Oh, to while away more long mornings over coffee and books at The Deck on Nusa Lembongan, watching over the pale, shallow water to the mist-covered hint of a volcano beyond.
An island in the south eastern waters of Bali, Nusa Lembongan is developing quickly, but is far from developed. You can find both comforts and potholes and much in between on this small isle of chilled out paradise.
STAY: We checked in to Tigerlily’s, one of the more beautiful bungalow-style hotels on the island, that wraps around an inviting pool and has an on-site restaurant serving delicious Indonesian specialties, with western faves available too. More on that in a post coming soon.
Breakfast Time: The Deck
After checking in and getting ourselves acquainted with the pool-side swing seats (back for you later *wink), we head straight for one of the island drawcards, The Deck. First glance at this cafe and bar, perched overlooking Jungutbatu beach, revealed one of the signifying features of Lembongan – the old mixed with the new. The Deck is a modern, stark white verandah that has rustic thatched roofing on top, which was covered by a make-shift tarp, which I’m assuming is because of the rain. And on our first visit there, it did just that, so we tucked ourselves away from the elements a little and ordered my first of a few dragon fruit bowls I would indulge in here.
Dragon fruit is a bright pink coloured fruit that originated in Mexico, but is grown quite widely in Southeast Asia. When mashed up and a little icey, it makes a delicious breakfast, especially when combined with other fresh fruits (like watermelons or coconut flesh) and muesli. If you’ve seen this other Bali food post, you’ll see that I’m quite the fan.
We spent a few nights on Nusa Lembongan, so we had plenty of opportunities to return to our fave island chill spot of The Deck and kick back. It was out last day here where we got epic sunshine that made the whole coast glisten. We read, we drank coffee, and when we couldn’t get more coffee without tweaking our relaxed vibe, we ordered tea, which came on a silver Moroccan tea tray. Nobody rushed us on or gave us looks for lingering. I assume it’s the done thing in Lembongan, and who are we to mess with tradition.
Wander the island on foot
Lembongan keeps the kind of slow pace that travellers to Bali come here for, so a leisurely walk along the streets is something that I’m sure you’ll come to. We weren’t in Indonesia at peak travel season either, so on our strolls we walked past many quiet warungs, or stalls selling typical souvenirs and t-shirts, thongs (or flip flops or jandles or whatever your country calls them – ha!) and snacks, and locals zipping about on scooters or preparing for ‘ceremony’. One of our days here there was a ceremony, which meant locals donned sarongs and local attire in patterns like batik and ikat, common in the region, and visited the local temples. There was even rice cakes dyed pink, though I’m not sure why exactly. Might have been for a wedding.
Our second morning on the island, I decided we should wake early to watch the day break on the northern side of the island, which was meant to have the prettiest views that take in Mount Agung over in Bali. The morning was a little sprinkly and overcast, so the sunrise was more a gradual lightening of the sky, but it was nice to wander on a deserted beach, except perhaps for the odd curious dog or caged rooster making an effort to wake the owners of the warung to which they belonged.
Speaking of rain, it pays to remember that in rainy season, on the coast, you’re likely to get dumped on at some point, which was the case for us on one such evening out for a wander. But, as we say here in Aus, it pissed down with rain and we got absolutely drenched and suddenly the 500 meters we’d wandered from Tigerlily’s was like a million thong-slipping, mud puddle slopping, shelter chasing kilometers. It’s like I must have over-complained about a mild sunburn and the Indonesian Gods went aaah, we’ve got a solution for that, it’s called a sky-opening water dump, here you go! So, if your accommodation has umbrellas, maybe take one out with you – or not, getting drenched in the tropics can be kinda fun. We also swam in the hotel pool in the rain though, so maybe don’t trust me.
You can pick up a scooter cheaply (around $7AUD per day) from around the Jungutbatu area where the tourist boats come in from Senur. Just a block behind the beach you’ll see loads of them. The roads around this area are mainly sealed, but for the love of God keep your eyes peeled for potholes and this is not necessarily the case in other parts of the island. We rode all the way down to the south west of the Island to Sandy Bay Beach Club to get a massage one afternoon and some of the roads were almost indistinguishable as such, but you know your suspension works when you’re bobbing up and down like a goddamn pogo stick (which is fun). There are some beautiful views on the high roads, so take it slow and be prepared to stop to take in the vistas.
Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach
We enjoyed our first visit to sunset beach on the western side of the island so much that we returned on our final night, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, so OK, fine! Dining by the ocean with a lovely sunset it is! The Sandy Bay Beach Club is another example of one of the modern, chic venues on Nusa Lembongan, of which I’m sure more are slated.
In addition to being a great place to share a meal (with a large menu from seafood to salads and burgers to nasi goreng), it also has an attached spa, a great little store selling beach threads and shabby chic homewares, and – most importantly – they have a pick up service from most of the hotels across the island! Our first visit was an adventure on the scooter (and maaan are the roads dirty dive holes around here) and our return for dinner and a few champers saw us hitting up the local driver service. We also booked in to the spa and enjoyed an afternoon pamper with a Balinese couples massage (you’ll have lots of these in Bali as they are so darn cheap – or here in Aus they are so darn expensive more like it!), which set us up right for easing into the evening, the sunset, the wine.
Have a water-side drink
On our last evening, after a day trip to Nusa Penida (post coming soon), we settled in at a bar overlooking the beach at Jungatbatu (just a few doors down from The Deck) and ordered a cocktail as the sun went down, watching the boats bob on the surface and some tourists having their luggage hoisted onto the boat back to Senur, knowing that would soon be us. I felt suitable chilled, relaxed, wound down. Perhaps it was the cocktail, perhaps it was spent adrenaline from the kamikaze scooter weilding of the day, but either way, as the water lapped over the shores of Nusa Lembongan, I was already mentally planning my return to this rustic, island hideaway.
Another cocktail please, waiter!
Getting there: We got the fast boat with Scoot Fast Cruises which takes around 30-40 minutes from Senur to Nusa Lembongan. We’d arranged this through Tigerlily’s, who did a transfer from our hotel in Canggu, including organising the boat. Check out the Scoot website above for a timetable and fares if you plan to do it direct.
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What’s your fave island in Bali?