The coastal Village of Pemuteran is as far as it gets from all the hustle and bustle found in the south of the fabled island of Bali. Instead, here peace and tranquility welcome all to its secluded beaches and captivating hilly background. Situated at the northwestern part of Bali, the charm of Pemuteran also lies beneath the surface of its calm waters, in the many diving spots, and most especially its phenomenal Underwater Temple.
Located in the sub district of Gerokgak,in the Buleleng Regency, the village of Pemuteran is only 20 minutes’ drive away from Lovina Beach, just at the outskirt s of West Bali National Park. The coastal area of Pemuteran is also the jumping off point to a diving adventure around the Menjangan Island.
With its gleaming black volcanic sandy beaches complemented with sheltering coconut and palm trees and backed by enchanting sceneries of green hills, Pemuteran is a perfect illustration of Balinese philosophy on energy “Nyegara Gunung” (The fusion of energy between the mountains and the sea). The serenity of this place radiates a certain spiritual ambience, making it a perfect place for meditation. In contrast to the vivacious Bali southern beaches, Pemuteran offers very little (if not to say none) entertainment in the evenings. Instead, the hotels and cottages found here emphasize more on tranquility so their guests can solemnly meditate or just fully retreat from the city’s rat race.
While peace and tranquility are found on the shores, wonders await below the surface. The Pemuteran area is unique because no other part of Bali has such large areas of shallow reefs, and these are accessible to divers and snorkelers because the region lacks the extremely strong currents and waves that characterize other coastal areas of Bali. Although all the dive sites are just a short boat ride away, surprisingly there is so much to see in Pemuteran bay itself. Within a few meters from the shoreline, Seahorses, unique Crabs, Frogfishes, and other sea creatures already decorate the sea floor.
The most fascinating feature of Pemuteran’s underwater splendors is the existence of an enchanting underwater temple garden which enchantingly combines nature’s beauty with amazing work of art. The site attracted worldwide attention in 2010, when a mystifying photo of divers entering an underwater temple gate taken by British Underwater Photographer, Paul M Turley, spread on Twitter and internet with an alleged discovery of ancient temple ruins on the seabed of Pemuteran.
“Apparently someone took my photo, posted it on Twitter and claimed an archeological discovery off the coast of Bali. This went global, thanks to the internet and thus an urban legend was born”-Paul M Turley (http://www.searovers.net)
In fact, the site was built on purpose in 2005 as part of the “Reef Gardener” community project which is also incorporated in The Pemuteran Karang Lestari Coral Conservation project. This amazing structure is a somewhat engineering feat with over ten large stone statues resting on stone plinths and a 4 meter high Balinese distinct candi bentar gateway (that appeared on the controversial photo). The “garden” is covered in gorgonian fans and must be seen to be believed. Found at a depth of 29 meters it also incorporates a cleaning station with schooling baitfish. In 2006, a second stage to these Temple Gardens was constructed at a depth of 15 meters to allow less experienced divers to be able to dive the location.
The Karang Lestari Project is recognized as the world’s largest coral reef restoration project, and winner of national prizes for community-based environmental management and many international awards for ecotourism. The project uses the Biorock method to increase coral growth rates, increasing reef fish density by providing fish with a suitable habitat.
The underwater Temple Garden maybe exceptional, but there are also a lot of other dive sites around Pemuteran area which offer equally spellbinding sceneries. Among these are: The Temple Wall, Canyon Wreck, Kuburan Kapal (Ships Graveyard), Chris’s garden, Rock garden, Close Encounters (east slope/west slope), Gede’s Reef, Deep Reef, Napoleon Reef, and Pulaki Reef.
With all the fascinating wonders that lie beneath the surface, and the tranquility surrounding its shores, it may not be a coincidence that the Word “Pemuteran” means the turning point or a place to come back to. Because once you set foot here, you’ll definitely want to come back over and over again.