If you’ve been to Bali more than once, sooner or later you’ll want to venture out and check out some of the neighboring islands. While some are popular among the backpackers and party crowd, others are quieter and perfect for families and newlyweds. With 11 days booked in Bali, my husband and I knew we wanted to check out either one of the Gili islands or one of three islands on the southeastern coast of Bali (Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan or Nusa Lembongan). We wanted to make it a day trip, so after some research, we settled on Nusa Lembongan, an island close to Bali and supposedly, an untouched paradise.
Rather than doing it on our own, we decide to book a tour to Nusa Lembongan. If you want something organized and with little hassle, I recommend doing it this way. For $60, the tour included a pick up from the hotel, round trip transfer to the harbor and boat ticket, snorkeling, mangrove tour, island panorama view, visit to the Devil’s Tears and Dream beach, and lunch.
First, a word of warning. If you want or expect a place with world class amenities, like five-star hotels, designer boutiques and posh restaurants you would find in Bali, stop right here! Nusa Lembongan doesn’t have those. However, it does have untouched nature, authentic fishing villages and rustic charm many people seek these days, tired of globalization and hassle of modern city life.
The island is only 8 square kilometers with three main villages and about 5,000 permanent residents.
So to start our adventures, we were up bright and early since our pick up was at 7:30am. By 9am we were at Sanur Beach, a port where ferries heading to different islands pick up passengers. The port looked a bit chaotic to say the least with crowd of tourists sitting in the heat and waiting for boarding, boat staff running around and loading/unloading luggage and helping everyone to get on their appropriate boat. Yet, it all worked out well and there was a system to the whole madness!
The ride to Nusa Lembongan was only about 30 mins by motorised fast boat but it felt longer as the waters were choppy but ferry staff offered drinking water and ‘sick’ plastic bags! We disembarked and were quickly ushered on our package tour by a local tour provider Budha, who took us to the village café where everyone in our group could change into swimming gear.
Snorkeling equipment and towels were provided in case we didn’t want to bring our own. With two of us on the small boat, the boatman took us into the ocean to our first snorkeling spot.
I don’t swim well, so I stayed onboard while my husband enjoyed getting familiar with local marine life drifting in crystal clear waters. Around us, other boats were anchoring, letting tourists from all over the world snorkel, scuba dive or do fun stuff, like riding the banana boat.
The sun was scorching and I was seriously jealous of my hubby enjoying cool water and swimming in various spots we were taken too. By about noon, we were back in the village eating locally prepared lunch. It was simple but very tasty and filling.
And after lunch, as other guests were chilling in the cafe, we went for a walk to take some photos in the mangrove. It looks like a jungle on the beach, something I’ve never seen before.
The next stop on our itinerary was a mangrove tour. We got on a canoe skillfully navigated by an old gentleman, called Captain, through a mangrove forest.
It felt to me like being in Venice with its small canals but surrounded by nature rather than buildings. As you glide through the forest, you realize mangrove is home to local wildlife and an important part of the local ecosystem, protecting the island shores from erosion and rough waters. It felt very peaceful and calm, while trees provided much appreciated shade and cool.
After mangrove tour, we were taken on a pick-up truck to our next destination, Panorama Point. Up the hill, it’s a perfect place to see the island from above with amazing panoramic view. It’s a beautiful combination of lush vegetation next to the endless blue ocean and sky.
This is what you see on Instagram, a shot snapped by thousands of tourists coming to Nusa Lembongan every year.
But what you don’t see is what has been cropped out – piles of trash under your feet and poor children begging tourists or trying to sell them cheap knick-knacks. But seeing all the construction going on the island, I think it’s just a matter of time before it gets fully developed and cleaned up in an effort to attract more tourists.
Devil’s Tears Bay
Devil’s Tears Bay is one of those places that makes you gasp, watching the power of Mother Nature. As waves crash against cliff and cave underneath it, they produce a dramatic sound and splash all over the cliff shore. So, if you are standing close to the edge, you might get a free shower!
The water is so many shades of blue and so enigmatic that we felt like we could stand and watch it for hours. And check out this rainbow that makes this dramatic location less scary!
The final stop in our visit itinerary was Dream Beach. The minute I saw this swing, I had to get on it. Immediately my inner child came out, happy and carefree. Plus, the view was breathtaking!
You have to take stairs down to the beach. It’s small and cozy. But you won’t see many people swimming. I dipped my toes in the water and boy, it was cold and rough, with big rocks hitting my feet.
So after some walking on the beach, we decided to grab drinks at the restaurant above the beach. Being very thirsty in the heat of Balinese sun, I chose my favorite – watermelon juice. So yummy and refreshing!
Around 3:30pm, it was time to head back to port to catch our ferry back to Bali. In a way, I wish we had more time on the island to explore it properly. There is much more to it than what we’ve seen and done.
We were back in Bali before 7pm, just in time for dinner at our Berry Amour villa that villa staff organized. But that’s another story for another blog post. Keep tuning in!
- If you want to book a tour like we did, I suggest Lembongan Island Tour & Activities. Just make sure you have cash ready when you get to Sanur port to pay for the tour before they take you to the island.
- Make sure to bring a backpack to carry your belongings. You have to take your shoes off and walk a bit into the water before you climb onto a boat. So make sure your hands are free at all times.
- Wear your cheap flip flops and leave expensive sandals at home. Before you climb onto a boat, they make you take your shoes off and place them in a box with everyone else’s. When you disembark on the other end, they dump all shoes out on the shore and you have to find yours. So make it less appealing for someone to walk away with your shoes!
- Don’t forget bottled water, sunscreen, and a hat. It will be very hot, so keep this in mind to avoid sun stroke. Bathrooms in Nusa Lembongan are VERY basic, so prepare in advance by bringing some toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
- Wear something comfortable if you plan to swim/snorkel and do touristy bits like we did. I wore flipflops, shorts and brought two thin cotton tops/shirts that I changed during the trip. I wore a long sleeve shirt on the boat out in the ocean to protect myself from the sun, and then short sleeved top for the rest of the trip. My hubby brought an extra t-shirt to wear once he showered after snorkeling.
- And don’t forget to take it all in and enjoy yout trip!
Happy travels xx