Bali, Indonesia, Travel

Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan, and Penida

Dec. 1st, 2017

After the excitement of the last 2 weeks on the Bali Intro Tour, coupled with the fact we were still suffering from what we were hoping was just Bali Belly, we were feeling pretty drained.  However, we were soldiering on determined to make the most of our time in our present location, Nusa Lembongan.  We set off on the bike pretty early and headed for Nusa Ceningan to do some exploring. On our way to the yellow suspension bridge we went past an area with great views of the Jungutbatu beach.

Feeling on top of the world

Getting across the yellow bridge was a nail-biting experience the first time as it was just wide enough for two motorbikes to pass each other, barely. When we were over, we just chose a direction and drove. Firstly, we followed a sign to Dream Point, which turned out to be nothing but a place to stand and look out over the ocean. We snapped some quick photos and then were off again.

Yellow bridge between Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan


Swinging at Dream Point

After driving for some time, we got to a fork in the road and there was a local man there who waved us down asking us if we wanted to be shown some cliffs. We didn’t know where we were going so we agreed and he took us down the road and then off through some bushes. We were a bit nervous about following a complete stranger into the wilderness, but we eventually came to a spot to park the bikes and walked to an amazing spot, which we learned later was called the Blue Lagoon. We were told by the local that in the past it was a popular cliff diving spot, but that it was now forbidden because someone had hurt themselves at some point.

There were some other tourists there that were determined to make a jump so with their encouragement I followed one of them in. It was about a 20 foot drop from the lowest jump point into the ocean below. The jump itself was a piece of cake, it was getting back up to the cliff was more tricky as the waves and current made it hard to clamber up the rocks. I was keen to do the higher one next which looked to be about 30 feet, but I decided not to. The voice of reason (aka Sophie) was saying just in case I hurt myself, I didn’t want it to ruin the rest of our trip.

Getting psyched up before the jump

After our cliff diving experience we drove around a bit more without much excitement so decided to head back over to Lembongan and find something to eat and rest.  When we got back to Lembongan we remembered that we wanted to explore the mangroves, which were famous on the island.  We drove up to an area where lots of boats were parked and paid a man 100,000 IDR (around $8 USD) to paddle us around the mangroves for 30 minutes.  It was just like being in Venice, except that instead of canals with streets filled with people on either side it was all mangroves filled with little crabs on either side.

Mangroves as far as the eye can see

After the mangrove gondola ride, we headed back to our accommodations at Jiva Bungalows to chill until dinner.  Dinner this night was good at a nearby place just a walk away on the beach called Blue Corner Dive restaurant where we were able to get a vegan pizza made.

Dec. 2nd, 2017

This was the day I had been waiting for since I first found out about Nusa Penida, going to see some giant manta rays! Even with our bellies still not 100% we excitedly made our way to Dive Concepts around 9 am. We were at the first dive site called Crystal Bay at around 10:30 am and the visibility there was the best we had ever seen (about 30 m), rivalling that even of anywhere we had been whilst working at Fowl Cay in the Exumas, Bahamas. There were loads of reef fish and healthy looking coral everywhere, it was just a pleasure swimming around.

The next dive was the most anticipated one, Manta Point. From everything I had heard and read about the site, there was a 95% chance of seeing manta rays there. I didn’t want to get my hopes too high but I couldn’t help it. Luckily it lived up to the hype and we saw several massive manta rays swimming around an area of the site called the cleaning station where the mantas go to get things eaten off them by other fish and organisms. Some of the mantas were close enough to us you could reach out and touch them. The visibility here wasn’t nearly as good as at Crystal Bay but it was still really good and I felt complete by the end of it having seen what we came to see. This for me was one of the highlights of our entire month of travelling thus far.

Dec. 3rd, 2017

Today I had planned an ambitious day: 1. explore Nusa Penida, 2. ferry back from Lembongan to Sanur, 3. check in to hotel, Mahajaya Hotel, near Ubung Bus Terminal. The first part started with us getting rides on the back of scooters to the yellow bridge where we needed to catch a small ferry to Nusa Penida. We just showed up and started asking around and a captain told us he would be leaving in 10 minutes and it would be 75,000 IDR per person (about $6 USD) for the 20 minute ride. We agreed and found out that was “tourist price”, since I saw locals handing 50,000 IDR notes in at the other side. That’s ok, I’m happy to pay a little bit more as a visitor. The boat was small but in good condition able to hold about 20 people max..

