Island of Dreams: Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia

Updated on March 15, 2018
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The author lives in a quiet rural community in lower Puna on the Big Island. He's an avid gardener, traveler and photographer.

A Guide to Doing Nothing on this Serene Tropical Getaway

Looking to escape the winter chills? Or to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life? Head to a small island off the coast of Bali where the water is so blue, the sand is so white, and the sun is so bright above: Nusa Lembongan.

Surfers head back to the beach after a morning of riding waves.
Surfers head back to the beach after a morning of riding waves. | Source

Nusa Lembongan is part of a three-island group (the other 2 islands are Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan) which can be reached by a 30-minute speedboat ride from Sanur on the east coast of Bali.

Approximately 8 km2 (1,977 acres) in size and a population of about 5,000, the island is uncrowded, quiet and sleepy most of the time, even during peak season when the majority of Bali resorts are inundated with tourists.

There are no cars allowed on the island, except for those small bajaj taxis that shuttle resort guests around.

Walking is the best way to explore the island. But you may also rent bikes or scooters. You can even hire a boat to hop between beaches!

There are no pulsing nightclubs, no wild beach parties, no tourist-trap markets, and no peddling hawkers on the beach. In fact, compared to other island resort towns in Bali, you may find Nusa Lembongan quite boring!

On the other hand, it’s a perfect getaway for those who seek tranquility or just want to lounge on the beach with a book and not be bothered by anything.

Surfers, divers, and snorkelers are also drawn to Nusa Lembongan because of its unpolluted, beautiful clear water, and healthy coral reefs teeming with marine life.

A shortcut to the beach.
A shortcut to the beach. | Source
Old  fishing boats resting on shore.
Old fishing boats resting on shore. | Source

Jungut Batu Village and Lembongan Village

Nusa Lembongan’s base economy is tourism and seaweed farming. You will see the submerged seaweed beds in the shallow water along the shoreline. At low tide, the beds become exposed, and farmers come out to harvest seaweed. Indonesia is one of the top seaweed exporters in Asia, supplying raw materials for the world’s pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.

Food, water, and daily necessities must be brought in from Bali by boats. At various times of the day you can see the supply boats come in with men and women wading in the water and carrying supplies on their heads - from water jugs to live chicken - onto the beach.

There are 2 main villages on the island.

Jungut Batu Village – located in the north, is where most vacation resorts are found. Some are situated on the beachfront, others perch high on the limestone cliffs with sweeping views across the ocean to mainland Bali.

This village also has many “home stay” rentals and beach bungalows which cater to the budget-minded travelers, i.e. backpackers and surfers.

Lembongan Village – located in the south and much larger than Jungut Batu, this is where most local islanders live. It is also the government/administrative center of the island.

Many homes, schools, offices, and stores can be found in Lembongan Village, as well as several old Hindu temples.

Dramatic difference in the daily tidal cycle. Here is high tide in the morning.
Dramatic difference in the daily tidal cycle. Here is high tide in the morning. | Source
Low tide in the afternoon, with exposed seaweed beds on sandy ocean floor.
Low tide in the afternoon, with exposed seaweed beds on sandy ocean floor. | Source
A markerNusa Lembongan, Bali -
get directions

Calm blue water off the beachfront.  Mainland Bali can be seen in the horizon with clouds.
Calm blue water off the beachfront. Mainland Bali can be seen in the horizon with clouds. | Source
Vacation resorts on limestone cliff above Jungut Batu Beach.
Vacation resorts on limestone cliff above Jungut Batu Beach. | Source
A beautiful day on Dream Beach.
A beautiful day on Dream Beach. | Source

Things to Do (or Not)

Beaches

Jungut Batu Beach - long stretch of white sand beach along the waterfront walkway, incredible aqua blue water, with mooring boats and submerged seaweed beds.

Mushroom Beach - named after the mushroom-shaped corals found in its water, white sandy beach, calm and clear water. Very popular with the “day trippers” (tourists who come for the day by boats from Bali) between 10am and 3pm.

Dream Beach - gorgeous beach bordered by low limestone rock cliff, fine white sand, clear shallow water, good for swimming and snorkeling.

