The Bali that everyone imagines but never finds
Apart from feeling a little worse for wear after the night before, I think the girls were glad we were boarding a boat out of Bali to neighbouring island Nusa Lembongan. I was feeling better too and was looking forward to seeing the island which a number of fellow travellers had highlighted in my Lonely Planet Guide as a “must visit”. I hadn’t head of Nusa Lembongan before my trip, but my Lonely Planet says it’s “the Bali that everyone imagines but never finds”, where days are spent surfing or chilling with friends. True to it’s word, Nusa Lembongan is a hidden gem with white sandy beaches, plently of local culture and masses of seaweed farms providing a unique landscape.
The 30 minute boat ride ended up taking over an hour and a half as one of the boats engines failed. I found it quite amusing watching the whole boat suffer, gradually getting sea sick in the choppy waters, with many throwing up over the side of the boat – aren’t I horrid! I kept telling people to focus on the horizon (my dad taught me this) but they kept looking down, putting their head between their legs. On the island Swills and I left KK watching the bags whilst we went off in search of affordable accommodation. Two hours later we had forgotten which places we had seen and how much they all were and realised we were just wandering the beach aimlessly having a good old natter completely forgetting poor KK. In the end we settled for a room at Ketut Losmen Bungalows due to it’s lovely pool and sun lounges which apart from our first day there, we hardly used.
After a lovely meal at Agus Shipwreck Bar we headed back to our room for an early night, with me still not feeling 100%. The next day we went in search of breakfast and struggled to find anything both affordable and edible. Little did we know most of the islands eateries are located inland on the main road. We did find a cool looking place by the sea called Bunga Bungalow and I settled for an overpriced “healthy” breakfast of muesli and yogurt, which strangely included chunks of chocolate – so much for trying to be healthy! Our breakfast was disrupted by huge waves crashing onto the shore leaving us and our breakfast soaked through. We later heard from a group of surfers that there was a huge swell coming in which was why surfers had flocked to the island that day. We went in search of scooters to rent as they are the transport of choice on the island and I told the girls how much I enjoyed riding them in Vietnam. I met a local man called Ken who took me on the back of his scooter to pick up another for the girls. It was great to be back on the road after being scooter-less in Myanmar and the Philippines. Unfortunately Ken wanted to check we were ok to ride so Swills jumped on to have a go and failed miserably. To be honest, she wasn’t that bad and would have been fine after a little practice, but Ken wasn’t having any of it so we settled for push bikes instead. Note: this is very unusual in Asia as you can easily rent scooters whether you can drive or not!
Although the island is fairly small, our cycle round took a hell of a long time, probably because we got lost and stopped for photos every couple of minutes. We found a lovely spot by the mangrove forest to have lunch and catch up on some sunbathing before setting back off on our bikes. We cycled along the shore and over the suspension bridge linking Nusa Lembongan with Nusa Ceningan, a smaller island near by, and passed countless seaweed farms.
Mushroom Bay is a great spot for sunset and we sat on beanbags with a couple of chilled Bingtang’s. Forgetting our bikes had no lights and that we were on an island with no street lamps, the cycle back was, let’s say “interesting” as KK and Swills freaked out not being able to see where they were going.
You’ll be pleased to know we arrived home safely and went out in search of rum (far cheaper and nicer than beer!). It was here I happened to stumble across Ken again who took me on the back of his motorbike to “find rum”. I didn’t have a clue where we were going but we arrived at his friends house who apparently sold rum but unfortunately he wasn’t at home. Having no luck on the rum front, we settled for Bintang instead and enjoyed a night out at Jibaku Bar’s Black Moon Party located on the beach.
Nusa Lembongan is a great little place to sit back and relax and is relatively easy to get to from mainland Bali (this should cost you around 115,000 rupiah if you book a package transfer, with Perama being the cheapest, but considerably cheaper if you go by public transport). Make sure you take the opportunity to explore the island by bike and enjoy at least one spectacular sunset.
Top tip: There’s a lot more to the island than first meets the eye so hire a scooter to explore before deciding where to spend your time. Mushroom Bay and Sandy Beach are particularly nice spots with plenty of accomodation options.
Living life, loving travel,