Kopi Luwak Coffee & Snorkeling in Choppy Seas: Padangbai Bali, Indonesia

Following our Mount Batur hike and delicious breakfast on the edge of creation in Kintamani, we make our way to a kopi luwak coffee plantation. We are pleased that we avoided a run in with the Kintamani Mafia on the invigorating hike on the volcano crater, but now are ready for some more adventure. We are delighted when we arrive at the coffee plantation that there is a lovely garden with many local plants and trees on display. 

This is a cocoa tree.

And then our favorite……a coffee plant!

Now a person with any level of sophistication has probably not only heard of Kopi Luwak coffee, but has also wasted a ton of money buying a cup of brew……like David did in China. He blew $40 on a cupful of Kopi Luwak, which ended in a food fight—but that’s another story.

Anyway, if you are a coffee snob you might appreciate Kopi Luwak. But if you have a problem with consuming something that comes out of an animal’s rectum, then you  might not appreciate Kopi Luwak. Maybe this is where the level of sophistication really comes into play. I guess this coffee is the most expensive in the world because it is so rare.

There is this little animal in Indonesia called a luwak, or Asian palm civet, which in my opinion is a cross between a rat and a cat and a weasel. This little fur ball eats the ripest coffee cherries during its nightly prowls of coffee plantations. The animal can’t digest the actual coffee beans and thus they are excreted whole when the luwak has a bowel movement. The farm workers collect the luwak’s coffee bean containing droppings, which they subsequently clean and prepare for consumption. Apparently the beans have acquired an exceptional taste after passing through the animal’s digestive tract and the anal scent glands that the luwak uses to mark its territory.

Ick! That sounds downright disgusting! Who would drink this kind of coffee? I guess the critter is cute enough….but to drink coffee made from beans that it poops out……I should think not! Cat poo coffee?

Sure enough, there is the luwak’s poop!

After the beans have been cleaned they are roasted. At this plantation they are roasting the beans on a fire. Annika takes a turn.

The plantation is beautiful.


We are given free coffee and tea samples.

I order up a luwak cappucino…..mmmm…..$6…..not bad……

An order for kopi luwak brew is made. The woman lights a fire underneath the beaker.

When the water boils it rises up into the top chamber where the grounds are. 

When the heat is removed the coffee filters down into the lower chamber again.

How does it taste? Amazing! And it’s only about $6 per cup…….way cheaper than in China at $40 per cup!

That was awesome. When we get back into the van we tell Bascomb, our chauffeur, that we want to go to the Bloo Lagoon to go snorkeling. At first he tries to dissuade us by saying that we can’t get there in time, but we insist.

As we drive we pass many beautiful buildings. The architecture in Bali is so unique and beautiful. I am so happy. I feel joy in my heart that I am here today with my family enjoying this beautiful place. 

At long last we arrive in Padangbai Harbor. The little town here is super cute, and we again find ourselves wishing we could stay longer. Time is a wasting, though, as the afternoon is advancing. We need to get out on the water quickly.

When we get out of the van we are swamped by several snorkeling tour operators who want our business. Clearly this is not the busy time of their day, and they are all looking for an opportunity to make money. We speculate that maybe most people go snorkeling early in the morning when the water is calm. The first offer that we get for a snorkeling excursion is 3 million, which we laugh off.

Ville finds us a reasonable deal. A man has promised to take us out on two junkung boats to two popular snorkeling spots for 1.2 million, including the gear. We pilfer through their assortment of fins and masks and snorkels to find everyone the right size. Some of the snorkels have mold in them, but we just rinse them off.

When everyone has selected their gear the man tells us to hop into the boat.

“All of us?” I ask incredulously! “You promised two boats! Where is the other boat?”

He insists that we don’t need a second boat. He claims that this boat can easily accomodate up to 20 people. That’s not happening! I am not piling 13 people with snorkeling gear into one boat!

“Dude, really? You promised us two boats. Get us the other boat,” I demand.

He protests. We insist. He protests. We insist. We are ready to walk away. Finally he strikes a deal with another tour operator and we have a second boat. When we are ready to board the boat we ask for life jackets. The tour operator tells us that there are three life jackets in the hull of the boat.

Excuse me? Three? There is 7 of us on one boat and only 3 life jackets? No sir, we need life jackets. He protests. We insist. He protests. We insist. Finally he runs down the way and comes back with extra life jackets that he borrowed from somewhere, and we are on our way!

