Rarely do you find a tranquil piece of paradise that’s not overrun by tourists and commercialism. A place that has just enough to keep you occupied and your taste buds satisfied, while offering plenty to ensure you’re relaxed and disconnected from the outside world. Especially in the tropical islands of Bali. Yet Nusa Lembongan seems to have nailed this fine balance.
Nusa Lembongan is a relatively well-kept secret. Just a stone’s throw from Bali, the small island can promptly mesmerise unassuming guests searching for something pristine and different.
With just enough luxury offerings, entertainment and spectacular views to provide the ultimate island getaway, Nusa Lembongan has a little bit of everything. And I have to admit, it quickly stole my heart.
This island is where you enter a slower and more peaceful way of life the second you step off your boat. As your toes dip into the crystal clear, turquoise waters for the first time, your cares are washed away and the white sand beaches beckon a new way of life, if just for a time.
The beautiful restaurants that line the shore entice with local and Western cuisine, combined with panoramic ocean views and a tranquil yet lively vibe that’s hard to beat.
Throw in an adventure or two discovering world-class dive sites, swimming with manta rays, and perhaps some beach hopping, and you have the winning recipe you never knew you needed.
The continuous bustle of Bali is a world away. Lush forests line the water’s edge as traditional fishing boats bob along the coastline. It really is like stepping into a postcard.
Escape to Nusa Lembongan
Despite what you may have heard, getting to Nusa Lembongan is very easy, convenient, safe and unexpectedly enjoyable on the right boat.
The traditional ferry can get you there in 45 minutes but the new transport of choice has to be the Kai Koa boat. When it comes to a much-needed holiday, time is precious and this option saves you at least half an hour each way.
Stylish, speedy and a thrilling experience in itself, this charter will get you safely to Nusa Lembongan in just 15 minutes.
A stunning, custom-made vessel traditionally used by the military coast guard, Kai Koa was built to breeze through rough conditions, should you face them and offers a very comfortable journey to the island.
Wake with a world-class view
In search of a luxurious stay for five nights, the decision was made to test out a few of the island’s best. First up was Batu Karang, with volcano views to die for, exquisite cuisine at your fingertips and a jacuzzi to dip in until your heart’s content.
With its very own secret whisky bar reminiscent of the Pirates of the Caribbean era, a premium poolside restaurant, an oceanfront cocktail bar named The Deck, and ice creamery, this resort has everything you need within arms reach.
Perched on the cliffside of what the locals call “The Hill”, with a range of villas to choose from, Batu Karang is located on a breathtaking vantage point ascending The Hill.
Luckily, there’s a golf buggy service to take you to your luxe villa, or you have the choice of enjoying an epic near-vertical workout.
The villas come complete with an enormous bed, ensuite, minibar, private terrace with jacuzzi, outdoor rain shower and bathtub to make the most of those views.
Waking up to the early morning sun streaming down on the mists rising over Mount Agung, water like a milk pond and gentle waves rolling in, is a sight to behold. It is simply majestic.
To add to the experience you can step between the tranquillity of the resort and the excitement of happy hour on The Deck while an international DJ spins some tunes.
Guests are also treated to a private whisky bar at water level, built into the cliff face. A doorman in a Scottish kilt invites you into his lair that takes you back in time, while the highly skilled bartender mixes whatever your heart desires.
A worthy note, your heart may not know it desires their signature The Lossie Haze, but one sip of this smoky concoction will certainly make your heart sing and your head spin.
One night a Batu Karang was one I won’t forget any time soon and I take my hat off to the Australian family who brought this resort to Nusa Lembongan.
Luxurious Lago life
The Beach House at Lago was our must-stay retreat on Nusa Lembongan, with promises of a luxurious home-style oasis overlooking the white sands of Song Lambung beach and Playgrounds surf break.
One of the many elements that make Lago special is that it was once the owner’s private luxury beach house, now offered to the public. Consisting of five incredible villas, Lago ensured a unique week in paradise.
