Our too-short visit to Nusa Lembongan is drawing to a close (for a good reason! so that we can go over to Nusa Penida) and it was one of our favourites. Absolutely gorgeous scenery, small-town vibe, amazing food, cheap prices, and much easier to get to than the Gilis. Here are some of our favourite things to do that didn’t make it into the other blog posts:
Scoot to Panorama Point
“All roads lead to the viewpoint” on Lembongan – scoot to the middle of the island (you know, that high up place you can see?) and pull over at The Panorama Restaurant to snap a picture of the main beach and beautiful water. If the giant hill, name of the restaurant or signs along the way don’t work for you then just look for the group of tourists also snapping photos and do like they do.
Scoot around the old town
Nusa Lembongan is filled with examples of local life – not yet taken over by catering to a tourist’s every whim. So when scooting around the island, especially through the back streets of one of the little towns (like Jungut Batu) you can see good examples of “typical” life – offerings on shrines, temples and every doorstep, narrow streets crowded with family shrines, graveyards with the tombstones sheltered by silk umbrellas and sacred trees.
Lay around on stunning beaches
The colour of the water here just blows my mind. It is so clear and so shallow that the blues and greens just pop your eyes out in the sunshine. We stayed on “Scooby Doo” Beach just in front of the “Shipwrecks” surf spot and loved every sunny blue minute of it, but you can also try Tamarind Bay or Mushroom Beach if you have the budget for it. The beautiful Dream and Sandy Beaches are good for a look but not so great for swimming.
Scare the $%&* out of yourself at Devil’s Tear
Down a sketchy “massage” road you’ll find an excellent sunset viewpoint and fancy restaurant along with the path out to Devil’s Tear – a volcanic rock outcrop that forms natural blowholes (high tide) and infinity pools (low tide). It’s worth a stop just to peek over the edge at the thrashing waves and feel thankful that you are a land-dwelling mammal.
Watch the seaweed farmers
In the strait between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan (Nusa Lembongan’s smaller, cute neighbour) the seaweed trade is still very much alive. Grab a seat at the cute cliff-side restaurant Mamma Mia for adorable decor and “real” pasta, pizza and Indonesian favourites. In the morning the farmers are out in their tiny boats below the restaurant, working away. In the evening the sun sets over the picturesque bay speckled with all the farmer’s boats moored for the night.
Go on a date at Jungut Batu Theatre
This open-air movie theatre shows surf movies in the lead-up to the “main event” (which can be as fun as Finding Nemo or as questionable for vacation viewing as The Revenant) at 7:30. Admission is just your best scouts-honour that you order food and a drink (and the skinny teen working the restaurant will keep popping out of nowhere to take your order until you do). Get there at 7 to snag one of three platform seats with comfy mattress and pillows, otherwise you’ll be in gen-pop on the beanbags with the rest of the unwashed masses.
Check out the Yellow Bridge
The yellow suspension bridge between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan was a hot tourist spot (from Tripadvisor reviews it seems the reason for this was the thrilling aspect of walking on something you knew to be unsafe)… until it fell into the sea last year, killing several people. So… it was unsafe. Good news is (?!) they are rebuilding it in exactly the same way and it should be up and running by mid-2017, at which point it will once again be feasible to ride your motorbike from Lembongan to Ceningan to go exploring for the day. We will be back!
Party like a rockstar on Party Island
Bali day-trippers pay out the nose for a trip to an offshore party island where they can eat terrible food, get pulled by a skidoo at low speed while sitting on an inflatable banana (I can’t make this up) or recklessly damage fragile reefs by walking along the bottom of the ocean with an bubble over their heads. This is real, folks. I wouldn’t pay for this experience, but lots do, so it’s on the list.
Snorkel or dive the colourful reefs
We snorkelled with the turtles on Gili Meno and were disappointed by the reefs but the corals and fishes around Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida do not disappoint. Everyone and their mother rents snorkel equipment, and dive shops seem to alternate with warungs down the whole main strip. We dove with Lembongan Dive Centre, one of the originals of the island and one of the few still run by locals and had a blast.
Shop by the pier
As with any attraction, you enter and exit through the gift shop here on Nusa Lembongan. The road from the main “pier” (read – boat drops you in water up to your knees and you walk to shore) by the old yellow bridge is dotted with shops selling Bintang (beer) singlets and sundresses, sarongs and flip-flops ripe for the haggle. I got a sweet little white lace sundress to complete my beach fantasy life for 100,000 rupiah ($10 CAD). The simpler dresses and tank tops run from $3-5.
Eat, Eat and Eat some more
This is Bali baby – eat up! Unlike the Lombok islands the food here is influenced by the expat population, and you can partake in Japanese, Mexican, French or Italian dishes as easily as you can find a good nasi campur at a local warung.
After three weeks in the Gilis and on Lombok it was refreshing to taste some different spices and flavours. We especially loved Putu’s take on Thai at “Warung Ketut” (off the beach pathway just north of Villa Pasir) and the (possibly) French-inspired mushroom cream chicken at Linda Beach Resort. This last one comes with mashed potato balls filled with barbecue sauce so…
Watch ridiculous sunsets
Due to the topography of the island, all the living spaces and beaches are facing roughly west, with the east-facing side of the island too cliffy and rugged for habitation, so sunset watching (with Bintang in hand? just a suggestion) is a major activity for tourists and locals alike. Grab a beanbag on the beach, make friends with the local beach dogs and watch the sun set in the west or look north to enjoy the colours changing in the clouds over the mountains on Bali.