The Spectacular coast east of Singaraja features a long, narrow beach of black sand, pebbles and rocks buffeted by gentle waves.
In the hills, winding rods offers stunning views of steeps canyons and clove gardens covering arid slopes. After nightfall, everything comes to a standstill. This is the perfect place to escape the crowds, then hike to timeless villages like Sembiran and pristine waterfalls like Yeh Mampeh – or discover bizarre temples with erotic bas-relief, carvings of Dutchmen riding bicycles and other exotic monsters. The choice of accommodation is limited. The less expensive hotels are found around Air Sanih. Further east, around Tejakula and Sambirenteng, a few more up market resorts offer a perfect escape while trying to preserve the beautiful environment of this isolated coast.
East from Air Sanih – about 12km east of Air Sanih, the road climbs over a headland at Ponjok Batu with great views along the coast. The temple here was founded by the sixteenth-century Javanese priest Nirartha. According to the story, while sitting on a rock, Nirartha saw a wrecked ship below. All the crew was dead on the beach but, using his spiritual powers, he brought them back to life. Following this miracle, the local people noticed that the rock where Nirartha had been sitting shone with a magical light and a temple was founded here. Now, all the Balinese drivers stop to pray and receive a blessing for themselves and their vehicle.
About 100m west of the temple, Puri Bagus Ponjok Batu is a small restaurant linked to the Puri Bagus hotel in Lovina, perched on the hillside above the road with lovely coastal views. There’s a small menu of moderately priced Indonesian food and plenty of drinks; you can wander a short distance up the hill to a small reservoir with even better views in all directions.
A kilometer west of the temple it’s impossible to miss the exuberant decoration on the outside of the Art Zoo, the northern gallery of the Balinese artist Symon, who also has a gallery in Ubud.
Less than 1km east of the temple, in the village of Alassari, Pondok Sembiran Bungalows, signed toward the coast from the main road, is an attractive set-up in a quiet location. All accommodation has air-con and hot water, some is by the beach and some about 300m inland and there’s a pretty pool.
Continuing east, the land becomes increasingly dry and barren, and views of the outer rim of the Batur crater dominate the inland skyline. At Pacung, 2km east of Ponjok Batu, a sign points off the main road to Sembiran, reached by a narrow lane (3km). This is one of the ancient Bali Aga villages; along with Trunyan and Tenganan, but today little distinguishes it from any other village in Bali.