Last week I ‘discovered’ a side to Bali I honestly didn’t think existed; a quiet, calm, and virtually untouched Bali – Menjangan. Located about a four hour drive and a short boat trip from Sanur, Menjangan Island is a beautiful spot to visit for anyone who loves diving, nature and enjoying the peace. We stayed in the National Park at Plataran Menjangan which is on the mainland rather than the island; and when I say in the National Park, I mean IN the National Park. We woke to deer munching on grass outside the villa and monkeys watching me brushing my teeth in the bathroom.
Now before you ask, the monkeys are called Grey Monkeys and they are not remotely aggressive. They are wild monkeys, not Uluwatu or Monkey Forrest monkeys that know which fancy pair of sunglasses to steal to trade for peanuts later. The monkeys at Plataran have maintained their passive behaviour because they feel no threat from people and because Plataran have a very strict ‘no feeding the animals’ policy. By not allowing guests to feed the monkeys, deer or birds, the animals are not competing for attention or food and therefore maintain their grazing and feeding habits as per in the wild. Menjangan; Menjangan Island; Plataran Menjangan; National Park; Bali Starling; luxury resort BaliThe monkeys were slightly interested in us, but only because we were a new ‘animal’ in their habitat.
The manager joked that they had fabulous gardeners in the deer because they have never had to cut grass with the deer grazing all day long. We only saw female deer and babies, the male deer tend to stay away, further in the National Park and only venture out when they want some female deer attention.
Menjangan is close to Gilimanuk and the crossing to Java, so much so that on one side of the resort we were on Bali time and on the other we were on Java time – my phone changed time when I switched it on and off.
Plataran Menjangan is a stunning resort and whoever designed it understood exactly how to make each villa blend into its surroundings while offering comfort and luxury. Each villa is joglo style with beautiful interiors that made me feel as though we were on some kind of safari or early exploration; huge draping curtains around the bed, writing tables, proper wardrobes, old style lamps, deep chairs and day beds for lounging, and the bathroom was like having a shower in a waterfall. 5 star luxury all around!
We were lucky enough to do the ‘Ranger for a Day’ tour. It’s actually not a whole day tour, but it does give you an idea of what the rangers do all day every day. Plataran has been entrusted to protect and care for the National Park so the tour guides work with the National Park security and rangers 24/7 ensuring there is no illegal logging or hunting going on. We walked with our interpreter guide and the ranger, learning about the mangroves and its eco-system, looking for deer horn markings on tree trunks, watching huge families of monkeys wandering around, and learning about the species of bird that live there (well over 100 types of birds).
One of the most exciting parts of the tour was visiting the Bali Starling Sanctuary. The Bali Starling used to be prolific throughout Bali and were widely admired for their beauty with their white bodies and blue and black markings. Over the years they have been hunted and often captured as pets, so the population is now endangered. The Bali Starling Sanctuary is working to increase population numbers and by keeping them safe in the National Park, the population is slowly increasing again. The birds are monitored by staff and security and you can even watch them in the comfort of your villa as Plataran has CCTV in the sanctuary that shows on the resort TV channel.
We only stayed for two nights but without the hustle and bustle of ‘normal’ Bali, you are forced to relax, enjoy the peace, watch the animals and the huge changing tides – it’s not exactly a hard ask! There are a couple of options within the resort and neighbouring property to dine, we stayed in house at Plataran and dined at the Octagon, a three level open plan restaurant and bar with views to the island plus views of sunrise and sunset. It also has a huge infinity pool looking down to a dinner platform for two in the ocean, and it has a swim up bar. The food was fantastic, the wine list was extensive and the cocktails were perfect!
In my opinion Plataran Menjangan offers the best of both worlds in the natural setting, animals and peace and quiet, plus it had awesome wi fi, room service, and total luxury in every villa. Oh and if you are worried about the four hour drive there, don’t be. There is so much to see as you pass through all the different landscapes of Bali and plenty of places to stop for photos and food – even the journey there is part of the holiday!