Nusa Lembongan is an island located off the east coast of Bali. It is a place where tranquility meets the wildness of the Indian Ocean and it will surely put you in a state of mind similar to that of an adventurer. It is approximately 8 square km in size, and is one of three neighboring islands, the others being much larger Nusa Penida and tiny Nusa Ceningan. The three islands are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait. Some visitors may find Nusa Lembongan a little slow after the pace of South Bali.
Lembongan is populated with around 7000 locals most of whom came from Bali’s Klungklung regency. The locals themselves are wonderful people to meet and you may find yourself sharing coffee and being told about seaweed. This is what makes lembongan so special; it is a place where a lot of the locals have been farming seaweed since the government started to support the commercial use of this algae in the 80′s. Alot of the seaweed is farmed and then sent to Japan for food and cosmetic purposes. With the constant production of this algae, you can expect to see alot of it. Walking along the beach you will come across numerous patches of seaweed where the locals lay it out to dry. It is not just along the beach and the villages where you will stumble upon this green, yellow, brown crop. It is in the sea where you gain a much spectacular view of what is being farmed here. Maybe from your hotel terrace or balcony perched on the side of the hill, you will be greeted by a most spectacular view in the way of a patchwork quilt with literally hundreds of shades of greens and browns. It is said that the farms themselves when viewed from high are nothing short of works of art.
Main activities include surfing, diving and snorkeling. The water is some of the clearest you will find anywhere, and a vivid aqua blue in color. Many areas around the island are good for diving and snorkeling, with abundant marine life and healthy coral. Surfing can get a bit crowded, but the waves are good. There are several white sand beaches away from the main centers which are virtually never crowded.
The climate of Nusa Lembongan is similar to neighboring ‘mainland’ Bali, but it is noticeably drier here, particularly in the period of May to September. If there is a time to avoid, it would be the height of the rainy season in January and February.
The only realistic way to reach Nusa Lembongan from Bali is by boat. There are several options according to budget and speed. Most of the scheduled services leave from Sanur Beach at the end of Jalan Hangtuah and involve getting your feet wet. The exact departure and arrival point on this beach depends on the tide. Other services run from Benoa Harbor and there are local public boat services to and from Padang Bai and Kusamba in East Bali but these are not recommended.
From Sanur Beach
Scoot Fast Boat, Tel: +61 361 285522. Leaves from Sanur beach. Scoot operates fast boats which take you to Jungut Batu for US$45 return (Adults). Hotel vehicle transfers are included. The tickets can be bought from the Scoot office next to Dunkin’ Donuts in Jalan Hangtuah, Sanur opposite the Sanur Paradise Plaza Beach Hotel, or on the beach near the departure point. It takes 30-40 minutes from Sanur. Leaving Sanur 9.30AM, 1.30PM & 4PM. Leaving Nusa Lembongan 8.30AM, 11.30AM & 3PM.
Perama, a local transfers-only operator for the budget traveler, without same day return, Rp 100,000 one way, and has a network of connecting bus-links from around Bali. Boat departures daily at 10.30AM. The ride across is approximately 90 minutes. The office of Perama Sanur can be found at friendly Warung Pojok in Jalan Hangtuah. Daily Perama buses depart from here to Ubud, Kuta, the airport, Padang Bai (for Lombok) and now also Amed.
The Tanis Lembongan Express Tel: +61 361 7432344. Speed boat service to and from Mushroom Bay taking 25-35 minutes from Sanur Beach near Grand Bali Beach Hotel. Return fare US$ 45.00 per person and one way US$ 27.00 per person including hotel pick up. Scheduled departure from Sanur beach at 12.00 noon and 4PM and departure back to Sanur from from Mushroom Bay on Lembongan at 10.30AM and 3PM. Also offers surf safaris and day cruises. Special charters from Padang Bay US$ 90.00 one way.
Public slow boat, depart daily from Sanur beach at 8AM in front of the Ananda Hotel or near the Grand Inna Bali Beach Hotel (depending on tide). They can be a bit sketchy at times and are usually very crowded. No same day return facility. The ride across is approximately 90 minutes. Price including transfers is Rp 100,000 per person one way. Pick up from hotels in Kuta, Seminyak, and Sanur. Other areas with extra charge.
