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Medewi: A Little Bit Like Bali Was

If it wasn’t for the big sign announcing its presence as you come up over a rise driving west along the Jembrana coast, you’d never know it was there. Medewi lies in the middle of Bali’s most sparsely populated and least developed district, the far-off regency of Jembrana 75 kilometers from Denpasar on the main road west (2.5 hours) or 34 kilometres west of Tabanan.
 
Put another way, visitors to Bali pass by Medewi without realizing it while travelling on the road east out of Bali’s port of Gilimanuk. All that can be seen are a string of houses and a solitary mosque along the highway.
 
This tiny and remote tourist enclave, at the end of a 500-meter-long paved road, is actually one of Bali’s premier surf spots a private paradise for the Japanese and Australian surfing set (the rocky beach is not suitable for sunbathing or swimming). The place is still a little bit like Bali was when the first wave of travellers hit the island’s shores in the mid-1970s. 
 
Because of its distance from Kuta and the absence of nightclubs or bars anywhere in the vicinity, there are never any problems with the high, long rolling waves of Medewi becoming crowded. The best surf is early in the mornings before the wind picks up. The biggest waves are in August when even the village’s fishermen don’t dare to go out.
 
The locals make their living by fishing off the black sand beach, peddling giant prawns to tourists, and grazing their cattle in surrounding paddocks. There’s one billiard table, meatball soup kitchen and drink stall with wooden tables and chairs, an open air bale-style restaurant. Back from the beach under the coconut palms is a cluster of homestays, and an excellent three-star hotel all very good value.
 
The beach consists of a stretch of huge smooth grey rocks with some sandy patches. The current is light and the waves probably the easiest on Bali, ideal for beginner and amateur surfers. The surf can also be lots of fun for more advanced surfers to practice tricks, without having to be concerned with clashing against the sharp coral reefs of Bali’s south coast.
 
Medewi is in fact the longest point break in Bali, a lefthander that rolls gently over black boulders and offers rides of up 200-400 meters long. It works best at mid- to high-tide on a two-meter high swell. On bigger swells, a right-hand breaking peak breaks in the middle of the bay straight in front of traditional fishing jukung pulled up on the beach.
 
A 500-meter walk south of the main point break will lead you to the Pulukan River mouth, a thrilling fast breaking righthander that, although visible from the main Bali-Java Road, seems to miss the crowds. There are also numerous bombora-style peaks just off the beach, and a couple of other point/reef breaks that are regularly surfed by Bali’s west coast crew.
 
As is the case everywhere in Bali, the locals are friendly both in and out of the surf. As a bonus, Medewi’s spectacular sunsets and cool and quite tropical evenings add a touch of glamour. In the end, this sleepy surf mecca is a solitary traveller’s kind of place and in absolutely in no danger of becoming a hot spot! 
 
Where to Stay
 
The few accommodations there are in this isolated place are high quality and good value for the price asked. All have restaurants attached.
 
The flashiest, largest and priciest accommodation is Medewi Beach Cottages (tel. 0365-40029/40030; fax 0365-41555/40034, email: baliwest@indo.net.id) with spacious well-furnished a/c cottages (but small terraces), satellite TV, refrigerator, hot water, manicured gardens with stately palms, big swimming pool. Peaceful and quiet, with just the sound of surf. Tariffs: Ocean View Rp465,000 double, Rp427,000 single; Garden View Rp350,000 double, Rp310,000 single. Across the road are plain cold-water standard rooms (Rp80,000, no hot water) with surfers the targeted market. Non-guests may use the pool for Rp20,000. Traditional dance performances are sometimes presented on Sunday evenings in the restaurant.
 
Cafe Mai Malu & Homestay (tel. 0365-43897) is a delightful two-storey newly built thatched roof traditional-style accommodation, perched on Medewi’s only hill, with immaculately clean rooms for Rp75,000 twin singles, Rp55,000 single, and a six-room dorm on the ground level for only Rp125,000. Safe and secure. All prices include breakfast, fans, inside cold water bathroom with European toilet. Popular for meals and entertainment, the breezy restaurant downstairs offers sensational views and a great selection of international home made cuisine including homemade pizzas, burgers, steaks and all the Indonesian classics. Though sometimes a little slow, the portions are big and delicious and definitely worth the wait. Nightly movies are also screened.
 
A less-expensive alternative is the charming family-run Warung & Homestay Gede (handphone 08123976668), a short walk along the rocky beach to the north (or take the path from the road). Ibu Ketut - the lady with the big smile - serves up inexpensive and tasty travellers meals in her open-air café/bale looking out to sea. Clean and airy lumbung-style raised bungalows cost an irresistible Rp40,000 double with fan. This penginapan-style accommodation is Medowi’s cheapest, as well as being the furthest away from the road and closest to the beach.
 
E-mail : pakbill2003@yahoo.com
 
Copyright@2005 PakBill
 
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