Sunset Beach - located north of Dream Beach, in Sunset Bay, crescent of white sandy beach with crashing waves. Beware of the strong rip current here!

Tamarind Beach - small secluded beach with some shady areas and great view of sunset.

Surfing

Three reef breaks located off the shoreline of Jungut Batu: Playgrounds (for beginners), Lacerations, and Shipwrecks (for advanced and professional surfers). All can be reached by paddling from the beach or by boat. The breaks are usually crowded with surfers in the morning during high tide, i.e. big waves!

Scuba Diving

The island has several excellent diving sites. However, the most popular is Crystal Bay off the west coast of neighboring island Nusa Penida where manta rays, various types of reef sharks, and the giant mola mola (ocean sunfish) are regularly spotted in the deep water.

Professional dive shops are available on the island, offering PADI Open Water certification and a variety of dive packages for you to choose.

Underwater at Mangrove Point offshore snorkeling site.
Underwater at Mangrove Point offshore snorkeling site. | Source

Snorkeling

Nearshore snorkeling is best at Mushroom Beach and Dream Beach. Offshore snorkeling (including boat ride and boat driver) can be arranged at your hotel/resort.

Mangrove Point is an easy offshore snorkeling spot where there are plenty of colorful corals and reef fish in 6-foot deep of crystal clear water. It can get crowded anytime as snorkeling tour boats often bring their guests here.

Experienced snorkelers may try a more challenging but rewarding spot along the vertical rock cliff of Nusa Penida, aptly named The Wall. Boat driver drops you off in the water at one end where you snorkel/float with the very strong current, and then the boat driver picks you up at the other end. Spectacular underwater rock formation at dizzying depth, amazing corals and fish of all sizes and shapes!

Mangrove Forest Boat Tour

Take a boat tour of the pristine mangrove forest at the north end of the island. You may see birds and other marine estuary wildlife in this swampy lagoon.

Smoke rises (from incense offerings) from homes and temples on the island in early morning.
Smoke rises (from incense offerings) from homes and temples on the island in early morning. | Source
Statue of mythological creature guarding the gate of a Hindu temple.
Statue of mythological creature guarding the gate of a Hindu temple. | Source

Gala-Gala Underground House

A house inside an underground cave, completed with several bedrooms, kitchens, a sitting room, and a well. Built by a Balinese man named Made Byasa – he was a priest, dancer, and shadow puppet performer – in 1961 and finished the house in 1976. A curious must see, open to visit for a small fee.

Temple Ceremonies

There are several beautiful Hindu temples on the island that are worth a visit. Special ceremonies, celebrations, and dances are held year round at these temples. Note: Be sure to wear a sarong (for both men and women) when you visit a temple or attend a religious ceremony. It’s a required custom, plus it’s important for you to show respect for the Balinese Hindu culture.

Seaweed beds at low tide, farmers carry freshly harvested seaweed home for drying.
Seaweed beds at low tide, farmers carry freshly harvested seaweed home for drying. | Source
Suspension bridge connects Nusa Lembongan island and Nusa Ceningan island.
Suspension bridge connects Nusa Lembongan island and Nusa Ceningan island. | Source

Seaweed Farms

Take a tour of the seaweed farms and learn about the labor-intensive process of preparing and drying seaweed for exporting. Arrange for a tour at your hotel/resort.

Suspension Bridge

A very narrow, rickety suspension bridge - hanging high above the open water channel - that connects Nusa Lembongan with Nusa Ceningan. Foot traffic, bicycle or motorbike only. Definitely not for the fainthearted!

Each of the 5 villas at Lembongan Sanctuary has its own private pool with a view.
Each of the 5 villas at Lembongan Sanctuary has its own private pool with a view. | Source

Where to stay/eat

Lembongan Sanctuary Villas – Five luxury villas perched on the cliff, all with private pools and stunning views of the ocean, coastline, and (on a clear day) the majestic Mount Agung volcano on mainland Bali. The villas are within walking distance to Jungut Batu Village and the beachfront where many restaurants and cafes are located.