When we got to Nusa Penida we rented a scooter for 80,000 IDR (around $6 USD). I could have haggled it down to 70,000 IDR as I had on previous days, but today I just wasn’t feeling in a haggling mood. Besides it was a lower season than normal with Mount Agung threatening to erupt, so I know these guys were desperate for business. With some advice from a local we headed off in search of Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong, and Kelingking. We found them all, but in opposite order and with sore bums.

Kelingking was the nicest viewpoint by far, set atop a cliff looking down at what people say looks like a T-Rex shaped mass of land which includes a stunning beach far below. The beach is accessible from one of the sketchiest paths I have ever seen leading down along the cliff face. The adrenaline junkie in me wanted to go for it, but the dad in me was thinking about the nearest hospital and if the insurance would cover an injury.

Looking down on Kelingking beach

On our way to the other 2 sites on our list I was tempted off the path in the direction of a sign that said Waterfalls, and Waterspring. Unfortunately, going down this road would be the longest and bumpiest mistake of the trip thus far. Thirty minutes of bumping around on broken roads I lost my concentration and we wiped out, kind of. It was all in slow motion: I was going up a 30 degree incline on very loose rocks and I dropped my speed too much and turned my wheel, which forced me to stop. Sophie’s weight at the back threw me off balance and we both ended up on the ground next to the bike. Sophie got the worst of it because she took the fall on her right thigh. No blood to report, only scrapes and what turned into a bluey-green bruise the next day. Still, the whole thing rattled our cages and I was on high anxiety every time we encountered a rocky road. The worst part is when we reached the end of the road it was a total letdown, with only a semi-spectacular view from a cliff and no waterfall to be found. Maybe the sign should have read “story to laugh about and tell later, this way”.

Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong were pretty much together at a place which took an hour to get to from Kelingking. If the roads were smooth the whole way it would probably only take 20 minutes, though. Such terrible patches of loose rock and pot holes throughout the journey made my butt super sore. It was also dangerous in lots of places because if someone was going to fast when making a turn, it could be some serious road rash if they wiped out. I was doing my best to make sure that wasn’t us. When we reached our destination it was pretty impressive. We were both pretty exhausted at this point, so we only stayed there for about an hour just to give our bums a rest before hopping on the bike again and heading back to Nusa Lembongan.

So that’s what a billabong is!


Broken beach


Entrance to broken beach

We were leaving Nusa Lembongan after a bittersweet stay. Bitter because we were both feeling ill the entire time we were here, sweet because of the amazing things we saw in our short stay.

The second part of our day was to catch the ferry back to Sanur, Bali. Thankfully this part was smooth again and we arrived back in Bali feeling good. The only glitch was when we asked our driver – who was included in our ferry ticket price – to take us to our hotel near the Ubung Bus Terminal, he said that that area was outside of the transfer zone. We sighed a disappointed sigh and said “oh well”, and found a taxi that would take us the hour’s drive to our hotel for 100,000 IDR (about $8 USD).

The last part of our day was to check into our layover accommodations called Mahajaya Hotel and hope it was a nice and relaxing place where we could chill and prepare for our longish travel day tomorrow to Java by bus. Thankfully it was, and we were able to find a nice restaurant that evening to eat at called Ms. Crackles. We can thank our horrible taxi driver, wherever he is, for helping us find the place. He was horrible in the sense that he didn’t take us where we originally wanted to go because he didn’t know where it was, even after he assured me he did before we got in the taxi. For 5 minutes in the taxi he wanted 40,000 but we paid 30,000 IDR (about $2.50 USD), which doesn’t seem like much but when you consider 100,000 IDR (about $8 USD) gets you an hour or more, it actually is.

After our dinner we headed back to our hotel to get a good night’s sleep before our travel day to Java.  Stay tuned for our next post which will detail our onward journey to Java, our first few days there, and our hike up Mount Ijen.

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