Benoa Harbour, Pulau Serangan, Tanjung Benoa, and Nusa Dua Bali
Benoa Harbour will appeal to boat-lovers. Among the commercial and privately owned vessels, there is often an interesting variety of traditional craft from the Indonesian Archipelago. These include pinisi, broadbeamed sailing cargo boats from South Sulawesi; and brightly color fishing boats from Madura, off northeast Java. There is a multitude of boat-charters and tours on offer. Day trips to Nusa Lembongan are recommended. A yacht or traditional Bugis ship can be hired for a day-trip; longer trips go as far as Komodo and the Lesser Sunda Islands.
Nearby, on the Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai, is the Mangrove Information Centre (Phone: +62 361 728 966), which aims to preserve the 15 species of coastal mangrove in its natural forest.
The island of Serangan is separated from the southern curve of Sanur reach by a mangrove area known as Suwungwas. The name "Turtle Island" is sometimes used, because of the sea turtles that used to lay their eggs here. The island has been greatly extended by reclamation during construction works for a hotel. A bridge now links it to mainland Bali. Local people maintain an unofficial guard post, and charge visitors a small fee for access to the island. Besides the Balinese, there is an old Bugis community; their ancestors migrated from South Sulawesi, in the 1600s.
Here also is one of the six most sacred temples in Bali, Pura Sakenan ( Place of worship at Pulau Serangan. Open daily. Admission charges : donation. Festival : Manis Kuningan), said by some to have been founded by the 16th century reformist priest Dang Hyang Nirartha. Others believe the temple was founded in the 11th century by the Javanese Buddhist priest Mpu Kuturan. Within the inner courtyard is a steeped pyramid built of white coral, reminiscent of temples in Polynesia. During Manis Kuningan, a vibrant festival takes place here on the temple's anniversary.
The island is a good vantage point from which to watch vessels returning to Benoa Harbour at the end of the day. There are views of the islands and great sunsets.
Tanjung (meaning "Cape") Benoa is a long, narrow, sandy spit, with a small fishing village built on it. The cape is separated from Benoa Harbour by a narrow stretch of water. The village was once a trading port, and some Chinese and Bugis as well as Balinese still live here. There are some Balinese temples built of carved limestone, as well as a mosque. At an ancient Chinese temple built by sailors and traders, fishermen of all religions consult with the fortune teller in the hope of finding a good catch.
There is now a modern road leading to the tip of the penisula from Nusa Dua. Hotels, spas and restaurant specializing in grilled seafood have grown up along both sides of the road. One quirky landmark is the stone pineapple motif marking the entrance to the Novotel. Despite development, Tanjung Benoa still attracts those in search of a relaxing beach off the beaten track, There are facilities for water sports, such as water-skiing, banana-boat rides, fishing and paragliding. Cruise operators offer trips out to sea for snorkelling in waters rich in corals and tropical fish.
The Nusa Dua (literallt " Two Islands" ) area is named after two peninsulas along its coast. It consists primarily of luxury resots run by major hotel chains. The beaches are sandy and clean. The entrance road is lined with rows of statues; It leads through a large candi bentar (split gate), on each side of which carvings of frogs serve as guardian figures.
Inside, there is an air of gentility and order. The hotels are built in big scale. Their grandiose entrances have been described ad "Bali Baroque", or "expanded traditional" in style - they are of interest to architecture enthusiasts. Young visitors will love the fish ponds of the Conrad Hotel, with thousands of brightly-coloured koi (a type of carp first bred in Japan) swimming among water lilies.
The Bali Golf and Country Club has a championship course over three types of terrain (highland, coconut grove and coastal). Other facilities at Nusa Dua include the Bali International Convention Centre and the Galleria complex. The latter has shops, restaurants, galleries, a supermarket and a performance theatre. There are regular dance and other cultural activities here.
Bualu is a bustling village outside the gates of the Nusa Dua complex. Several streets are lined with restaurants offering fresh fish and shops selling handicrafts.
Between the Sheraton and Grand Hyatt hotels a headland with native flora and several Balinese shrines juts out into the sea. The views are good from here. Camel safaris through the arid hills are offered at the Nikko Hotel. One beach near the Nikko is a favourite haunt of surfers. Beautiful beaches line the southern coast. Most require a hike or climb; many are popular surfing spots, but they can be dangerous for beginners, with big waves and strong currents.
West of Nusa Dua, on the road to Uluwatu, is the GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana, or "Golden Garuda Vishnu") cultural centre. The main feature will be a statue of the mythological bird Garuda and the Hindu god Vishnu. This will be taller than New York's Statue of Liberty. Its impact on the landscape has been controversial and plans for completion are unclear. Exhibitions and performances can already be seen here.
GWKPlace of performance, cafe and shop at Jalan Raya Uluwatu, Bukit Ungasan, Jimbaran. Phone:+62 361 703 363. Open daily. Admission charges : donation. www.gwk-bali.com