Know Before You GO – Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is an island located off the western coast of Nusa Penida, just under an hour away in a speed boat from Bali. Lembongan is significantly smaller than its two neighbours and so is a little less touristy. It has two main ports where boats from Bali arrive (this is where majority of the tourists come from) – Mushroom Bay and Jungut Batu. Majority of the people come to Lembongan to dive or surf but there are other attractions in the island too. Below is our summary of must-knows as well as recommendations for those considering visiting this place.
The easiest and the most popular way for getting to Lembongan in 2019 is by speed boat from Sanur Pier in Bali. Now, I have read a number of blogs talking about Perama slow boats but this is option is either not available any more or staff in Perama office are very good at hiding this information from tourists. We have been able to get speed boat tickets to Mushroom Bay (our first mistake – more about that later!) for 150k Indonesian Rupiah per person but I have a feeling we could have negotiated this down a bit.
The best option when it comes to purchasing tickets is to buying them directly from boat operators in Sanur Pier. Agencies will always charge a commission which means it’s a bad deal for you! Before purchasing ticket though, make sure you know which pier in Lembongan is closer to your hotel. We purchased a ticket a little prematurely and only after arriving in Lembongan realized we should have gotten a ticket to Jungut Batu instead. We got out of the situation by hiring a scooter for 70k which actually gave us the mobility to find the best accommodation so we actually ended happy how it all unfolded.
My honest suggestion for you is to take out enough cash plus a little extra in Bali so that you don’t need to worry about it Lembongan. As of February 2019, there were three or four ATMs in total in the island which made us feel slightly uncomfortable when two that we first tried did not work. In the end I was able to withdraw 1.25M from an ATM in mushroom bay to pay for tickets to Gili Air but that was literally our last resort.
When it comes to transportation options in Lembongan are limited to scooter hire or push bike hire although due to the fact the island is relatively small you can do some things without either of those. Taxis operate in Lembongan too but we never had to use them as prices seemed unreasonable compared to costs of renting a scooter (70k per day).
Due to the fact we visited Lembongan in February which is considered low (rainy) season we have had a lot of choice in terms of where to stay. It is slightly unusual for us to go somewhere without knowing where we are going to spend the first night or two but that’s what was what we did this time.
With our rental scooter we have been able to go and speak to a number of different hotels to make sure we find the one we really like most. Two best options we have come across were Arya Inn and Suka Beach Bungalows. In Arya Inn we have been offered an air conditioned room with hot water for a low season price of 250k a night (breakfast included). At Suka Beach Bungalows we have been able to negotiate the price of a non-AC, fresh water only bungalow to 250k (no breakfast) as well but decided to stick with Arya Inn anyway as it seemed like a better deal.
During high season these sorts of prices might not be on the table and availability might be a lot more limited so that’s not something I’d recommend people do.
In Nusa Lembongan we were surprised about the amount of choice we had when it came to food. Jungut Batut area is full of restaurants and smaller eateries called Warungs. The two best places we found were Green Garden Restaurant and Bali Eco Deli. Green Garden had the best choice of semi-healthy meals and so that’s why kept coming back. Bali Eco Deli has less choice but food is very nice and they also have a little recycling scheme going on where you can bring some empty plastic bottles or cardboard for them to recycle and in return get 10% discount on your bill.
We also enjoyed a pizza and a cheesecake in Tigerlilly but it was slightly outside of our budget to be eating every day.
Despite being relatively small in size Lembongan Island can keep you occupied for at least a few weeks. As mentioned previously scuba diving and surfing are two most popular ones but other activities such as kayaking in Mangrove Forrest area or taking up Yoga classes are great options too.
First and foremost, scuba diving is something that I love so obviously this was the first thing I wanted to do in Lembongan. We talked to a number of dive shops on the island and two that left the best impression were Two Fish and French Kiss Divers. We did our dives with Dive Manta Lembongan but I am not sure I would recommend these guys to others. Scuba diving is an inherently risky activity and so my safety is always the primary concern and that just did not seem to be the case for our instructor from Dive Manta.
As we found out, first impressions can be slightly deceiving so do your research if you decide to dive with either of the dive centres mentioned above. In terms of prices all shops are very similar – a single fun dive will cost around 500k.
If you are interested in Yoga, then Kristina is your pro. According to her, girls teaching at Serenity Yoga were fantastic and she really enjoyed the classes. Green Garden, which is the place where we dined a lot has a highly rated yoga studio as well but it did not seem to have classes going in low season.
Still got some money left after all of those amazing activities? In that case Kristina recommends So B massage studio. During your massage, staff at So B will massage the muscles you did not think you had. Their prices are very reasonable too so they might be worth checking out. A 60 minute massage will cost you around 120k.
Want something free? Check out Devils Tears during high tide. Just do not go too close to the edge!
Is Nusa Lembongan worth checking out?
We enjoyed our time in Nusa Lembongan so much we consider this stay to be the most relaxing and enjoyable of all the experiences we had since the beginning of our travels which was September 2018.
The reason why is simply because it ticked all the boxes for us (and it might not for you!). It had a great selection of local and western food, diving was great and even though we did not surf this time we knew there was an option had we decided to rent a board and have a surf. Kristina found a Yoga studio with professional teachers so she really enjoyed her classes. Due to the fact it was low season, the amount of tourists was quite low which meant we were free to chose where to stay, what to do and where to eat without worrying it might be full or too crowded.
The island itself was beautiful and the beaches we found were really some of the nicest we have seen. My final suggestion is to come and check it out if you are ever in Indonesia – I think you will not regret it.