Earlier this year we travelled to Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia for a family holiday. It’s our first time to this island paradise just a quick 40 minute boat ride from Sanur in Bali. Once a mecca for surfers & basic beach shacks, its developing quickly with high end hotels & restaurants attracting a more varied traveller. If you’re a Bali fan but looking for something a little more off the beaten track, this little island might fit your brief. With crystal clear water, winding beach tracks & a village atmosphere, Nusa Lembongan might be a great place for you to try. If you want exclusive accommodation & flash day spas, they’ve got it, if you want family friendly villas & beach fun, it’s all there – there’s something for every traveller & every budget.
How We Got There:
We’re very lucky that flying to Bali from Perth is a piece of cake with a short 4 hour flight.
From Bali, the boats to Lembongan leave from the port town of Sanur or Benoa. We travelled with Lembongan Fast Cruises. They picked us up from our Bali accommodation & took us to Sanur beach.
It’s an easy boat ride, only 30 minutes, very smooth when we travelled & the boat wasn’t full. The cruise staff literally load your bags onto the boat from the beach & will be delivered onto the beach in Lembongan, so wheels on your suitcase are not a priority, you may have to carry it yourself depending on where you are staying! Standing around on the beach can be hot too, so make sure you have a hat, sun cream & water with you in your hand luggage.
Your shoes are taken off & put into a box on the beach before you wade into the water & onto the boat (the staff will help you, especially the kids) – they then give you your shoes back once you are off the boat at the other side – so don’t wear your best Louboutins!!
Our ferry arrived on Jungut Batu Beach where our accommodation was, but even if you’re not staying on this side of the island, it’s likely your hotel will meet you at the boat to help you with your bags & take you to your accommodation.
Where Did We Stay:
Lembongan Island Beach Villas on Jungut Batu Beach. This wasn’t our first choice, but in the end (it’s a long story) – the accommodation was great. The location made it very easy to walk to the village & to the neighbouring resorts & restaurants. Many other resorts will let you pay a small fee to use their pool for the day – our accommodation had brilliant coffee – so if you’re after a casual morning cuppa & a dip in a different pool this might be for you!
Our accommodation had two bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a dining & living area & a gorgeous deck with what I think was supposed to be a spa, but we’ll call it a plunge pool overlooking the ocean.
Places We Ate:
There are loads of places to eat on the island of Lembongan, ranging from high end to basic. And when I say high end, I mean they have a wine list! Bathers, kaftan & thongs are the dress code regardless of the place you eat & it’s all cheap, cheap cheap! Both western & local foods are available readily. The more popular restaurants can get busy & will take bookings. They can also arrange to pick you up & take you home if you don’t have your own transport.
There was a lot of building going on while we were there so I can only imagine the new hotels will have some great eating places too! Up near The Deck there’s a heap of little restaurants to take your pick from & round in Mushroom Bay there’s the gorgeous Hai Bar & Grill.
Here are a few places we loved:
What Did We Do:
Our kids were super keen to take on snorkelling for the first time. We’d done quite a bit of preparation & practice before we went, especially with The D-Man who was only five. We hired a boat & guide from our hotel but there’s numerous tour companies around the island. Our guide was gorgeous & wonderful with the kids. We took our own fins, snorkels & goggles for the kids but they can all be supplied. Both our kids wore life jackets which were also supplied. We chose to swim in just one spot which was enough for our kids. The fish & coral are amazing, the water is calm, warm & shallow. We couldn’t get The D-Man out of the water once he got the hang of it!
This felt a little like a scene out of a horror movie, but the kids & Mr D loved it! If you can choose a boat the guide navigates with a giant oar-thing, go for that over a speed boat – it makes for a more authentic experience albeit a sometimes frightening one! Our guide couldn’t speak much English, but he could point out the names of the trees & obviously knew his way around. It’s a very serene, calm trip & nice to experience something away from the beach.
You’ll need to pay a small fee to enter the Mangrove area, it’s part of the National Park & there’s a few really cute beach front eateries in there. You can also see the Seaweed drying out up close, an industry that although is dying out now, was once the main source of trade for the locals.
The Sandy Bay Beach Club:
It’s easy to spend a day here. If you don’t have transport they’ll pick you up. The restaurant is right on the beach & it has a pool which the kids can play in & you can laze in a beach chair. There’s also the gorgeous Walking Tree – probably the only boutique on the island & it’s got a great deli inside with olives & bits you can take away. It’s one of the most up market restaurants on the island, the food, service & location are all brilliant.
The rest of the time we mooched around the pool, walked along the beach, watched DVDs & read!
There is a lot you can do in Lembongan – surfing, diving, snorkelling & paddle boarding are all popular & easy to organise once you are there. They’ve also got party pontoons off shore with water slides that look a lot of fun.
Swimming is not advised at Sunset or Dream Beaches – the tides are dangerous. Mushroom Bay & North near the mangroves is the safest & to be honest we didn’t swim in the ocean at all. The kids loved paddling around the seaweed rock pools at dusk when the tide was right out, but that was it. There are a lot of boats anchored & coming & going on most of the beaches which makes it difficult to swim as such.
You can visit the neighbouring island Nusa Ceningan & cross the famous Yellow Bridge.
There are no cars or taxis on Lembongan, not for the tourists anyway! Motorbikes are the official mode of transport & are easy to hire. Another option is a Golf Buggy which we hired for a few days from Island Buggy Hire. Although not the cheapest option, if motorbikes aren’t your scene, or you have kids like we did – the buggy’s are a great way to get around & navigate the island. You may like to book one before you go depending on when you are going. Our accommodation didn’t have great road access so our buggy was parked in it’s own garage down our hill, we couldn’t take it to our actual resort.
Our accommodation was quite open to the elements, so we had to be really careful with mosquitoes especially at night, making sure the kid’s bedroom doors were kept closed whenever possible & we made sure they always had mosquito bands on. We used the MozzieGear ones, just purchased at our local chemist before we went to Bali, they’re chemical free & the kids actually liked wearing them.
There’s no Doctor or Hospital on the island, so travel with that in mind. Take any medication you might need as well as the usual basics like band aids, antihistamine & paracetamol from your First Aid kit just in case!
There is only one ATM on the island & seeing as most places will only take cash, make sure you are prepared before you get to Nusa Lembongan with enough cash in case you can’t use your card. Our accommodation had a room safe so you can keep your cash & valuables locked away when not needed.
Nusa Lembongan is a brilliant tropical holiday destination for families looking to relax & unwind. With no fancy water parks, traffic or hawkers, it’s the perfect place to slow down your pace, walk along the beach, read by the pool & enjoy cheap, fresh local cuisine with family & friends.
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