While yogis flock to Ubud and surfers hit the waves in Canggu, a little-known wellness gem lies to the east on Bali’s coast. Perched on a clifftop above a black sand beach—a gentle reminder of Mount Agung, the volcano looming 20 kilometres north—Amankila is an isolated coastal oasis of outdoor adventure and decadent spa relaxation. Compare Retreats’ expert and avid yogi Gretchen Lagrange went off the beaten track on her recent trip Bali to explore this ultra-luxe hideaway for a weekend of wellness.
Located in the East of Bali in a small village called Manggis, Amankila sits on the coast overlooking the Lombok Strait. It’s about a 90-minute drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS). The resort-organised pickup skipped all the usual South Bali traffic, instead cruising down long stretches of winding coastal road, into an area of Bali that somehow has not yet been overrun by tourists.
The first view of the resort up the stretching driveway is striking: lush green rice paddies, black volcanic ash cliffs, and an expanse of blue ocean dotted with white ships and a rainbow of fishing boats.
The lobby itself is open-air with huge dramatic columns made of white stone which are discreetly placed so as not to impede the views of the sea and the three-tiered swimming pools built into the side of the cliff, mimicking a stacked rice paddy. I was greeted with a scented cold towel and a delicious, refreshing drink with fresh passionfruit and sorbet which hit the spot after the long drive.
Designed by architect Ed Tuttle, Amankila boasts 34 private stand-alone suites—some with private swimming pools and some without. The suites, styled like traditional Balinese thatched roof houses, are dotted at different elevations throughout the property and are accessed by a series of elevated walkways.
My pool suite, “Indrakila”, was a hefty hike up four staircases—however, the payoff when you reach the top of the staircase is well worth the hike. There is a small spa and gym on the property but the focus is outdoor exercise with many hikes, treks and a plethora of water sports on offer.
Besides the swimming pools, and in the main area of the resort, you can walk through the forest down a lengthy stairway and reach a fourth pool at Amankila’s beach club, which sits just behind the long stretch of the resort’s black sand beach. There are two restaurants: one at the beach club which is only open for lunch, and then the main restaurant and bar.
I stayed in the gorgeous Indrakila suite which has a private entrance and sweeping ocean views on three sides. There is also a gorgeous and quite large lap pool, a private covered day bed (or balé), lounge chairs and umbrellas where I spent my time daydreaming in between activities.
Each room features a large king-size bed, a desk, a huge sunken soaking bathtub, stand-alone shower and a spacious dressing area, with double sinks perfect for couples.
The room’s top features—free-flow Balinese crackers (krupuk) and decadent mini homemade cookies aside—were the floor-to-ceiling windows complete with screens so I could open them in the evening and fall asleep to the sound of the crashing waves. The second highlight was… no TV. It’s a common feature in many Aman Resorts, and I found it a welcome subtraction so that I could fully immerse in the magical environment.
At Amankila’s ocean-view restaurant where I had breakfast and dinner, the focus is on locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant serves both Balinese and Western cuisine and combines both local techniques with contemporary ones for a twist on classic dishes. They grow many of their herbs and veggies in the Amankila garden on the property, and the freshness is evident in the ingredients. During all meals, I was offered healthy choices and never felt restricted. From smoothies in the morning to gluten-free bread, nothing was too small to cater to and every meal was incredible.
As part of my wellness weekend, one morning I walked a short trek to one of Amankila’s beautiful scenic picnic spots and had a delicious al fresco breakfast at Taman Sari Bale. The Bale is set in the hills of East Bali, with views over Amuk Bay: I sat there for a few hours, sipped my green tea and watched the farmers in the rice paddies below.
A highlight for me was the delicious Tuna Sambal Matah that I had one evening for a starter at dinner. Fresh tuna and sambal matah which is a Balinese sambal made of shallots, lemongrass, kefir lime, garlic, chillies, and shrimp paste. The combination of flavours was delicious and the fish was so fresh. I also loved the fresh fruit smoothies with tropical mango which happened to be in season while I was there. All of the food is fresh, seasonal and so flavourful you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose.
