Bali Part 1: Nusa Lembongan & Penida
Tom surprised me with a spontaneous trip to Bali for 9 days, and I have to say it was really beautiful and refreshing. Being it was first time on this side of the world (of course Tom's a veteran), I am excited to share our itinerary with you guys. Tom and I love to wing our trips - we both love diving and so when arriving to a new destination one of the first things we seek is what we can see locally diving. Other than that we kind of neglected recommendations from friends and instead rented a scooter and just rode into the sunrise.
I'll start with a simple overview of our first 5 days on Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Penida as it was a very full bodied vacation, then in my next post I will dive into our trip through the main island of Bali.
Three important things that we focus on in our trips are: Diving, Local/ off the beaten path cultural experiences, and food ( and yes this includes street food!) Think of us as the Anthony Bourdain couple of traveling.
Wet season ends in March - so our trip was right on the cusp of the beginning of Dry season (tourist season). Prior to our arrival we were told it was raining everyday and we arrived before the masses (yay!).
My debit card did get frauded after we returned back to Switzerland, luckily my bank caught it but this is very common on the main island of Bali when using any ATM.
Nusa = Island
Warung = Restaurant
All the locations I have shared I have linked to google maps - so simply click and star or add to your list on your google maps. I also downloaded an offline map of the Islands before we arrived. There is wifi at almost every restaurant but it's good to have it in between!
Day 1: Travel - We took a 6AM flight out of Zurich International on Friday morning and landed at Ngurah Rai International Airport at 8:45am a day later. It's important to sleep on the plane as for us it was a 6 hour time difference for us. Since we were spending 9 days beaching and traveling we each brought a hiking backpack packed with shorts, shirts, a couple dresses for me, waterproof/windproof coat, flip flops (both super important as it can just start raining at any point out of nowhere).
Day 2: Bali - Upon arrival we were approached by many men at the arrivals terminal wanting to give us a ride, we walked to the parking garage where we haggled down our price to 200,000 Rp - other's quoted us 450,000 Rp for the same trip. We took a car to Sanur where we picked a boat service to take us to Lembongan. There are many services just pick the one that works with your timeframe. We did pre-pay a roundtrip so we did have a trip back to the main Island of Bali.
We arrived at mushroom beach where the ferry company took us in a buggie and dropped us off at our diving center. Note: we hadn't made any reservations for lodging or any plans for the entire trip. After booking our diving experience - I was completing my Advanced Open Water with this PADI Certified center (Bali Diving Academy) - we opted into staying at the Bungalows No. 7 directly behind the center - not only did they have a wonderful view but it was super convenient for us.
Day 3 - 4: Nusa Lembongan - We rented a scooter right around the corner from our bungalow from a place called Ketut Balon Lembongan Transport from a guy named Santa. A normal price for a scooter is about 80,000 Rp a day - they will give you a better discount for more days - we ended up paying about 65,000 Rp a day. They did not require our drivers license or passport we just paid half in advance as we didn't know how long we would be staying and gave him the difference upon return.
Note to divers: Bali Dive Academy was a great place to get my AOW - they gave us an amazing price for my certification and to include Tom on my dives. I had an amazing french instructor Julian and all to myself! I highly recommend requesting him as he was super patient and really made me feel comfortable diving with him. The food on all dives was the same but really good - we actually tried to order it at restaurants after and couldn't figure out what it was called. During our dives we saw Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Sharks, turtles, and lots of fish and the conditions were great. You will see a lot of trash and will think twice about using single use plastic after diving with this much trash.
In between my studies, tests, and dives we explored the island. Even though this smaller island is more beachy and more friendly than the main island, you will still find restaurants made for tourists. If you like amazing local food honestly we found the following places the best for drinks and food:
Warung Putu - has great local food, and is an amazing spot for sunset.
Nyoman's Warung - on the other side of the island - beautiful sunset also - they have great grilled fish and chicken satay. Local expats eat here - especially from the diving community.
