Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Receiving an invitation from Vindhya to visit Pondok Pitaya in Balian, I thought they had miss-spelled Bali. I had never heard of Balian before, which turned out to be a beach favored by advanced surfers from all around the world! As you might guess, I took the chance to explore Balian and spend two nights at Pondok Pitaya, the only accommodation in the area with direct access to the beach!
Pondok Pitaya is located on the south coast of Bali Island, north to Kuta. You basically follow the main route toward Gilimanuk, turn left when you see a sign of “Desa (Village) Balian”. Approaching Balian, you’ll pass more trucks and buses that just crossed from Java Island.
Having required a 2.5-hour drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport might be the reason why Balian is not the most popular spot among tourists. But really, 2.5 hours is not that long once you see so much paddy terrace and sometimes the shoreline along the way. Beautiful scenery!
We passed several accommodations before finally reaching Pondok Pitaya at the very end of the village street. The beach is right in front of the resort, with the twirling waves that excited Gemala, one of my travel mates who is an Indonesian pro-surfer. A few guests, all seemed to be surfers, were having lunch at the restaurant/lobby with the beach view as the backdrop.
Our rooms are the River Suite, the only type with AC, located at the back of the resort. With a choice of twin bed or double bed, the suite is equipped with a wardrobe, towels, bottled water, bags of tea and mosquito nett. Shower with hot water and western toilet are provided in the ensuite bathroom. So not bad for a room overlooking the river with the rate of IDR820,000/night!
The whole types of room and suites at Pondok Pitaya range from IDR750,000 – 1,890,000/night, with options of sizes and number of people that can be accommodated. The Surf House A, for example, is a 3-storey bungalow for 6 people with 6 breakfast vouchers, but is actually free to be occupied by as many people as you wish.
Most of the bungalows are built with wood and thatched bamboo. Some parts are made of recycled boat wood, which I find awesome because you not only save some trees by doing so, but you also save some paint because boat woods usually have that cool vintage look already, like this table here.
And here’s the resort ambiance on our little Instagram video.
Pondok Pitaya might be heaven for surfers, but it is enjoyable by non-surfers as well. Along the shore, a number of men lined up holding their fishing rods, I saw a few fishes were caught and gasped for life on the sand.
Gemala was surfing and Pinneng was busy taking pictures of her from the beach. (These two are Indonesian dynamic duo of a professional surfer and photographer.) Vindhya and I took a walk on the black sand beach. We meant to swim at the spot that was said to be safe for swimming, but we were intimidated by the waves. If you want to swim there, make sure you consult with the locals or the resort staff about the safe spots.
As for surfing, Balian beach is not for newbies. As Gemala advised, you’d need to have the ability to paddle really well and make out of the current. A more detailed story on surfing in Balian beach is to be posted later, just you wait, guys!
Running is high on my priority list on the beach. But on this trip to Balian, I substituted it with an even more exciting and upbeat activity: Bootcamp! It’s an in-house activity done on the beach, the more the merrier. Nineth, our cheerful instructor that morning, whipped our asses off for almost two hours with crunches, push-ups, sprint running, squat jumps, planking, and more.
We panted, groaned, crawled for water, but also laughed a lot at our own weakness because we knew we’re supposed to exercise more to get fit and slim like Nineth! My whole body ached the next morning and I had to drag my lower body to walk, but honestly, I would do it again!
They’re going to have retreats and packages for bootcamp, just check for options directly.
I realized that 2N3D at Pondok Pitaya wasn’t enough when we failed to take a yoga class and a trip to the Belah Matu waterfall because there was also sunset watching, afternoon nap, and a visit to Medewi beach westward.
If you’re interested, make sure you make time for 1.5 hours of yoga classes on 10.30 a.m. and 4.30 p.m. everyday. IDR125,000/person is required.
As for the Belah Matu waterfall, it’s located at Pujungan Village, about 1.5 hours drive away northeastern from Balian. We had to cancel our waterfall trip to make sure we wouldn’t miss our flight back to Jakarta. So if you’re going for the waterfall, start preparing to leave early and give time for some trekking.
It feels luxurious to swim in a pool while the ocean is just a few meters away! LoL, not sure why. To make it even more luxurious, is to swim in the pool with sunset view, or the starry sky view at night. That was my shiny diamond ring, right there! The water in the pool was warm, but getting out of it could get really cold when it’s windy.
The cutest experience on our stay when Roxy, the house dog, joined us a little bit for a swim! Roxy loves to swim, in the pool or in the sea. Vindhya and I aren’t really fond of dogs because simply we’re scared and not used to having dogs around. But Roxy looked so adorable swimming, we called Roxy back in the pool again to swim with us, and she did! Woof woof!
It’s nice to know that more people are taking care of their health. With so much junk food in the world, grows the habit of healthy food intake as well. Pondok Pitaya’s restaurant provides the usual fried rice and curry, as well as fruit salad with granola and green soup.
Pondok Pitaya is all about enjoying the beach and being active in nature. However, Internet connection is undoubtfully a necessity in today’s life for most people. So, yes they provide free wifi connection, but you can only access it in the lobby. But don’t expect to download or upload big data because the connection is often unstable.
When you book for a room, you can book for airport pick up as well. Though rental cars are abundant throughout Bali, it is much more convenient to have the resort driver get you to the spot, so you can enjoy the scenery (or doze off) care-free.
Once you’re in Balian, you might want to have a tour around on your own. Book a motorbike (or moped) for IDR40,000 / day, excluding gasoline.