Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. Quickly becoming one of Bali’s most popular attractions, this island paradise is a world away from the hassle and hectic pace of South Bali. Neither hawkers nor traffic mar the magnificent scenery; this is a fine place to just put your feet up and relax. Main activities include surfing, diving and snorkelling. The water is some of the clearest you will find anywhere, and a vivid aqua blue in colour.
Nusa Lembongan is approximately 8km² in size and is one of three neighbouring islands, the others being much larger Nusa Penida and tiny Nusa Ceningan (also covered by this article). The three islands are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait. Some visitors may find Nusa Lembongan a little slow after the pace of South Bali.
What to do
Many areas around the island are good for diving and snorkelling, with abundant marine life and healthy coral. Surfing can get a bit crowded, but the waves are good. There are several white sand beaches away from the main centres which are virtually never crowded. There is a flourishing and well established seaweed farming industry here, and many visitors find it interesting to learn about this.
Two main beach areas have traditionally attracted visitors. Jungut Batu in the northwest is the bigger of the two, and has myriad hotels and cheap eateries. This is the area which traditionally attracted backpackers and surfers to the island. The white sand beach here is pleasant enough but nothing to get too excited about, and it is a little narrow in places. In more recent times, the hillside to the south of Jungut Batu known as the Bukit (the hill) has been developed and has attracted some higher level hotels and private villas. The views from the Bukit are perhaps second to none on Nusa Lembongan. Sunsets are best viewed along the main Jungut Batu beachfront.
Mushroom Bay to the southwest of Jungut Batu is a quaint, attractive and sheltered bay. It is an especially nice spot after 15:00 when the day trippers have returned to Bali, and it has a great white sandy beach, along with some cosy little water-side restaurants.
Further south, the lesser known beaches either side of the Devil’s Tear outcrop, known as Dream Beach, one of the most beautiful in Bali and Sunset Beach (or Sandy Bay), are increasingly drawing more visitors. The coastal landscape in this part of the island is mostly low-lying limestone cliffs, and there are some dramatic cave formations. A beautiful view can be seen from the cliff at the right side of the Dream beach, especially at the sunset.
The north end of the island is fringed by an important mangrove forest, and the eastern side of the island is separated from neighbouring Nusa Ceningan by a shallow estuarine channel. The main population centre of the island is Lembongan Village in the southern interior, and it is here that you will find the homes of many traditional island families.
Climate and Culture
The climate of Nusa Lembongan is similar to neighbouring ‘mainland’ Bali, but it is noticeably drier here, particularly in the period of May to September. If there is a time to avoid, it would be the height of the rainy season in January and February. The local Lembonganese are Hindu and visitors will notice little or no difference from the prevailing culture on the Bali mainland. You may be able to catch a cock fight, look out for a crowd of local men! This generates a lot of excitement on this tiny island.
Balinese is the most common language of communication between local residents, with Bahasa Indonesia a distant second. The Balinese spoken here is a distinct dialect, and sharp-eared linguists would certainly notice this. English is widely understood and spoken, often with an Australian accent! The only realistic way (although you can charter a helicopter) to reach Nusa Lembongan from Bali is by boat and departure points are: Sanur, Benoa Harbour, and there are local public boat services to and from Padang Bai and Kusamba in East Bali, but these are not recommended for reasons of safety and comfort.
The vast majority of visitors leave the way they came in, i.e. back to Sanur and then on to elsewhere in Bali. For the adventurous, a side trip to Nusa Penida island will get you well off the beaten path. There is a daily direct boat service to mainland Lombok and Gili Trawangan.
Main Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gili_Islands