Hey howdy g’day, readers! I apologize for the lack of recent updates, but moving from Bali to Australia has proved to be one hell of a crazy, confusion-inducing, strangely amusing, accent-misunderstanding, largely wifi-less experience. But more on that later.
For now, I’d love to share some info about the final days of our 8 month stay in Bali, the last 10 days of which were spent galavanting around the island with several solid friends who traveled all the way from Maui to Bali to sweat, swim, scooter and generally survey and survive the scene in Indonesia, Bintang(s) in hand.
Bali’s Chill Little Sister: Nusa Lembongan
Take Bali and get rid of the nightclubs, terrifying traffic jams, dudes on the street selling fake Viagra and any remaining roads with high quality pavement, and voila! That’s Nusa Lembongan in a (coco)nutshell. While more developed than the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan is still very much a quiet piece of paradise, though like everywhere else in the world that is beautiful, tropical, inexpensive and within close proximity to an international airport, don’t expect it to stay that way forever.
The Nusas consist of three separate islands off the southeast coast of Bali – Nusa Lembongan (the closest to Bali and most popular choice for travelers), Nusa Ceningan (the smallest), and Nusa Penida (the largest and least developed) – which are all easily reached by fast boat from Bali, typically from Sanur. Although the boat trip only takes 30 to 40 minutes, as with all boat trips in Bali, especially if you’re prone to seasickness or panicking, I recommend coordinating your boat travel days with fair weather days.
After hopping on a friend’s dive boat in Padangbai, we took a trip to Nusa Penida’s Manta Point to dive with the manta rays, followed by a rather painful jellyfish snorkeling experience at the extremely gorgeous, beachy wonder that is Crystal Bay. Pro tip: Wear a wetsuit – the thermocline is chilly, and jellyfish are tentacled douchebags.
Once on Nusa Lembongan, we hiked up the steps to our Airbnb house, beautifully equipped with a pool, upstairs balcony and a killer view of Jungut Batu. Since the majority of the fast boats come and go from this area, it’s convenient and has a decent amount of accommodation, restaurants, shops and small convenience stores to choose from, though it doesn’t take long to get anywhere on the island. Pro tip: Don’t leave your Bintangs in the freezer overnight – no matter how slow the fridge seems to cool them, warm beer > frozen beer.
Five scooter rentals, one sunset ocean dip, two orders of terrible quesadillas and nine collective hangovers later, we were ready to explore the island! We headed north with the intention of making a full loop around the island, stopping anywhere that looked remotely interesting, passing half-built beach resorts, a lighthouse, webs of face-sized spiders dangling in power lines, temples, and looping south past the mangrove forest to eventually reach the scenic yellow bridge to Nusa Ceningan. While it’s most definitely a rickety, narrow scooter ride over the bridge, made all the more difficult by people walking across, the crystal clear, shallow turquoise waters below make the crossing totally friggin’ worth it.
Known for its cliff diving, the island of Nusa Ceningan is an easy day trip from Nusa Lembongan, though be aware that the roads are particularly patchy, potholed and rough. Also there’s a monkey tied to a tree, because it’s Indonesia and weirdness needs no explanation. Once over the bridge, we rode south to the overlook at Twilight Lembongan Huts, followed by a short ride to Nusa Ceningan’s Blue Lagoon, a gorgeous cliff jumping spot aptly named for its unbelievably turquoise and blue water.
Keep driving around the bay or follow the footpath to the small parking area to make the leap from the 40 foot jump-off point. While not a particularly difficult jump (there’s plenty of deep water and nothing to avoid on your way down), getting out of the water requires a well-timed ride across a slick, algae-covered rock while avoiding surging waves. Hence the reason watching is my jam.
Hungry and covered in a layer of sweat and dirt, we continued east to Villa Trevally, a tiny eco-resort that thankfully provided everything our wildest dreams could have hoped for – namely cocktails, food, comfy chairs, and a pool with a view. Ba-bam!
Refreshed and ready to explore more of the remaining coastline of Nusa Lembongan, we stopped to help some locals push their truck out of the mud (once again, my participation in such efforts involved lots of watching) before making the ride back over the bridge, and headed south to Lembongan’s Dream Beach. With white sand, fun shore break, and a two-tiered infinity pool open to the public with the purchase of a cocktail (not a problem!), we basked in the glow of our combined adventure-time awesomeness before continuing onto Sunset Beach for well, sunset, and finally, Mushroom Beach for dinner and a swim.
Though the day was not without its fair share of incidents – one friend broke the mirror off his scooter, another friend laid hers down while riding downhill on a narrow path of concrete, yet another friend overestimated his scooter wheelie abilities, and I fell up the stairs carrying beers in the dark, I’m happy to report that we all had one hell of an adventure on the superbly sublime island of Nusa Lembongan. I’d highly recommend it for anyone seeking a mixture of good surf (Playgrounds, Lacerations, No Man’s, Shipwrecks, Ceningan Reef), relatively calm swimming (Jungut Batu and Mushroom Beach), gorgeous beaches (Dream Beach) and complimentary spinal adjustments (any road on a scooter). Just don’t order the quesadillas.
Big thanks to Team Shit Show for holding it down and giving us a memorable last couple weeks in Indo!