For our time in the northwest corner of Bali we decided to stay at the The Menjangan given it’s proximity to Menjangan Island for snorkeling plus the National Park that the resort is located in. We weren’t sure what to expect given the relative remoteness but we definitely left feeling like we wanted to return in the future.
The manager greeted us in the Tower lobby and a staff member quickly brought over cool towels and a plate of veggie spring rolls. We were given a brief overview of activities, booked our snorkeling trip for the following morning, then quickly climbed to the top of the Tower for some quick photos of the sunset as the sky cleared.
It had just rained so the mosquitoes were in full swing. Thankfully, bug lotion was provided to me quickly and I escaped with only a few bites. Oddly, this was the worst evening for mosquitoes during the entire trip.
We were driven to our room and the staff brought all of our bags for us, as was common in Bali. The room was surprisingly large with a very high ceiling, large platform bed, and couch area. The bathroom tile had an interesting blue-green tinge, perhaps a copper treatment of some kind. We took a few minutes to freshen up from the days travels then went to the beach for dinner.
You need to call for a ride to get from point A to point B within the hotel grounds so it can take a while. Once you have a vehicle it was a five minute ride to the Monsoon Lodge and another 10-12 minute ride to the beach and main restaurant. Max speed in the park is 10 km / hour.
The beach restaurant is outside on a deck with water under you and stars above. Given the distance to other options, food was thankfully quite good. Leandra ordered a glass of rose (from Bali but with SW Australian grapes), tuna carpaccio and the mixed grill satay with beef, pork and chicken in Balinese spices. Eric had lemon smash drink (lemonade with a splash of seltzer basically) and the rendang (a beef stew with coconut milk). Yum.
After dinner we retired to our rooms after a long day. We had been warned that there would likely be a resident gecko in our room – having experienced this in Hawaii and the Caribbean we weren’t concerned. However, we were rather surprised at the size of geckos in Bali, as our room had a six inch version looking down at us from the ceiling!
Thankfully ours was quiet and didn’t wake us up at night.
We awoke early to many bird songs – so many different calls!
Menjangan alarm clock
We gathered up our snorkeling supplies and headed to the beach for breakfast by 7.30. Eric was eyeing the homemade granola and even though they were out of the chocolate granola (boo), he really enjoyed the cinnamon and salak (snake fruit) instead which was tasty and filling. I went the more traditional route with eggs florentine.
The rest of the morning was spent snorkeling. Afterwards, we thought about sitting on the beach for a bit, but rain threatened. We made it back to our room just before the two hour rain storm began. Lucky!
The lodge rooms were arranged around a central pool that looked lovely but seemed impossible to keep clean — leaves were constantly falling in, plus some insects too, so we skipped it in favor of the beach.
Around 5pm we went to the tower again for sunset views. Along the ride our driver stopped for a deer, which moved off into the underbrush and exposed a stalking monitor lizard! Unfortunately, we couldn’t take a good photo due to the underbrush but it was a great experience to see such a large lizard close by. With the afternoon rain the clouds were preventing much of a view, so we went made our way back to the beach for dinner. Fifteen minutes later the clouds became more agreeable for the tail end of the sunset.
Unfortunately for us we missed happy hour by three minutes, and given the overall easy going nature of the resort, we were surprised that the bar staff didn’t show any leeway with the cutoff time. Instead, we sat for dinner a little early. In hindsight, our waitress that night was a little strange and slow, probably the worst we had at resort, so it may have just been her. I opted for the mahi mahi ceviche and duck fat potatoes (which were disappointingly bland), while Eric had the sate skewers. Since it was Eric’s birthday we went with the double chocolate brownie with strawberry ice cream (they were out of the advertised coconut flavor).
We woke up a bit later than usual and tried to book a guided trek from our room but the staff at the lodge didn’t speak English very well and I was getting a lot of confused stares at my request. So we settled for just a ride to the beach. Once we sat down for breakfast, we were able to talk to the beach manager and get ourselves scheduled for a trek the next morning. It wasn’t clear from the room manual that there were set times for these treks (9am and 4pm) and the fact that they leave from the tower so that would have been helpful planning knowledge.
The flies were really, really bad this morning and it took away from our enjoyment of breakfast. I had the French baked eggs with spinach and wheat toast and Eric had the French toast (crazy small portion) and the salak and cinnamon granola again.
After our meal we took the transport to the tower to sort our ride to Ubud the next day, then grabbed our beach stuff and parked ourselves on lounge chairs with some reading material for a few hours. The beach has several shady lounge chairs, none of which were ever ‘reserved.’
Eric went snorkeling mid-morning, then we had lunch under the covered tents on the beach. I had the falafel burger with potato wedges which was a little heavier than I was expecting but the flavor was solid, while Eric tried the pizza ball appetizer.
The storm clouds seemed to be staying away this afternoon so we took our stuff to the docks for one last snorkel. The water was pretty murky with the tide so I didn’t stay in for long but Eric got some good underwater shots between the two dives.
On our way back to the lodge we spotted a troop of moneys in the road and several deer. The driver was nice enough to stop so we got a few photos.
We washed saltwater off all our stuff and headed to the tower for sunset and happy hour (the tower bar had been closed the previous two nights). A mojito and Rosella flower margarita were delivered to the top level where we chatted with Phil, a Charleston professor of marine ecology about Bali and travel in general.
Eric in front of the lodge waiting for the transport van
The bats and swifts were out in full force and we even saw two huge fruit bats in the distance… they were as big as hawks!
We decided to stay in the tower for dinner and enjoyed the more traditional Indonesian fare. We had pork belly grilled in banana leaves and prawn fried rice with chicken satay. Eric ordered a chicken salad with a side of red rice. During dinner we were entertained by a pair of geckos stalking a mantis on the wall. At the end of our dinner, the gecko earned his meal with a dramatic lunge down the wall. All the while bats were swooping in and out of the third story tree-house. We loved it!
As usual, we woke to bird song (and would miss it at other hotels). This morning we ate breakfast at the nearby tower (well, on the deck) which had some road noise but significantly fewer flies than the beach the day before.
Last day for the tasty granola so Eric made sure to have some. After breakfast we met up with our trekking guide who took us along several trails through the park with descriptions of the various plants and animals. White acacia, barking deer, ant lions, the famous Bali starling and a few other birds were seen on our hike.
Views of the water from the conference room and mangrove beach were interesting as well.
By the end the hike it was starting to get warm so we were glad for a ride back from the beach and some time to cool/dry off in the room before our departure.
Overall, there were a few small service issues but the staff at The Menjangan were earnest and helpful, and the surroundings are great. We’d definitely consider a return – hopefully we can get there quicker next time!