Nusa Lembongan may be a peaceful escape from the tourist crowds of south Bali but it doesn’t mean long lazy days of doing nothing. The island has a compelling mix of intriguing natural sights and a host of fun activities to enjoy on and below the ocean waves. It offers challenging offshore breaks to satisfy even the most experienced surfer and spectacular coral reefs brimming with exotic marine life.
At just three miles in length it is easy to stroll around the island and explore off the beaten path. Much of the eastern coastline is made up of completely deserted stretches of sand and secluded coves. Follow the track to the south and encounter cliff top coastal paths offering spectacular views at sunset.
In addition to tourism, Nusa Lembongan’s major income source is from seaweed cultivation. Much of the coastline is dotted with small seaweed farms giving the effect of a colourful patchwork quilt in the shallow crystal clear waters. The island’s culture is little different from that on Bali although there is not so much of a heritage of dance and music here.
There are however some imposing Hindu temples and colourful religious festivities as exuberant as any on Bali. Many people choose to visit Nusa Lembongan as a day trip excursion but a few days is needed to really soak up its delightful atmosphere and the wealth of activities here.
Surfing in Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan has a well established surfing culture and challenging waves that are much less crowded than Kuta beach. All surf breaks are easily accessible from the major island resort of Jungutbatu. Situated just offshore is ‘lacerations’ and ’surgery’ which as their names suggest are best suited to experienced surfers. Nearby is ‘playgrounds’ which is more forgiving and generally consistent enough for beginners to learn the basics. There are many surfer friendly places to stay and lively surf bars in Jungutbatu.
Scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan
There are numerous impressive dive sites situated off the coastline which, despite their popularity, are still in generally pristine condition. Marine life is extensive with reef sharks, manta rays and turtles. Toyapakeh and Mangrove dive sites are two of the most popular for beginners and intermediates. Nearby Nusa Penida offers excellent drift diving for more seasoned divers.
World Diving (website: www.world-diving.com) is the longest established dive operator on the island and the first with a five star PADI approval rating. They offer a range of instruction from open water courses for beginners up to dive master level. Prices for single fun dives for qualified divers are from US$48, including a full tank and equipment.
The sister island of Nusa Penida is an adventurous side trip from Nusa Lembongan and although it is much larger, has virtually no tourist infrastructure. It is a sparsely populated island with a rugged coastline and a parched, hilly interior. There are many gorgeous white sand beaches which are usually deserted all year round and a few sleepy fishing villages to explore. A day circuit of the island is best done by motorcycle to visit its two dramatic Hindu temples, relax on a beach and see the spectacular caves of Goa Karangsari.
Watersports in Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan can boast an excellent range of water sports action based at Mushroom Bay and to a lesser extent at Jungutbatu. There are opportunities for jetskiing, parasailing, sea kayaking and wakeboarding and prices are similar to Bali. Expect to pay from around rp300,000 for a session of jet-skiing or rp150,000 for a hair-raising banana boat ride.
The upmarket resorts of Mushroom Bay have the best facilities and perfect for energetic families with lots of beach and water based activities for kids. Coconut Beach Island Explorer Cruises/Coconuts Beach Resort is a safe bet for water sports fun with professional staff and well maintained gear.
Marine research in Nusa Lembongan
Aquatic Alliance is a marine research and education centre set up to collect data on the manta ray and mola mola populations around Nusa Penida. AA works with Lembongan dive shops to gather information about these magnificent creatures and their critical habitats through their feeding, mating and migration habits while monitoring their behaviour in order to educate the public, locals and government about their value to the marine ecosystem and tourism industry.
Aquatic Alliance also provides informational talks every Tuesday and Thursday at 18:30 at Secret Garden Bungalows. These lectures provide an in-depth and entertaining look at the strange and beautiful marine life around Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Cenningan and Nusa Penida. website: www.aquaticalliance.org.