149 days travelling and we have been incredibly lucky with the weather considering it’s the wet season.
12th – 15th February 2019 (Nusa Lembongan, Bali)
After spending a week gorging on all the incredible food Ubud had to offer, it was finally time for us to move on – much to the relief of my waistline. Our next stop was Nusa Lembongan, a beautiful island just off the East coast of Bali. To get there we had to catch a speedboat from Sanur, a coastal town to the South of the island about an hours drive away (as long as the traffic is on your side). We opted for a lunch time departure to give us a more relaxed start to the day, which meant we spent most of the morning lounging by pool before reluctantly saying goodbye to Ubud. After jumping in our taxi we quickly discovered that it wasn’t in fact a private transfer down to Sanur, despite the price suggesting as much. Somewhat begrudgingly we shuffled along the backseats to let in a, thankfully, small lady and were grateful that her partner rode shotgun – he was well over 6 foot.
Despite being quite a choppy journey on the boat, it wasn’t long before our speed boat was pulling into the harbour of Mushroom Bay on the West of the island. The waters here were absolutely stunning and had us reminiscing over our arrival to Mafushi island in the Maldives 3 months earlier. After disembarking, we were left to simply stand around, somewhat confused and sweaty in the heat of the day, before being shepherded down a dirt track road. Next thing we knew, we found ourselves being assigned the worst possible group to share a taxi with. Whilst everyone else enjoyed an abundance of space in the back of their taxis, we had to share ours with a young family carrying more bags than you could count and another couple whose backpacks were bigger than them. This left us little choice but to cling onto our bags for dear life, half hanging out the back, whilst the taxi bounced its way around the island.
Turns out we could have avoided taking a taxi altogether, as our hotel was only a short walk away (vehicles had to take the long way around). Still, we had already paid over the odds for the transfer and thought we would at least try to get our moneys worth. In the end, I don’t think we could have asked for a better location for our guest house – it was quiet and there were a couple of beaches nearby. The hotel complex itself was beautiful, with about 8 wooden huts immersed in an immaculate garden. There was even a small (incredibly cheap, get in there) restaurant and a swimming pool complete with a fountain and soft loungers – the perfect place to continue our relaxing time in Bali.
We had 4 nights on Nusa Lembongan in total, which was probably more than enough considering our circumstances. The island and its neighbours are famous for being beautiful diving spots and are great for day trips. However, our budget constraints meant these activities were off the cards for us and we spent a majority of our time relaxing by the pool, exploring some of the local beaches and scouting out the best Balinese food we could find – which was a tall order in comparison to Ubud.
The two beaches closest to us were Taramind Beach (which was mostly full of boats and more mud and seaweed than sand) and Secret “Mushroom Bay” Beach, which required a little more effort, as it was off the beaten path, but was well worth it for the reward. As the name suggests, the beach was very tucked away and almost always completely deserted – we only saw 2 other people on the beach while we were there. The sand was soft and the water beautifully clear, with views out to the mainland just a few miles away across the sea. Mushroom Bay itself was pretty, but incredibly busy with boats arriving and leaving several times a day, so we didn’t spend any time there.
As the island was quite small, we were able to do all of our exploring we wanted to do on foot – though you really need a scooter to venture to the other side. One morning we set off to explore Devils Tear and Dream Beach on the south of the island, a popular photography spot due to its jagged rock formations and huge swells of clear blue water. We joined the crowds of tourists watching the waves crashing into the rocks, with swells of several metres sending spray flying in all directions which would cause small rainbows to appear. We were able to walk around the rocks for a few hundred metres and get great views of the coastline around the island, with small hidden beaches breaking up the rocks along the way. It was nice to get away from the crowds, as most people were standing uncomfortably close to the edge to ensure they got the best possible selfie – it felt like a Darwin Award in the making.
The one drawback of being on Nusa Lembongan in the wet season was the mosquitos were out in full force. Our shelter from them was somewhat limited due to our wooden hut accommodation and my wife got bitten to death in the short time we were there. It felt like return of the Sri Lankan mosquitos (from our time in Hikkaduwa) and we were quite relieved to head back to the mainland to escape them. It didn’t help that we were running low on Deet and found ourselves rationing it out (in other words I took one for the team whilst my wife used most of what was left). Saying that, despite it being the rainy season, the weather we had for our entire time in Bali was excellent – mostly sunny during the day with the occasional shower and a couple of big storms at night.
16th – 20th February 2019 (Sanur, Bali)
After our stay on Nusa Lembongan, we had decided to finish our trip to Bali in the coastal town of Sanur. The town has a bit of a reputation of being quite sleepy compared to its wilder neighbours, but that was just what we were looking for. We had decided to use some of our travel points to upgrade our hotel, as we figured it would be nice to end our time in Bali with a spot of luxury. Little did we know we’d hardly be able to afford to eat at the on-site restaurant (whoops). We stayed at the Alantara Hotel around 10 minutes from the centre of Sanur and we had planned to hole up for the next 4 days and do absolutely nothing – which is exactly what we did.
The problem with that was that we didn’t actually take any photos, so you’ll have to make do with another shot from Nusa Lembongan instead.
Apart from venturing out for food at the restaurants across the road (until we realised they could actually deliver it to our hotel), we spent our time relaxing by the pool, taking the occasional dip with the floating beanbags and making use of the decent internet. We’d managed to get breakfast included in our room price and relished the huge choice on offer compared to the omelette (me) or toast (my wife) that we’d been eating to death. We also took full advantage of the free daily afternoon tea which was served by the poolside and usually involved copious amounts of palm sugar and coconut. My wife even managed to drag herself off to the on-site gym, although she admitted sheepishly on her return that she’d put more effort into watching X-Factor re-runs than working up much of a sweat (all while I sat in bed munching on snacks I’d picked up at the nearby store). What a perfect end to our unexpected trip to Bali.
Until next time.
P.S. I still can’t get over the quality of the hotels we stayed at considering just how cheap they were.