Public fast boat, tel: +62 361 7432344 Thirty minutes by speed boat from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan. Departs Sanur daily at 12.30, 2.30PM, 4.00PM and departs Nusa Lembongan at 10.30AM, 1PM and 3PM. Price including hotel transfers Rp 240,000 per person each way and excluding transfers Rp 200,000 per person each way. Pick-up from hotels in Kuta, Seminyak and Sanur. Other areas with an extra charge.
Tamarind Jaya Express Tel: +62 361 8572572. Speed boat service to and from Mushroom Bay taking 30-45 minutes from Sanur Beach near Grand Bali Beach Hotel. Return fare US$ 45.00 per person and one way US$ 27.00 per person including hotel pick up. Scheduled departure from Sanur beach at 11.30 AM and 3.30PM and departure back to Sanur from from Mushroom Bay on Lembongan at 10.00AM and 2.00PM. Also offers day cruises. Special charters from Padang Bay US$ 90.00 one way.
From Benoa Harbor
Bounty Cruises, ☎ +62 361 443765. A standard transfer is available using a high speed catamaran service. The (standard transfer) service departs daily from Benoa Harbor at 9AM and from Nusa Lembongan at 3:15PM. If you have limited time for a visit to the island, an option is to take a one day cruise to the Nusa Lembongan Bounty pontoon. On a twin-hull boat under sail you will reach the island within 90 min. Drinks and snacks are available on board. The trip includes water activities on and near the pontoon; such as banana boat, water slide, kayaking, snorkelling and glass bottom boat rides. You can also take part in a Nusa Lembongan Village tour, visit a seaweed plantation and the ‘Underground House’. Fastboat transfer: US$35 one-way and US$70 return. One day cruise is US$95, buffet lunch included.
Island Explorer Cruises, ☎ +62 361 728 088, . A standard transfer is available by fast boat or by fast catamaran. An alternative is a day cruise by a leisurely sailing yacht or by fast catamaran (“fun ship”). The fast boat (transfer only) departs from Benoa Harbor at 10:30 AM, it returns from Nusa Lembongan at 12:30PM. The yacht (day cruise) departs from Benoa Harbor at 9AM and will be back at about 5PM. Fastboat US$23 one-way and US$40 return (hotel pick up included) or by fast catamaran US$20 one-way and US$35 return (hotel pick up excluded). Price for the day cruise is US$69 by yacht or US$79 by fast catamaran, including hotel pick up, buffet lunch & water sport activities.
Lembongan Island Fast Boat, ☎ +62 361 361 0840, . The fast boat departs from Benoa Harbor at 10:30AM and 3:30PM departs and from Nusa Lembongan at 9AM and 1:30PM. US$25 one-way and US$45 return with a hotel pick up included.
From Nusa Penida
Neighbouring Nusa Penida is seldom visited, and almost always from Nusa Lembongan. It is though relatively straightforward to get between the islands.
Public boats depart daily from Toyapakeh and sometimes Buyuk Harbour, both in northern Nusa Penida. Departure times are a bit of moveable feast. Ask around at the time, but about 6AM is a fairly reliable slot. They run to either Jungut Batu or the the estuary bank near the suspension bridge on Nusa Lembongan, depending on tide. These can be very over-crowded and a little worrying at times. As a visitor, expect to pay about Rp 50,000 each way.
Charter boats are available, departing from and arriving at the same areas as public boats. Rates vary greatly but expect to pay Rp 300,000-500,000. Please ensure that the full price is absolutely clarified with the operator prior to boarding the boat.
Nusa Lembongan is a nice place to walk, with coastal paths linking nearly all the guest houses, hotels and restaurants. Most walks will take less than two hours. The less developed southwestern area of the island has some spectacular coast paths which provide easy walking, great views back to Bali, and spectacular sunsets. You can cross by foot to the small neighbouring island of Nusa Ceningan via a scenic suspension bridge.The cliffs of southwest Nusa Lembongan make for excellent walking
From the end of the beach at Jungut Batu it is a 35 min walk along the coast to Mushroom Bay.
Bicycles can be rented at most hotels and guest-houses. Some of the roads are quite well surfaced, but be prepared for some very degraded surfaces in places. This is a great way to see the island at your own pace. Expect to pay about Rp 20,000-30,000 per day.
