From its mystical history as part of the kingdom of Klungkung to the sparkling tourist destination it is today, Nusa Lembongan has changed, and it’s all good. More places to stay, eat and play, while the sunny white sand beaches, the famous surf breaks and the underwater wonderland remains pristine and beautiful. Today, Nusa Lembongan, less than half and hour from Bali’s mainland, is a destination that sees more visitors than ever.
We’re giggling like girls as we arrive at Serangan Harbour heading for a two-day staycation in Nusa Lembongan. Packing a bag and heading off on a mini-adventure does that to me. It’s over a year since I’ve been to the island and there’s a lot of new places to explore; things are moving along at a cracking pace it seems.
The crossing can be a little bumpy. I’m not a big fan of small boats but the Rocky Fast Boat is, as the name implies, fast. Before I know it, we are moving slowly through the beautiful mangroves to the pretty little island that is one of Bali’s most popular destinations.
Our open truck transport arrives to take us to over to the wild side, Sandy Bay Beach Club and their new Garden Shacks are home for the next two days and it’s as stylish and pretty as we had hoped. I’ve enjoyed many long lunches and more than a few sunsets at Sandy Bay Beach Club and each time I come back I fall a little bit more in love with the location, the laid-back elegance, and the food, which is well priced and delicious.
The Garden Shacks are new and here we lay our hats, in the beautifully restored Javanese Gladaks (pretty wooden cottages) that are laid out across a leafy garden. Our friend and hostess for the stay is Shush Ingram, who discovered this little bay on an early trip when there was little more than a dirt track access and very little infrastructure. She fell in love, decided to build a home and the rest fell into place.
“ It reminded me of some of the Mediterranean bays I have visited over the years, something of the wild, and it’s so spectacularly beautiful,” she explains. Over time, the bay has become home to the beach club and some of the most spectacular luxury villas on the island, all offering vast views of the ocean. This is definitely the wild side of Nusa Lembongan with the infamous but seductive Devil’s Tear to one side, a popular cliff edge lookout Insta-spot that has claimed more than one enthusiastic selfie-taker, and ruined quite a few wedding shoots.
Sandy Bay is now a destination, with the beach club, the accommodation, a Glo spa, a pretty emporium, a pavilion for yoga, events, and movie nights and a new rooftop Asian Bistro. It’s also a popular wedding venue and a great sunset spot.
Shush has a great eye for design and she has created these little “shacks” in her inimitable style. Shabby chic exteriors, little verandahs ( where I sit happily writing this), washed-out beach-inspired interiors with fabulous air-conditioning and pretty outdoor bathrooms, it’s incredibly comfortable and I have slept like a baby in the luscious cotton sheets.
Breakfast is served in the rooftop bistro with great views across the bay. Inspired by a recent trip to Morocco, everything is served in little individual dishes and pots with home-made yogurt, jams, sauces and fresh bakery items that change daily. There’s a pool, day spa, and a lovely team to take care of the guests. Our neighbours had a candlelit dinner on their verandah last night, it all looked like a postcard.
With a girlfriend in tow, we decided to spend our first day soaking up the atmosphere at Sandy Bay’s Beach Club. We had both lunch and dinner here, all delicious. From gourmet hot dogs, garlicky prawns, a generous Caesar salad and a few frosty beers, we spent the afternoon on the large sofa b