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Nusa Lembongan's beaches

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Sea, sun and sand are Nusa Lembongan’s hook, line and sinker. A mixed bag of beaches lures all varieties of beach lovers, from gently lapping waves on white sandy shores to wilder lashing seas pounding rocky cliffs.

Starting north of Jungut Batu village at Mangrove Beach and travelling in an anti-clockwise direction ducking in and out of bays, it would take a long but enjoyable day to see them all. Some beaches don’t have official names, and others are known by a variety of appellations, depending on the whim of the mapmaker, but we’ll use the most commonly used monikers here. As with beaches all over Indonesia, tides can bring unsightly rubbish. The folk from Lembongan Surf Team organise regular cleanups and for the most part do a great job—we saw very little trash. Contact them to help with a cleanup and be mindful of accepting single-use plastic such as drinking straws.

Sleepy morning light at Mangrove Beach. Photo taken in or around Nusa Lembongan's beaches, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Sleepy morning light at Mangrove Beach. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Mangrove Beach runs along the north coast of Nusa Lembongan and provides some of the best views to Bali. Once the dominion of seaweed farmers, this pretty strip of golden sandy beach runs up to the mangrove forest, and some remnants of the seaweed can still be seen along the shallows. A handful of basic seafood warungs line its length, and closer to the mangroves, a scattering of “beach clubs”, making this a good choice for a seafood barbecue and a sundowner or three. You can reach here on foot from Jungut Batu, though it’s a long walk, or by bicycle or motorbike.

Jungut Batu Beach is Nusa Lembongan’s longest and one of the busiest, filled with moored boats at the southern end, the main landing site for fastboats coming and going delivering tourists and supplies. The entire length is fringed with hotels, guesthouses and cafes, partly bordered by a cement path that gives way to sand in the north.

The well-manicured northern end of Jungut Batu Beach. Photo taken in or around Nusa Lembongan's beaches, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

The well-manicured northern end of Jungut Batu Beach. Photo: Sally Arnold

The northern end, curving around the point to Mangrove Beach, is now in the running as one of the prettiest beaches on the island. Previously a sandy village of woven coconut leaf huts owned by the seaweed farmers, a large resort has now commandeered the spot as a beach club and it keeps it pristinely clean. This point is sometimes known as Lighthouse Beach, or more recently, Paradise Beach. Two of Nusa Lembongan’s more notorious surf breaks, Shipwrecks and Lacerations, lie offshore from Jungut Batu Beach. At certain times of the year, the beach can be completely swallowed at high tide, or extremely wide at low tide. Sunsets year-round are fabulous and very photogenic.

Coconut Bay, also called Song Lambung Beach, is a tiny sliver of sand in a deep curvy bay looking out to Playgrounds surfbreak. For a small beach, it can get surprisingly busy. If you’re planning on doing some surfing at Playgrounds, this is the closest spot to paddle out from; a couple of stalls on the beach rent surfboards and stand up paddles. Reach Coconut Bay either by following the trail that runs along the headland from Jungut Batu or Tamarind Beach—each is about a 10-minute walk away.

Can get busy at Tamarind Beach. Photo taken in or around Nusa Lembongan's beaches, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Can get busy at Tamarind Beach. Photo: Sally Arnold

Next around the coast, Tamarind Beach is a longish beach that enjoys great views across to Bali and Gunung Agung. At low tide this is not so good for swimming, but as with the other beaches, when the water comes back so does the swimming. Given much of the accommodation here is of the private villa variety, this isn’t nearly as busy as nearby Mushroom Bay. At the western end of the beach a paved road joins the main network of roads linking the villages around the island and some good value accommodation can be found in this area. You can reach Tamarind Beach on foot along the coast from Jungut Batu in 20 to 30 minutes or by road transport in about 15 minutes.

Mushroom Bay is Nusa Lembongan’s most popular destination for daytrippers, with large pontoons offering all kinds of water sports moored off the bay. The middle of the day is can be quite hectic, with doof-doof music pumping out and banana boats zipping back and forth. The coral garden here was once very pretty, but rather appallingly, much has been destroyed by said daytrippers. Serene early mornings and late afternoons are more pleasant times to enjoy the beach here. A large mushroom-shaped cliff blocks access from Tamarind Beach, and what looked like had once been a path was overgrown when we visited. The easiest way to access the beach is via the road, or by boat.

Mushroom Bay is one of Lembongan’s busier beaches. Photo taken in or around Nusa Lembongan's beaches, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Mushroom Bay is one of Lembongan’s busier beaches. Photo: Sally Arnold

Sandy Bay or Sunset Beach, on the western coast of Nusa Lembongan is one of our favourites, possibly as it’s also one of the quietest. This is due mostly to the fact that wild seas and strong currents make it quite dangerous to swim, but for gazing we think its raw beauty is pretty darn lovely. Private villas make up most of the accommodation here, which helps to keep the numbers low, too. If you’re keen for a swim, Sandy Bay Beach Club overlooks the shore and as well as offering a decent meal, cocktails and a laidback vibe, is decked out with a modest swimming pool—they also offer a free pick-up and drop-off service for patrons, the most convenient way to visit this beach.

Continuing anticlockwise, between Sandy Bay and Dream Beach is Nusa Lembongan’s most dramatic stretch of coast, and Devil’s Tear is as spectacular as it is dangerous. Witness nature at its wildest as dazzling blue seas violently crash the craggy bluff. You’ll have to fend off the truckloads of tour groups who stupidly ignore the warning signs to scramble too close to the cliff for a selfie. The large and unpredictable waves that pound the escarpment have swept more than one tourist to their death (hence the signs). Take heed.

Tourists ignoring warnings about the danger of being swept off. Photo taken in or around Nusa Lembongan's beaches, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Tourists ignoring warnings about the danger of being swept off. Photo: Sally Arnold

Dream Beach is no longer the dreamy isolated piece of paradise it once was. It’s now swamped by a constant stream of tour groups, however it still makes for a pleasant excursion. Climb down the cliffside stairs to a tight, deep cove with a wedge of squeaky sand that keeps the glimmering blue waters at bay as the large powerful waves roll in. This is not a swimming beach for children or novices as the undertow is intense and the swell can be battering, but when the sea is calmer, the bodysurfing is good. Past the break the water is deep and can be exhausting.

Dream Beach Huts overlooks the cliff and if you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with the hordes, their Cafe Pandan is a decent spot to enjoy refreshments or swim in the pool (for a fee). Alternatively, pull up a beanbag at the eastern end of the beach at D’Byas Beach Club.

Take a moment on the southern coast. Photo taken in or around Nusa Lembongan's beaches, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Take a moment on the southern coast. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Finally along the circuit, the southern shoreline of Nusa Lembongan hides one or two scrappy pockets of sand with views over to Nusa Ceningan. It’s probably not worth the trouble unless you are staying nearby, but the waterside warungs make a fine place to break for a drink and survey the passing seacraft as you tour the island.

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