Jimbaran is a mecca for seafood, with over two dozen seafood restaurants located right on the beach. The restaurants are quiet at lunchtime but as the sun goes down, crowds arrive to admire the beautiful sunsets and paddle in the sea. Once dark, torches and candles create a wonderfully romantic atmosphere. Diners grab their tables in the sand. The restaurants essentially serve the same fresh catches with a few offering some choice of style of cooking.
There are now three distinct sections of seafood shacks. Those at the far end of the bay are the originals. These are locally owned and therefore have a stake in the future and reputation of the area. The newer places are near the Four Seasons and have better toilets and furniture. Some also have a full bar service. Check all prices as they tend to get better the further you go toward the end of the bay. This strip is better than between the Four Seasons and InterContinental. The third strip, closest to the airport, is best avoided, not only because they are the greatest rip-offs but also as they are possibly unlicensed by the local authorities.
Choices are crab, clams, fish, lobster, prawns, and squid laid out at the restaurant entrance on beds of ice and, given the turnover, all guaranteed fresh that day. You can either leave the staff to choose the items or you can go directly to the barbecue area and choose it yourself. It is better to pick your own, although actually identifying it when it has been cooked, is trickier. Agreeing on a price up front ensures no surprises later on and don't be afraid to try to haggle -- it is expected. The restaurants are rarely expensive and are not known for ripping anyone off, so be kind. Some places suggest that they do not haggle, but the majority price it in. Keep your ears open to what the locals expats are paying per kilo. You will be amazed by the difference.
Prices are reasonable with dinner for two with beer or soft drinks approximately R150,000 to Rp250,000. Wine is available but usually only local Balinese Hatten wine, which is best drunk either very cold or very quickly. Feel free to bring your own wine and ask if they have corkage.
Look for Menega Cafe (tel. 0361/705-888; www.menega.com/cafe.html), which stands out from a row of restaurants that basically offer the same thing for its more unique grilling approach: Most places grill on coconut shells, but here they add some secret ingredient. Though you can certainly enjoy some pleasant conversation and a few Bintangs with the manager, you'll never get him to tell you the secret.
Weighing in at the Jimbaran Seafood Restaurants -- You pay only for the seafood you select and your drinks. The peanuts, entree, vegetables, and platter of fruit at the end should be included. Seafood is sold by the "kilo" -- many of the scales are questionable. The restaurateurs expect you to bargain and its part of the fun. But if you want to be precise, check the scales with a liter of water, which equals 1 kilo. Then you know that they aren't inflating the price.
A Night Out on the Rocks
The Rock Bar (5pm-1am) at the Ayana resort sits at the base of the cliffs and is so close to the water's edge that the lovely salty sea mist of the crashing waves will make you thirsty. Choose from a long list of specialty cocktails (starting at Rp95,000). Tables are also set in a special section you access via a cave entrance. DJs perform regularly. This is the sort of spot where expats bring visitors to experience the decadence of living large on the edge.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.