Outdoor Wellness Offerings
My weekend at Amankila began with a short trek and a healthy breakfast at Taman Sari Bale. My delicious breakfast was followed by a private fitness class on the beach with the amazing Mudiasa. Mudiasa teaches the traditional Balinese martial art of “Pencak Silat”. He demonstrated the fluid sequences of slow-but-strong movements: what looked remarkably simple took a lot of concentration and stamina to balance and flow and I found myself either laughing at my awkwardness or losing my balance and falling face-first into the black sand. It was hard but so much fun and I loved watching Mudiasa demonstrate the practice.
Amankila focuses their wellness programmes on outdoor activities, taking full advantage of their proximity to the ocean and gorgeous natural surroundings.
Throughout the weekend I had numerous options to trek through East Bali on foot or bicycle, run through the nearby villages, join a tour of the temples, pick a day tour or even an on-site cooking class. Amankila focuses their wellness programmes on outdoor activities, taking full advantage of their proximity to the ocean and gorgeous natural surroundings. There are also many organised classes such as Pilates, yoga and boot camp for a more hard-core group training session.
Of course, in-between all of my sports activities, I made time for the Amankila spa. There was a list of decadent scrubs, rubs and massages to choose from as well as traditional Balinese massages and healing sessions. The most amazing treatment on my itinerary was the oxygen facial. I had no idea what I was in for when I walked into the spa but was excited for a much needed facial after all of my air travels.
07:30 Sunrise breakfast at Taman Sari bale
09:00 Pencak Silat private class with Mudiasa
11:00 Balinese massage at the spa
13:00 Healthy lunch at the beach club
14:30 Lounge on the beach OR choose a water sport
16:00 Afternoon tea by the main tiered pools
17:30 Sunset cocktails at the ocean view bar
19:30 Private candlelight dinner in your suite or by the main pool
My spa therapist served me some fresh ginger tea and explained that she would be using a special machine to stream pressurized oxygen that would be infused with different vials of vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts to refresh and rejuvenate my tired, dehydrated skin. The cool stream of oxygen was relaxing and smelled great and I think I might have fallen asleep for the hour. When it ended, my therapist handed me a mirror and my skin was truly glowing and I saw less fine lines. Not only that, but my skin was plump and hydrated and looked amazing: it really was like natural botox.
Other wellness programmes at Amankila include group or private classes with the Leibert Equalizer, and Aqua classes taught in the water using floating mats. There are also wellness-focused retreats tailored for guests who would like to focus on sport and wellness throughout their stay.
Amankila is not only stunningly beautiful with top-notch service and world-class hospitality, it’s also the perfect place to relax, detox from your phone and dive into a wellness programme off the beaten path of South and Central Bali. Having both hillside and the ocean on its doorstep, Amankila is the spot for all outdoor activities: fitness and movement are seamlessly blended into how you enjoy this unique location, so it would be impossible not to enjoy a healthy holiday here.
Although Amankila welcomes children, the resort was quiet and there weren’t any little ones around during my stay, and the resort is spread out enough that even if there were, it wouldn’t be an issue. I would return to Amankila in a heartbeat and am already looking into their Wellness from Within retreat programme for my next holiday.
At any Aman resort, the stellar service and “ask me for anything” attitude of the staff shines, but at Amankila in particular, the GM Ernst Ludick, was always walking around and personally checking in and engaging with each guest, which I found to be a step above and beyond.
Our Insider Tip…
One of my favourite things was running down to the beach in the late afternoon and grabbing a stand-up paddleboard: there’s a nearby fishing village that skirts the resort, and it’s easy to reach on the paddleboard. By the time you get back, it’s the perfect time for a late-afternoon cocktail served on your private beach bale as you enjoy the slow sunset.