Stephanie Mee greets the ocean at Karma’s new artisan seafood experience.
It’s pretty hard to top the feeling you get when you’re riding an inclinator down the side of a limestone cliff and watching a pristine white sand beach and aquamarine lagoon open up below you. I’ve been to Karma Beach Bali before and the grand entrance experience never gets old, but this time the anticipation is even more heightened because this beloved Bali beach club has recently undergone an impressive transformation.
Karma Beach Bali is part of the Karma Kandara Resort, a spectacular clifftop playground featuring private-pool villas overlooking the Indian Ocean, a Mediterranean-inspired fine dining restaurant with an infinity pool, and the Cliff Spa with breezy relaxation bales that offer 180-degree views of sea and sky. The exclusive beach club sits far below on a powdery crescent of sand sheltered by the towering limestone cliffs.
To be honest, I thought the previous incarnation of Karma Beach needed no improvements, but the new version takes the space to a whole new level. The expansive ocean-facing dining room now has more space with communal tables under a soaring thatched roof and bar seating lining the front of the restaurant. The expanded deck features semi-circular benches just a few steps up from the sand. Rustic wooden tables, beige and blue cushions, and a bamboo awning add to the beach-chic vibes.
New to the beach club is also a dedicated bar and lounge area with huge swinging chairs facing the water, wooden stools and tables, and a DJ booth where world-class artists spin soulful beats throughout the afternoon and into the evening. This is a great spot to chill out with a fresh juice or one of Karma’s tiki-style cocktails like the South Seas Punch, a heady mix of dark rum, apricot brandy, falernum, passion fruit purée, pineapple juice, bitters, and lemonade.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the sublime beach fronting the restaurant and lounge. This little slice of paradise has to be one of the prettiest beaches in Bali, and thanks to Karma’s policy of only allowing a certain number of people in a day, it never gets crowded. Shade seekers can grab a lounger under an umbrella, sun seekers can settle into a beanbag on the sand, and water babies can head straight to the reef-protected lagoon to swim, snorkel, or do some stand-up paddling or sea kayaking.
We’ve come around lunch time, so we grab a seat in one of the cushioned booths on the deck and peruse the newly upgraded menu. The culinary offerings are inspired by various Karma resort destinations around the world and feature fresh local ingredients including plenty of seafood. There are enticing small plates to share, as well as fresh salads, wood-fired pizzas, and hearty mains like pasta, whole fish, chicken and steak.
We start with the salt and pepper calamari, which comes lightly battered and fried until golden crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The squid ink aioli has just enough richness to complement the saltiness of the squid. The croquettes are another superb choice if you’re feeling indulgent. Each crunchy orb is skewered with a sundried tomato and cherry tomato and features an ample portion of smoked lamb leg inside. A smear of tzatziki under each croquette adds a refreshing touch.
Karma’s artisan pizzas are a great choice if you’re looking for something to share at the table or want to please little ones. Each handmade pizza features a thin crust and fresh toppings that range from simple and straightforward to downright decadent. We opt for the latter and dig into slices topped with prosciutto, caramelised onions, truffle cream, hon jameji mushrooms, mascarpone, rocket, parsley and truffle oil.
Our final dish was the grilled local lobster and it was by far the star of the meal. Ringing in at 300 grams, the lobster is butterflied and grilled in the shell so the meat retains its succulence and flavour. It comes artfully plated on top of a colourful salad of baby potatoes, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. The side of tarragon aioli is tasty, but we don’t really need it considering the lobster is pretty much perfection on its own.
After a leisurely lunch at Karma, there’s nothing better to do than enjoy the sun, sea and sand. I highly suggest staying on to catch one of the legendary sunsets that the Bukit is famous for. Plus, you can enjoy great Golden Hour drink specials every day from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. Karma also has regular special events like movie nights on the sand, beach bonfires, a bamboo seafood BBQ, and beach parties with killer beats by world-class DJs.
I have to admit, riding the inclinator back up the cliff is bittersweet. Yes, the views are just as spectacular going up, but it’s not easy to leave this little corner of paradise. That being said, I know I’ll be back again soon. If you haven’t been to Karma in a while or have yet to make a trip there (gasp!), it’s time to add the new and improved Karma Beach Bali to your bucket list.