Once known as “What’s that island over there?” Nusa Penida is now drawing considerable interest amongst Bali’s visitors. Back in the early 90’s Nusa Lembongan was not quite the mystery that Nusa Penida presented then.
Lembongan in those days was the haunt of young surfers who were happy to put up with modest facilities and warm beer for the thrill of challenging surfing conditions. Today both islands have great appeal for tourists and offer some exciting differences to Bali’s well-trodden tourist areas.
I enjoy my life here on Bali but there are times that I really need a weekend break to refresh myself through relaxation. The Nusa island cluster is a quick 45 minutes by boat from Bali.
Nusa Penida the largest of this island cluster offers a chance to get away to an almost pristine and strikingly beautiful environment. The island is basically a limestone plateau with a strip of sand on its northern coast that is dominated by the rise of the plateau. The island offers some marvelous scenic trekking opportunities and one should be sure not to forget the camera. Here bird life abounds and most notably Nusa Penida is, with strong local support, a preservation sanctuary for the endangered Bali Starling. There is a bit of old mystical folk law on Nusa Penida where a diverse range spirits are said to wander the plateau.
There is a stark difference between Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan but they are welcome differences. While Penida is developed enough to take care of its local inhabitants it is at the same time able to offer a marvelous natural environment for its visitors. Lembongan has become much more developed at basic and high-end levels to meet tourist demands. Main activities here are diving and snorkeling but there are also good facilities for one to just relax on this small island. The inhabitants on the island have traditionally earned their living by farming seaweed. This low paying activity makes tourists very welcome by the locals who will often offer small boat rides to some of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Visitors to Lembongan should visit the powdery white sand of secluded Dream Beach located on the island’s southern coast. A cafe is attached to the single resort on the beach area, making it a superb spot to practice the ‘art of doing nothing’.