Nusa Lembongan – Even nicer than Bali?

When the crowds and touts of Bali get to be too much, you can take the short boat ride over to Nusa Lembongan. It may only be a short boat ride away from mainland Bali, but you’ll feel like you’ve arrived on another planet. Bali is a beautiful island, but a traveler can only take so much of the incessant questions of “Taxi?” “Transport?” “Massage?” and “Want to buy a watch?” before he or she needs to escape. Bali ends up feeling like Jamaica, only without the cool accent. A wise Australian scuba diver once said, “Bali steals my soul.” After spending a few nights in Kuta Beach, you might agree.

More expensive, but worth it

Nusa Lembongan is a little more pricey than its budget neighbor, though the prices are still within reason. If you’ve spent any time in Bali, you’ll end up with bit of sticker shock. Bargaining is difficult, but give it a shot for things like snorkel gear rental. Any local will blame the cost of gas, but the real reason seems to be the day-tripping tourists who come in from Bali for the day and don’t bother negotiating. The beachfront hotels offer the most expensive food and drinks. If you’re counting your rhupiahs, you can walk about 1/8 of a mile inland from your hotel and the price of a bottle of water will magically drop by half. Do as much of your shopping and eating away from the beach as possible if you’re on a budget.

Getting to Nusa Lembongan and where to stay

Whether you take the local boat or the speedier Perama boat, you’ll be dropped in the shallow waters in front of Jungutbatu, the island’s major town. The accommodation prices rise with the land’s incline. For the cheapest digs in town, head to the Surfer Beach Hotel where you can still score an $US8 double room. Construction is rampant on Lembongan, with new guesthouses being built by the minute. The island, while now tranquil, is on the fast track to becoming Indonesia’s next hot spot; an alternative to overcrowded Bali.

What to do in Nusa Lembongan

The main industry in Lembongan is seaweed farming, which could not provide for a more tranquil island backdrop. Wander over to the mangrove swamp, taking in the spectacular views of Gunung Agung across the water, meandering through the small villages along the way. The sight of seaweed drying in the sun with a volcano in the background will haunt you for the rest of your life. Be prepared to take photos of the kids, and for the uproarious laughter once they see the tiny images of themselves. Low tide is the best time to see the action, when the locals push their boats and baskets through the water collecting the seaweed.

Surfing and diving are the major pastimes for tourists on the island, closely followed by lounging in the shade and sipping tropical drinks while watching the sunset.

Dream Beach is a stunning beach on the South side of the island, tucked nicely in a cove. There is a hostel built on the cliff side, with a bar overlooking the pounding waves. Most people, however, visit Dream Beach as a day trip. You can rent a scooter, arrange for a ride, or even walk from Jungutbatu admiring the coastline along the way.

By guest writer Carrie Thompson, who is a true globetrotter and well known as the writer of the businesstravellogue.