Bali: Segara Lestari Villas: Enjoying the North Coast
When we swept up on the shores of Bali, we decided to beat the crowds and head for Bali’s north coast, an unspoiled part of the country far off the tourist trail.
Luckily, we found Segara Lestari Villas, through the Air Bnb website, and after a prompt series of e-mail exchanges with the owner and proprietor, Gede Yudarte, we settled on a reservation for four weeks in a villa that included an en suite bathroom and shower as well as a porch.
Located between Tejakula and Les, Segara Lestari Villas, bill themselves as an eco fishing village. In fact, there are many fishing boats that set off from the shoreline, and there has been a major investment in restoring the reefs native to this coastline to their former glory.
Having been decimated by chemicals used for fishing in the early nineties, several NGOs have been involved in educating the fisherman over the last decade, and the reefs have turned the corner and are growing, attracting highly colored tropical fish and sea life.
Way to Go Gede, the owner of the villa, picked us up at the airport ($50 or 650,000 Indonesia Rupiah), waiting with a hand lettered sign with our names that we easily spotted. After alighting the comfortable, late model, air conditioned van, we made stops to change money, and purchase drinks for the three hour drive “home.”
As we drove the winding roads of Bali, through Ubud, Batur, and other memorable sites, we did not stop, as the sun was setting and we were eager to get to our final destination.
Visiting Bali’s Interior
Travelers who land earlier in the day can certainly plan a day of touring on the way up to Segara Lestari, and take advantage of what the interior of Bali has to offer. Arriving after dark we were greeted with an immaculate room, a comfortable double bed, a porch with a view out to the water, and the smile of the friendly co-proprietor and chef, Gede’s wife, Made.
Balinese Cuisine a la Fresco
Made immediately asked us if we would like to eat, and quickly cooked up an amazing meal fit for the finest of restaurants.
We continued to enjoy eating there throughout the month, enjoying a variety of Balinese dishes that rarely repeated themselves. My personal favorite was fish patties made from freshly caught tuna, steamed in coconut leaves, spiced with garlic, ginger and pepper.
Eating at Segara Lestari Villas is one of the greatest pleasures to be had in northern Bali. Made makes a daily trip to the local market each and every morning around 6 AM. If you are lucky, she may take you with her for a true taste of Balinese life.
Stands piled high with fresh fruits and vegetables, many of them unfamiliar to the Western eye, trays brimming with gleaming, freshly caught fish, flowers, incense, snacks, and drinks are all available in the market that is teeming with humanity at the crack of dawn. Returning before 7 AM she prepares a light breakfast for all guests consisting of beautiful tropical fruits and some tasty fritters or cakes with coffee or tea. She then asks when and what you would like to
eat during the day.
Deciding on whether it will be freshly caught fish, tempeh or tofu, is a most difficult choice. Chicken is also available for those who like. White steamed rice and a variety of fresh vegetables accompany each meal.
All dishes are cooked Balinese style in the simple kitchen that adjoins a dining porch. The porch, with the sea as its backdrop, provides the perfect ambience for a home cooked Balinese meal of outstanding quality. Meals cost about $4. Or 50,000 Indonesian Rupia per diner.
Snorkeling and Diving
This is one bargain not to be missed. Snorkeling and Diving out the front foor: Aside from eating, other activities that are worthwhile to partake in while vacationing in this corner of the world are snorkeling and diving.
Segara Lestari provides rental equipment for both, and will set up accompanied dives with highly competent dive masters if you wish.
Can you imagine stepping right outside your front door, walking less than ten yards and entering the water for an out of this world snorkeling experience?
Live corals, brightly colored tropical fish, and even turtles abound in the lively underworld. The water is almost always very calm, and so warm that wet suits are not necessary. While the dive sites right off the shore of Segara Lestari have not made it into any guidebooks, they are equal to some of the best diving we have done worldwide, and you don’t have to elbow out any divers to see the sites. You are virtually alone to enjoy the sites.
While the highlight of our stay were the days we just lounged around the villa, we did stir ourselves up from the tropical torpor occasionally to enjoy several day trips to nearby sites and adventures. Gede was happy to serve as our guide and driver for approximately $50 per day and was always ready with reliable information about places to visit and things to do. We spent a day touring Ubud and Mt. Batur, the local volcano that is perpetually shrouded in clouds.
Another day was spent chasing dolphins in Lovina, and lounging around nearby hot springs. Our trip rounded out with diving the famous dive sites of Bali in Amed and Tulomben.
We availed ourselves of massages at two nearby spas where the Balinese masseuses were excellent, and the prices were fair.
While tourist attractions do not abound in northern Bali, the occasional day trip was enough to keep our relaxing holiday interesting in between the daily snorkels and massages.
Balinese Home away from Home Segara Lestari Villas is a wonderful place to step back from the frenetic pace of modern living, and chill out. Staying here gives you the opportunity to enjoy the natural wonders of northern Bali, meet the people, savor the flavors, and contemplate life. It doesn’t get better than that.
Find out more about the villas at their Facebook page.
Naomi L. Baum, Ph.D., in an international consultant in the field of trauma and resilience. In this capacity, she has travelled widely working with communities that have been hit by earthquakes, hurricanes and terror, from Mexico to Nepal.
She is the author of two books, “Life Unexpected: A Trauma Psychologist Journeys through Breast Cancer,” and “Free Yourself from Fear: A Seven Day Plan for Overcoming Fear of (Recurrent) Cancer, both available on Amazon. Naomi is a mother of seven, grandmother of thirteen, married to the same man for more than forty years who lives in Israel. She can be found at her travel blog: www.slowtravelsblog.wordpress.com or at her website: www.naomibaum.com