Mama Mia Bar & Grill - more touristy prices, but their grilled lobster was amazing and they have decent cocktails.
The Coconut Hut - diagonally across from Nyoman's Warung and owned by married expats from Australia & New Zealand. They have great music and a really fun vibe for drinks.
Mahana Point (Surf Place) - amazing spot for a sunset or to just sit and watch surfers, the nature, the ocean. Food was only okay - but relax and have a Bintang!
Blue Corner Bar & Restaurant - Bar where all local divers come together at the end of the day - they have fun games, good cocktails, and every night we went (Monday/ Tuesday) there was live music whether a DJ or a band.
Day 5: Nusa Penida - After I completed my AOW we decided we wanted to explore the neighboring island of Penida to see the famous Broken Beach and Kelingking beach (aks T-Rex beach). These are really beautiful and worth the half day trip. We drove our scooter to Yellow Bridge on Lembongan Island and parked our scooter - bought a round trip ticket (200,000 Rp for both of us). Honestly you can just buy one way and then but a separate one way back because coming back we were stuck waiting for an hour with other's who had bought a round trip because the ferry only comes during specific times.
Once we arrived at Penida Island we rented a scooter right away for 80,000 Rp from a guy right by the beach. Make sure you ask for a helmet - a lot of tourists just ride around without one, but we saw a couple injuries and it's so not worth it. The roads aren't kept and it's better to be safe in a place where you don't have urgent care accessible the way it is in bigger cities.
Broken Beach was our first stop and then we headed to Kelingking beach. There are guided tours of the island which probably allow you to see the whole island, not to sound like a record, but again Tom and I do prefer to be able to explore on our own and kind of just go with the flow. So after renting the scooter we google mapped our way to broken beach, it's about an hour and something by car or scooter. During our ride, not only were there a lot of holes and unpatched road but it started to rain cats and dogs - yay adventure! We did make it finally to the parking grounds of Broken Beach. Note: at all tourist spots there are "stops" where you pay the locals for your scooter and for your entrance - I think it was like 5,000 Rp per person and 3,000 Rp for the scooter. Something like this. As we walked towards the attraction, the rain started up again so we hid at this little stand right across the pathway from Broken Beach photo point - they had super yummie fried cabbage pancakes.
Next we made our way to Kelinking beach - that's another 30 minutes on the scooter. Upon parking we paid our dues (i.e. 13,000 Rp - something like that). We walked towards a series of restaurants above T-Rex beach, the food here is touristy so just pick a place - we ate at the middle one on the left if you walk down through the restaurants to the view.
Kelingking beach is amazing - and there is a hike down to the actual beach. I do warn it's not for just anyone as it is a vigorous mountain climb. Make sure you buy plenty of water before going down. Both Tom and I are outdoorsy and handled the climb without a problem, however most people around us were having serious problems with the heat, dehydration, muscle problems etc. If you feel you are fit we really do recommend going down to the beach. It's super beautiful - though the ocean in this cove a little rough.
After a wonderful hike, we scootered back to the ferry (Toya Pakeh), approximately 1 hour, and headed back to the island of Lembongan.
Day 6: Nusa Lembongan - We scheduled our pick up from our hotel to take the 1PM ferry back to the Island of Bali. Since we had a few hours to kill and wanted to snorkel a little, we found a little hidden beach about 10 minutes from our bungalow called Song Lambung Beach.
It was super cute - and we were literally one of the very few people there and took a little off the beaten path road to get here. There is a little warung on the beach as well as a little store where you can get a cold Bintang or fresh coconut.
The ferry company came to pick us up as scheduled and we headed to get on our ferry to head back to the Island of Bali.
I will be posting about our adventure for the remainder of our trip on the main island soon. If you have any questions in the meantime feel free to shoot me a note! I also have pictures and story highlights up from the trip on my instagram so feel free to browse - @kimbeatrice.