to thousands of bats. If you’re planning a trip along Bali’s east coast, you could hit Sanur and Candidasa on your way out to Amed.
The area referred to as Amed is actually composed of several villages, one of which bears the name of the entire area. This is a remote part of Bali that hasn’t seen a ton of development. Thanks to the great diving opportunities nearby, a small tourism industry has sprouted since 2000. Traditionally, people here have made their living from fishing and salt production.
The main draw for visitors to Amed is the excellent snorkeling and diving in the area. There are quite a few beaches along the 15-km stretch of villages where you can snorkel a few meters from the shore.
You’ll find several dive shops in the area, so it’s not hard to get in on a trip. The most popular site is Tulamben, which is actually about another hour away, but there are several sites around Amed as well.
One of the coolest things you’ll see underwater in Amed is the Japanese shipwreck. Just be aware that it’s not very far from the shore and thus does not necessitate a boat trip to get to. We signed up for one and were a bit disappointed to realize we could have just taken our motorbike to the beach for far less. At least it was a scenic ride.
The beaches have black volcanic sand here, so Amed hasn’t attracted the throngs of sun-seeking tourists that the south does. While these aren’t the most beautiful beaches or the best for sunbathing, they’re quite scenic and relaxing. You’ll still find chairs and umbrellas for rent from restaurants that’ll cook you up some delicious sate and cap-cay.
If you seek a bit of adventure off of the beach, see if you can find this abandoned hotel right off the main road. No one bothers to guard the place, so it’s open to explore. Considering how small Amed and its tourist industry is, one wonders why such a hotel was ever built in the first place.
There’s some cool graffiti on the inside and an overgrown garden out back, where I interrupted two goats having lunch. Perhaps some day it will be a thriving hotel full of happy guests. Probably not, though.
Those seeking to scale Mt. Agung – Bali’s tallest volcano – can choose to do so from Amed. It’s one of the closest towns with tourism infrastructure and there are plenty of guides running trips there. If you’re not up for the challenge, there’s a short hike to a viewpoint that’s much easier. That is, if you can find the trail. We ended up just wandering through a village, snapping a few photos, and giving up in the intense afternoon heat. The view was still nice, though.
Although it’s not nearly as developed as other parts of Bali, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of options here. Accommodation ranges from hostels and simple home stays to luxury villas. We scored a nice room at the top of a hotel for $30/night that had a great view and a pool. It pays to hit the less popular places.
When it comes to dining options, you can go with local classics like mie goreng or even babi guling in one of the many warung along the main road. The star of the show here is obviously the seafood, and you’re spoiled for choices. There are several restaurants to choose from, so you can try a different place each night of your trip. The Grill comes highly recommended, especially their delectable cheesecake.
It can’t compete with the beaches in the southwest of the island, but Amed still does sundowners. There are a few places you can choose from to sip a cold Bintang or a cocktail with some local arak.
The best spot is definitely Imbuh. You don’t exactly get a sunset view here, but it’s still beautiful. Plus, Mt. Agung will often poke its head out from under the clouds around sundown.
If you enjoy a more relaxed pace of life, snorkeling or diving, and delicious seafood, then Amed is the perfect place to visit on your trip to Bali. Sure, it takes a lot longer to get out here than the beach towns of Kuta and Seminyak, but it’s well worth the effort. Chances are Amed will never reach the level of those towns, and that’s definitely a good thing.