Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
“Turns out, Menjangan’s underwater life is beautiful. It was like really really good! Such a garden!” I remember Indra Febriansyah, fellow travel enthusiast, saying this to me when we were exchanging travel stories. Indra had traveled to some of world’s most beautiful places and had work at a famous fashion magazine in the past. I trust his judgment when it comes to traveling and beauty (psstt … I also trust his karaoke song list, too). With that simplest description, I decided I had to see it for myself. I had to see Menjangan Island, a tiny speck of land on the north west coast of Bali. This time I traveled specifically for diving, and I traveled with Diana and Neta from Turtur Dive.
Menjangan Island is part of the Bali Barat National Park. Upon my visit, the island was a shade of brownish yellow, giving it a nice contrast to the fresh blue clean sea and sky. It was in the dry season and apparently the vegetation has little ability to keep its leaves and surrender to the heat, leaving dry branches covering most of the island. Just on the edge of those branches is a mini shrine. Balinese choose certain points of island to pray for its well being, hence the shrine. Menjangan Island itself is named after the Indonesian word for deer, ‘menjangan’, that can be seen roaming through the branches. What is in a name? Well, what’s on the island?
Menjangan Island is often visited for its blue waters and white sand beaches. However, Menjangan Island is located far from the centre points of tourism, such as Kuta, Ubud, or Padang Bai. Thus, people think twice to visit it considering it takes about 5 hours drive to get to. Being so unpopular, only a scoopful of people seemed to visit the island, and an even smaller amount of people visit it for the diving. But, that means more island for me!
The island is known for its wall, located at the Pos II. This wall is pretty dense with life, mostly consisting of soft corals. As I recall, it’s similar to the walls at Bunaken, Manado. The visibility was not bad, at the time reaching about 15 m and slightly murky. Another spot that we did was just off the rusty pier on the other side of the island (Pos I). From here, we followed the slope down to about 15 meters and roamed around the area, finding creatures like nudibranches, giant clams, crustaceans, and those fantabulous transparent shrimps. It was a nice fun and relaxed dive. Menjangan Island is hardly known for currents, thus perfect especially to those that are new to diving. However, you know that you still have to be alert for them, divers!
Not far from this pier is a snorkeling spot. Surprisingly, I didn’t expect to find such a beautiful garden-like scenery underneath the water surface. There were so much color in the water, in contrast to the blue sea. The low tides permitted much sunshine and helped bring the colors out. The snorkeling was as enjoyable as the diving. Then and there I remembered what Indra said, yes, the underwater of Menjangan Island was surprisingly beautiful. I was truly high of having a great day at sea.
I think Menjangan Island as a whole is awesome because it can cater to a lot of different interests. Aside to the diving, there are some awesome spots for snorkeling. The beaches are great to laze around, a tan is assured considering the lack of shading trees, and wildlife is somewhere around the island. My trip was particularly special because I got to spend it with the Turtur Dive girls. You can read why here.
There are resorts around the area and it’s possible to have a stay. However, if you have the day to visit the island, driving to the west end of Bali and taking the 30 minute boat ride is also enjoyable. It would be nice to make the time to see other parts of Bali.
PS: If you do visit the Menjangan Island, don’t forget to burn up on some Betutu Chicken that originates from the Gilimanuk area, about 10 minute drive from the port to cross the Menjangan. It’s burning hot and speeds up your metabolism, in a good way. A recommended venue would be Ibu Lina 3, which is visible on the main Gilimanuk Road.