We were itching to get out of Kuta and were pleasantly surprised at how our next destination was more our speed. Nusa Lembongan is a smaller island to the east of the mainland Bali. Still part of Bali, it holds the beauty Bali is known for with far less tourism (especially Kuta!!). There are no cars on the islands, only motorbikes, push bikes, and bemos (little trucks). The land is more lush, tropical, and the people are more friendly. Selling you something is an afterthought for the locals. First they smile and wave or bow, then offer to rent you a motorbike. It is far less intense here, and we finally feel we can breathe and relax.
Our first day we settled in and set out for lunch. We found an amazing beach front restaurant on the northern beach. We enjoyed seafood and afterward a Bintang on the beach bean bag chairs. Mt. Agung and other mountains stretched panoramically in front of us across the sea.
We were the only customers at the restaurant, and we’re finding that to be true almost everywhere we go.
There are SO MANY restaurants, or ‘Warungs’, here. It seems everyone is wanting to run a food and bar business here. There are plenty of options, but every time we pass one it’s empty. The waiters and cooks just hang around at the tables talking to each other or are on their phones until someone walks up. That’s what I’ve noticed almost everywhere here. People are just hanging out, rarely on their phones, but rather talking and laughing with each other. If they’re by themselves they’re squatting on the ground and silently staring down the road
We made our way back to the hotel through the jungle in the middle of the island. We saw where some of the locals were living: open-aired bamboo huts with kitchen supplies and clothes hanging outside. Young children were playing around barefoot in dirty clothes. The poverty was eye opening. A few of the homes had small shops out front trying to sell jewelry or beach wear. I felt guilty for not stopping and buying something. I wonder how these people survive with these small shops as their income. Perhaps they do more. Perhaps there is more business in the dry season.
Marc drove us around the island one day and we went over a suspension bridge to Nusa Ceningan, the neighboring smaller island to Lembongan.
There we went to Blue Lagoon, a cliff with raging, turquoise blue waters.
We marveled at the massive waves and crashing tides. The waves splashed onto the cliff deck and formed erosive spikes. If you fell you would have gotten serious lacerations. If it got your neck — you’re dead.
We stayed there for a long time and found a grassy, shaded spot to sit. It was the first day we explored nature here fully, and it was refreshing being able to hike around with little to no people around.
There were many areas on the islands similar to Blue Lagoon. Huge waves were constantly colliding with the cliffs and foamy salt water creating swirls of white.
We discovered a cliff side bar that overlooked a swell down below. We enjoyed a cold drink while we admired the surfers. They were obviously very experienced, and every customer at the bar was perched on the side to watch.
We beach-hopped for awhile and later watched the sunset at Devil’s Tear. This was another natural wonder with raging currents that slapped against the coast.
Our hotel in Nusa Lembongan was absolutely beautiful. It had a canopied bed, wardrobe, a large terrace to relax on, and of course a lush garden with a pool. It was $10/night, $3 cheaper than our place in Kuta and much more put together.
We spent a lot of time around the hotel in the pool and doing yoga on the deck. It was a relaxing atmosphere, and the owners were so helpful. They organize snorkeling trips and we participated one morning.
We went to three locations around the island: Manta Point, Crystal Bay, and Mangrove Point. There were two other couples and the guide with us in the boat. The boat ride to Manta Point was intense. Huge waves protruding upwards, slamming against the boat, rocking us side to side. I took my phone out to get a video, and the strong motion almost made me drop it into the ocean! The water continued to be rough when we got to our first destination. It was my first time snorkeling and I thought, “Seriously we snorkel in these conditions!?” Two of the other women on the boat were too frightened to jump in because of the waves. Bravely I jumped in and immediately saw manta rays nearby. The water was probably 30 feet deep, and the manta rays would swim in groups near the surface. They were easy to spot and terrifying to look at straight on. Their football-sized gaping mouths stared back at me. The largest group I saw was five. I wanted to get close, but their mouths were too chilling.
We only stayed a short while in that spot because the waters were so rough. Our next location was Crystal Bay, and it was more what I was expecting. Crystal clear water with rainbow colored coral and fish. It was tropical and breathtaking. I felt as if I were finding Nemo. My favorite fish to explore were the Anthias. Their brilliantly neon colored bodies were so pretty. There were fish that glowed royal blue and some coral that did the same.
This spot was right near a small beach with rolling hills behind it. There was a small island structure nearby with a winding staircase to the top. It led to a temple — mesmerizing.
As we cruised near the coast to our third location we saw a few fisherman perched on the edge of the shore. We waved and they returned the wave with a wide smile. Again, everyone seems so friendly and mindful.
Overall Nusa Lembongan was a superb destination to add to our travels. Its relaxed atmosphere and authenticity boosted our confidence for our trip. Highly recommend it!