For a small island, you will be surprised to find a good variety of places to eat, ranging from very affordable warungs (small family-run restaurants) to upscale fine dining choices. For the latter, try Muntigs (Balinese and international cuisine, utterly charming, romantic setting) or Indiana Kenanga (on Jungut Batu Beach, exquisite European/Asian fusion, with a celebrity French chef) or Bali Hai Bar & Grill (on Mushroom Beach, gourmet pizzas, Mediterranean chicken couscous, Thai beef salad). For more casual, budget dining, try Lembongan Reef (wonderful Indonesian specialties, popular happy-hour on the huge deck over ocean) or Bunga Bungalo (delicious Balinese chicken with pineapple, banana flower salad) or Scooby Doo (tables set on the sandy beach, great sunset view, excellent satay and curry).

Note: Many restaurants offer free shuttle service where they would send a bajaj to pick you up at your resort and bring you to their restaurant, and then drop you off back at resort’s doorstep after your meal.

The sea slowly recedes during afternoon low tide, leaving boats sitting in a few inches of water.
The sea slowly recedes during afternoon low tide, leaving boats sitting in a few inches of water. | Source
Starfish in a tidal pool.
Starfish in a tidal pool. | Source

How to get here

The only way to get to Nusa Lembongan is by boat, usually from the resort town Sanur in Bali. There are several boat companies that offer rides to the island. Schedules and fares for the crossing are based on the speed of the boats. Fast boats take 20-30 minutes and cost about $18/person one way. Slow boats takes approximately 90 minutes and cost only $5/person one way. You may purchase tickets (or reserve 24-hour ahead) at the boat office (often just a simple table set up on the beach!) of choice. Some boat companies also offer passenger pickup and drop off services to/from hotels and resorts in Bali.

Sunset on Mushroom Beach - the end of another perfect day on the island.
Sunset on Mushroom Beach - the end of another perfect day on the island. | Source

Have you been to Nusa Lembongan?

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Travel Tips

  • The boat ride to/from Nusa Lembongan can be quite adventurous due to the choppy sea and strong wind. If you are prone to sea/motion sickness, be sure to bring medications, wrist bands or patches.
  • There are no boat docks on the beach, you must wade in the knee-deep water to get on and off the boat. Boat staff will carry your luggage (on their heads) to/from the boat. Keep your cellphone, laptop, or other electronics in Ziploc bags in case you or your suitcase takes an accidental plunge!
  • There are a few stores on the island, but you may want to pack all personal items like toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, over-the-counter medications, etc.
  • Bring plenty of rupiahs (Indonesian money) as some restaurants do not take credit cards. There’s one ATM in Jungut Batu but it is unreliable, i.e. frequently out of cash!

About this article

The author spent ten dreamy days on Nusa Lembongan. He ended up doing a lot of things and didn’t read any of the books he brought with him!

All photos were taken by the author with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Viet Doan

    Comments

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      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        2 years ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you for the wonderful introduction and tour of Nusa Lembongan. Very comprehensive and beautiful pictures. Congrats on Hub of the Day.

      • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

        Joanie Ruppel 

        2 years ago from Keller, Texas

        My son is currently in Bali and has similar photos as yours. Seems like a beautiful place!

      • howlermunkey profile image

        Jeff Boettner 

        2 years ago from Tampa, FL

        Amazing and very comprehensive tour of Nusa Lembongan! Thanks for putting up links to things like Indiana Kenanga. I ended up looking at youtube videos of the chef and his restaurant, then ended up watching video tours of the island. Villa 353 degrees north looks pretty amazing, just one of many I'm sure. You've listed so much to do in this article, if I ever make my way over to this island I'll be using it as reference. Congrats on HOD!

      • profile image

        vikash ranjan 

        2 years ago

        wow nice quality images

      • punacoast profile imageAUTHOR

        Viet Doan 

        2 years ago from Big Island, Hawaii

        Aloha vasantha Tk and Kristen Howe! Thank you for the wonderful comments.

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 

        2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Beautiful photos for an excellent hub. Congrats on HOTD!

      • vasantha  T k profile image

        vasantha T k 

        2 years ago from Bangalore

        Beautiful images. Good write up! Thanks for sharing.

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