On April 26th, I took a ferry over to Nusa Lembongan (Lembongan Island), just east of Bali. Nusa Lembongan is beautiful, small, and relaxed. It would be a fantastic place for a honeymoon. It is also great for surfing, diving, snorkeling, and other water sports. The water is clean and crystal clear. Wikitravel lists its “attractions” as: Paradise Beach, Mushroom Beach, Dream Beach, Sandy Bay, Tamarind Beach, Scoobydoo Beach (no joke), Mangrove Forest, Seaweed Farms, and SUNSETS. I mean, seriously… does it get any better than that?! All of the attractions are just nature being nature. It is truly an island paradise.
I splurged quite a bit in Lembongan. I got a private beachfront bungalow with free breakfast, AC, and hot water for $30/night at a great place called Segara Beach Inn. I stayed for three nights. It was so nice!
I spent one day on a snorkeling tour, which was awesome. The first place we stopped was a little scary, as there were massive swells. The boat was rocking wildly as we all tried to jump over the side into the water. The place was called Manta Point because it’s where manta rays feed, but the visibility was awful and we couldn’t see more than a couple feet. I was worried that the whole day would be like that, but fortunately it wasn’t. The next stop was Crystal Bay, which was a beautiful area with clear water, healthy coral, and lots of colorful fish. After that we went to my favorite spot: the Wall. The boat dropped us along a cliff that plunged into the water. The reef along the cliff wall went down steep and fast to about 20 meters. The current was swift along the wall, so the boat picked us up maybe a kilometer away. You didn’t have to swim at all at this location. Just float and let the current pull you along. It was so cool. I also liked the last stop, which was called Mangrove Point. It was well off-shore but very shallow reef, so all the fish and coral were really close. Aside from Maui, it was the best snorkeling I’ve ever done and the views of Nusa Lembongan from the boat were simply stunning. We went past a spot called Devil’s Tear, which is a cliff that juts out into the sea and enormous (like deadly, killer, HUGE) waves crash into it and send sprays of water 40 feet into the air. It was SO COOL. The power of the sea is so incredible.
I met two girls on the beach on my first night in Lembongan: Joanna from CA and Gia from Germany. A “small world” situation happened when I friended Joanna on Facebook and saw that we have a mutual friend: Natalie, one of my ENP travel buddies. They went to high school together. Random! Anyway, I spent a lot of time with these two girls. One day we rented scooters and Joanna bravely drove it around the island with me riding shotgun, even though it was her first time ever driving a scooter. We had a fun day and only got in one wreck. We were going up a steep hill and hit a big pothole. We didn’t have enough momentum to keep going and the scooter basically just toppled over, dumping us off onto the street. It was pretty funny actually. I only ended up with a bruised bum. During our scooter tour, we explored most of the island’s beaches, went across the suspension bridge to Nusa Ceningan, and made a full loop of Lembongan. It was really scenic. That night we had some amazing food at a small warung (Indonesian word for a small restaurant, usual open-air).
Sadly, I had to leave the next day. I could have stayed in Lembongan for a few weeks (but definitely not for $30/night). It was so nice. Can’t wait to go back some day.
Kuta Beach, Bali
I decided to spend my last two nights in Indonesia back on Bali because I had to fly out of the Bali airport super early on May 1st. I caved in to the temptation of Kuta (and it’s proximity to the airport) and decided to book two nights at a hostel there (Captain Goose). My first night there I went to a bar called Alleycats. Alleycats was the epitome of why I didn’t want to go to Kuta. It reminded me of being in Cancun for my senior class trip: wildly drunk kids, girls flashing their breasts, and dudes desperately trying to find a girl before the bar closes. But I got sucked in a little when two American guys started chatting me up. They were actually nice guys, in their 40s, and perhaps the only people in the bar not being completely obnoxious. Eventually, though, I broke away and was walking home when some local guys asked if I wanted to join them on the sidewalk for a drink. They seemed nice enough, so I joined them. I’m glad I did because they were really great guys, surf instructors and dive assistants, and I ended up hanging out with them for the rest of my time in Kuta. We went to a few more bars that night, and then hung out again the next day. Hanging out with locals is way better than hanging out with other tourists.
Even though I didn’t love the vibe in Kuta or the tedium of Padangbai, there is something special about Bali. I want to go back and visit Ubud, Amed, and other spots along the coast. Actually, I really loved Indonesia overall. I had a wonderful time in Java. Nusa Lembongan was perfect. And Bali has its pros and cons, but it is undeniably beautiful and so are its people.