Is Keramas the new black? Scott McRae unveils his new Bali favourites
Category: Travel Stories

BALI – it’s one of those places that you either love or you will never travel to. Some have political reasons, some don’t like the perceived Aussie ‘bogan’ reputation that it has in some areas, which I can understand.

I fall into category one. I am proudly a return visitor to this lovely part of the world for more than 30 years and yes, I have seen many, many changes. Some are great and some not so good and I have had to change my destinations accordingly. I guess this is a typical of every destination on the planet in some way, shape or form. Places change in the name of progress, but it’s not always a positive step, unfortunately.

My first trip to Bali was in 1980, yes, a lifetime ago to some, but to me it is still fresh in my memory and doesn’t seem that long ago.

Kuta and Legian still had rice paddies that took up much of the land that ran along the beachfront. The roads were roughly tarred with many still just gravel. Resorts as such, were few and far between and homestays and backpacking hostels were a plenty.

Bemo’s were the main source of transport and Warung’s were abundant and just delightful! Fresh, real Indonesian food was cooked in front of you as a single fan swirled above your head and you would pull an ice cold Bintang from the esky that lay next to the counter yourself. You would eat and drink for two aussie dollars and be full and ready for your next surf! Oh, and here’s the big one, there was only one fast food store in the whole province! Kentucky Fried Chicken had just opened.

Yep, they were the days and as I said a lot has changed. That is why I have to invite you to step away from the concrete that has replaced the rice paddies, away from the big city style restaurants’ that have replaced the rustic Warungs. Get the heck out of Dodge and experience a taste of the essence of what real Bali is about.

Now I am not expecting you to stay in a palm roofed hut in no man’s land and live off the land, I just want you to get away from what has become the Bali standard for many and see another side of the island. I am talking about the East Coast and more specifically a little gem called Keramas.

Keramas is about twenty minutes by car north of Sanur (one of my favourites) and although it may not have those famous Seminyak sunsets, if you, like me are an early riser, well, the sunrise is just as special.

Black volcanic sands with minerals that glisten in the sunshine. Old school Warungs that are practically on the sand. No manic traffic and motorbike madness! A place to relax, engage and to really settle your mind.

My accommodation choice on this adventure came down to a few simple requirements and some may see them as slightly ostentatious. Well that’s okay, you can indulge a little and still experience the substance of Bali in Keramas.

Is Keramas the new black? Scott McRae unveils his new Bali favourites

Villas in Bali are a plenty, but Villa Bahagia in Keramas ticked all the boxes for me and I found this pocket of paradise on Facebook (just search Villa Bahagia, Keramas).

It is perfect for a family get together or a partner retreat or maybe a little romantic getaway. This three bedroom, three-bathroom delight sits right on Keramas Beach. It has a large kitchen and living area, a spacious tropical garden with a stunning pool and a separate plunge pool that sits overlooking the famous Keramas surf breaks.

A lazy arvo with a cold Bintang in hand was certainly enjoyed in that location! Oh and make sure you keep your eyes out for the twice daily duck parade on the beach!! It’s a sight to see.

The villa comes with many inclusive extras, like your own housekeeper and gardener that keep everything just perfect. You also have the opportunity to secure the services of the Villas on site masseuses, and I am not talking about the five dollar an hour untrained offerings that are many in Bali. These lovely ladies will treat you poolside to one of the best massages you have ever had for around $20. The same as you would pay $90 for here at home!

They are that good I had one a day for five days ….. oh the bliss.

You can also put that great kitchen to use without getting your hands dirty by taking advantage of bringing Chef in to do it all for you, and seriously the cost is so affordable. With all that on offer you may think I didn’t leave the Villa … well as easy as that would have been, it’s just not my way.

Is Keramas the new black? Scott McRae unveils his new Bali favourites have a horse riding school just 10 minutes from Villa Bahagia and the opportunity to ride one along the Saba Bay sands and through the tropical forest that is still detectable in this region was a distraction I was definitely up for. Galloping along the beach shoreline was pretty cool and I’m sure I looked like the guy from the Old Spice commercial! (Well, maybe just in my mind).

The horses are well kept and the set up was certainly professional. I must admit though it is a little sad that some of the Balinese people still haven’t been educated in the art of waste management and some parts of the beach ride exposed some of this. I do believe that the new leaders are trying to address this and are making headway.

Is Keramas the new black? Scott McRae unveils his new Bali favourites

Okay enough of the negative. Here comes a super positive. Let me take you a little further up the beach and introduce you to Komune. certainly understand the eco message and about waste management. What started out as a small surfers retreat with rustic accommodation and the bare minimal in amenities has now become one of the coolest, relaxed and eco-friendly destinations on the east coast, possibly the whole of Bali!

You can stay here in luxury or more cosy accommodations, but I was already sorted for digs so I was here for a day visit only, although I did return the next day it was so excellent.

Let me try and put it into a nutshell for you. Picture this – a parcel of land that has encompassed its surrounds, with plenty of green space and a tropical pool that overlooks the magical surf break that is world famous here. An onsite spa that takes you to the most heavenly heights with pampering that goes beyond the limits. There is an outdoor eating area that embraces its environment perfectly and then delivers the most stunning local and international culinary delights for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s just the tip of the berg!

I could go on but just do yourself a favour and checkout the website above, or better still when in Bali at least make the effort to have a day here at The Komune Beach Club. You will NOT regret it!

For a great deal at Villa Bahagia Keramas talk to Amber via facebook at Villa Bahagia

More from beautiful Bali soon.

Scott McRae is the host of Channel Tens “A Taste of Travel”