If you have an afternoon to spare, there are worse ways to spend it than strolling through one of Bali's mangrove forests. Not only does it serve an important purpose in protecting the coast; this particular mangrove has been opened up to the public with a series of walkways, a lookout tower, and - if you make it all the way through - a scenic view of the toll road.
Entering the mangroves feels almost like stepping into another world. Beams of light break through the canopy and fall onto the skeletal exposed roots of the trees. In the quiet, you hear gentle drips and plops all around, but you can't be sure what's causing them. You tell yourself to make sure you're out of there before it gets dark.
Enjoy the serenity of this quiet forest
Most of the route is a circular walk which takes about 30 minutes to complete if you don't stop. But you'll want to pause to take plenty of photos, and there are benches at regular intervals if you want to rest and watch everyone else go by.
Halfway round, you'll discover a wooden tower, which you can climb to get an elevated view of the mangroves and the locals trying their luck at fishing.
From here you can branch off the main loop and make your way south towards the ocean. Ten minutes more and you'll find a place to sit and enjoy the breeze blowing in from the bay (as well as a lovely view of the toll road to Nusa Dua).
You might appreciate the chance to rest at this point, since nature has turned the path into an obstacle course in places.
Be ready to duck or climb!
By now you've probably realised that this forest walk isn't suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. Aside from the intruding trees, the walkways are often slanting, uneven, or missing pieces. If you have small children, be prepared to carry them or hold their hands tight all the way around - this is one big tripping hazard!
Also, take some insect repellent as those stagnant pools are a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
If all of that doesn't put you off, the price might. While locals and KITAS/KITAP holders pay just 10,000 per adult (be sure to bring your ID), it's a whopping 200,000 for everyone else. For kids, it's 6,000 and 50,000 respectively, although we weren't asked to pay for our 3 year old.
You'll find this mangrove forest just a few minutes south off the bypass on the way from Sanur to Kuta. It is signposted, but not very clearly, so it's best to just follow the map. Search for "Mangrove Forest Management Center Region I". There are little stalls selling drinks and snacks at the entrance and a small nursery where you can see new plants being grown.
This part of Bali is lacking in places to just go for a walk, particularly out of the sun, so it's certainly a nice way to spend a couple of hours. But I honestly can't say it warrants such a high price tag for tourists. Perhaps they would prefer to keep it as a place for the locals to enjoy?