Pulau Serangan

Pulau Serangan, more commonly referred to as Serangan Island or Turtle Island. The reefs around Serangan Island used to be popular with local snorkeling tours – and tourists used to visit the turtle-breeding pens on this island, too – but all this changed in the mid-1990s when big chunks of Serangan Island were brought up for a huge real-estate development project, Bali Turtle Island Development (BTID).

Phase one of this project, which originally centered around a hige hotel resort complex, involved connecting the island to the mainland by a kilometer-long causeway and tripling the size of the island by encircling it with “reclaimed” land made up of dredged sand and limestone.

As for Serangan’s former tourist attractions, the surrounding reefs have all been pulverized into sand or buried beneath landfill, and the turtles – which were always a sorry sight anyway – have been moved to a tiny island nearby, though this hasn’t stopped south Bali tour operators advertising trips to see the reefs and turtles if Turtle Island.

Pura Sakenan – on the northwest coast of this small, beleaguered island stands Pura Sakenan, which is thought to have been founded in the sixteenth century by the Javanese priest Nirartha (the same man associated with the coastal temples at Tanah Lot, Uluwatu and Rambut Siwi). It figures very importantly in the spiritual life of the people of the south Bali, for whom it’s a public temple – as opposed to an ancestral or village temple. The annual festival held here at Kuningan is a huge event that lasts for several days and attracts thongs of worshippers in full ceremonial gear.