FEATURE: OUR ADVENTURE TO NUSA LEMBONGAN WITH KIDS
We recently visited the little island of Nusa Lembongan, off the East Coast of Bali, Indonesia for our annual family holiday. It's our very first time to this tropical oasis, and a surprisingly short 30-minute boat from Sanur Harbour in Bali. Formerly, only for the die hard surfers with very basic accommodation, the island is developing quickly with premium resorts & restaurants, drawing in a more varied style of traveller. If you're a Bali fan but trying to find something a little more out of the ordinary, this little island could be a great addition to your next adventure. With some of the clearest water we've ever seen, winding coastline tracks & amazing locals, Nusa Lembongan is definitely worth adding to your bucket list. If you desire exclusive accommodation & flash day spas, they've got you covered, if you want family-friendly suites & fun for your tribe, there's plenty for the whole family.
How we got there:
We flew in to Bali from Sydney which was the longest part of the whole trip, though with some good books, and plenty of snacks for the kids, everything was smooth.
Once in Bali, we did the usual check through the airport, and once we were through the airport met up with the bus from the boat company that had been pre-booked through our accommodation at Aqua Nusa.
We were lucky that we were the only ones in the mini-bus so it was a nice private transfer to the boat harbour at Sanur. The boat transfer was organised with Arthamas Fast Cruise. Boarding the boat was easy and the boat crew carried our luggage onto the boat and assisted carrying our daughter through the knee deep water onto the boat. The boat trip was surprisingly easy, just 30 minutes, and we had calm seas. I’d suggest next time taking a few extra drinks and snacks for the boat ride, as the last time we’d eaten at this point was on the plane, so we were all getting a bit hungry.
Another good idea is to wear simple footwear that can easily be taken off, as the boat company will make you take off your shoes before getting onto the boat to stop so much sand getting onto the boat.
Our fast boat arrived on the beach on Jungut Batu which is an impressive way to arrive through the crystal clear water, clearer than anything I had seen before. The boat than backed into the white sandy beach, which was very different to the black sand beaches we had been used to in Bali. It felt like arriving in the paradise we had been longing for with our previous Bali adventures.
Once disembarked from the boat, our luggage was taken from the boat to the beach. We had to carry our own luggage up off the beach to the reception of the boat company, and then they told us which truck to get on to take us to our villa. The truck was not a private truck, we had another friendly couple from Germany on board, and they stopped off before us, before we continued to the villa. All in all, it was about a 10 minute truck ride.
Where we stayed:
Aqua Nusa private villas on the hill in Jungut Batu.
We’d heard great feedback from a friend of a friend who had stayed here previously, so we thought we’d give it a go. The truck dropped us at the top of the hill in Jungut Batu, and then we walked about 30 metres down a staired pathway until we got to the reception.
The reception staff were friendly and offered us a cold welcome drink, a fresh fruit mocktail of some sort, on arrival. The accommodation at Aqua Nusa was excellent. We were staying in Villa Tinggi, a 2-bedroom villa with pool and beautiful views of the ocean. It isn’t cheap at about AUD $520 per night, but it is a high quality villa and we don’t mind spending a few extra dollars on our family holiday to stay in a nice property. Overall our stay at Aqua Nusa was fantastic, just what we wanted from a self contained private villa experience. The only downside was that when we wanted room service, it would be delivered from the sister company, Ohana’s so would take about 45-minutes to arrive after ordering. Once we figured this out, we just planned ahead with snacks and pizzas to keep the kids going in between swimming in the plunge pool.
