If you love seafood, you must visit the Jimbaran Fish Market in southern Bali.
The unique thing about it is that you can pick super fresh fish, shrimp, octopus, lobsters, and clams yourself and have them prepared just minutes later in one of the nearby restaurants.
Afterwards, you can enjoy the smoky grilled seafood feast right on the beach for sunset.
In this article: how to do just that and some first-hand tips.
First Stop: The Wet Fish Market in Kedonganan
So, where exactly is this marvelous place for fish fanatics?
Jimbaran, right? Wrong! It’s actually in Kedonganan, the neighborhood north of Jimbaran and just south of the airport.
You want to get to Kedonganan Fish Market.
I’ll keep calling in Jimbaran Fish Market as that’s how most people know it.
When to visit
The Jimbaran fish market is open daily from 7 AM to 7 PM.
Most guides will tell you to go there in the early morning when the fishermen bring the fresh catch of the day. They land outside of the market around 5:00-5:30 AM.
That’s partly true – fish is indeed caught daily and what is presented in the market is fresh.
But the magic of the area is to have a seafood dinner by the beach for sunset and what are you going to do with the morning-bought fish for the whole day? So unless you have a kitchenette at your apartment or villa, go for dinner (or maybe lunch) when the nearby warungs are open.
Moreover, fish is stored in plenty of ice throughout the day and remains fresh until the late afternoon. And let’s be real: will you know if the fish in the morning is a fresh catch or well-refrigerated fish from yesterday?
What to buy
You can buy whatever you want of course!
There is a colorful and wide selection of fish and seafood. Some of the most popular are (Indonesian words in brackets):
- Red Snapper (ikan kakap merah);
- White Snapper (ikan kakap putih);
- Wrasse (Ikan Napoleon);
- Mahi mahi (Ikan Lemadang);
- Tuna (tuna);
- Salmon (ikan salmon);
- Oysters (tiram);
- Shrimps (udang);
- Calamari (cumi);
- Small Octopus (cumi cumi);
- Big Octopus (gurita);
- Crabs (kepiting);
- Lobster (lobster or udang laut);
I bought a big red snapper fish (~800 gr.) with 1/4 kg shrimps and 1/4 kg octopuses for 2 people.
Prices at the Jimbaran Fish Market are competitive because of the number of vendors selling: Economics 101, supply and demand, yadi yada.
Nonetheless, if you look white and speak English, expect to pay more: the foreigner (bule) markup is unavoidable.
If you have an Indonesian friend, bring them along and you’ll get the real prices. Bargaining is allowed but don’t expect a discount larger than 5-10%.
Payment is only in cash. 100.000 IDR is around 6.5$. Read more about money in Indonesia.
Prices are per kilogram but you don’t need to buy a full kilo: pick and mix a little from everything for a varied meal.
|Price in kilo
Second Stop: The Nearby Warungs
The street leading up to the fish market is lined with warungs where you can give your “catch” and have them marinate and cook it for you.
Which one to choose?
I’d love to tell you the best warung but I’m afraid I can’t. They all look the same on the outside. The guys in front all ask you to dine at theirs. The cooking price per kilo is all the same (15.000 IDR per kilo).
The best thing you can do is look at the reviews on Google Maps. According to it, the one with the most stellar reviews is Bali Sea Beach House.
Whichever you choose, you will have to give your bag of fresh seafood purchases to be weighed before you enter. You may get a choice of sambal (chili sauce) if they have more than 1.
Third Stop: The Beach
After you give your fish for cooking, go pick a table at the beach. Some are directly on the sand, almost touching the waves. It’s a very nice ambiance for a pleasant dining experience.
You will be asked to order side dishes. The most popular ones are rice (nasi) and vegetables (sayur).
Some of the establishments have live music but you’ll be able to hear/see it from any of them. When I went there, the singer was a bit off with the tone and the live music was lackluster.
The fish is cooked within an hour but on busy nights you may have to wait longer. Some of the reviews in Google Maps mention waiting times of up to 3 hours and I’m not sure how I’d’ve reacted if I had to wait 3 hours. Our seafood came in about 30 minutes.
Seafood Taste Test
I liked the seafood and the way it was prepared. It was cooked well, had the right amount of spices, and the sambal was good.
Still, the fish I had this one time in Kupang was better.
Top Tips for Visiting Jimbaran Fish Market
- Don’t wear your best shoes at the fish market: it’s wet and muddy;
- If you can’t stand fishy smell, don’t go inside;
- Go with friends so you can buy a little bit of everything and try more. But don’t buy too much!;
- It’s one of the cheapest places in the world to have a fresh lobster;
- Ask for less or more spiciness when you give your seafood for weighing. Same for garlic level;