This Tiny Island Next to Bali is a Hidden Gem
The tiny boat, overladen with passengers, luggage and even a motorbike, pulls up to the shores of Nusa Lembongan. There is no pier — everyone starts disembarking into the knee-deep water, passing suitcases over their heads along the human chain. I roll up my trousers and step into the turquoise sea and onto the beach.
I can't help but feel a little emotional. We have reached the most easterly point of our journey. After a few days on the island, we will turn around and start the journey back to Jakarta.
We set off two months ago from the capital, my boyfriend and me on a too-small scooter that was constantly on the edge of breaking down. We drove East, with the faintest notion of a plan, and explored Java, Bali, and had just enough time for Nusa Lembongan before we would have to rush back the other way.
It was an amazing adventure, and I fell in love with the country. People are friendly and curious, and Indonesian is easy to learn and fun to speak. The landscapes are some of the most underrated in the world, and the many local traditions and cultures are warm and welcoming to visitors!
I’m going to be publishing stories, photo reports and guides from our trip — this first one is a drive through Nusa Lembongan, a tiny island next to Bali, which remains spiritual and tranquil, even as its bigger neighbour has become slightly overrun by tourists.
Lembongan is a speck of sand in the sea — just 20 km2. You can drive across it in an hour. But that drive will take you through a series of picture-book scenes, each vastly different from the one before.
The road snaked first along the coastline, looking over a shallow bay covered in seaweed farms. Lembongan locals punted along in wooden boats covered in huge baskets of emerald-green seaweed, wearing pointed straw hats to protect themselves from the sun. Along the side of the road, seaweed dried on tarpaulins, forming a colourful patchwork: from the wet bright green of the freshly picked stuff, to hues of blue, yellow and grey…