Nusa Lembongan is the Island we imagined when we thought of Bali: small, slow-paced, remote (but you can still get by with English). Lembongan is one of 3 Islands along the Southeast coast of Bali, about 20km offshore. We took a 2-night, 3-day trip there, and honestly would have stayed longer if it wasn’t for Silence Day, which forced us to return to mainland Bali.
Our Island trip started at Sanur on the mainland of Bali. We booked a last-minute “fast boat” ticket online and jumped in a taxi. We hoped the taxi would know where to get on the boat for this online company “Scoot.” He got us in the general vicinity and we were able to find the beach that they launch from. It was all a bit chaotic and we kept close eye on our bags to make sure that we ended up on the same boat they did. The bag porters seemed like they were competing to see who could stack the most pieces of luggage on their heads and carry them in one trip. It’s enough to make you nervous when all your gear for 6 months is in there and they are treading through knee-deep water. Later on we followed through the same knee-deep water to board the boat…who needs a dock?
Eventually we all got into the ferry boat. It was damp, reeked of petrol, and felt a little bit like what i’ve imagined an immigrant crossing would feel like. Luckily the seas were not too rough and the distance was tolerable. We landed in about 45 min. The boat service included taxi to our lodging so they put us in the back of a small pickup (more like glorified golf cart) which is the widest thing these roads could handle. When we got to the bungalows, no one was around. No guests in the ~6 bungalows, no staff. Nobody. I called the number and couldn’t get any good signal, although it sounded like I made brief contact with someone.
We decided just to take a dip in the pool until someone showed up. Soon enough the owner arrived. He let us know that the village was all at Ceremony (leading up to Nyepi, Silence Day). He got us our key and let us know that were were the only ones staying at the bungalows those days. Sweet, a private villa!!
The next two-ish days were full of fun. We went seashell hunting several times at Mushroom bay which was right next to where we were staying. It’s the best place I’ve ever seen for shells. Stella liked it so much that she decided to give up her fear of ocean waves for a bit to hunt in the shallows.
One of the highlights for me was renting a scooter. We didn’t feel comfortable renting a scooter on mainland Bali because of the traffic and high-pace. Lembongan was the perfect place to have a family scooter. We found that Stella enjoyed the ride the most when she was strapped to Lindsay’s back (with her helmet on, of course). Then she could see where we were headed and not be squished between two sweaty parents.
Man, it’s hot in Bali though. We could do about one activity during the day before we’d have to head home. The pool at our place was a must and so nice to have to ourselves.
Other fun activities included seeing Devil’s Tear which is a fantastic cliff that shoots out beautiful mist when big waves crash, kayaking at the mangrove forest, and riding across the yellow bridge that connects Lembongan with neighboring Ceningan Island.
The biggest lesson learned is that you should always ask how the conditions are before going out on a boat. We booked a snorkeling trip to go see the manta rays. We soon found out that the seas were quite choppy. It makes you pretty nervous when you’re riding in a boat that looks like it was designed and built in 1850 with a 70yr old balinese man at the helm who doesn’t speak English. We rode all the way around to the other side of Nusa Penida (the bigger island next door). I jumped out to see what I could see but the water was so murky, there was no chance of seeing any manta rays. I did catch a glimpse of a group of jellyfish that were a little too close for comfort. That was enough to have him turn the boat around and return us back to the beach.
The way home from Lembongan was just as crazy as this snorkeling trip. More about that in our post about Silence Day.
Thanks for reading!