Menjangan is situated on the North West coast of Bali. This trip normally takes 3.5 hours by car from Denpasar. The journey takes you past rice terraces and local villages. Take your time and enjoy, this is not a trip you want to sleep through!
There are 2 main routes to reach the resort. The first route is through mid west of Bali. Travelling through Bedugul, Munduk and Seririt where the main scenery is mountain, lakes & rice terraces. The second path is along the west coast of Bali. Past Tabanan, Negara and Cekik. The main attractions are the west coast line and the small cities with their traditional culture and open hospitality.
Menjangan Island – the name means “deer”-hangs just offshore of the mountainous point in far northwestern Bali. Because the island is in a protected position, currents and wind-generate waves are rarely a bother, and the reefs here offer fine diving, particularly for beginning and intermediate divers. Occasionally, the water can be crystal clear-a snorkeler, distinct, 50 meters above you-and the rest of the time visibility seldom drops to less than 25 meters.
The island is part of Bali Barat National Park, a protected reserve area that encompasses much of Bali’s little-populated western end. The drive from the resort areas of the south is at least three hours, the first hour through the thick traffic that envelops Denpasar like a fog.
The coral walls around Menjangan are vertical down to 30-60 meters, and then slope outward.The reef surface is particularly rugged: caves, grottoes, crevasses and funnel-like splits break up the coral wall, and the surface is textured with little nooks and crannies. Gorgonians of many kinds reach large sizes here, and huge barrel sponges are abundant. Soft corals blanket the colorful walls all the way down.
We found the variety of fish here to be somewhat inferior to other dive sites-we ask for a lot!-but the numbers are good and some of the fish are quite bold, as guides feed them regularly. We were blessed with a curious pack of half a dozen fully grown round-faced batfish, and two aggregations of bignose unicornfish.
A few individuals from a large school of longfin bannerfish approached us, but the majority kept a discreet distance, as did the yellowback fusiliers, which accompany almost every dive in Indonesia. Small boats ferry divers from the Nature Reserve dock at Labuhan Lalang to Menjangan’s small beach, where gearing up takes place in the sandy-bottomed shallows.The edge of the reef terrace is at 1-5 meters, and a V-shaped delta of sand points the way out to the edge.
Guides usually take their groups to the east (left) on their first dive-keep an eye out for a huge gorgonian at 18 meters and down to 15-30 meters, and then back through the shallows (5-10 meters) on the way back. After a lunch on the beach, the group goes west (right). Here the wall has much more relief, and the guides send their boat to dive, returning them directly to the Nature Reserve dock at Labuhan Lalang.
On the second dive, we saw a couple of names carved into sponges. Please don’t join the ranks of the morons.
Most of the people who dive Menjangan sleep in the Kuta-Nusa Dua-Sanur tourist triangle.They are picked up around 7:30 a.m. by one of the dive operators, with filled tanks, weights, any rented gear and box lunches already packed in the minivan.
For the first hour or so of the three-hour ride, you might as well catch up on your sleep as the driver maneuvers out of the heavy traffic surrounding Denpasar and continuing past the town of Tabanan. The next hour and a half are worth opening your eyes for, with wide spreads of terraced rice fields reaching to the sea on the left.
The road is a good one (it’s the main Java-Bali highway) and the drivers are quite aggressive-if you get nervous at such things, stay out of the front seat. As you approach the town of Negara, the land becomes drier, and there are lots of coconut plantations producing copra.
Past Negara, it’s a half hour to Cekek, the headquarters of the Bali Barat (West) National Park, just 3 kilometers short of Gilimanuk, the ferry crossing to Java. Macaques, looking for handouts, line the road a bit before Cekik, and after the turnoff for the 12-kilometer stretch to Labuhan Lalang. Labuhan Lalang is a total of 125 kilometers from Denpasar.