So, you’ve been in Bali and are looking for something more relaxed for a few days? Wait, did I just write that? Yes, yes, I did, and as ridiculous as it may sound to someone who has not visited Bali, a break from Bali’s busy-ness can be much needed. The best way to get a break from hustle of Bali’s tourist areas and hours-long traffic jams is to hop a boat to Nusa Lembongan, located about 45 minutes south east of the island.
But Bali is so beautiful, why would I leave it behind to visit Nusa Lembongan?
Yes, Bali is incredible. BUT, did you visit any crystal blue beaches in Bali? Were you stuck in traffic jams you had to navigate through on your scooter? Nusa Lembongan is the perfect answer – beautiful beaches that are significantly less crowded than any of the beaches in Bali (no, you won’t meet anyone selling you bracelets here), and there are hardly any cars on the island, so you can be sure that you won’t need to navigate through any traffic jams. You will need to rent a scooter however it you’re interested in seeing more than just your hotel, but luckily, like in the rest of Bali, this will set you back €10 per day or less.
What to do in Nusa Lembongan
Relax on the beach
Mushroom Beach is just one example of how beautiful the beaches in Nusa Lembongan are. They are the quintessential clear watered, white sand beaches you’d expect to find in Bali, and are perfect for chilling out with a book.
Get under the sea and check out what lies … swims beneath
Snorkeling around the island and its neighboring islands Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida is the perfect way to explore the wild life under the sea. If you’re lucky, you might even see some manta rays on your tour. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any but we did see some pretty tremendous fish. Compared to the Gilis, Nusa Lembongan is much more relaxed which means fewer tourists sharing the water while you snorkel.
Dig into organic eats at Bali Eco Deli
Bali, and Indonesia in general are not exactly known for sustainability (trash is burned in Bali and Lombok), so when we came across Bali Eco Deli we knew we wanted to check it out and support their mission. The Bali Eco Deli uses ingredients from fair-trade farms, compost 90% of their waste, and take in plastic bottles and Tetra-paks to be recycled. Besides their philosophy, the food is great, and it’s centrally located just off the main road.
Ride some waves
If you’re up for it, surfing is also possible just outside of the beach where all the boats pull up to the island. We rented boards with New Bro Surfing, which was just OK. I guess we were a bit spoiled after surfing in Lombok, so weren’t really impressed by the waves or the guidance on Nusa Lembongan, but hey, it’s still fun to be in the water.
Take in a gorgeous view over lunch
Have lunch at Mama Mia’s overlooking breathtaking seaweed plantations. Yes, I said seaweed plantations. The food at Mama Mia’s was nothing special, but hey, who cares when you have a beautiful view like this? I’d endure crappy food forever just to look out at this lunch view.
Watch the sun set
The sun sets on Nusa Lembongan were some of the best we had during our entire visit to Indonesia. Luckily our hotel was just a few minutes away from one of the best places to watch the sun go down, called Sunset Point (well, at least it’s easy to remember). Grab something comfortable to sit on (the rocks are pretty pokey and uncomfortable), and watch the sun sink into the ocean.
How to get to Nusa Lembongan
To reach the island, you’ll need to hop aboard a boat leaving from the “port” of Sanur. I use the word port in quotations because it isn’t so much a port but a beach where boats pull up 10 meters away from the beach and you need to wade out holding your luggage over your head to reach the boat – or if you’re lucky, one of the guys from the boat will take your luggage for you. All the more reason to pack lightly with everything in a backpack 😉
We booked our trip to Nusa Lembongan with Scoot Cruises, which was fine… at least on the way there. This experience was luckily better than our boat ride to Gili Air and seemed somewhat safer than that was. On the way back to Bali, our boat captain didn’t really seem to understand that weighing down the boat in shallow water might lead to get getting stuck in the sand, so some of us had to jump out of the boat and on to another one while we freed up enough weight for our boat to get free from the sand bank. This didn’t exactly build my confidence in our boat captain’s understanding of the sea, but hey, it’s Bali so you can’t really be surprised.
Once you arrive, your boat company will drive you to your hotel, so already when you land on the island you’ll be feeling care-free.
Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is pretty small (it will take you about 30-40 minutes to drive around the entire island on your scooter… at a leisurely pace), so you could argue that it doesn’t really matter where you stay, but I suggest staying nearby Mushroom Beach. We stayed at Harta Lembongan Villas which was just lovely. We paid around €34 per night for our bungalow complete with an outdoor shower – the outdoor showers in Indonesia were one of my favorite features. Harta Lembongan Villas is located just a few minutes walk from Mushroom Beach where you’ll find several restaurants lining the small beach. Mushroom Beach is also an ideal jumping off point for snorkeling around the nearby islands. The pool at Harta Lembongan Villas is lovely, and usual in Bali, a breakfast of eggs, toast and fresh fruit juice is included.
What to know before you go
- There are only a couple ATM’s on the island, so you might want to grab some cash before you board your boat.
- Lemongrass restaurant
- Hai Tide Restaurant/Resort
- Bridge collapse: in October 2016, the Yellow Bridge between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan for pedestrians and a few scooters, collapsed due to heavy traffic due to a nearby religious festival, killing 8 and injuring 30. Just keep it in mind that if it is rebuilt, you might want to be a bit wary of it before crossing since it initially was not well constructed.