Lembongan Island is a small island located just off Bali’s southern tip to the south east.
How to get there?
a) by public boat
The cheapest way to get to Lembongan is by the public boat which leaves from Sanur beach at 8.30am every morning. A ticket will cost you about Rp60,000 if you buy it from the guy in the ticket locket (a small building near the end of at the end Jalan Hang Tua where the road meets the sea.). But be warned: guys will start to approach you as you near the locket and ask you if you are going to Lembongan. Don’t buy a ticket from them - they are touts!
The public boat to Lembongan isn’t called the public boat for nothing, of course. It can get really full. Because like most Indonesian boats, it has no capacity constraints and can carry as many people as want to go in it. Magic!
But the real fun starts after 10 minutes or so. Where the sea between Bali and the island is usually very choppy! It’s at this time that you wish you hadn’t had such a big breakfast. And don’t look at those Indonesian children sitting nearby – they are always the first to get seasick – and they don’t use plastic bags either!
But an hour and a half later you arrive - God willing - at Jungutbatu, the main strip where the budget hotels are located. Straight away, just as you are getting off the boat, scalpers will rapidly descend on you like flies to a cow crap, and offer you a “special price” hotel deal. To make them go, just say you already have a hotel booked – that usually keeps them away!
b) by speedboat
A much better – albeit more expensive – way to get to Lembongan is by speedboat. They used to be ridiculously expensive – and some still are – but there are some good operators which offer reasonable prices and don’t try to rip you off. The best operator in my view is rockyfastcruise. They seem to be a professional set-up, the ticket price is reasonable, the boat has life-jackets, and – always a good sign - the owner – whom I met in Lembongan - seems a decent chap.
Best of all, the speedboat is much faster than the public boat, taking only 30 minutes or so to reach Lembongan. One tip: make sure you know the speedboat’s destination in Lembongan. Not all of them go to Jungutbatu – our one went to Mushroom Beach (see below) and we had to walk an hour or so to reach our hotel in Jungutbatu!
Staying overnight in Sanur
If you need to spend the night in Sanur (to avoid a frantic hurry to the boat ticket locket in the morning for instance), there are a number of accommodations on Jalan Hang Tua. One of the cheap and popular places is the Watering Hole (Jalan Hang Tua No. 35-37). It’s not great and the service is pretty awful, but for one night, well it’s okay.
Places to stay in Jungutbatu, Lembongan Island
There are plenty of cheap places to stay in Jungutbatu (around Rp200,000++ a night). Some have gone “upmarket” in recent years and even added swimming pools, reflecting the island’s increasing popularity (it isn’t only the surfers who come here anymore).
The general rule is that the further you walk up the beach (to the north), the cheaper the accommodations are.
Many of the hotels tell you they only have one room left. But don’t be fooled by this ruse. It’s the oldest trick in the book and they are simply trying to get you committed to making a quick decision to stay at their hotel.
One of the best value places to stay in Lembongan is Agung’s shipwreck. They have smallish but nice rooms with AC and the food is pretty good too. Pay around Rp200,0000-Rp250,000/night. Bargain if off-season.
Next to Agung’s is a place called Linda’s. Some people like it but it does have a bit of a “clique” feel to it. Weird.
When you first arrive at Jungutbatu you might feel that Lembongan doesn’t live up to your expectations as a “perfect paradise island”.
This is because the whole of the bay at Jungutbatu is used by seaweed farmers as the tides go very far out, giving the place a sort of “aqua-farming” feel to it.
But if you’re prepared to get off your backside, you’ll be able to see some very nice beaches in Lembongan.
You can walk, rent a bicycle (Rp25,000/day) and even rent a motorcycle (Rp50,000/day). Don’t worry about someone nicking your bike – there is no theft in Lembongan!
Places to go
Just go north from Jungut Batu until you reach the mangroves. Best to go by bicycle or motorcycle as it’s quite a way. It is possible to snorkel from the beach but it’s a very long way out!
The wonderful sandy beach at Mushroom Bay is a good 2kms (30 minutes) walk away (walk to the end of the Jungutbatu strip and follow the path around, go past two coves, and you’re there). A great place to relax and, if conditions are supportive, snorkel. But be careful though as Lembongan is known for its strong currents!
Not so far away from Mushroom Bay, on the southern coast, is the very nice Dream Beach. Follow signs and/or ask people for directions. Don’t be tempted to jump in the sea for a swim though – the rips here can be very strong!
Sunset Beach (adjacent to Devil's Tear)
Another great place to relax. Same problem with Dream Beach though – it’s too dangerous to swim here. Indeed, that really is the biggest drawback in Lembongan – it’s no good at all for swimming. However, the spectacular waves crashing into rocks at one end of the beach – the ominously named “Devil's Tear” – are a sight to behold!
All in all, a rugged and thoroughly interesting island, well worth a visit.
Things to do
Surf, snorkel (caution advised!), sunbathe, dive (with dive operator), cliff dive (at Ceningan Island), walk, cycle, read, recuperate, collect shells, take photos etc.