Where we ate
There are tons of great places to eat and drink on Nusa Lembongan, from budget local style restaurants to high end fine dining. Most of the better restaurants we ate at were more of a casual dining feel, rather than fine dining. So there is no need to get overly dressed up to go anywhere, and a couple of nights we ended up just dining at Ohana’s beach club after an afternoon by the pool and sunset on the beachfront. We found the prices of everything to be very reasonable at all of the places we ate, the local food and more simple restaurants were cheaper, and the western venues and beach clubs tended to be more expensive as can be expected. A good tip to know is that a lot of the bigger restaurants will also offer a free pick up service to bring you to the restaurants, though you will need to get a taxi home at a small charge - usually less than $10 for our whole family to get back to the villa from wherever we had been. We preferred this so we could have a few drinks and not ride the scooters. Some of our favourite places to eat were: Ohana’s Beach Club - this was our favourite place to spend time, and so easy with the kids, as they could play in the pool or on the beach and we could enjoy relaxing on the daybeds and nibbling throughout the day. The sunsets were amazing, and the kids also loved cooking marshmallows on the bonfire at sunset! Very cool!
Kayu - a great cafe also in Jungut Batu and where we would often find ourselves dropping in for a coffee after a walk on the beach.
Ware Ware - reasonably priced restaurant along the foreshore at the bottom of the hill from our villa. They have an extensive menu, and sitting over the water was really nice.
Nyoman’s Warung - very cheap local warung with great seafood.
What we did
The snorkelling was so much fun with the kids for their first time, who were practicing in the pool non stop before we actually took them out. The reception staff at Aqua Nusa villas organised the snorkelling trip for us, and we made our way down to Ohana’s beach club, where the snorkelling boat picked us up directly from the beachfront. Our guide was great with the kids and very friendly. There were a couple of other families on the boat, and we were provided with goggles, snorkels, fins and life jackets for our youngest to wear in the water. The snorkelling tour was for about three hours and we went right around the islands which was beautiful. One of the spots was a bit too deep for our kids, though we went to another place called Crystal Bay that was perfect! The marine life was so colourful and impressive, and our kids loved swimming around the shallow areas surrounded by thousands of tropical fish. I’m not much of a water person myself though even I was in the water swimming around and had a ball!
Adventure to Nusa Ceningan:
We were keen to do a day trip to Nusa Penida, though the staff at Aqua Nusa said it can be quite a long and boring day in the car with little kids in between the natural sights. We might save that for next time if we travel without the children. Instead we were suggested to check out Nusa Ceningan, and the staff organised a driver to take us to the yellow bridge to get there. The ride to the yellow bridge to cross to Nusa Ceningan took about 15-minutes and is a scenic drive through local villages and past spectacular panoramas. At the yellow bridge, we then walked across about 150 metres to the Nusa Ceningan side, which was really a great way to see the channel between the two islands.
From there, we hailed another taxi truck and negotiated for the driver to look after us for 2 hours to explore. We drove along the foreshore past a lot of rustic looking beach bars and eventually stopped at a place called Blue Lagoon, which was a natural landmark we had been suggested to see. We then went out to the end of the road where there was a cliff jump and had a bite to eat before heading down to the beach to swim and relax, before heading making the return journey back to Nusa Lembongan. I must say, this was a great little half-day trip without too much driving, and short stops between sights so definitely a good activity with kids.
The rest of the time we mooched around the swimming pool, strolled along the coastline, watched DVDs & check out!
There is a whole lot you can do in Lembongan-- surfing, diving, snorkelling & paddleboarding are all prominent & simple to organise as soon as you are there. They've also obtained party pontoons offshore with water slides that look a great deal of fun.
Swimming is not encouraged at Sandy Bay or Dream Beaches - the tides are dangerous and very rocky. The beach front out the front of Ohana’s was where we enjoyed cooling down for a swim the most. There was also a really nice little bay at Coconuts Beach which was a short walk down the stairs from our villa.
How we got around:
There are no vehicles or taxis on Lembongan, except the tourists anyhow! Motorbikes are the official mode of transportation & are very easy to hire. One more choice is a Golf Buggy which we did for a few days. Not the most inexpensive option, though if motorbikes aren't your scene, or you have kids as we did-- the buggy's are a fantastic and novel way to get around the island.