Nusa Lembongan, a small island between Bali and Nusa Penida in Badung Strait, is the perfect holiday hideaway with few visitors and pristine, unspoilt beaches. A low, protected island about 11 km southeast of mainland Bali, measuring only four by three km and ringed with mangrove swamps, palms and white sandy beaches.

Rochelle and I had the chance to sail there on board of a beautiful catamaran to celebrate my friend’s birthday. We were there just for a day but what a day that was. We had an early start leaving Bali at 6:30 AM and got there after sailing for a couple of hours. Of course diving was part of the plan so we didn’t waste any time. It had already been arranged before we headed out and it was the first thing we did. The clear waters and a beautiful current gave us a drift through the coral gardens and made our dive really enjoyable.

The island is small enough to explore on foot, offering pristine beaches and coves, majestic views of Mount Agung, unique Balinese architecture and the friendliness of a simple country folk. With a lack of arable land and a severe shortage of tourist attractions, the island’s economy is limited to its underwater wealth-seaweed. There are just two villages on Nusa Lembongan, the large, spread out administrative centre of Lembongan Village and Jungut Batu village.

We picked our own place for lunch after all that diving and that was a quiet bay next to the seaweed gardens. The seaweed gardens at low tide look like gigantic underwater botanical gardens. Just before our fresh fish lunch, we took a ride into the mangrove forest that covers a part of the inland. In reality, life on Nusa Lembongan is very relaxing, with cool breezes, little traffic, no big hotels, no pollution, no stress and hardly any telephones. Best of all, there are almost no pedagang acung (pushy vendors).

After a big party on the beach that continued on board , we headed back to the tourist polluted Bali. One thing was clear for all of us, how beautiful and simple life can be away from all the five star resorts. I wish Chris a happy birthday and I want to thank him for this wonderful experience.

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