Dining on the Beach at Jimbaran, Bali

Jimbaran al fresco dining at Menega Cafe, Bali
Jimbaran al fresco dining at Menega Cafe, Bali.

The Travel Tart

The dining scene in the town of Jimbaran in Bali is nothing like the fancy restaurant crowd you'll find closer to Kuta or Ubud. Instead of sitting in intimately-lit dining spaces, you'll sit on tables set right on the sand, out in the open, next to the sea.

Your dinner will be simple yet very Balinese: seafood, marinated and spiced according to the island's culinary traditions, and grilled over burning coconut husks.

You'll dine in the midst of one of Bali's most romantic dining settings: sitting on the beach with the sound of the murmuring surf in the air, your meal illuminated by candles and the moonlight, penjor waving in the wind.

Jimbaran Bay's Dining Choices

Jimbaran is a small town located about two miles south of the Bali airport, set close to the road leading from Pura Luhur Uluwatu, about fifteen minutes' drive from the temple. Jimbaran is located in the south of Bali; for more on the general area, read our introduction to South Bali, or read about 10 things to do around South Bali.

The town shares its name with the bay facing west, running north to south; the beach lining Jimbaran Bay is one of the best in Bali, its fine white sand an absolute pleasure to walk on. The beach's location makes it an obvious epilogue to any visit to the kecak performances at the clifftop temple.

About forty to fifty seafood restaurants of varying price and quality line the shore. The restaurants fall within two general zones, the northern part known for its rustic but cheap food, the southern part known for a more scenic but equally more expensive experience.

Kedonganan Beach on the northern section of Jimbaran Bay offers a cluster of restaurants taking full advantage of their proximity to Kedonganan town's fish market (Pasar Ikan Kedonganan, Google Maps).

Down south by Muaya Beach along Four Seasons Road stands another cluster of beachside cafes - these are among the more popular beachside restaurants for the tourist crowd, as Muaya Beach is also home to some of the classier resorts in the area.

Grilling ikan bakar at Menega Cafe, Jimbaran
 Mike Aquino

What to Order at Jimbaran Bay

Menega Café at the Muaya Beach cluster is one of Jimbaran's more popular beachside eating places. Menega has benefited from some fine word-of-mouth over the years – its scrumptious ikan bakar (grilled fish) nicely complements the picturesque location, with cliffs visible in the far background, the residences twinkling with a distant light.

Menega's selection differs very little from the menus of all the other dozens of beachside dining spots up and down Jimbaran Bay. Wherever you go along the beach, you'll find grilled seafood served with rice: a hearty, no-frills meal you can even eat with your hands. Individual preparations include:

  • Ikan bakar: barbecued fish, seasoned and grilled. The restaurants use snapper or grouper - large fishes that are butterflied and deboned, roasted over burning coconut husks, and served with sambal belacan, or spicy sauce.
  • Sate cumi: squid, cut into slivers, skewered on bamboo sticks, and grilled.
  • Kerang bacar: barbecued clam, roasted in its shell and served with a special sauce.
  • Udang galah: large prawns roasted over a fire, shell and all, and served with rice
  • Lobster: available at selected restaurants, usually one of the more expensive items on the menu

You can order your food from the menu, or take your pick from the tanks filled with live fish, crab, and shrimp. Even if it isn't sourced from the tank, you can be sure your food is extremely fresh, as Jimbaran is a fishing center, and the food you're served is very likely to come from the day's catch.

Along with the rice, you'll be served with steamed vegetables and an array of sauces for your food – sambal, kecap manis (sweetened soy sauce), and an onion-laced salsa. Top off your meal with drinks – a Bintang beer is good, and so is a fresh coconut with a straw stuck in, for you to sip the coconut water with - and you're all set for a uniquely Balinese dining experience.

Budget dining this isn't. Food here at Jimbaran can be quite pricey, particularly for the upscale restaurants down at Muaya Beach. Prices for seafood are calculated per kilogram: expect to spend about IDR 100,000 (about US$7) for a kilo of grilled grouper, IDR 130,000 (US$9.15) for red snapper, IDR 250,000 (US$17.60) for prawn, IDR 650,000 (US$46) for live lobster

Pro tip: Ask for set menus for groups or couples, which may let you sample more food for comparatively less.

Bonding over dinner at Gekko Bos Cafe, Jimbaran, Bali
 Mike Aquino

A Short List of Kedonganan, Jimbaran Restaurants

If you're headed to the northern part of Jimbaran, try one of these restaurants along the seashore for your next romantic dinner.

A Short List of Muaya Beach, Jimbaran Restaurants

If you're headed to the southern part of Jimbaran, these al fresco experiences should fit the bill.