When the beaches of the island are named “Dream” and “Sunset” you know you are heading for something special. Lembongan is just that. Special from start to finish. If you want to scuba or snorkel this is a must-stop on your Bali trip. Or if you just want some spectacular views and fun in the sun. From driving through mangrove forests on our tiny scooters, to driving out to cliffs on those very same scooters Lembongan was an adventure.
Getting to Lembongan
We took Marlin Fast Boat from mainland Bali to Lembongan. The service included pick up from our hotel in Ubud, transfer via their speedboats to the island, transfer to our hotel on the island, pick up, a boat ride back to Bali and transfer to our hotel in Nusa Dua. Nifty, quick and simple. Once we were on the island, we passengers were herded into jeeps along with our luggage. Driving along narrow, bumpy roads through mangrove forests. My husband, as witnessed by GoPro video footage, was hanging out the back of the jeep for the first segment of the trip until a few passengers were dropped off at the first stop. He loved it. I’m glad I was sitting in the front blissfully unaware.
Island Living on Lembongan
Where you stay on the island depends on your budget. While you can get super-fancy, for a fancy fee, you can also get a more back-packer priced accommodation. For a moderate fee in our currency, we stayed at the stunning Niti Huts. Which is really more than luxurious. Considering that we were on an island, I was expecting the prices to be a lot higher than on the mainland. I was surprised to find that although a little more expensive, food, t-shirts and living wasn’t a lot more expensive. If we do return to Bali, we will definitely be spending more time on Lembongan.
The Niti Huts
I cannot sing their praises enough. If you are looking for a place to stay, I would recommend Niti Huts in a heartbeat. Although not on the beach itself, the resort village is located less than five minutes walk from both Dream Beach and Sunset Beach. If you rent a scooter, for about the same fee as you in Ubud, the main harbour at Mushroom Bay is about 10 minutes away. As a matter of fact, on a scooter most things are about 10 to 15 minutes away in Lembongan.
With only a few units, I would consider them a boutique resort. The units themselves feature beautiful outdoor bathrooms and finishes that show attention to detail. The turn down service lowers the mosquito nets for a canopy bed feel you return to your hut in the evenings. There is a beautiful pool complimented with sun loungers, a restaurant and a bar.
The staff are more than happy to arrange anything from transport to scuba tours and equipment. They also share the tips on where to go, eat and drink.
As I mentioned earlier, Lembongan is an underwater paradise. From Mushroom Bay you can catch a boat that takes you out to the prominent diving and snorkeling spots. There are a great many different operators, so ask around and get prices before deciding on who to use. As we were snorkeling, we could go for a cheaper option. If you are diving, I would recommend going on the mid-range price scale.
That being said, Lembongan has some of the most beautiful coral reefs I’ve seen. They also have an abundance of aquatic life, who are rather accustomed to visitors. Our skipper brought along bread for the fish, who swarmed to our hands to get a bite. There are supposed to be four stops on the route. On the day that we went out, the currents were so strong at one of the diving points, that the company would not take us out to that spot (which meant 3 instead of 4 stops). It must have been really strong, because even at the underwater Buddhas, the current was so strong that we all struggled to stay in range of the boat. I’m a very strong swimmer, and I was exhausted after a few minutes. We opted to go somewhere that required less exercise after a quick look around.
Underwater Buddha or Buddha Temple Nusa Penida
Probably one of the most well known spots, the underwater Buddhas are a big diving attraction in Lembongan. The site itself was created by local artists and businesses, and is a little older than a decade. What it is though, is hauntingly beautiful, and a unique experience. The current is strong, and the Buddhas are quite deep. If you are a strong swimmer, used to snorkeling and you can equalize your ears while going down, you can get about eye-level with the large statues. If not, you can float by and take in the views from above. The scuba divers are able to dive right down to the ocean floor. There they can ‘wander through the garden of Buddha statues’ so to say. If you are a diver this is not to be missed while in Lembongan. But it is a lot of fun if you are snorkeling too.
Dream and Sunset Beaches at Lembongan
Dream Beach is the swimming beach. Unless you fancy slip-sliding over the rocks and through the waves like my husband did at Sunset Beach. At Dream beach you can go for a dip, have a meal and cocktail at the ocean side restaurant and even stay at the hotel. If yo aren’t much for the sand and seawater, but you fancy the view, use the hotel pool and lounging facilities right by the beach for a fee. The beach is really pretty, with beautiful views out over the ocean and the neighboring island.
Sunset Beach, as you can imagine, has beautiful sunset views. It is more of a lying on the sand taking in the view beach than a ‘lets go for a swim’ beach. Oh, and having a bellini at the seafood restaurant while the sun is going down over the ocean. Flanking Sunset Beach is a local attraction called Devil’s Tear where the waves burst through the rocks.
The Yellow Bridge
The suspension bridge connecting the islands of Lembonan and Ceningan is rated as one of Lembongan’s top sights. The bridge was rebuilt after its tragic collapse a few years ago. Used by scooters and pedestrians the view of the islands and the water is beautiful form the bridge. At night, the bridge is lit up making for beautiful neon adventures while crossing it during evening escapades.
We wished we had booked more time on Lembongan during our stay in Bali. But then again, that’s how we felt every time we left a destination. On our first trip to Bali we missed this gem. I am so glad that we stopped here this time around. Lembongan has elements of romance, wild adventure and the fun of the ocean all wrapped up on a tiny island. Reachable on the back of a scooter.