Jimbaran in Bali: Review, Advice & Must-do

Alexis
Modified on January 21, 2024

Jimbaran is a popular destination in South Bali. Here is my review and advice to help you decide if you should include Jimbaran in your itinerary.

Where is Jimbaran in Bali?

First and foremost, some geographical reminders are in order when talking about Jimbaran.

Jimbaran is a charming coastal town located in a protected bay on the southwest coast of Bali, in close proximity (to say the least!) to Ngurah Rai International Airport.

Technically, a part of the northwest of Bukit (the southern peninsula of Bali) is also considered part of Jimbaran, roughly until Balangan Beach. Well, in common language, when you mention Jimbaran, everyone mostly thinks about everything north of the Bukit, on the "flat" area to the east of Jimbaran Bay. But let's move on; it's not very important.

The history of Jimbaran in Bali tourism

Jimbaran was not originally a tourist destination. The town has primarily a long history linked to fishing and traditional Balinese cuisine since it is one of the largest fishing ports in South Bali.

So, it was somewhat by chance that it became a tourist destination, thanks in part to the tourism development of Kuta (also a former fishing village!) and, of course, the development of Ngurah Rai Airport.

Over the years, it has become famous for its seafood restaurants, its beach, and, of course, the iconic sunsets of the Bali West coast.

What does Jimbaran look like today?

Although Jimbaran has evolved to welcome more visitors, it has remained relatively anchored in traditions. Fishing activities have never stopped despite the arrival of tourism, and many locals still live around Jimbaran, even if most of the waterfront is now occupied by restaurants and, less frequently, hotels.

Unlike some parts of Bali, Jimbaran has not been significantly altered and retains its traditional essence, with added amenities and infrastructure to accommodate tourists.

The highlights of Jimbaran

If Jimbaran is popular with tourists (and the few expats who live there), it's because they find something special. Here are, in my opinion, the (major) highlights of Jimbaran that make it a unique place in Bali.

Jimbaran is a hyper-central destination in South Bali

Let's get straight to the point: you'll have a hard time finding a more central location than Jimbaran in South Bali.

Simply put, this town is located close to everything: Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport and almost all other tourist destinations in the south of the island, such as Uluwatu, Nusa Dua, Kuta, or Seminyak.

A significant advantage is Jimbaran's proximity to the airport and the toll road, allowing you to avoid much of the traffic in South Bali, which is no small feat given the extent of the problem and its potential impact on your travel plans.

In short, Jimbaran is an ideal starting point for excursions to other attractions in Bali. You can easily reach Uluwatu to visit Uluwatu Temple and watch the Kecak dance at sunset, go to Nusa Dua or Sanur for water sports, shop in Seminyak, or visit one of the malls in Kuta in no time.

Jimbaran is THE destination in Bali to eat fish and seafood in a romantic atmosphere

sunset dinner jimbaran

The seafood restaurants with fresh catch, with your feet in the sand, are a must-experience in Jimbaran.

Of course, the fish and other seafood all come from the market located at the end of the bay! They are therefore fresh and expertly prepared following Balinese recipes. While I am personally allergic to shellfish and cannot vouch for their quality, I can guarantee that a Balinese-style grilled fish with a generous serving of sambal matah is truly a delight.

Eating with your feet in the sand, by candlelight, and/or facing the sunset is truly charming. If you have a partner who loves seafood or fish, it's really a fantastic romantic outing.

If you don't care about romance and all you're interested in is the seafood, you can even go directly to the Jimbaran Fish Market to buy your fish/seafood yourself, then go to nearby restaurants that will simply grill/cook them. It's cheaper, of course, you choose your fish, but it's much less romantic.

Jimbaran has a beautiful and calm beach with no waves

If Jimbaran is a fishing port, it's primarily because the town is located in a very sheltered bay from the swell and winds.

Yes, logically, fishing ports are rarely found in areas where no boat can go in and out easily.

One of the significant advantages, especially compared to the rest of South Bali, is that you have no waves or sharp reefs in Jimbaran bay. The beach is a white sandy beach, very calm, even when the swells are at their biggest and all the surf spots are on fire.

If you have young children, if you don't swim well, or if you don't like beaches with lots of reefs, then Jimbaran is a very good destination where you'll be able to really chill.

A small note for those with a sensitive nose who might think it could smell like fish with a fishing port so close: only the north of Jimbaran Bay is the area of the fishing port, which can understandably smell a bit like fish and, to a lesser extent, fuel. The middle and south of the bay are not affected at all.

It is easy to find very nice hotels in Jimbaran

Jimbaran has some very beautiful hotels, some of which face the sea and/or have direct beach access.

It is also possible to find fairly inexpensive accommodation in the vicinity of Jimbaran by making some compromises.

