With 3 days of off lounging, hiking, and exploring behind us, Stefje and I bade farewell to Nusa Penida and caught one of the frequent boats across a narrow channel to Nusa Lembongan. Even the trip there was a scene of astounding tropical beauty. Turquoise waters shimmered in the morning light and the sun lit up forested hillsides with bright shades of green.
Wide, shallow bays ended in a number of sandy coves, proving that we had arrived in another relaxing tropical destination. With lunch on our minds, we rented a motorbike and crossed the electric yellow bridge which connects Nusa Lembongan to its smaller sister island, Nusa Ceningan.
Here we encountered a long string of restaurants with absolutely stunning views across the water, so we pulled into one and settled in for a long lunch complimented by luxurious swimming sessions in the pristine bay.
The largest draw at this locale was a series of swings and hammocks which proved to be a popular training ground for aspiring models. We watched in wonder at the endless parade of poses, then couldn’t help but snag a few shots of our own.
With the sun out, the waters seemed perfectly translucent and endlessly calm, adding to our already deeply relaxed state.
Eventually a large, deeply dark cloud decided to hang out directly overhead, at first just blotting out the sun but eventually depositing a light rain shower, which made us retreat to the protection of our bungalow.
As evening fell, the clouds parted slightly and we made our way to the Devil’s Tear, the island’s pre-eminent sunset spot. First we checked out the main attraction, a rocky cove with steep cliff faces that attracts an endless pounding from the rough sea.
The area is tightly surrounded by rocks, causing the waves to recoil into each other and spring upwards with huge plumes of mist, which the wind takes hold of and sprays upon onlookers in cooling droplets.
Moss clings to the rocks where possible, showing the only signs of life in the otherwise barren sea. Once again, the shallow waters are a piercing blue, which adds a beautiful contrast against the dark hues of the cliffs.
With the sun arching towards the horizon we made our way to the cliff’s edge, which offered an astonishing view of the ocean. As the waves rolled in, they pounded the shorelines with surprising ferocity. Each barrel crashed and roared, echoing across the inlet and sending water shooting high into the air.
Even from our vantage point high above the surface we weren’t safe from the water’s wrath. We were only subjected to a light dusting, but just 10 feet away one onlooker was absolutely doused by an abnormally strong crash.
Once the sun began its final descent, it peeked out from beneath a layer of clouds to grace all the observers with magnificent hues of red, orange, and yellow, turning the sky into a natural painting of utmost beauty. From our vantage point, the colors began meshing with the spray from the ocean, creating more than a few eye-popping moments which seared into my memory.
With the sun finally invisible beyond the horizon, we took one last good look at the beautiful panorama to suck it all in, then hit the road again.
For our second day on Nusa Lembongan we hit up the island’s other main natural attraction, the Blue Lagoon. After almost a week on tropical islands surrounded by crystal clear waters you might have thought we were getting used to such scenes, but this destination blew us away once again.
The water seemed to pop straight out of the ocean as it transitioned from a deep blue to a electric blue and the waves rolled across our field of vision.
The viewing points were well spread out, meaning even though there were plenty of visitors, we were able to find a quiet spot to contemplate the timeless beauty of such an attractive destination.
In the afternoon we followed the time-honored tradition of the best activity on a tropical island: posting up at a beach side cafe without a care in the world. While we snuggled our toes into the sand, relaxed in comfy bean bag chairs and indulged in some Western fare, the tide slowly rolled out and the sun shone down upon our happy faces.
For our last few nights of accommodation in the seven month sojourn, Stefje and I treated ourselves to a taste of luxury. We checked into a villa property which offered not one but two pools and a verdant garden containing mango, banana, and frangipani trees.
As soon as we checked in, it was time to dive into the pool. Whereas the first few days on the island were marked by periods of clouds and sun, our arrival in this luxurious locale coincided with long bouts of sunshine, making frequent trips between the pool and the lounge chairs a necessity.
After a delectable lunch of Gado Gado with spicy peanut sauce from a local warung for just $2, we decided to check out Dream Beach, the island’s most popular stretch of sand. Amid glistening bodies and a couple of crowded beach clubs, we found an empty pocket of space to lay our towels and I immediately bounded into the ocean.
The sea was absurdly rough. Wading in subjected my feet to an onslaught of rock and coral projectiles, whereas going deeper subjected my whole body to the whims of the current. I did my best to both hold my ground and follow the flow of the waves, but eventually I admitted defeat and retreated to lay on the sand.
Our pristine villa and its accompanying pool eventually drew us back home, where we found the water easier for a long swimming session and the solitary environment far more relaxing.
Having fully explored the island’s main attractions, it was tough to pull us away from our bungalow lifestyle for the next few days. Only meals, coffee, and one last revitalizing Balinese massage prevented me from posting up poolside the entire day with good books and ample sunshine.
However, all good things must come to an end, so on a cloudy Tuesday morning we packed up our bags one last time, spent time reflecting on all the wild experiences of our time together in Asia, and began the long mental and physical journey back to Western Civilization.
That night, we stayed in a hotel in Kuta, Bali’s premier party destination. The combination of hedonism, alcohol, and plastic souvenirs could not have contrasted any more sharply with our weeks of bliss in Canggu and the Nusa islands.
Early the next morning we strapped on our backpacks for one last trip, this time heading back to the airport in Bali and beginning the long and circuitous route back to the Netherlands. No matter what life could throw at us, the glow of all our happy memories would be tough to wipe off our faces in the weeks and months to come.