My friend A. was thrilled by some of the virginal beaches of the Philippines she had recently visited, so she asked me if we could replicate that experience in Bali. Well I didn’t want to disappoint her as I knew that this was probably not going to happen to the places that we were going for our week’s break (Seminyak, Ubud and Jimbaran – it was impossible to get a place at Nusa Dua for the budget we were aiming for). We wouldn’t have enough time to leisurely visit the Gilli islands of Lombok and so the next best shot would be the Nusa islands not far from Bali.
There are three of them – Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida and if you want to have a feel of what Nusa Dua was like maybe 20 years ago, these islands are a good place to start with. Visiting all three would be better if spread out over a few days hence requiring us to stay on those islands but I did not want to eat the time we were going to spend on the main island of Bali either, especially as she had never been there before. So I narrowed my choice to one island for a day trip and the company that did these excursions which seemed to exude the most credibility was Bali Hai, you can visit the package we took to Nusa Lembongan on their website at this link. What I liked about the package is that it packs quite a lot of optional activities in a day so that your purchase seems worth it, but you also have the flexibility to decide which of those activities would you like to participate in. Because it only to one island it also doesn’t get too hectic and meaningless within such a short time. Have a look at this videoto also have a feel of what your day could look like.
So the day begins in the morning when the company driver picks us up right from our villa in Jimbaran to the Bali Hai port where we would sail from, and it took about 20 minutes to get from our villa to Bali Hai.
- Side note: We were cutting it close this trip because unbeknown to us, we were in Bali during their Nyepi Festival. So Nyepi Festival is basically a day of silence and the whole city goes on lockdown from 6am on 17 March till 6am on 18 March. We could only go to Nusa Lembongan on Friday 16 March because the sailing company that does the cruises, Aristocat operates on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We were told that we needed to be back on Bali island before 4 pm hence leave Nusa Lembongan by about 3pm or else we would get stuck in unbelievable traffic. I think on a non-Nyepi day we could have probably stayed on the island for about 1-2 hours longer but for us having spent about 4-5 hours on Nusa was also a decent amount of time.
The catamaran we got on was large enough for a group of 20 or more though there was a lot less with us on that day perhaps because it was a day before Nyepi. If you want to sit under the sun you can lie on a towel on the deck but if you are a little more sun-shy you can sit inside with a little bit more protection. The deck is of course the most desired spot so you would benefit from getting there early if that’s where you want to park yourself. The catamaran ride takes about approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Here are some photos of our cruise.
Aristocat Catamaran, Bali Hay Cruise to Nusa Lembongan
At the island
Once there they give you a run up of the schedule – it is quite flexible but don’t forget to be at the appointed time and meeting spot announced if you are keen on joining any specific activity such as snorkelling or submarine viewing. If you are not interested to go for these activities you can basically do as you wish on the island and use the facilities of the beach club. We were also given locker access so you can keep your belongings there if you want to travel light as you go from activity to activity. A buffet lunch is served for free.
A and I chose to go for snorkelling so we picked up our equipment (all provided for by the beach club for everyone on this package) and was taken on the boat to the snorkelling site. I am not an experienced snorkeler and the first and last time I ever tried it was at least three years ago so let’s just say my threshold of what’s acceptable is probably lower than A’s, who has done this more times and in various different places and she was not impressed (she didn’t think the spot was really the ‘best’ spot for snorkelling and believed we should have been allowed to go deeper and the timing was too short). It was true though that I didn’t really see out of the world fishes and coral life but it was still a pleasant enough experience for me. After about half hour they took us back to the beach.
Lunch was the served – food was OK but if you are not comfortable with eating meat in Bali whether for hygiene or religious restrictions, there are vegetarian options such as the fried rice and salad which is what I stick to.
After that we had time for ourselves so could choose to use the beach club facilities such as the pool or lounge by the beach. We didn’t do much apart from relax by the beach and just enjoy the white sand and clear waters until it was time to go back to Bali. True enough once we returned the chaos was about to start so our driver took us back to our villa as soon as possible.
Here are some of our photos…
I would say that overall the company is very professional and experienced in these excursions. I felt generally safe and that we were in good hands and the staff that attended to us in the catamaran, the boat and once at the beach club in Nusa Lembongan were very attentive and helpful. If you are not looking for anything beyond a day of sailing, snorkelling and resting by clear waters, then I would recommend the use of this company. If you want a more advanced experience of snorkelling, diving or other water sport, then this may not be your kind of party. But if you have the time, then these islands are a must-see. It’s possible however that in a few years, it may lose its charm and authenticity (by 2018 it was already blogged about to death as the ‘new-Bali-of-the-old) but at this point, the beach and waters are still superior to that of Seminyak, Kuta and Jimbaran.