Motorbikes are also widely available for rent, but may be unnecessary given the short distances involved — the island is only about 4 km end-to-end. Expect to pay Rp 60,000-100,000 per day, depending on how busy it is. Local boys are more than happy to transport you on the back of their motorbike for a fee.
There are virtually no cars on Nusa Lembongan, and any business or local resident wishing to bring one to the island needs special permission from the village elders. This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Local 4-wheeled transport is available though in the form of basic pick-up trucks which most hotels and restaurants use. These are useful for transport to and from the boat transfer point when you are likely to have heavy bags, but are otherwise not really necessary.
Local boatmen are willing to take you by boat from Jungut Batu to Mushroom Bay. One way should cost about Rp 30,000. A return trip can be negotiated down to Rp 50,000.
ATTRACTIONS IN NUSA LEMBONGAN
A rocky outcrop between Dream Beach and Sunset Beach on the south western coast. Spectacular crashing waves and water plumes.(follow signs for Sunset Beach from Mushroom Bay)
Northern Nusa Lembongan has an extensive forest of mature mangroves which can be explored in a jukung outrigger boat. (continue north on the only coast road from Jungut Batu until you reach the mangroves)
Seaweed farming takes place in many parts of the island, but the most accessible farms are on the southern side of Lembongan Village. Most of the seaweed grown here is destined for the Asian cosmetics industry. (make your way to the shoreline anywhere in the southeast quarter of the island and just observe)
Puncak Sari Temple
The largest temple on the island. Found on top of a hill, the Pura Puncak Sari is the largest temple on the island of Lembongan. Travelers would want to go here to get some of the best views of Bali‘s east coast from the top of the hill. It also overlooks the Indian Ocean as well as the islands of Nusa Peninda and Nusa Ceningan.
One thing not to miss on Nusa Lembongan. The Sunset over Bali is quite extraordinary. Can be viewed from any west facing part of the island but Jungut Batu beach is especially popular. A more rural alternative is to go over the bridge to Nusa Ceningan and view the sunset from one of the west-facing high ridges – breathtaking.
The recently built suspension bridge between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan connects the two islands and allows the visitors to easily access each island. This narrow and swinging bridge only allows access on foot, by bicycle or motorcycle and it is unsuitable for cars.
The Underground House
Gala Gala Underground House was built by Made Byasa in 1961-1976. This underground house is located down a narrow path from the main road towards the Ceningan bridge. The road is the narrow one, but a motorbike can still pass through. At the entrance, you will find a line of souvenir stalls where you can buy local souvenirs such as sarongs, shorts and other handicrafts. The house was built underground using only a hammer, chisel and intuition as guidance. It took 15 years to complete this incredible labyrinth, which includes a bedroom, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and sacred meditation room.
BEACHES IN NUSA LEMBONGAN
in the northwest is the bigger of the two, and has myriad hotels and cheap eateries. This is the area which traditionally attracted backpackers and surfers to the island. The white sand beach here is pleasant enough but nothing to get too excited about, and it is a little narrow in places. In more recent times, the hillside to the south of Jungut Batu known as the Bukit (the hill) has been developed and has attracted some higher level hotels and private villas. The views from the Bukit are perhaps second to none on Nusa Lembongan. Sunsets are best viewed along the main Jungut Batu beachfront.
to the southwest of Jungut Batu is a quaint, attractive and sheltered bay. It is an especially nice spot after 3PM when the day trippers have returned to Bali, and it has a great white sandy beach, along with some cozy little water-side restaurants.
A wonderful secluded beach with powdery, white sand, located on the south coast. From the main accommodation areas on the west coast, head southeast towards Lembongan Village where you should turn west, and then look for the signposted small track leading south to Dream Beach. There is a cafe attached to the single resort here, and this makes Dream Beach a great place to spend the whole day doing nothing. Be very careful though about entering the water here as the rips can be fierce. Only the strongest swimmers should consider this and even then, avoid the eastern end of the beach. edit
Sandy Bay (Sunset Beach), (adjacent to Devil’s Tear). A small but spectacular beach with white sand and crashing waves, located just to the north of Dream Beach, and easiest reached via the same route. The excellent Beach Club at Sandy Bay is located here and this should encourage visitors to spend the day. At low tide a dramatic cave is exposed in the low limestone cliff at the eastern side of the bay. Approach carefully and make sure you are not cut off from the beach by a rising tide. All-in-all, this is a delightful spot which is as laid back as anywhere in the whole of Bali. edit
Tamarind Beach (between Playgrounds surf break and Mushroom Bay). Good views back to Bali, and of Mount Agung especially.