Located on the cliffside of Nusa Lembongan’s most prized real estate, guests are surrounded by nature and tended to by an attentive, friendly and caring team of staff.
The service staff are on hand throughout the day and into the night to create delectable dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, organise in-house massages and pretty much assist with your every need.
They’re also quite skilled at whipping up amazing cocktails you can sip while scoping the scenery from the infinity pool.
It is, in essence, the best spot on the island.
You can descend the Beach House to experience the public Sundeck at Lago, complete with a sauna overlooking the surf, adjoining ice bath and yoga or pilates sessions on offer. This place is even more magical at sunrise and sunset.
Step down another level and you’ll find Lago’s famous Beach Cafe nestled under a Balinese Ceremonial Tree. When you desire a change from breakfast at ‘home’ this is the next best thing.
I highly recommend savouring their amazing Bacon & Egg Burger or Dragon Bowl as the waves grace the beach at your feet. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner it’s a dining experience like no other and their hearty curries are the things dreams are made of.
Between lazing by the pool, enjoying your culinary adventure and allowing your body and mind to switch gear into a zen mode, a trip to The Pontoon is a necessity.
Lago’s famed floating bar sits about 100 metres offshore with tenders on hand to ferry guests back and forth whenever they desire.
The Pontoon is open to the public between noon-7 pm most days and promises yet another unique experience.
Completely surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the bar serves up exotic cocktails that you can sip as you sink into a bean bag and watch the surfers tackle Playgrounds Surf Break.
There are not many resorts in the world that offer their own bar in the middle of the ocean and this one certainly does not disappoint. This is the ultimate spot to take in all that sunset offers with a very relaxed vibe.
Their signature Bloody Mary or Watermelon Mojitos are a winner.
Exploring the island
Marine life thrives in the waters off Nusa Lembongan. A long stretch of coral reef housing an incredible abundance of vibrant species is within swimming distance of Song Lambung beach.
You could spend hours taking in this underwater world with the firm current acting as your compass.
Schools of Manta Rays line the cliffs of Nusa Lembongan and a mind-blowing snorkelling experience awaits with these majestic creatures. One morning definitely needs to be dedicated to this eye-opening activity that has proven to be one of the most popular among visitors.
World-class dive sites are sprinkled in the surrounding waters of the island, with divers travelling from far and wide to catch a glimpse.
To explore the rest of the island you can hire a car, bike or, for a bit of fun, a golf buggy. Since Nusa Lembongan is relatively small, your own private island tour can be completed in under four hours for simply sightseeing, or take more time if you’d like to thoroughly enjoy each destination.
Witness the power of the ocean at the famous Devil’s Tear blowholes or grab a cocktail at the popular Dream Beach cliff-top pool bar.
Jetting over to the neighbouring island of Nusa Penida is an option too with a range of day tours at your fingertips.
For the less adventurous, a short 15-minute hike around the cliffs from Song Lambung to Tamarind Beach is both stunning and peaceful. There’s even a bar and restaurant along the way to stop for a fresh watermelon juice or cocktail if you desire.
I found the best way to end each day on Nusa Lembongan was with a custom massage at Lago Beach House or Spring Spa next door, followed by “Indian Under a Tree” at Lago Cafe or the wildly popular Thai Pantry.
Add it to your bucket list
What stood out for me is that Lago is full of heart. In my opinion, this is what sets apart one luxury resort from another.
Those personal touches and truly passionate staff are really what takes your premium experience to another level and ensures you leave with your next booking in mind.
The thought and care that has been injected by the Owner of Lago himself, with the sole purpose of making sure guests have the most incredible experience possible, is very evident.
It gives the whole place a warm and welcoming feel and makes for a very memorable experience that will keep you coming back for more.
And, as for Nusa Lembongan, I guess it rings true that good things do indeed come in small packages.