After five days of experiencing the craziness that is Kuta we were ready to get away from it all, so we decided to spend a day relaxing in Nusa Lembongan. Located off the coast of Bali, Nusa Lembongan is only around 8 square kms so although we would have preferred to spend a few days exploring, we were confident that we could see the main sights in a day.
There are tons of different transfer options for rides out to the island, some cheaper than others. We went with the Lembongan Sugriwa Express since the ship looked more seaworthy and it has an international safety rating. We paid $45,000 Rupiah for a return trip and bounced quickly across to the island.
After jumping off the boat we wandered down the shore. I had been wanting to ride a scooter for ages but I wasn’t brave enough to try it in Kuta since my travel insurance will only cover me if I have a helmet on and a license to drive one in Indonesia. I figured I’d give it a go in Nusa Lembongan where it’s way quieter with much less traffic.
We met a rather charming man named Ken who agreed to rent us a scooter and arranged for us to go snorkeling up north by the Mangroves. This is apparently the best place to go snorkeling since the visibility is decent and there is heaps of seaweed floating in some of the other snorkeling spots. We negotiated the price down to 50,000 Rupiah which included scooter hire for the day and a skipper to take us out to the snorkeling spot on his boat.
When I told Ken that I had never driven a scooter he seemed to understand until I took a seat on the scooter and asked him how to turn it on. He was horrified so I convinced him to let me have a quick drive around the parking lot to practice, and when I was done he looked at me seriously.
“I only fifty percent trust you.” He told me.
Considering I only trusted myself about twenty percent I was pretty happy with that.
Ken decided that he would lead the way to the mangroves and take Jacob on the back of his scooter so I could get used to driving it without someone on the back.
They got further and further ahead of me. On the main streets I was fine, but the road soon became extremely rough, with more potholes than concrete. As I fought with the scooter I almost fell off a few times, most noticeably when we hit the sandy part of the road by the beach.
When we finally reached Mangrove Point Ken gave Jacob his scooter, as he didn’t like my chances of being able to drive around the hills with Jacob on the back of mine.
“I like you and I don’t want you to get hurt. You have no insurance here.” Ken told me.
He left us his scooter for $5 for the day, gave us his number in case we needed anything, and walked all the way back to where we had found him. The guy is an absolute legend, and one of the few people in Bali who have gone out of their way to help me without expecting anything else in return.
At Mangrove Point we chose our snorkeling gear and then jumped in the boat for the ride out to the ocean. Along the way we were treated to views of everyday life in Nusa Lembongan.
Eventually we arrived at the snorkeling spot, where a few boats were arranged in a rough circle. We were told not to leave the circle as the current was dangerous and after about an hour of snorkeling our skipper told us that the snorkeling was way better at Nusa Penida. He took us there for an extra $20, and we followed the current along the drop-off which was spectacular.
After spending a couple of hours exploring the island on scooter we had to head back to the mainland.
I found Bali to be completely overrun with tourists. If you’re thinking of heading to Bali and want a chilled-out vibe with less touts and tourists, definitely consider staying on Nusa Lembongan for at least a couple of days.