Visit this Balinese island before it’s too late
Granted, that does sound a trifle melodramatic, but Nusa Lembongan - albeit relatively undiscovered right now - is attracting an increasing number of visitors. For good reason too. An island just 30-minutes from the mainland, with sashaying palm trees, isolated beaches, blue water and rustic bungalows spilling onto the beach, Nusa Lembongan is a gem you’ll want to discover before all the others do.
How to get there
Quicker to reach than the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan is just a 30-minute boat ride from Sanur, with many companies offering a complimentary hotel pick-up and drop-off as part of their service. Alternatively, you could charter a deluxe yacht or catamaran with Pulau Luxury Charters. Their fleet of super swish sailing boats will ensure you arrive in total style.
Most boats depart between 8am and 9am, returning around 3pm to 4pm, and although you can explore Nusa Lembongan within a day, we recommend at least three. Give yourself an excuse to completely switch off and chill out.
Brunch at The Deck
Boasting the perfect position on the boardwalk along Jungut Batu beach, The Deck offers a sleek, sand-tickling dining venue with stunning views across Mount Agung. Access is via the beach, so you can shake off your jandals and sit down for smoothies and eggs benny on the shorefront. With breakfast-bar tables just inches from the water and alfresco couches with plump cushions and salty sea breezes, it’s a calm oasis of laid-back beachiness and an indulgent, locally-sourced selection of cuisine. Knock back your first flat white while admiring the comings and goings of boats, locals and gentle waves.
Rent a bike when you arrive at the harbour
Post-brunch, rent a bike from the main hub of Jungut Batu, which is just a short stroll from The Deck. Bicycles are easily rentable from most hotels and villas.
Nusa Lembongan is connected to the equally beautiful Nusa Ceningan by a small yellow bridge and you can cycle around both in one day. Stopping at various bays, inlets and platinum white beaches is one of the most relaxing ways to spend your island downtime. From the relatively commercial Dream Beach, and neighbouring Mushroom Beach, to the serene sands of Tamarind, stop for fresh coconut at beachfront shacks, while watching surfers tackle the extreme waves pounding in from the ocean. Venture inland and you’ll get lost in the island’s gnarly mangroves. Rest your legs for an hour and join one of the locals for a boat ride through the dense roots and tangles thickets; the wild canals are teeming with lizards and water reptiles.
Sunsets at Sandy Bay Beach Club
Time it right and you could be drinking frosted Bintangs by sundown. Sandy Bay Club, sat directly on its namesake beach, is the island’s most picture-perfect location for a tropical wind down. Whether you want to sip on a just-squeezed juice, or a freshly shaken cocktail, you’ll feel totally at ease beneath glowing lanterns and a dusky sky.
Famed for its charcoal barbecues, you can watch the sun dip into the ocean while chargrilled aromas linger on the breeze. Fired up and ready to be devoured, gorge on a banquet of prime cut meat, fresh lobsters and seafood caught that very day. And should the Bintangs prompt it, dancing under the stars is never discouraged in these parts.
Hai Bar for wood fire pizza
Another perfect end to another perfect day could arguably be spent at Hai Bar & Grill. Fronting the shoreline at Mushroom Beach, this casual bamboo shack sits in the middle of the bay and serves beautiful fresh seafood. If you're not keen on seafood, it's the bar's stone baked pizzas that most people rave about. Put your feet up, take a slice and soak up the retina-pleasing views.
Snorkel with Manta rays
Aren’t you glad you allowed for more than one day? With Nusa Lembongan being a popular haunt for both snorkelers and divers, there’s nowhere better to get acquainted with the underworld. Manta rays, also known as the gentle giants of the ocean, frequent the aptly named Manta Point. Tour groups, booked from the beach and various resorts, will take you to the optimum spots for sighting these huge yet docile creatures. Get in and allow the mantas to weave in, out and around you.
Gamut Bay and Crystal Bay are also key for enchanting fish and spectacular coral. From enormous schools of fish to manta rays and even turtles, the ocean life appears from everywhere; darting between the coral and zipping between your legs. Always in eye shot, Indonesia is regarded as one of the best snorkelling and diving locations in the world, and you’ll soon see why.
Island hop to Nusa Penida for a hike
Neighbouring Nusa Penida is less developed than Nusa Lembongan. Envisage how you’d imagine Bali half a century prior and you’ll find just that. A gloriously un-touched Shangri-La.
Time to get back to nature. If you can stomach the height and sheer, sudden drops, the Peguyangan (Guyangan) Waterfall Hike is essentially a gruelling, almost vertical staircase. Precariously bolted to the cliff edge, it’s more akin to a ladder than steps. However, your burning quads will be rewarded with a spectacular sliver of sand, a temple and nature’s finest looking waterfall at the bottom. The route out is the same as the route in, so don't expect your shaking thighs to thank you for it.
Have a curry at the Thai Pantry
When heading back to Jungut Batu for your return journey to the mainland, drop by Thai Pantry at Playgrounds Wave Lodge. A food truck caravan perched on a wooden deck and seemingly hanging off the beach, not only do they serve moreish street style Thai food (we hear the yellow Thai curry is worth writing home about), the shack style ambience makes for a great end to your Nusa Lembongan experience. The coloured umbrellas, cheap food and plastic chairs are all reminiscent of Thailand, while the startling ocean views are just as delicious as the food.
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