TOP 11 REASONS WHY NUSA LEMBONGAN MIGHT NOT BE THE RIGHT DESTINATION FOR YOU!
We’ve all seen the countless reasons why you should go to Nusa Lembongan, but surely there are some downsides to Bali’s little sister island - Nusa Lembongan. After having thousands of guests visit our resort, beach club and private villas on Nusa Lembongan, we’re pretty well placed to be an authority on both the good and the bad to Nusa Lembongan. This month, we have a frank conversation about the Top 11 reasons (plus 1 bonus reason) why Nusa Lembongan might not be the right destination for your next holiday.
REASON 1. You need to go on a boat to get there (or helicopter)
The only way you're getting to Nusa Lembongan is via boat, or if you're feeling ritzy then helicopter for the rockstars amongst us. The boat ride from Bali is approximately 15km across the Badung Strait and takes about 30 minutes.
The boats are all safe with qualified captains and safety gear (not that you should need to use it), so you don’t need to be concerned about that. All of the large fast-boats have 4-6 x 250hp-350hp engines making them powerful and fast to get you to the island quickly and safely. While the fast-boats are safe and carry literally hundreds of thousands of passengers to and from the Nusa Islands each year, they do have a few downsides that can’t be ignored:
Cost - The fee for the fast boats is an added cost that you might not incur if you chose to spend your time only on Bali. The cost of the boat is approximately Rp 500.000 (AUD $50) for a return ticket for adults - a little cheaper for kids - with the most reputable operators.
Time - The fast-boat trip to Nusa Lembongan is approximately 30 minutes each way, plus a bit of time checking in and boarding and disembarking the boat. If you don't have that time up your sleeve to spend on a fast boat, then this might be a deal breaker.
Sea sick - If you are susceptible to getting sea sick, then this might be a turn off for you, though we do have a couple of tips to help.
Just remember, the trip is only 30 minutes each way, and you can see land the entire time. Plus there's the big carrot that once you arrive in Nusa Lembongan you are literally in paradise!
INSIDER TIP If you’re susceptible to getting sea sick, the best time to travel is in the mornings as the seas are generally calmer and there is less wind chop. If it is a bumpy crossing, sitting towards the back of the boat reduces the up-and-down bouncing effect, giving you a smoother ride.
You need to get your feet wet to board the boat - The fast-boats will usually back up to the beach, meaning to board the boat you will need to walk a few feet through the water to board the boat. The staff working for the boat companies are generally helpful with assisting you to board the boat, though remember to wear shorts and footwear that is easy to take off so you can board the boat easily.
If you do decide Nusa Lembongan is the right destination for you after reading this, then let our team organise your fast-boat transfers when booking your accomodation so you end up with the most reputable operators and on the right boat!
REASON 2. Nusa Lembongan is more rustic than Bali
Nusa Lembongan is a more rustic experience than Bali. What we mean by this is the roads are full of potholes, and generally unmarked. There are less cars on the island. The electricity can go out from time-to-time, and there is no main fresh-water infrastructure. Everything on Nusa Lembongan happens a little slower.
This of course brings a unique charm to the island, and is part of the reason why so many come to Nusa Lembongan, though it is not for everyone.
If you are looking for a big city experience with all the bells and whistles, or if your cup of tea is walking into a huge foyer of a stiff 5-star hotel, pretending you're Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City with the new knock off Louis Vuitton handbag bought in the backstreets of Legian, then Nusa Lembongan might not be the place for you.
COMMON QUESTION - Is Nusa Lembongan suitable for families and children? Yes, Nusa Lembongan is an excellent destination for families and children of all ages!
