To get to Rock n Reef, you turn off the main road at a sign advertising one of the many luxury cliff top villas and guesthouses in the area. You drive past this site, and carry on down a dirt road. On your left, you will see a small herd of tan colored cows grazing in an empty field. The bells around their necks will relax you, and it’s at this point you will feel time suddenly ease off the accelerator, and you will wonder how such a short stretch of dirt road could transport you to a different frame of mind. Bye bye Kuta.
At the end of the road you will see a sign that says simply, “PAKING”. From there you are on foot, and you begin walking down the narrow path that leads to the nearly 100 steps cut into the cliff itself. These are steep uneven steps, cut into black rock, and as you walk down them for the first time, you might ask yourself, as I did, is this really worth it? And then you get to a clearing, and you look out at the swimming pool colored water, still in the lagoon, and the light reflecting off the waves breaking just outside the reef, and then you notice something else, there is no one there. Those steep black steps, you think, that dirt road, they’ve kept craziness at bay.
When you get to the bottom of those steps, and you are sweaty and tired, and you move into the shade of the outdoor open air “lobby” of Rocknreef, you will know you have made it. You are perhaps even lucky. How did you hear about Rockneef anyway? Were you referred by the owner of the place you really wanted to stay after he told you that his place was full? Did you read someone’s review on the internet like I did? Yes…lucky. You will suddenly find yourself staring out at that beautiful sea that you spied from above.
The sound of the crashing waves, and the smell of the sea and incense in the air, the light…Writing this now, all I am thinking, is man, why did I have to leave. How foolish to plan a vacation to Bali. Bali is no place for a one or two week holiday. Leaving after a week, and going back to your regular life, with the fluorescent lights overhead, and traffic outside, it’s like relapsing. Bali is a place to live, not a vacation destination. I say move there. Find a life there and eek out a livelihood.
That said, why go to Rocknreef? Go there while you sort things out. Stay there while your island dream house is being built down a different dirt road, and as you stare out at the sunset and watch the water glow with every color of the sky, smile to yourself in satisfaction. You will see this every night. You’ve made it. Congratulate yourself on the move. It’s a decision you will not regret. We vacationers on the other hand, we’re the ones that will have to deal with the regret. We left. We found paradise, hung out for a bit, and voluntarily boarded our return flights home. Yes captain, I know, there’s going to be some turbulence. Yes, I’ll stay in my seat and keep my seatbelt fastened.
Bruno, the owner of Rocknreef, is a smart man. Five years ago, he looked towards the empty beach on the other side of the reef as he kicked out of another perfect wave, and he realized, this is no place to leave. He laid the foundation of Rocknreef directly on the rocks and sand of Impossibles beach near the tip of the Bukit peninsula in southern Bali.
On one side of Impossibles is Bingin and on the other is Padang Padang. Both have something that Impossibles is still missing, namely people. Although, both are easily accessible on foot at low tide, people seem to stay at there own beaches. Impossibles is like a secret that everyone knows about. Ask anyone at bingin where Impossibles beach is and they will point to their left. At Padang they will point to their right. Yet Impossibles remains uncrowded and quiet. Bruno felt the magic of the place, and built Rocknreef down the cliff, right on the beach, neighbor free. On full and new moon high tides, the water actually comes right up to the edge of the patio, and spray from the crashing waves jumps just in front of you, and you can watch it all, while sipping a Bintang in a sun chair.
Now I realize that this is not a typical hotel review. It is more of rant than anything, but I swear, before I went to Bali I was normal. Now all I can think of is how badly I want to go back. I guess you still probably want the details though, so here you go.
For starters, some might not like the location. You know…the dirt road and steep cliff side staircase and all. Of course, those that don’t like this are foolish, and deserve every inch taken from them by loud drunken beachgoers playing smashball next to them as they try to relax, lying on their towels, staring at dirty feet kicking up sand in their faces and beers. They’ll think about Rocknreef then. Those steps aren’t so bad after all eh?
What about the rooms? Ok Ok… The rooms are simple, and well styled. At Rocknreef you will get hot water and A/C. The beds are firm and the sheets are clean. My wife said the room was “so romantic”.
What Rocknreef does well is use local materials and traditional Balinese styles and presents them in modern way. Your bathroom will be tiled with smooth stones and shells. The posts of the railings on your balcony and at the edge of the patio deck, are made with irregularly shaped local wood. The roof is thatched, and hangs over your balcony so you can sit there in full shade, in one of your basket woven chairs and look right out over the water. In fact, when I would wake up in the morning, I could sit up in bed, and see the ocean. Did I mention that the view is amazing?
That being said, Rocknreef is not a resort. It is simple and relaxed. Don’t expect to be floored by overwhelming luxury. There are plenty of resorts in the area that will cater to those looking for 5 star standards. Go to Bulgari or the Ritz Carlton, go to Dream Land for that matter, but Rocknreef is not for you. If however, a clean room with an amazing view is good enough, than Rocknreef is hard to beat.
The staff is efficient and friendly. They clean your room and the entire premises daily, they will make you whatever you want to eat, and they will restock your mini bar with Bintangs as needed. For breakfast, which is included in the room rate, go for the banana pancakes. I know, you can get them all over Bali, but theirs are delicious, and in some ways you miss out on the spirit of the place if you don’t hang out a bit, sit with the other guests, chat, and share some good food.
During my stay at Rocknreef, I met some great people. Aside from Bruno, who would stop by in tank top and boardshorts, after his evening surfs, to check on things, and sometimes to make up some special meals for us, there were two lone travelers, and a nice couple finishing there 3 week stay in Bali with some quiet time in the sun at Rocknreef. We shared a few meals together and more than a couple of Bintangs. It was refreshing being served at a table together. Why should we sit alone all the time anyway? This is Bali god damn it, and we are all people. No one says we can’t all stare out at the horizon together. That’s not an awkward silence mister. No no… That’s they way it’s done. Let’s be honest, we are a collection of horizon gazers and we are doing what we love, together.
So yeah. Go to Rocknreef. It’s a good place, and you will like it, but don’t go if youre some kind of obnoxious dick. I heard there’s a cool spot on Kuta beach running drink specials for obnoxious dicks. Two for one buddy don’t miss out.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.