Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan
Another sweaty run, another awesome smoothie bowl for breakfast. It’s so nice to have breakfast included in the room rate that’s not just eggs and toast. In fact, the number of vegan options on the menu was astounding. I need a place like this everywhere I go.
The rooms at our resort had open-air bathrooms, where you could see straight out to a series of treetops with no barrier in between. Today a squirrel sat on a branch only a few metres away and watched me poop. It was a little disconcerting.
This morning was all about snorkelling, one of the most popular tours on the island. It was only a short boat ride to our first stop, known as the Mangroves. From the moment we jumped in the water we basically didn’t move, as the current swept us along the coral reef (thankfully the boat followed us so we didn’t have to swim back). The marine life was spectacular, with tons of fish and other colourful sea animals filling our field of view. The highlight was a solitary turtle, swimming far below us. All of a sudden he rose up to the surface, poked his head out, then dived back down again, out of sight (see the video below).
The next stop was Wall Bay, close to the coast of Nusa Penida. Once again we floated in the current as we navigated ourselves along a sharp rock wall. The sun was blocked by the island’s hills, resulting in the water being colder and darker here. Animals were not as abundant in this area, and we probably only spent half the amount of time in this spot compared to the Mangroves.
A 40-minute boat ride carried us out to Manta Bay, the supposed high point of the tour due to the presence of manta rays that frequent these waters. The trip took us via the section of Nusa Penida we explored yesterday, but this time we had the waterside view. The steep path I climbed down to Kelingking Beach looked like a vertical line. Our boat pulled up alongside dozens of other tour groups, and straightaway I saw the despondent faces of the other snorkellers. With only a sliver of hope we jumped into the cold, murky water. There was nothing to see, not even fish. Disappointed, we gave up and left after only 10 minutes. It was a long, cold trip back to Lembongan.
After lunch, we hired a scooter and set off to explore Nusa Ceningan, a tiny island sitting between Lembongan and Penida. Like Penida, the drive involved narrrow, winding roads, but the lack of traffic and compact size made it a pleasantly quick tour. Our first stop was Mahana Point, a lookout over the coast at an open-air cafe. Oddly, the viewpoint was situated behind a surf break, so we could sit and watch the surfers surfing away from us. A pod of dolphins slowly swam by as we sipped a fresh coconut and absorbed the beach vibes.
Nearby was the Blue Lagoon, a rocky inlet best viewed from a fancy resort. From here we ended up resort hopping around the area, discovering a variety of views of the shoreline. We were lucky the resorts weren’t so exclusive that they were accessible to guests only. It was clear that Ceningan was much more tranquil than Lembongan, and we appreciated the slower pace of life here.
Back on Lembongan, we decided to check out the west coast of the island. At one tourist attraction, Devil’s Tears, there was a billboard out the front showing enormous waves crashing onto the rocks. This was the only site we had come across that requested an entry fee, and it didn’t seem that different to other places we had visited. I asked the cashier whether the view right now looked similar to the billboard. She said, ‘No, not today, maybe tomorrow’. I thanked her and left.
Down a bumpy road was a bar that I had seen recommended online. It turned out to be completely empty and didn’t look overly inviting. Instead, we climbed the stairs to an open-air bar next door, where there were at least a couple of tourists playing pool. We sat in the shade and watched waves smashing into the cliffs in the distance, while drinking the best (i.e. most alcoholic) cocktails we had tried so far. If we ever return to the Nusa islands, we will make sure to come back to this spot.