Image courtesy of Ayana Resort
A visit to Rock Bar where you sit at a ledge like bar, while the waves crash beneath you, is a once in a lifetime experience especially when you have a cocktail in hand and are watching the sun sizzle down into the Indian Ocean in a spectacular display.
But to make the magic happen it is worth noting a few pointers before you go there.
Photo: This is the infinity pool at Ayana Resort - home to the famous Rock Bar. Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
You can get a taxi to drop you off at Ayeda (one of the worlds classiest resorts and home to the Rock Bar) but there are signs as you drive towards the resort that say 'taxi drop off only' and 'NO Grab' (Bali's answer to Uber). And as Ayeda is quite isolated it pays to know how you are going to get out of there without having to resort to local and often expensive local transport options.
One tip is to use Kura Kura, a small bus that is permitted in and out of there. It cost $10 for the day or $15 for a two days pass but it takes you pretty much to any tourist attraction you want to get to, including Rock Bar which can be a little hard to get to.
Tourists feel they have to rely on taxis is Bali but in truth there is a small bus that does the rounds to all the tourist hotspots including Rock Bar.
Once you are inside the hotel, you will find that the grounds are extensive and the path to Rock Bar is in the far right corner. When you get all the way down there, if you have any kind of satchel or small backpack, they will ask you ever so nicely to take it back and leave it at reception for security reasons.
So unless you don't want to do all that traipsing around, then leave it at the reception in the first place. Wish they had signs up to the effect as I did a lot of traipsing.
Security guards are pleasant but rigorous. They even have sniffer dogs.
The bar does not open until 4.30pm but get there earlier. The setting sun will be in your eyes but they supply umbrellas so you can shield your head and eyes from the glare. There is also something quite amusing about a sea of black umbrellas and drinking surreptitiously from behind one.
Rock Bar is down, rather than up, and all the dramatic shots you see of the bar are taken from above. The famous bar in the photo above is not necessarily the one you will be seated at, as there is a series of cojoined bars leading off from this main one.
This is just one section of Rock Bar - looking down
It was a surprise to find that we went down the steep grade in a cliffside inclinator. It looked surprisingly like a wicker basket. Safe enough but just to warn you.
Photo Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
The inclinator only takes six or so people down at a time which is why queues can bank up if you get there too late.
Photo Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
This may be the most expensive place in Bali to drink. A fancy cocktail will set you back about $20 although the small plates of food are about half that. Then a service charge is added on top of that.
Service is impeccable with cool refreshing towels handed out to mop your brow and bowls of fresh plantain chips often refilled. Unbeknownst to me, I dropped my wet towel but the waiter knew and brought me another. The staff might stand at a respectable distance away but they watch you like hawks to be of service.
I only stayed for about an hour. It was an amazing sight with waves crashing so the spray seemed sometimes at eye level. An illusion only, but quite dramatic. And there is the serenity of viewing the traditional Balinese fishing boats streaming out to sea.
A Balinese fishing boat putting out to sea. Photo Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
These fishermen were perhaps earning no more in a week than I was spending on one drink. One can only hope that in some ways tourism is helping the local economy. And apparently, it does. For example, the big hotels and restaurants need fish and other local food products.
What do you call a collection of chefs coming up in an inclinator?I have no idea. But it made for an odd sight.
To leave Rock Bar there are 160 steps to climb but you can ask to use the inclinator to hoist you back up.
Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
As I was leaving fairly early, I could see the snaking queue of people waiting to be admitted down to Rock Bar. Think Disneyland
like queues and you will understand the need to get there at 4.30pm as I did.