Nusa Lembongan: Off the Coast
After only a few days in Seminyak, we were ready to get off the grid a bit. Nusa Lembongan is a tiny island off of the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. It's part of a trio of nearby islands, along with Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. We took a high speed ferry via Scoot from Sanur to Lembongan, only a 30 minute ride.
We realized there was no formal boarding procedure and immediately regretted wearing running shoes as we were to wade through the water.
Whereas the ocean was murky in Seminyak, it was crystal clear in Lembongan. White sand, aqua waters.
It felt ages away from the hectic pace of Southern Bali. We stayed four nights at Cassava Bungalows. I was apprehensive at first at only $19 per night, but, it felt like our own private resort. With only eight wooden bungalow rooms, it was unclear if anyone else was staying.
The island felt touristic, yet remote. The dirt roads were flanked with local snack shops, restaurants, and vacant plots of land. While there were aspects geared toward tourists with small cruise boats on the shores, there were still roosters roaming the unpaved roads. There were frequent power outages and the Internet was spotty at best.
The entire island is only three square miles. Clearly, it's walkable. That being said, most of the roads inexplicably wind and don't appear on Google Maps. And thus on rare occasions we took the shuttle.
The dirt roads were fit for one-way traffic, but trucks, pedestrians, and the popular motor bikes found a way to coexist.
Will noted he would feel far more comfortable on a motorbike if there weren't trucks on the road.
We spent a lot of time on Mushroom Bay. We found a slew of cafes we liked along the water.
You can spend hours there, and most certainly a place you have to ask for the bill. This is true for all of Bali, but heightened in Nusa Lembongan. Lunch, dinner, smoothie breaks--there was never a rush.
A true highlightof our stay was snorkeling. It was incredible. We've been snorkeling before, but never like this. When in Australia, there were extensive safety procedures, waivers, and mandatory tutorials. In Lembongan, we walked onto the small boat, the driver set down a pile of flippers and masks and said, "here is coral, go!"
There were three stops. The first was Mangrove, northeast of Nusa Lembongan, with the greatest marine life biodiversity. The water was so clear, the coral was unbelievably colorful. When Will and I first popped up, he said this is what he thought the Great Barrier Reef would be like. I was super grateful to hear him say that--I completely agreed. The fish were colors I didn't even know existed, and literally brushing by us. We were speechless. The second stop was Crystal Bay, by Nusa Penida and surrounded by a tropical jungle. Lastly, we went to Manta Bay. The guy in the boat said, "no coral, manta." No quite comprehending, I jumped into the choppy waters and a massive manta ray was swimming, mouth open wide, toward me. I gasped, naturally gulping a massive amount of salt water.
They're harmless, but utterly took me by surprise. I was ready for land after that. The days were hot, so we did make it to less dramatic waters. There are secret beaches around the island--they're indeed referred to as secret beaches.
One was by where we were staying and we essentially had it all to ourselves.
Albeit a bit rocky, the water itself was stunning and some of the warmest waters I've been in.
It was a challenge to find shade, but we made do.
The sunsets were also beautiful. We went to the Sandy Bay Cafe one night for drinks. Similar to some other eateries, they made a point of using glass straws, since plastic pollution is such an issue.
The location was recommended to watch the sunset. A lovely way to end our stay.
Nusa Lembongan was wonderful. We were there for five days, which was undoubtedly a luxury. There wasn't too much to do, which we welcomed. But by the end, relaxed and sunburned, we were ready for some more action. There's no denying Nusa Lembongan's natural beauty. The island is gaining popularity, and hopefully it doesn't get too built up. It's stunning as is.