Pemuteran Beach: The quiet side of Bali

Y’all, I love South Bali as much as anyone. From trashy Kuta to swanky Seminyak, it’s a great place to spend a few days to eat, drink, and surf. But it’s also completely overrun with tourists. In fact, Kuta can feel more like a caricature of the U.S. than many places in the U.S. So if you’re looking for a beach to escape the crowds and experience a quieter, more authentic Bali, head to Pemuteran Beach.


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Why visit Pemuteran Beach (besides desperation to get away from drunk teenagers in Kuta)?


Pemuteran is home to many fishermen, and the beach is lined with their boats
Pemuteran is home to many fishermen, and the beach is lined with their boats


Let’s get this out of the way up front: Pemuteran Beach is not “Bali without the tourists” (if such a thing exists). Plenty of foreigners visit this little village. There are a couple low-key resorts and lots of traveler cafes.


The difference is in Pemuteran, the traveler scene is more of a backdrop to local life than a central part of the town’s identity.


You can join a pickup football game with local teenagers, hang out with fishermen at a warung, and watch the sunset on the beach with entire extended families. In fact, starting in the late afternoon, locals outnumber tourists on the beach. People are friendly towards tourists and happy to answer questions about their lives and Balinese culture.


The sand at Pemuteran Beach is volcanic gray-black. It’s not Bali’s most beautiful beach, but it is long. And I’ll take a beach with plenty of room to lay out a towel over an overcrowded, beach-chair-dominated stretch of perfect sand any day. Plus, the ocean is actually good for swimming here — not much surf and no strong currents.


The other main draw of Pemuteran Beach is diving and snorkeling. You can do shore dives and snorkel just steps from the main beach. If that’s not enough, Pemuteran makes the most convenient base for exploring the waters around Menjangan Island (widely considered Bali’s best dive site) — more on this later.


How do you get to Pemuteran?


The road to my guesthouse
The road to my guesthouse


Public transportation to Pemuteran Beach


Pemuteran Beach is on the north coast of Bali, along the main road between Gilimanuk and Lovina. It’s not the easiest part of Bali to reach, but with a bit of patience and determination, it’s possible using public transport.


It’s easiest to cover this route from east to west. The first step is to get to Lovina. One Perama shuttle bus a day runs from South Bali, through Ubud, to Lovina (check schedules here, and they arrive around 2:30 pm). Then, pick up a public bus or minivan to Pemuteran. You can just flag it down on the main road outside the Perama office.


In the opposite direction, you can just reverse the above. But the Perama shuttle departs from Lovina at 9 am. And the public bus/minivan from Pemuteran Beach to Lovina is slow. So to be safe, you have to start waiting for the bus in Pemuteran no later than 6:30 am. If you miss the shuttle in Lovina, you’d have to pick up a minibus to Singaraja, from where you could pick up another minibus to major cities like Gianyar or Denpasar. To get to tourist hotspots like Kuta or Ubud, you’d have to change to yet another minibus after that (with a good chance of getting stuck for the night).


Getting to/from Gilimanuk for the ferry to Java is much more straightforward. Public buses leave from just outside the ferry terminal to Pemuteran Beach until mid-afternoon. In the opposite direction, flag one down anywhere along the main road. The journey takes about an hour and costs an astronomical 40,000 rupiah.


If you have your own wheels


You’ll have a much easier time getting to Pemuteran if you have your own wheels. With motorbike rental widely available on Bali, this is the best option for many travelers. (Just remember, if you’re not licensed to drive a motorcycle in your home country and you crash your motorbike, your travel insurance probably won’t cover you.)


Motorbike rental costs $7-$10 a day on Bali, plus petrol. Pemuteran Beach is about an hour drive from Lovina, 45 minutes from Gilimanuk, and two hours from the mountain town of Munduk — a highly recommended stop on the way to South Bali.


Not comfortable driving a motorbike? If you’re in a group, it’s worth researching the cost of a taxi (although spur-of-the-moment drivers on the street will always be cheaper than pre-booked rides).


I split a taxi with three other people from the Gilimanuk ferry terminal for 45,000 rupiah apiece — less than $0.50 more than the public bus, and a lot faster. I planned on taking the public bus to Lovina, but a husband-and-wife driving team offered me a ride for 100,000 rupiah when they saw me waiting for the bus.


If you want to go to south Bali or Ubud, a taxi will be astronomically expensive. I was quoted 650,000 rupiah to Ubud. Your best bet is to take a taxi to Lovina and pick up the Perama shuttle from there.


What to do in Pemuteran: Diving, snorkeling and temple-spotting


One of many small temples in Pemuteran
One of many small temples in Pemuteran


One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive at Pemuteran Beach is there are more dive shops than there are restaurants and hotels combined.


