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Bali's unspoilt, far-flung east coast offers a taste of the more authentic, traditional Bali, as well as the island's premier diving and snorkeling. Karangasem, Bali's most historically rich regency and one of its most beautiful, stands out in particular. In quiet Manggis village here you'll find 4-star stalwart Alila Manggis, two decades old and peacefully set beside the sea in a coconut grove. There's not much of a beach here (there's a pretty black-sand cove), but the idyllic coastal setting, with sacred Mount Agung overhead, more than compensates. Four two-story, thatched accommodation blocks are spaced well apart around a large, palm-fringed swimming pool on beachfront lawns. Although part of the upscale Alila hotel group, guestrooms are surprisingly sweet and simple (all face the tranquil bay and pool, so you probably won't care about the interiors all that much). Superior rooms afford ground-floor pool access with porches and daybeds; first-floor Deluxe units feature timbered balconies with Asian-style daybeds for wonderfully relaxing sprawls. The two larger Seaside Suites are ideally suited for families, providing more living space and expansive first-floor outdoor terraces.

Environmentally committed Alila's focus is on guests experiencing local community traditions and East Bali culture, from a local outrigger boat that goes directly to a coral reef to afternoon tea, Balinese style, served daily on the lawns. Authentic East Balinese cuisine is highlighted in the casual fine-dining restaurant, Sea Salt, an open-sided pavilion set on a lotus pond. Alila's private hillside organic gardens (a 15-minute drive away) host excellent cooking classes and memorable breakfasts overlooking the rice fields; much of the fresh herbs and spices grown here ends up in the property's kitchens.