Whether it be relaxing by our pool with a cocktail in hand, whilst the children play on the beach or in the pool, exploring on a golf buggy, having a round of mini golf, snorkelling or learning to surf, you'll never be short on wonderful activities on Nusa Lembongan that are fun for the whole family. Even the boat ride over to Nusa Lembongan is a novelty and adventure for youngsters! What's even better, is the most you'll need to travel to get anywhere once on the island is about 15 minutes, so no long or boring car rides! At Ohana's our 3-bedroom villa, Suites and Junior Suites are all great options for families, and with our two pools (both with shallow ends) and beachfront location in the heart of the main town parents can enjoy working through our cocktail menu whilst the kids are having a ball.
REASON 3. It’s a bit more expensive than Bali
Despite Nusa Lembongan being generally more rustic than Bali, that does not necessarily translate to it being a cheaper destination to visit than Bali. That's not to say the island isn't suitable for a range of budgets, though everything is generally a little more expensive on the Nusa Islands when compared to Bali. The main reason for this, is that just about everything on Nusa Lembongan (and the Nusa Islands), has come from Bali at some point.
The building materials, the labour to build, a lot of the staff working in the tourism sector- especially staff with specialised skills, all of the equipment, furnishings and fittings, and nearly all produce comes from Bali.
To offer an example, something like scooter rental in Bali which might be Rp 60,000 - Rp 80,000 per day (AUD $6-$8), might be more like Rp 80,000 - Rp 100,000 ($8-$10) per day in Nusa Lembongan. It's not that the local operator is being greedy charging an extra $1-$2 dollars per day; the operator is simply passing on some of the added costs of business. Remember, the bike had to be shipped to the island (probably a couple of hundred dollars in freight), and any ongoing maintenance, repair items or new items for the bike all need to come from Bali for the operator to provide this service. The same logic applies across the board, whether it be at the convenience store, a restaurant or for accommodation; there are added costs of business that are in turn passed on to the consumer. The added costs make sense when understanding the basic logistics of how everything gets to Nusa Lembongan, so don't be surprised if things seem a bit more expensive generally on the Nusa Islands when compared to Bali.
For most people however, the extra few dollars here and there are a small premium to enjoy the crystal clear water, white beaches, incredible sunsets and magic that the Nusa Islands have to offer. We guess that's the price to pay to be in paradise!
REASON 4. The ATMs don’t always work Don’t ask us why. We find it just as frustrating as the next person as to why the banks seem to have so much trouble maintaining their ATMs on Nusa Lembongan. At the time of writing, there are a few small bank branches on Nusa Lembongan, and a handful of semi-reliable ATMs. A lot of the larger venues will have credit card facilities, though it is a good idea to bring cash with you to Nusa Lembongan, to pay for small goods and for when dining at local restaurants. INSIDER TIP Venues that have credit card facilities will add a credit card surcharge to the bill to offset the costs charged by the credit card providers, so if you want to avoid these fees, then cash is the way to go.
REASON 5. The internet is pretty good - but not the best
The internet on Nusa Lembongan has come a long way, over the last few years in particular, though it still does not have the same stability and speeds as you may expect in a major capital city around the world. The internet is fine 99% of the time for emails, face-to-face web calls i.e Skype or Zoom, posting your latest Tik-Tok dance routine, and browsing the "inter-web".
There are plenty of expat digital nomads that live on the island. Though if you want to upload your 100GB file of HD video or participate in an online gaming competition, then best to plan to do that from Bali after your time on the Nusa Islands.
REASON 6. There are no taxi’s with air-conditioning
Nusa Lembongan has no closed, sedan style taxi’s. Taxi's around Nusa Lembongan are usually a small truck with bench seats in the back. There are plenty of drivers around to drive you places, though just don’t expect to be chauffeured around in an air-conditioned limousine. Whilst there is no air-conditioning, these trucks do provide a great open air and elevated way to see the island, and no trip really takes more than 15-minutes, even whilst cruising at a leisurely 20-30km/h to take in the scenery.
REASON 7. The barrels MIGHT be too mechanical
Between the five surf-breaks on Nusa Lembongan, you might find that if you have a partner that is into their surfing, they are out in the water all day. Good or bad? We'll leave that up to you to decide.
