Before I got to Bali, I was expecting it to be a small, secluded, and undeveloped paradise island. In hindsight, with Bali’s popularity, I was definitely asking for too much. The commercialization of Bali has taken away a lot of the authenticity of this amazing island. I grew to love Bali despite the traffic, the catering to tourists, and the overwhelmingly made-for-Instagram culture. When I got to Nusa Lembongan, it was everything I had originally expected Bali to be.
Pulling into the harbor, the crystal clear blue waters were already calling my name. Our group hopped into an open taxi-truck hybrid (similar to the Thai songthaews) and did our best not to fall out of the back as the driver swerved through the narrow curves up and down the island’s hills.
Past the main strip of road by the harbor, the businesses were few and far between. A restaurant or convenience store would appear every couple of minutes, a far cry from Bali where long stretches of road were lined only with organic vegan cafes. Who knew the local Balinese people were so into smoothie bowls and green juice?
We got to our homestay where we had booked every room and the poor little Balinese family running the place were subject to our shenanigans for the next couple of days. We rented our scooters and it didn’t take long for us to realize why one of my friends likened the island to Jurassic Park. The roads were sketchy, my scooter was janky, and our homestay was as bare-bones as it gets.
Despite all of that, Nusa Lembongan was a big highlight of my trip. It was a perfect balance of relaxing and exploring. We chased sunrises and hunted down sunsets, swam with manta rays and turtles, and of course, had cool beers in cooler spots. For a change of pace from Bali’s craziness, definitely hit up Nusa Lembongan. Here are ten things you can’t miss while you’re on the island.
Swim With The Manta Baes at Manta Bay
Have you ever swam with manta rays? Those guys are massive. After being assured that they were different than the bastards that killed Steve Irwin, I relented and decided that sure, I would go snorkeling in Manta Bay. Like I said, they were way bigger than I expected. Seeing one of them swim towards me like an underwater angel of death flapping its wings left me more than a little panic-stricken.
Once I got comfortable being in the water with them, it really was a beautiful experience. Although the mantas alone are well worth making the trip out to here, there is not much else to see. For even better snorkeling, head to the colorful…
Splash With Fish All Day at Crystal Bay
The saddest part about snorkeling or diving is seeing all of the once-vibrant coral that has bleached and died. Crystal Bay is one of the few places in South East Asia that did not disappoint me. The coral and wildlife are still diverse and colorful. Turtles, octopi, eels, and all sorts of incredible-looking fish are some of the animals you can expect to find here.
Drink a Beer at Devil’s Tear
If you’re looking for a nice, calm place for a swim, then Devil’s Tear definitely isn’t it. Walking along the cliffs between Dream Beach and Sunset Beach, you will eventually stumble upon Devil’s Tear. The water is very powerful and rises and falls dramatically between the jagged cliffs. It is very trippy to see. Walking along these cliffs makes you feel like you are on a different planet. The terrain is so unique and if you manage to traverse the painful rocks, you’ve found yourself the best sunset spot on the island, if not the entire continent. Grab a beer and take a seat.
Laze All Day At Sandy Bay (Beach Club)
If you need a place to hang out while waiting for the sun to set, it’s not hard to spend several hours at Sandy Bay Beach Club. The owner of the joint eventually went up to us asking how we managed to spend the past six hours at the restaurant. Having beer buckets and an infinity pool overlooking the beach and cliffs of Lembongan definitely helped. We went back and forth from Sandy Bay Beach Club and Devil’s Tear a number of times and they even gave our scooter-less friends a lift home at the end of the night.
Living the Dream, Beach
On the other side of Devil’s Tear and the surrounding cliffs is Dream Beach. It is probably the most photogenic beach that you can actually swim in on the island. The waters are stunningly blue and the sand is soft and white. The waves were rough and powerful but every now and then, they would calm down just enough for us to be able to dip our feet in without getting viciously rocked. The roads to get here are pretty treacherous but if your janky scooter’s janky brakes don’t give out on the gravel roads, then you should be fine.
Get Brekkie at The Deck-ie
If you’re looking for another place to lounge the day away, The Deck has the best views in Nusa Lembongan. Although it may be a bit pricier than the more local joints in Lembongan, you are definitely paying for the views. The crystal clear blue waters are vast and on a good, clear day, you can see Mount Agung towering over Bali. The food and drinks definitely cater more towards Westerners, but if you need a change from nasi goreng or sate ayams, then The Deck is the place to be.
Catch A Stunner of a Sunner
The east side of Nusa Lembongan is very much undeveloped and practically impossible to get to. However, if you want to catch one hell of a sunrise, ride to the north end of the island towards Mangrove Point and walk along the beach. Mount Agung will be looking bae as always. If you want a different view than another beach sunrise, ride towards the central part of the island and find the spot overlooking the harbor and main part of town. The beach, sleepy town, and Mount Agung backdropped by pink skies is an incredible sight to see.
Engage in Shenanigans at Nusa Ceningan
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are connected by a narrow yellow bridge. No cars can cross so you’ll need a scooter for this one. You can also walk across it if you don’t mind scooters zooming past you just inches away. The yellow bridge itself has become a pretty popular attraction for travelers and it even lights up in different colors at night. If you’ve got time, definitely try to hit up Ceningan even for a few hours. There are some great spots in Ceningan including…
Take a Walk and Swoon at the Blue Lagoon
This little cove tucked away from the ocean is as blue as water can get. It’s pretty low effort to go see it but if you want a little more privacy, follow a semi-hidden path through the bushes and you’ll stumble upon several paths going whichever way. Sometimes, you will literally stumble. I rolled my ankle and cut up my knee pretty bad along the jagged rocks but man, those views were worth it. Sneak yourself and some beers in here for the sunset and you won’t regret it. The terrain is rough and uneven and admittedly a bit dangerous, but sometimes you gotta risk it for the biscuit.
Smoke a Joint at Mahana Point (I wish)
Weed is totes illegal and likely impossible to find in Lembongan but it was the only thing missing from a killer view at a spot we stumbled into called Mahana Point. Like I said, I injured myself roaming around the jagged cliffs surrounding the Blue Lagoon so we ended up hobbling around the area instead of going to meet up with our other friends at Le Pirate. This place had one of the best panoramic sunsets I have ever seen. To the west, the vast ocean. To the north, Mount Agung looking bae as always.
The surfers catching waves at sunset makes for a serene but spectacular show. If you’re feeling bold, you can jump off two cliffs into the ocean from here. If you’re feeling less bold, grab a beer, some good friends, and catch another beauty of a sunset.
Nusa Lembongan was a hell of an adventure. If you happen to be in Bali, take the 30-40 minute boat ride over and you will not regret it.
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