Jimbaran Seafood Cafes

Sunset and Seafood at Jimbaran Bay in Bali

    The Jimbaran seafood cafes should be on your list of must-tries during your visit to Bali, especially if you're a seafood lover. Not only is the bay one of Bali’s best places for enjoying memorable sunsets, but it's also a popular coast to enjoy grilled seafood. Over a dozen seafood cafes line the white-sand beach, which is locally known as Pantai Muaya.

    Mostly open from afternoon until late, each Jimbaran seafood cafe serves freshly grilled seafood at candlelit tables laid out on the beachfront. As the sun goes down, the horizon features faint lights from Ngurah Rai Airport and traditional fishing boat lanterns at sea.

    The cafes at Jimbaran Bay

    You’ll notice similar setups as you approach the Jimbaran seafood cafes from the beach – wooden tables with parasols down to the tide’s edge and some with attractive palm leaf decorations. Drop off from the main entrance and you’ll see grills and live seafood displays under signboards of each cafe that show different stock and ‘catches of the day’.

    From several dinners we had at the different cafes here, we noticed slight variations in the homemade sambal (traditional chilli sauce) in their form and spiciness. Menega and Intan Sari are quite consistent in terms of stock and taste (usually getting most of the crowds), while others have torches and attractive table setups as bonuses. Mild competition among these venues means good service. Staff and waiters are attentive and most speak simple English.

    Notable Jimbaran seafood cafes and restaurants along the beach:

    • Pandan Sari
    • Pandan Sari Cafe
    • Intan Sari Cafe
    • Nyoman Cafe
    • Bela Seafood Cafe & Bar
    • Menega Café

    The food at the Jimbaran seafood cafes

    Ease into a chair as a small dish of salted nuts and/or kerupuk (shrimp crackers) comes served as accompaniments to your beer or drink of choice. These cafes are known as the birthplace of ikan bakar Jimbaran or ‘grilled snapper à la Jimbaran’ with the essential sambal, and offer selections of red snapper, crab, calamari, prawns and lobster. All are served with options of steamed rice and traditional side dishes of spicy plecing kangkung (stir-fried water spinach) and fresh fruit platters for dessert. Use your fingers as part of the experience – a bowl with water and lime slices comes as standard (for you to ‘rinse’ your fingers).

    Look out for 2 sambal varieties, the famed red paste and another pungent version called sambal matah (fresh chopped chilli, shallots and lemongrass). Try both if you can handle the spices, or simply ask for a modified, milder version in advance. Some of the Jimbaran seafood cafes even have French fries, fried rice, and chop suey on their menus for variety, and even expand their seafood selections to barracuda, grouper, mahi-mahi, and kingfish.

    photo by LWYang (CC BY 2.0) modified

    How to get to the Jimbaran seafood cafes

    Southward from InterContinental Bali Resort, an intersection at Jimbaran Corner leads you to Jalan Bukit Permai, also named Jalan Four Seasons. Pantai Muaya spans 1 km along the bay, positioned between 2 5-star hotels. The large parking space under an arching signboard and billowing smoke from the burning coconut husks are hard to miss. All local drivers know the way to the Jimbaran seafood cafes. If you stay at these hotels, you can take an easy stroll along the sand and pick an unreserved table.

    Although it's ‘first-come, first-served’ most of the time, reservations are necessary during the holiday seasons when it is usually packed. A local taxi cooperative holds a monopoly in the area. You can come in by public transport, but going out leaves you no other option. Negotiate your destination and rates beforehand.

    Jimbaran Seafood Cafes

    Location: Jalan Four Seasons, Muaya Beach, Jimbaran, Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

    Open: Daily from 3pm to 11pm (hours may vary)

    Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller

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