Now take a look at that! Really? How could 2o people fit on that thing? The outrigger boat reminds me of a spider on the water.

In order to get to the snorkeling spots we have to go out into the open sea. It is very choppy, and I imagine how horrible it would be if we had all been in the same boat. What if we would sink and everyone would fall into the depths of the sea! There’s not even enough life jackets! And what if the dinky motor broke down? We would float out to kingdom come, or get thrown up against the jagged rocks on the shore. I have read that there are very strong currents in the sea in this area. One website even mentioned that you should take care to choose a good fastboat company if you plan to boat away from Bali any significant distance, because the currents are so dangerous; many boats get lost at sea. At least if we are in two boats if there is an emergency the other boat can come to the rescue. There is no way I would be so dumb as to go out with our whole crew on just one junkung boat.

We didn’t sink. We actually make it in one piece to the little bay where the water seems to be considerably more calm. Guess what? The coral is awesome. The colorful fish are abundant. The reef is alive!!!!! The colors are vibrant! It is such incredible snorkeling!

Watch that ballast doesn’t bash you in the head, kids!

Our second snorkeling spot is in the Blue Lagoon. The water is beautiful, but choppy. Of course we are the only foolish people out snorkeling in these conditions. No wonder the operator was so happy to have our business. Clearly it had been a slow day for them. The boat rocks back and forth perilously. The boat operator assures me that the boat will not sink under any circumstances. My knuckles are white and I feel queasy.

Now you might well imagine if the water is this choppy in a sheltered bay how choppy it is when we get out in the open sea to make our way back. The waves are huge! David guesstimates that the swells are at least 6 feet high. Up we go, and down we go…..up we go, and down we go……When an especially big wave hits us the operator slows the boat down to a crawl. The outriggers slap the water loudly as we go up and down in the perilous waves. I want to take pictures of the whole scene unfolding before my eyes, but there is water splashing everywhere, and my camera would face certain doom. I keep my camera securely in a waterproof bag that is not really that waterproof since it’s a fake North Face bag from Vietnam.

Now if I tell you I am nervous I would be lying. I am outright scared! Can you imagine if all 13 of us had piled into the same puny boat? That would have been totally ridiculous!

It is Ashlee’s first time snorkeling, and she loves it!

Finally we are back into the Padangbai Harbor where a big ferry boat threatens to swallow us whole. 

Blue lips on the Bloo Lagoon.

We return to the relative safety of land. Honestly, going into the van and entering the nutty traffic in Bali without seatbelts is probably far more dangerous than our snorkeling tour. We have a two hour drive back to our lovely Villa. We have Bascomb stop at the Carrefour grocery store on the way home so we can get some food. Well, by food I mean ice cream and delicious bread and wafer cookies and pop.

When we get home we tally up the car and driver bill. $90 for 10 hours, plus $7 per hour thereafter. We have been on the road for 17 hours…..WOW! Really? Yes, we started at 03:00 am driving up to Mount Batur in Kintamani, hiked the volcano crater at sunrise, had breakfast on the edge of creation, enjoyed Kopi Luwak at the coffee plantation, and gone snorkeling all in one incredibly awesome day! That’s a long day and a hefty bill….$140…..which is about $10 per person…..that’s awesome! What a great deal! And Bascomb was in no hurry to rush home like Kadek had been……Bascomb was at our beck and call, and brought us where we wanted to go without arguing.

We apologize to Bascomb for the long day, but he looks happy. He tells us that it was great…..the longer the better, because he makes more money.

Once we are back at the villa we throw together some leftovers and some of the goodies we just picked up at Carrefour. As we are eating there seems to be a glow of happiness radiating around the table. We had just had the most awesome day ever! Everyone agrees it was such an incredibly fun day, worth every penny spent.

A discussion ensues about what to do tomorrow. One option is to rent a driver again and do a tour of different beaches in the area. The other option is to just relax on our own beach. It will be our last full day in Bali tomorrow. Jasmine and Tristan leave tomorrow at 05:00 pm for their “real honeymoon” in Taiwan. In unison we decide that we all want to stay on our own beach to relax, soak in some rays, roll in the surf….and thus it is that we drag our exhausted selves to our respective rooms and fall fast asleep…..one more day in Bali….we really need a couple more weeks….

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