Booking.com

The (few) negative sides of Jimbaran

Jimbaran really has few genuinely negative aspects. Almost everyone who visits me goes there at some point and enjoys it, and my family and friends who regularly go to Bali almost always end up going back.

Here are, however, a few minor negatives if you're really picky.

Jimbaran remains a tourist town in Bali

Jimbaran is not exactly the little fishing village lost in the middle of nowhere. It was, but it's been a long time since that was the case.

Yes, it's a tourist town in Bali, and you'll find tourists from around the world, including many Indonesian tourists who come from all over the archipelago to enjoy its seafood by the beach.

If you come in high season, and/or you happen to be there at the same time as a tourist bus, it can seem quite crowded. But it's far from being like that every day, and not all establishments are crowded.

Jimbaran is very quiet in the evening

Jimbaran is primarily a destination where many come to enjoy good seafood and where some, fewer in number, come for holidays or to wait for their next flight.

It's neither the most lively place in Bali nor necessarily the one that offers the most in terms of entertainment diversity.

If you like to party in a beach club, visit a different bar every night, eat dishes from around the world, or go shopping, this is not the right destination in Bali. These are experiences you can have in Kuta, Seminyak, or Legian, which are just a short drive from Jimbaran. Or further north in Canggu.

What to do in Jimbaran? Must-dos in my opinion

In the end, the activities that I consider truly unmissable in Jimbaran boil down to a few things.

Taste fresh seafood with your feet in the sand: a nearly obligatory experience

As I mentioned earlier, the beachfront restaurants, feet in the sand, with candles, overlooking the lights of the Bukit... it's quite something. And it's romantic.

Even if you're with friends or family, it remains, for me, a mandatory stop. As for the menu choice, my heart inevitably leans towards grilled fish accompanied by rice and sambal matah, but you do you.

Visit the Jimbaran Fish Market: a true institution

jimbaran fish market

Visiting Jimbaran Fish Market is almost mandatory for me if you stop there. Let's say you have to do it at least once.

Yes, it smells of fish, it's cramped, the ceiling is low, and there's shouting everywhere. But it's an experience.

And as I mentioned earlier, nothing prevents you from buying your fresh fish from a local merchant and grilling it in one of the restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the market. Yes, it always feels strange to show up at the restaurant with your own ingredients, but it works very well.

Enjoy the (waveless) beach of Jimbaran

Jimbaran's beaches are truly ideal for swimming and relaxation.

The view is magnificent, with the Bukit on one side, the airport on the other, and white sand in the middle. It's a great spot for a beer (or a coconut, or whatever you like) at sunset.

Whom do I recommend most to visit Jimbaran?

Let's say it outright, I recommend Jimbaran to almost everyone passing through Bali. However, here are those who have the most interest in stopping there.

Those arriving or departing from Bali Airport should all stop in Jimbaran

In my opinion, Jimbaran is one of the 4 best cities in Bali to stay near the airport (with Nusa Dua, Sanur, and Kuta). In this top 4, it is even clearly closer to the top 2 if judged as it can fit most demographics and most budgets.

It's an excellent base for your first days in Bali, but also a great city to end a trip in beauty while being close to the airport.

Honeymoon couples in Bali often pass through Jimbaran

Lovers in search of romance and spectacular sunsets often pass through Jimbaran, especially if they love seafood.

So, you will encounter many couples in Jimbaran, including quite a few who are on their honeymoon or on a wedding trip.

Seafood lovers will be in paradise in Jimbaran

If you are very fond of seafood, the question doesn't even arise; you must stop by Jimbaran to try Bali style fish and seafood.

Yes, you can try fish elsewhere in Bali, but here you can combine the market experience with candlelit beachfront restaurants...

Jimbaran is an excellent destination for those who want a quiet beach

In South Bali, the beaches are often either full of waves (Kuta, Seminyak, etc.) or protected from waves by coral barriers, but with rocks everywhere as a consequence (Uluwatu, Balangan, etc.).

In the end, there are quite few sandy beaches without rocks and without waves in this part of Bali, especially if you like white sand.

If that's what you're looking for, Jimbaran is made for you.

Jimbaran is a good destination to learn more about Indonesian fishermen

Fishing is a ubiquitous activity in Balinese traditions, but more generally in Indonesian traditions. Since Indonesia is an archipelago of 17,000 islands, the boat is inevitably important, and seafood is one of the most consumed foods.

If you want to learn more about boats, fishing techniques, and how to prepare catches in the Balinese way, Jimbaran is a very good place for that!

Conclusion

Jimbaran is a destination that suits almost everyone. If you're wondering if you should stop in Jimbaran, the answer is probably yes.

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