Scoobydoo each. A wonderful secluded beach with powdery, white sand, located on the north west coast nusa lembongan , jungutbatu village
ACTIVITIES IN NUSA LEMBONGAN
Nusa Lembongan was first opened up as a tourist destination by surfers, and it has long been an established part of the Bali surf circuit.
There are three main breaks, all off the top half of the west coast, with another less well known just to the southwest off Nusa Ceningan. Playgrounds, Lacerations and Shipwrecks are all close offshore and reached via an energetic paddle from the beach, or in a more leisurely fashion, by a local boat (perahu) which can be chartered from the nearest beach. Whilst the breaks usually suit intermediate to experienced surfers given they all break over coral reefs, the aptly named Playgrounds is a little more forgiving and can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike. All the surf breaks become extremely crowded during the dry season
Although surfable all year round, waves are best when winds are in the southeast quarter, normally from April to September/October. There is a thriving surf scene in Jungut Batu. When compared to its tiny population, Nusa Lembongan has produced a remarkable number of international competition-quality surfers. Any keen surfer will certainly not be short of company here.
Diving is of excellent quality in the crystal clear waters around the island. A number of reputable dive shops are present, and this is a notable teaching destination. Many hundreds of visitors have learned to dive here.
For more experienced divers, the most interesting sites are off neighboring Nusa Penida. There are some challenging drift dives here, and dive operators will visit certain sites only when the sea conditions are safe. There are plenty of options for easier flat reef and wall dives as well. Marine highlights include large manta rays all year round, spectacular, massive oceanic sunfish (mola-mola) in season (July to October), white-tipped reef sharks, nurse sharks and the odd hammerhead. Whale sharks are far from regular, but the odd migrant is seen. Last but certainly not least, four species of sea turtle can be found here. All operators offer scheduled trips to the prime dive sites around all three islands.
Prices vary little from shop to shop. Course fees run from about US$60 for a half day Discover Scuba introduction, to US$395 for PADI Open Water certification. A fun dive will cost approximately US$35-45 including all equipment, with discounts offered for multiple dives. Dive shops have variable opening hours according to seasonal demand. Night dives are widely offered and offer a fantastic underwater experience.
Non-divers should not feel left out, as good snorkeling is available close inshore at various spots around the island. Perhaps the two best areas are Mushroom Bay on the west coast, and the mangroves on the northern tip. Equipment can be hired from your hotel or on the beach, and depending on the quality of the gear, you should expect to pay Rp 20,000-50,000 for renting a mask, snorkel and set of fins.
If you fancy getting further offshore, dive shops may sell you a snorkeling space on a scheduled dive boat, subject to availability. Also, local boatmen are willing to take you by boat to various snorkeling spots. Depending on the number of snorkeling spots you want to visit, a boat trip can be arranged for about Rp 200,000-300,000 (including snorkeling gear). An enjoyable snorkeling spot reached by boat only is the west coast of neighboring Nusa Penida, with Crystal Bay being especially rewarding. There is a strong current along this coast. The boatman will drop you off at the beginning of the current, and you can drift while snorkeling along the drop off wall with beautiful coral and loads of fish. The boatmen will follow you and pick you up at the end of the drift.
Other Water Sports
Families with children will not be short of options. The full gamut of typical resort-type, mechanized water sports are available, including wake-boarding and banana boats. Those who care a little about the environment may be keener to patronize the sea kayaking option. Your hotel will be able to assist with booking any of these activities. Alternatively, just head down to the beach at either Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu, and figure it out for yourself. Costs start at about Rp 150,000 for a single banana boat ride.
Lembongan Island is a paradise for sea food lovers. Every single restaurant lists various sea foods on their menu. Actually there are plenty of places to eat in this little island. Start from warung, Indonesian traditional food booths up to big restaurants serving you western and Indonesian food.
As with restaurants, there are few independent drinking establishments. Most cafes and restaurants attached to hotels also double as bars. Nusa Lembongan is known as being very quiet for nightlife. A few beach parties are advertised around the island during high season, and there is sometimes a small monthly full moon party. 2009, another in 2010, and more accommodation options are in the pipeline.
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