In all seriousness, Lembongan is home to some of the most mechanical and perfect right hand barrels in the whole of Indonesia.
Good quality right hand reef breaks are somewhat of a rarity in Bali (as most of the best known Bali waves in the Bukit are lefts), and Nusa Lembongan is home to two of the best right-handers in the whole of Indonesia, especially without needing to get too remote.
If you haven't surfed Lacerations or Shipwrecks surf breaks on Nusa Lembongan in a good swell, you're seriously missing out!
Sure, you could go deep into the Mentawai's chasing waves, but there really isn't much to do there outside of a hardcore surf mission. Nusa Lembongan offers something for everyone with loads of restaurants, coffee shops and things to do, aside from just surfing. And even if you're new to surfing or have never surfed before, there are waves for people of all skill levels and fabulous learn to surf schools and coaches on the island. If you check out the activities section on our website, you'll see ideas for all sorts - couples, families, groups and more!
The downside to Nusa Lembongan is all your friends and family will want to come along, which might cut into your surfing time.
REASON 8. No major department stores
There are no major department stores on Nusa Lembongan.
If you’re looking for a big department store or shopping centre, you’re not going to find it on Nusa Lembongan. Sorry guys, no Zara, no Gucci, not even Woolworths or Costco in this neck of the woods... What you will find on Nusa Lembongan is lots of boutiques storing trendy Bali based-brands, local knick-knacks, markets, small grocers and corner shops. And of course there are loads of great restaurants, coffee shops and places to pamper yourself!
REASON 9. There are 3 islands to explore
Nusa Lembongan is one of the three islands that make up what is known as the "Nusa Islands". The other two islands that complete the Nusa Islands are Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. Once on the Nusa Islands, it is cheap, quick and easy to travel between the islands, though there is a lot to see and explore! Nusa Lembongan is the most developed of the three islands, has most of the accommodation and dining options, and is the most popular of the three islands for people to base themselves for exploring the Nusa Islands. It also has the best surf.
To get to Nusa Ceningan from Nusa Lembongan, you will need to cross the famous “Yellow Bridge”. From our properties, it takes about 15-minutes to get to the Yellow Bridge. Trucks currently cannot get across the bridge to Nusa Ceningan. If you are on a scooter you can ride across the Yellow Bridge, however if you are on the back of a taxi truck, you will need to walk across the Yellow Bridge (about 200m) and get another taxi on Nusa Ceningan.
Nusa Penida is the largest of the three Nusa Islands, though it has the least accommodation, restaurants and there is also no surf on the island, so most people tend to stay on Nusa Lembongan and explore Nusa Penida as a day trip. To get to Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongan is a short 10-minute boat ride across a calm channel (about 500m) to get there for a day of exploring. You can then hire a scooter or arrange a driver to take you exploring on Nusa Penida for the day to many of its famous natural landmarks such as Kelingking, Angels Billabong and Crystal Bay.
COMMON QUESTION - how long should I spend on Nusa Lembongan? Once on the island, most people would spend 3 or 4 nights on Nusa Lembongan for their first trip, though we typically find on return trips guests spend 5-7 nights on the island or even skip Bali entirely and spend their whole holiday on Nusa Lembongan! Nusa Lembongan is possible as a day-trip from Bali and short stays 1 or 2 nights are also great, though don’t expect to be able to do everything there is to do on the island in that time. We have some great packages with planned activities for those short-trips that are worth a look.
REASON 10. No fresh water
There is no central fresh water infrastructure in Nusa Lembongan. This means that water is drawn out of the “brackish” water table. Generally, the water table will be more “salty” towards the end of the dry season as there has been less rain to replenish the fresh water. Some properties, such as our resort at Ohana’s have a desalination system, that turns salt water into fresh water, meaning that you can still enjoy clean fresh water out of the showers and taps all year around!