That’s because Pemuteran makes the easiest base to dive off the coast of Menjangan Island. The diving here is spectacular, but if you only care about large marine life, prepare to be disappointed. There’s a small chance of seeing a sea turtle or barracuda. But you’re really in it for the coral formations. Gorgeous wall dives are the highlight.


Be careful when choosing a dive shop — many advertise PADI certification that they don’t actually have. Check PADI’s website for the ones that are legit, and don’t dive with one that isn’t — it only encourages lax safety standards.


Menjangan Island charges a 20 euro marine park fee on top of the cost of your dive trip. So expect to pay about $150 for a two-tank dive with a reputable operator (sketchy operators are cheaper). If that sounds out of your price range, consider a $60 snorkel tour instead — the snorkeling is every bit as good as the diving (and you can free-dive at most sites), and you get more time in the water.


Whether you dive or snorkel, a trip to Menjangan Island takes about five hours. Most boats leave by 9 am and return around 2. If you’re sensitive to the cold, insist on at least a shortie wetsuit. Even though I only snorkeled, I was freezing after 20 minutes in the water.


Not up for spending a ton of money on underwater adventure? You can rent snorkel gear for about $10 on the beach and explore the reefs just offshore. They’re much more damaged by boat traffic, but still beautiful. You can also do shore dives and boat dives at closer-in sites, which run about $120 for two dives.


Once you get sick of the ocean, explore the surrounding temples. In town alone, there are dozens of small shrines and temples. Within 3 km of town there are a few major ones — most guesthouses have maps. To explore further afield, rent a motorbike. You can see most of the temples in the area in just a couple hours with a motorbike.


Where should you stay in Pemuteran?


My adorable outdoor shower at a homestay in Pemuteran
My adorable outdoor shower at a homestay in Pemuteran


Pemuteran Beach has an undeserved reputation for being expensive. While Lovina definitely has the bigger North Bali backpacker scene, you can find cheap rooms in Pemuteran too — you just have to know where to look. Note that many guesthouses and homestays in Pemuteran don’t have WiFi.


From the main road, a number of dirt paths lead to the beach, which houses a few low-key resorts. Backpackers and luxury travelers coexist peacefully in Pemuteran, but you won’t be able to afford a beach room on a budget.


Many of the cheapest rooms lie along the dirt paths before you reach the beach. There are private rooms for $15-19 at simple guesthouses along these paths. One of the best is Tiara Homestay.


But the best value for money hotels in Pemuteran are on the paths leading away from the beach. It’s only about a ten-minute walk to the beach. On this side of the main road, you can find rooms for under $10.


I stayed at the amazing Kubu Sari Homestay. For $19 a night, I got my own private bungalow. It came with a porch, a very comfortable bed, and the most adorable outdoor bathroom I’ve ever seen. But my main reason for recommending it is the exceptional hospitality of the owner/manager. Think fresh coconuts and bananas delivered to your door because “they were ripe, I had to pick them.” Delicious breakfast on your patio (even at 5:45 am when you have to catch a bus). Super-friendly family. I don’t stay in mid-range places very often, and this place felt frankly luxurious.


None of those options sound like your style? Check other guesthouses in Pemuteran here.


Where should you eat in Pemuteran?


Tasty fresh bananas from the garden at Kubu Sari Guesthouse
Tasty fresh bananas from the garden at Kubu Sari Guesthouse


Not gonna lie, Pemuteran doesn’t have the world’s greatest selection of food. There are a couple warungs where you can rub shoulders with the locals, but generally travelers stick to tourist cafes with inflated prices.


The one must-try restaurant in Pemuteran Beach is La Casa Kita. It’s an excellent Italian restaurant that also serves classic Indonesian fare. Whichever you choose, it’s sure to be a step up in quality from the norm. A (big) vegetarian pizza and drink ran me $7. It was worth it for the free WiFi and beautiful garden seating alone.


Another decent option is the warung in front of Badini Homestay. It’s geared toward tourists, but the Indonesian food is good, locals eat here too, and the communal tables make it pretty social. I paid 25,000 rupiah for nasi goreng (fried rice).


If you’re craving a strong cup of coffee and an even stronger WiFi connection, head to Bali Balance Cafe.


Convinced yet? Start planning your trip to Pemuteran Beach now!


Pemuteran was the highlight of Bali for me. While I loved Ubud’s art scene and Kuta’s amazingly long beach, I preferred the the low-key, authentic vibe of the north coast. My guesthouse was half a kilometer down a dirt road where chickens scratched in the dirt, incense wafted from the temples, and kids ran out of their yards to greet me, every time I passed. There may not be a Bali without tourists, but this was the Bali I imagined.


Have you been to Pemuteran? What did you think? Leave a comment!


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Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase through these links, I receive a percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you, which helps me keep this site up and running.



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