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Wednesday 12 June 2013

The London Foodie Goes to Bali - Amed

After a few days in lovely Ubud (see reviews here and here), we hired a car and headed out to the still relatively undeveloped east coast of Bali. Hiring a car in Bali was surprisingly affordable at only £15 per day for an air-conditioned Toyota 5 door vehicle. Filling up the tank was another tenner!

En route to Amed...

There are hardly any traffic lights or road signs in Bali. However there are only a few major roads so driving isn't a problem as English is widely spoken and if you purchase a detailed, £2 map at any petrol station. Within a little over 2 hours' drive, passing through many picturesque villages, rice paddy fields, and beautiful countryside we arrived in Amed. This is the name of a village, but is also used to refer to the local area, a long stretch of coast running from the village of Cucik and seven other villages - Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning and Aas.

The pace of life here is slow and the coastal scenery quite stunning making Amed a good place for a relaxed few days in Bali. Amed is the most recent tourist development area in Bali. It was only in 2000 that tarmac was laid on the roads. Telephone lines were installed in 2003 and it took until 2007 for a bridge to be built over a section of the main road that regularly washed away during the rainy season.

Amed's inhabitants live from fishing, farming, salt-making and lately tourism, and many hundreds of small fishing boats are seen lined up along the shore during the daytime. The same fishing boats are now also doubling up, taking out visitors out on the sea for diving and snorkelling expeditions for very reasonable prices. There is a strongly rural feel to this area, farmers are abundant, working the paddy fields, with livestock and chickens running around wherever you are, in contrast to the more developed areas around Kuta, Seminyak and Legian. Amed provides an interesting insight to another facet of daily life in Bali.

Amed is also the most commonly used base for visitors wishing to dive the USS Liberty wreck at Tulamben as well as for those wishing to take the PADI courses (scuba diving, more details below). There are many good dive sites close by and a thriving dive industry has developed all the way along the coast here.

Where to Stay

Baliku Dive Resort

Hotels are still in their infancy at Amed, and none of the five star luxury chains have yet made it here. The Baliku Dive Resort is owned by Australian Donna and consists of 9 villas set into the mountains close to Aas, the eastern-most village of the Amed coastal stretch.

Entrance to Baliku Dive Resort

The villas are surrounded by lush gardens, frequented by a variety of birdlife and butterflies, and set above a fishing village with stunning mountain and ocean views to Lombok. Just a few metres from the hotel is a submerged World War II Japanese ship, which has become encrusted with corals making it one of most interesting places for snorkelling and scuba diving in the area.

View from our villa at Baliku Dive Resort

Our spacious room had a king-sized four poster bed with mosquito nets, an en-suite bathroom, and private open-air terrace overlooking the bay. It also had satellite TV, air conditioning, minibar and a DVD player. The hotel has a massive selection of DVD films by the reception area and guests are welcome to watch them. The room was quiet and private as the villas were well separated, built over the hillside with unobstructed sea-views.

Our private veranda

There was also a reasonably large swimming pool with a few loungers for guests as well as a covered pavilion by the pool.

Where to Eat

There are no top-flight restaurants in Amed, and for dinner, most visitors eat in their hotels or at one of the many Warungs (local Indonesian cafes) dotted along the coastline.

The Pavillion Restaurant

We ate dinner at the Baliku Dive Resort's Pavillion Restaurant both nights we stayed there. The restaurant offers great sea-views and is well regarded by residents and visitors to the area.  The dishes were well made and seasoned, and served with either rice or potatoes and salad.

Among the highlights were a deliciously aromatic pumpkin soup which we tried on our first night, and also their fish dishes, particularly the Fish Fillets Bumbu Bali (£3.75) which was braised in a blend of Balinese spices and coconut milk, and served with rice and vegetables. The Sate Lilit (£3.75), a village specialty, was also excellent. This was a blend of fish, shredded coconut and spices, skewered and barbecued, served with rice and a refreshing mango-coriander salsa.

