Manarai Beach House is the perfect spot for a cocktail or seven, as Sarah Douglas discovers.
WITH a sea of blue pools lining the white sand beach at Nusa Dua, a string of seaside cafes and beach barbecues, one venue stands out for its cool vibes and world class entertainment.
Manarai Beach House brings a little thrill of the excitement of Bali’s best beach clubs to the shores of Nusa Dua. Part of the Ismaya Group, one of Jakarta’s leading food, beverage and entertainment outfits, it’s sophisticated and a lot of fun.
With two pools, a restaurant, wine shop and three bars, the venue is small by beach club standards but packs a whole lot of personality into its absolute beachfront location.
Blue and white are the signature colours at Manarai, creating a fresh island feel. While the Executive Chef creates great menus that include gourmet meals in the air-conditioned restaurant, delicious pool-side menus and snacks, it’s cocktail hour when we arrive and we dive straight in.
Perched on the spacious double day beds overlooking the pool and the beach, the cocktail menu sings to us, with exotic local ingredients and premium spirits. Many feature local fruits and coconuts and are served in beautiful woven baskets.
Our first cocktails are coconut-based. The ‘Shaken Pina Colada’ is served in a fresh pineapple and has all the freshness of a Pina Colada, made with fresh pineapple, rum and coconut cream, yet it’s shaken rather than blended, making it refreshing rather than cloying, and not too sweet. My partner chooses a ‘C-cup’ and falls in love with the mix of coconut sorbet, coconut water and home-made vanilla syrup. It’s served in a fresh coconut with a bamboo basket to support it. It’s not complicated but it’s light, and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg on top earns it a big thumbs-up. She orders another one!
The main cocktail bar sits to the side of the beachfront pool, shining with its mix of blue tiles. There is a swim up bar at the more intimate pool that sits beside the restaurant and on the beachfront, a bartender is swinging bottles like the professional he is. Day beds are scattered on the beach, extending the venue to the seafront.
Waiters are on hand to explain the cocktails and the menu appears to ensure we add a few snacks to our afternoon of fun in the sun. The music, thankfully, is tasteful and not too loud. This is a venue that likes to party and world class entertainment is often on the bill. Today, it’s just the playlist and it adds a gentle beat to the afternoon.
We decide to dive into some of the more exotic cocktails and try a gin-based drink called ‘Tan Lines’, it’s a pretty pink, frothy drink created with watermelon and pink peppercorn. Others that catch our eye include the ‘Peas Out’, with vodka, St Germain, cucumber juice and green pea cordial. It’s almost as healthy as a bloody mary.
There’s a prosecco and coconut sorbet cocktail called ‘Girlfriend, yes!‘ that sounds delicious, while the ‘Twisted Tiki’ catches our eye for its intoxicating mix of bourbon, mango rooibos and laksa cordial. With a total of 14 signature cocktails, it’s clear we won’t be ticking off the whole list in an afternoon, but it’s tempting.
Snacks arrive and we dig into a Caesar salad, seafood spaghetti, a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with San Danielle ham, Manchego cheese and black truffle, and delicious wagyu beef sate served still sizzling.
In between dips in the beautiful pool, mere steps away from our day bed, we decide to try the classics and opt for a frozen margarita, and a skinny bitch made with Absolut vodka.
The sun heads towards the horizon, the sky turns a beautiful shade of pink and the lights that festoon the beach are lit. Canopied day beds take on a new romance while a bonfire is started and the entire beach house takes on a pretty glow.
It’s a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon and for those staying in Nusa Dua, not wanting to brave the traffic, it’s a destination that has become popular with both families and grown up holidaymakers.
Excellent services, great facilities, a menu that travels from the simple to the gourmet and some fabulous signature cocktails makes this a great day out.
While weekdays are softer, the weekends are party days and the line-up of entertainment attracts guests from all over Bali.