Despite being incredibly popular with travellers all over the world surprisingly most visitors to Bali are still blissfully unaware of the wonders that await on the islands just offshore. This is probably a good thing as the beauty of these islands is the relatively low amount of development and tourists. But if you have been Bali a few times before then I strongly recommend a side trip from Bali to Nusa Lembongan.
It’s an easy 40 minute fast boat ride to Lembongan from the tranquil seaside tourist town of Sanur. It costs aud$50 return and including transfers to and from your accommodation at either end. Rocky’s Fast Cruises have the best reputation for reliability and safety and their toes-in-the-sand arrival and departure lounges ( i.e wooden benches on the beach) gets you in the mood for a beach break in paradise from the moment you buy your ticket ( do this online).
All boats arrive at the main beach of Jungut Batu. You will have received a sticker to wear on the mainland that shows where you are staying, and the staff will organise people into groups to take on the back of utilities. They will carry your luggage off the boat and you need to claim it on the beach along with your shoes which they put in a box before you embark in Sanur. It all seems pretty chaotic but it also seems to work. Depending on the group on the day you may be the last to be dropped off in a ute of 8 people or the 1st of just one. Just be patient and remember everything will happen in island time!
There is something for everyone on Nusa Lembongan. Hostels and homestays can be found for aud$20 per night or luxury Villas can be $2000. There are a couple of small resorts and boutique hotels and numerous private Villas for rent.
There are few cars on the island and the roads are challenging so it is best to stay somewhere that is close to places to eat and/or easy for restaurants and activities to be able to pick you up. Places on the hill near Jungut Batu beach also have amazing views whilst Mushroom Bay is a popular and protected beach with some great bars and cafes.
Things to do
For a sleepy island paradise there is quite a lot to do on Nusa Lembongan. The island is part of a trio of islands – the others being Nusa Cenigan and Nusa Penida. You can access Cenigan via a small suspension bridge ( * note – currently being rebuilt and due for completion March 2017) or both of them by boat. Things do across all 3 include:
Diving and Snorkelling
There are many great spots to see an abundance of amazing marine life. You can go on a large boat on an organised tour or talk to your accommodation about a local guy who will take you in his own boat. The going rate for this is around $50 for a half day and they usually provide snorkelling equipment.
Explore the islands by scooter
There is a big place at the back of Rockys that will hire you a scooter for a day or a few hours, and there are many beautiful beaches and coves to discover as well as the Mangrove road. Make sure you wear a helmet and suitable footwear and have insurance!
Rock Jumping ( or perhaps just watching)
There are a few spots on Cenigan where the silly young things do this. Blue Point is one of them and there is a nice cafe with cold beer.
Lunch with a view
There are a number of places to do this. One of my favourites is this is Mama Mia – a traditional Warung at the back of Lembongan overlooking Nusa Cenigan . Those satay’s are to die for!
5 years ago the owner of this charming beachfront French spot left his post at a 3 Michelin starred Parisian restaurant and opened Indiana Kenanga. The most expensive choice on the island but good value by western standards and there is a fantastic wine list.
Watch the Sunset
Like the western side of Bali Nusa Lembongan is also privy to amazing sunsets from most of the more popular bays and beaches. Head to Hai Bar in Mushroom Bay or any of the numerous bars along Jungut Batu for a few sundowner’s before dinner.
There are 3 main surfbreaks of the main beach – Playgrounds, Lacerations and Shipwrecks. You can paddle out to the first 2 and get a tow out the last. There is also some great surf at some of the more remote bays on Cenigan and Penida. I don’t have any photos of any of the breaks as I’m a bit past learning to Surf at this age!
You will not regret a single moment you spend on Nusa Lembongan. Its Bali’s answer to North Stradbroke, Rottnest, Magnetic or even Waihike island and is unlikely to retain all of its island charm for ever.
So make the trip soon ! It’s an easy side trip from Bali to Nusa Lembongan and even a few days will be one of the best travel investments you will make.
Book your Nusa Lembongan accommodation HERE