One of three small islands just off the coast of Bali, Nusa Lembongan (or Lembongan Island) wasn’t a part of Bali’s tourism climate until just a few decades ago. Around 8 kilometres square, and home to around 50,000 people, this small island is known for its undeveloped beaches, coral reefs, surfing waves and a slower lifestyle. There are a small number of hotels on the island, increasing every year, but many visitors choose to visit via boat on a day trip only.
- Snorkelling and Watersports – This is the activity that brings most day visitors to Nusa Lembongan, with a number of operators running daily fast boat services combined with a selection of snorkelling spots and watersports. The reef around Nusa Lembongan, partly due to the lack of rampant development, is of good quality and is blooming with marine life and coral growth. Conservation groups have estimated around 247 species of coral and 562 species of fish live in and around Nusa Lembongan. As well as snorkelling, there are a number of watersports available, from semi-submersible coral viewers to banana boats. Some providers, as well as professional outfits on the island, also provide scuba diving introduction courses.
- Beaches – Nusa Lembongan is home to a few beautiful beaches, although much of its coastline is occupied by mangrove forests and low limestone cliffs, which have led to the formation of some stunning cave landmarks. The most popular beaches are Dream Beach and Sunset Beach. These are slightly outside of the main tourist centres, but easily accessible via motorcycle or even walking. The beaches are white sand, and much of the vegetation remains due to a lack of development on the island.
- Staying on Nusa Lembongan – If you do choose to stay on the island, you’ll likely end up in accommodation at either Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu. Jungut Batu is a larger bay and beach, which has seen a small development boom resulting in a number of hotels, BnB’s and eateries. Mushroom Bay on the other hand is more sheltered and tends to be quieter, with a reasonable range of accommodation and a number of water-side restaurants.
- Other Activities: Nusa Lembongan has in recent years become popular with thrill-seekers, especially those looking to experience something different from the typical Bali holiday. This has led to an active following of surfers in the area, and an uptake in cliff-jumping. Both activities can be dangerous, with many of the surf breaks occurring over reef, and the favourite cliff being more than 10 metres high. Be aware that there is no major clinic or hospital on the island, and all activities (paid or unpaid) are undertaken at your own risk.
The cost of activities on the island will vary, particularly depending on whether you pre-book in Bali or book spontaneously in Bali. Other than that expect to pay upwards of Rp. 200,000 for a fast boat trip to the island, and Rp. 100,000 for the slower public boat.
- Money On The Island – Although improved in recent years, there remains just one ATM on Nusa Lembongan, so if you’re planning to stay on the island you’ll need to bring cash in advance. That being said, there are a number of money exchange depots, and some of the bigger hotels will accept card.
- Getting Around the Island – There are almost no cars on Nusa Lembongan. Getting around the island can be done via walking, bicycles or motorbikes. There is a footpath/road that runs all around the island, dipping inland around the mangrove forest in the west. Motorcycles and bicycles can be hired from a number of places around the island, for about Rp. 20,000 – Rp. 30,000 per day for bicycles and Rp. 50,000 – Rp. 100,000 per fay for motorcycles.
- Around Nusa Lembongan – Nearby to Nusa Lembongan are Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. Neither island has had the same tourism success as Nusa Lembongan, although recently a small number of bungalow-style accommodations have opened on Nusa Ceningan. This smaller island is linked to Nusa Lembongan via the area’s famous yellow suspension bridge, and is worth exploring for those overnighting on Nusa Lembongan.
- Fast Boat – There are a broad range of fast boat options to access Nusa Lembongan, most of which leave from Sanur and take between 30 minutes and one hour to get to the island.
- Slow Boat – As well as fast boats, there is the much slower public boat, which also leaves from Sanur in the mornings. This boat can take around 1.5 hours to make the crossing, although this can change in choppy seas.
- Day Tour – Along with simple transport providers, there are a number of reputable agencies providing full day trips to Nusa Lembongan that have a range of inclusions, including food, activities and transfers. These day trips include options for exploring the island, as well as for enjoying luxury beach clubs.
- Nusa Lembongan’s primary industry, after tourism of course, is seaweed. Seaweed is farmed at a number of beaches around the island, and visitors can watch it being harvested and tended from the shore.
- In Nusa Lembongan there is an Underground House, a series of rooms and chambers constructed over a period of 15 years by a single man with nothing but a hammer and a chisel.