Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the coast of Bali. We had three nights there after staying in Ubud for four nights. My reasons were choosing it were pretty simple – I wanted to go to the Gili Islands but couldn’t justify the long boat ride there and back for a three night stay. I wanted to go snorkeling and paddle boarding, and I wanted to get away from the crowds. Plus it was just a 30 minute boat ride from Sanur.
Not too many people go to Nusa Lembongan, especially when compared to some of Bali’s other tourist destinations. If you are looking to party, eat gourmet meals or visit art galleries and big attractions this is not the place for you. It is an incredibly quiet place, although you will see big day tripper boats docked at giant permanent pontoons complete with waterslides and buffet lunches. Although it’s an island, the beaches aren’t anything too spectacular (but that’s the case with most of Bali!).
We arranged our boat through the hotel, and they booked us on Marlin Fast Boat. They picked us up from our previous hotel in Ubud in an air conditioned car, and the boat itself was clean and totally safe. The most exciting part was putting our shoes in a box before we boarded the boat, and wondering whether we would get them back. Spoiler alert: we did. There’s no pier or anything like that, you just climb into the boat from the beach.
Most maps of Nusa Lembongan are pretty confusing to look at, but there are two main clusters of hotels at Jungut Batu and Mushroom Bay. If you’ve just come from Ubud or Seminyak this place will be a bit of a shock to your system. It is very low key, with dirt roads and very few cars to be seen. You can rent motorbikes to get around the island, and a lot of the restaurants will pick you up for dinner. But there’s not much in the way of shopping, resorts or nightclubs.
We stayed at Lembongan Cliff Villas which has two pools and a restaurant. The bottom pool is great for jumping in and cooling off when you get back to the hotel, but the top infinity pool is where it’s at. This pool has the most amazing view back across the water to the Balinese mainland, although since it gets the full sun for the whole day it’s not particularly refreshing.
We ended up eating most of our meals at the restaurant, and the food wasn’t exactly mind blowing but it was decent enough. But you do get to look at the view (below) the whole time you’re eating! Probably less than half of the 13 or so villas were filled while we were there, and most people seemed to be like us and eat at the restaurant. There was also breakfast included, the usual pancakes or omelette or toast plus fruit and coffee. Our room itself was pretty basic, but there was air conditioning. Also a bonus gecko living in our roof. Oh and there are a lot of steps to walk up and down.
After the relative coolness of Ubud we found Nusa Lembongan really hot. There are activities you can do like cycling around the island and visiting neighbouring Nusa Ceningan, but the roads are quite rough so remember to be careful. We ended up spending most of our time by our pool. There is a pretty amazing coastal boardwalk that starts at the little bay behind Lembongan Cliff Villas and leads along the cliffs past some other hotels and restaurants to the main Jungut Batu township. These restaurants are nice places to relax and look out over the water during the day or in the evening.
The snorkeling around Nusa Lembongan is pretty good, and every single local will offer to arrange a snorkeling trip for you. It’s best to do this in the morning before too many day trippers on jet skis and banana boats arrive! We stopped at three different locations around the island, and the water was pretty calm. Sadly we didn’t see any of the promised manta rays, but we did get to throw bread to some fish and look at some pretty coral. We also did paddle boarding which made me feel like Taylor Swift. I even stood up a few times.
Would I go again? Probably not, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth visiting. Next time I’ll probably plan my trip around the Gili Islands or will head to Uluwatu, but I’m glad I got the chance to experience Nusa Lembongan.