Nusa Lembongan, tucked quietly away in Bali’s east coast is ignored by most travellers- often because they don’t know it exists or it just doesn’t receive as much buzz as the neighboring Gili islands. This tiny island group made up of Nusa Lembongan the even smaller Nusa Ceningan (which is connected to Nusa Lembongan by a very narrow, rickety suspension bridge) and the even smaller lime stone plateau of Nusa Penida- all with a total population of 7000 is the epitome of an island paradise.
The island supports 2 industries: tourism and seaweed production. While traveling around its hard not to gag from the smell of seaweed being prepared on the shore. No matter where you go, the smell of seaweed permeates the air and leaves a lingering smell on your clothes and hair. But despite the overwhelming wafts of seaweed, it’s interesting to observe local life with such an unobstructed view. Many of the resorts and hotels are located smack in the middle of villages and no matter where you are situated on the island you will be awakened by the sound of roosters cawing in the early morning. This balance between local and tourist life makes Nusa Lembongan different from the rest of mainland Bali.
For those beach bums, there are numerous beaches to choose from- if you are looking to conserve the piggybank- your only option is Jungutabu beach which offers white beaches (but not a great swimming beach), tons of restos, a tourist office and serves as the island’s port. A popular option is either Playgrounds’ Resort on the hillside (rooms starting from $50) or Puri Nusa Bungalows (rooms starting from $29) or for a more rustic resort try Bunga Bungalows (rooms starting from 120 rp). For a more spectacular beach, head to either Mushroom Bay or Dream Beach. We stayed in Mushroom Beach Bungalows and definitely over paid for our tiny fan room with outdoor shower and cold water ($60) but that was probably the cheapest option in the area. Plus, we couldn’t resist the little mushroom shaped huts with tiny balconies and wobbly stairs up to the hut. Dream Beach has only one sleeping option- Dream beach huts (starting from $75) and not much resto options except for the picturesque hotel restaurant, Cafe Padam, but it is probably the most spectacular beach on the island and should not be missed.
The island is relatively small with no road signs or maps, so it’s an adventure trying to figure your way around. One good option is to rent a motorbike as you can traverse all 3 islands in a single day. If you choose to rent a motorbike make sure you cross the rickety bridge into Nusa Penida and visit the Blue Lagoon- its waters are truly breathtaking. If motor biking isn’t your thing, you can rent a bicycle (but beware there are many steep roads) or you can attempt to walk through the tangled forests into the beautiful coves below.
There are also some great dive sites (especially compared to what is available on the mainland). I visited Manta Point and swan with 4 meter long mantas. While the visibility isn’t great- the opportunity for a glimpse at the mantas is well worth it. Another popular dive site is Crystal Bay which is known for its amazing visibility and abundance of sea life. Both Manta Point and Crystal Bay are closer to Nusa Penida and dive companies usually charge a couple dollars more due to the distance. (Dive prices are generally negotiable- you can usually get away with paying $70 for 2 dives at the farther sites and $60 for 2 dives closer to Lembongan’s central pier). Two other popular spots are Blue Corner and Jackfish point. Both these dives are known for their drift dives but make sure you go with a company that is reputable and can evaluate fast changing current conditions. We dove with Lembongan Divers one of the oldest dive companies on the island which means that they are extremely reliable but on the flip- side their equipment is relatively old compared with the newer companies. Also, make sure your dive company is willing to pick you up if you are located outside the central pier. Another option is Mushroom Divers, a newer company located in Mushroom Bay which overcharges in a similar fashion to the rest of the area or you can try Lembongan Scuba (+62 81337951181) located in the central pier.
Whether you are looking for a get-a-way or craving some adventure sports, Nusa Lembongan has it all and its charm and laid back environment overwhelms almost every traveler-leaving many to extend their Lembongan adventures.
Getting To Nusa Lembongan:
Nusa Lembongan can be reached from Kuta/ Legian/ Semiyak area via Sanur on a fast boat using either Scoot cruises [0361-285522- Sanur office])or Rocky Fast Cruises (250,000 one way 450,000 return) or Blue Water Express which offers direct boats to/ from Bali to Lembongan and Lembongan to Gili Islands (starting from 325,000 one way or 550,000 return- of course all these prices are negotiable). Lembongan can also be reached by local boat (Perama boat company 0361-285592- Sanur office). Cheaper boats to Nusa Lembongan can be caught in Padang Bai (150,000 Rp) or you can charter a small fishing boat (500, 000 Rp per boat).