Indonesia, fascinating, exciting and in many ways, mysterious. This Southeast Asian nation wallows between the Pacific and Indian oceans and is an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, including Borneo, Sumatra, Java and New Guinea. Covering almost 2 million square kilometers and with a population of 267 million people, Indonesia is the world’s 14th most populous country, with Java being home to more than half of the country’s population.
The Indonesian archipelago was dominated by Dutch colonials from the early 17th century, and in the year 1800 the Dutch declared the archipelago as a nationalized colony, officially naming it as the Dutch East Indies. Japanese occupation followed during World War II, and with its end in 1945, the desire for national independence grew. Finally, in December 1949 the domestic struggle for independence came to fruition. Frustrated by the level domestic anti colonial activity, and due to international pressure, the Dutch recognized Indonesia’s independence.
Its history has shaped and molded the culture and psyche of the nation and its people. The remnants and influences of the past are evident throughout the islands, whilst each holds its own peculiar uniqueness. This is never less true than on the island of Lembongan. With a population of only around 5,000, and with just 8 square kilometers of land area, Lembongan has an irresistible charm which unfathomably draws people to its shores.
Lembongan, Getting There
Sited off the Northwestern tip of Penida island and Southeast of Bali, Lembongan is easily reached. Although it is possible to reach the island by helicopter, boat is the normal form of transport to and from the island. Locals are inclined to use the cheapest method of transport, the public slow boat from Bali. It may be slow, the crossing is around 90 minutes, but it is a fun way of experiencing the way the locals travel.
At the other end of the scale, there are the cruise ships which depart from Bali’s Benoa harbor. These are large, modern vessels which not only offer the transfer to Lembongan, but also fun and explorative day packages for visitors. By far the most popular method of getting to the island is by using the fast cruisers which operate 4 daily services to the island. These cruisers are fast, the crossing is exhilarating and an exciting way to begin your visit to Lembongan. For most visitors the chosen method of transport is largely down to budget and, or, the experience they desire.
Staying on Lembongan
The available accommodation on Lembongan is as varied as the visitors that venture upon its shores. Every desire and budget is catered for. For those that seek a bit of luxury, there are hotels such as The Tamarind Resort. Air conditioned rooms, Wi-Fi, satellite TV, a la carte restaurant a gym and sauna make The Tamarind Resort, and others of the same ilk, a desirable, and expensive, way to enjoy Lembongan.
Of the mid-range accommodation, and a little further to the West near Mushroom bay, is Sanghyang Bay Villas. Traditional Indonesian style, and more Western style, villas offer surprisingly well appointed accommodation set in manicured gardens with pool, restaurants and bars. This, and others like it, are popular with couples and families and offer exceptional value for money.
At the budget end of the market, there are plenty of hostels geared up for the backpacker and explorer. From as little as $11 a night, to the Southwest of the island, visitors can stay at hostels such as the Titi. They offer single and twin rooms with private bathrooms set in picturesque gardens. With breakfast usually included in the price, these hostels are an ideal, affordable base from which to explore all that Lembongan has to offer.
What to do on Lembongan
The crystal, turquoise waters around Lembongan act as a magnet, drawing visitors to it with an irresistible urge to become part of it. No visitor is able to resist the calm warm waters of the island, swimming and snorkeling seems almost mandatory. For beginners and experienced snorkelers and divers, Lembongan is just perfect. Exploring the myriad of coral reefs is unforgettable, and for the more adventurous, the eerie underwater world of the mangroves must be explored.
Surfing is popular on Lembongan with 3 world class breaks that attract novice and skilled surfers from across the world. The surf rises throughout the year and there are plenty of surf clubs that offer equipment hire advice and lessons for the beginners. Many visitors come to the island having never surfed in their life, they leave addicted to the adrenaline rush that the waters around Lembongan has given them.
Lembongan, Just Relax
Jungut Batu is the main beach on the island, and also where most of the boat arrivals land. The white sand and clear water are certainly beautiful and, at its Northern end, the waters are calmed by the outlying reef. Jungut Batu is perfect for lazy days in the sun or wallowing in the warm water. But the island is spoilt with so many perfect beaches, Coconut Beach, Sandy Bay, Dream Beach and Secret Beach at Mahana Point are just a few of the “Oh so perfect” beaches to be found on the island.
Exploration, relaxation, meditation, discovering Lembongan is just as much about discovering yourself. You may visit and leave, but, somehow, Lembongan never really leaves you.