Breakfast at the resort was also very good and rather generous which included good, strong black coffee, freshly made juices, cut tropical fruit, pastries and home-made jams, French cinnamon toasts, and a creamy and utterly delicious black rice pudding with coconut cream and palm sugar. Cooked options were also available including mie goreng (fried noodles), eggs, bacon and sausages among others.

Black Rice Pudding with Coconut Cream and Palm Sugar at Pavillion Restaurant -
I could have lived on this whilst in Amed, it was delicious!

Warung Enak

The top recommended warung is 8km west of the Baliku Dive Resort, and is called Warung Enak on Jamal Amed (the only main road).

It's a simple place by the road side, very clean and with an open-plan kitchen.

We had Mie Goreng (£2) or stir-fried egg noodles with chicken, Ikan Santan (barracuda fish with onion, tomato, Balinese sauce and coconut milk) served with rice and vegetables (£2.50) and fish sate, marinated in garlic, shallot and sweet soy sauce, served with French fries (£2.50). These were all well made, fresh and delicious.

Warung Enak also has a good dessert menu, including local favourites like fried banana fritters with palm sugar, and  Balinese black rice pudding, all priced at around £1. One of the house specialties is the Rice Table (rijsttafel), a spread of 10 dishes plus dessert, which must be ordered 3 hours in advance.

What to Do


There are good snorkelling sites all along the coast of Amed, and one of the best is in front of the Baliku Dive Resort. Crossing the road in front of the hotel, snorkels, masks and flippers can be hired for £3 for the day.

From the water's edge, it is just a 10 metre swim to the site of the WWII Japanese ship wreck. Marine life is abundant and varied, the water is crystal clear and there are brightly coloured corals, particularly around the wreck itself.

Image Courtesy of Baliku Dive Resort
Image Courtesy of Baliku Dive Resort

I would suggest wearing a t-shirt when snorkelling though - our backs were quite severely burned despite using sun-block after just an hour's snorkelling from 10am.

Image Courtesy of Baliku Dive Resort


There are dozens of dive schools along the Amed coast, all offering PADI courses. We checked out the professional looking Euro-Dive centre in Lipah, which offers a range of courses, from a 1 day introduction to 30 day Divemaster qualification. Full details are on their website, but sample prices include £200 for the PADI Open Water course (3-4 days), and £180 for the 2 day PADI Advanced Diver course. 

There are also a number of day trips that can be taken from Amed, including visits to Tirtagangga's water palace, or the volcano Gunung Agung.

Pink Skies at Sunset in Beautiful Amed

Travel Essentials

Amed can be reached by car, it is a 2-2:30 hours drive from Ubud. Private shuttle buses are also available to Amed from all major tourist towns in Bali ranging from £5 to £15 per person depending from where you start.

We used Bangkok's Car Rental for our car hire. This was arranged by our hotel in Ubud (Villa Semana) for £15 per day. You might be able to arrange it more cheaply if you were to approach them directly. They were very accommodating and brought us the car to the hotel in Ubud and collected it at the airport in Denpasar just before we got on to our flight to Lombok. Excellent and friendly service, highly recommended. 

Bangkok's Car Rental
Hanoman Road 30, Ubud
Mobile +62 81 338 781 984
Email: bangkokbalirentcar@gmail.com

A one-bedroom villa at Baliku Dive Resort costs $95 per night including breakfast and taxes for up to two persons sharing, or $157 per night for a family villa. 

Baliku Dive Resort
Banyuning, Amed, Abang
Bali 80852
E mail: info@amedbalidiving.com

Baliku also has its own dive school and shop, which was under-construction during our visit. 

Euro Dive is at Lipah, Amed, Karangasem, Bali. 
E mail: info@eurodive.com

Warung Enak
Jalan Amed
Email: warungenak@hotmail.com
Phone: 081915679019

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