September 6, 2019

Family Surf Travel in Nusa Lembongan

And so it goes…Josh (my husband and a 38 yo. surfer), Baby Winter (our 1.5 yo. half toddler half baby locomotive), father in law (a salty 74 yo. sailor), and myself (a 34 yo. photographer), flew across the world together to spend two weeks in Bali.  Talk about people that have different travel agendas and speeds! But one gal can unify us all..  oh sweet mother mother ocean.  Bali is the playground for all sun seekers.  This is is why we chose to kick off our trip with 5 days in Nusa Lembongan, a large island that is a short 2 hour ride from the mainland of Bali via fast boat transfer.

Here is the skinny if you would like to go yourself:

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Kinalu Beach House the entirety of our stay.  From what I could see we were the only home/villa in our neck of the woods with waterfront access.  The home was definitely larger than we needed as it is a 5 bedroom villa but it happened to be the perfect set up for us because we had multiple bedrooms (2 with AC) where we could have enough privacy for us, the baby, and my father in law.  The house itself was open and airy and situated directly in front of the local surf break.  Josh could literally flag down a water taxi out to the wave while I sat with the baby on the beach while he surfed.   

Nusa Lembongan vs. The Gili Islands

Most everyone who I talked to unanimously reccomended that we go to the Gili Islands while we were there.  The stunning turquoise waters and relaxing beach vibes are exactly what you picture when you think of a romantic Bali getaway.  Gili T is famous for being the party Island, while the other two islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air, have a much more quietly laid back vibe.  However, our group was looking for a place to have a little adventure as a family.  The beaches at Nusa Lembongan proved to have everything we hoped for.. paddle boarding for my father in law Bob.  Surf for Josh.  And for me? A chance to dive with giant Manta Rays.  This was an experience that had been on my bucket list for ages.  

{check out this video that helped us make our decision}

Childcare

No one ever tells you it’s going to be way easy to fly your kid across the world. The fear casting is real.  But I’ll tell you straight up!  It was rad! Traveling with our daughter continues to be one of the best experiences in my motherhood journey this far. Think about this.  Balinese women are nurturers.  I was reflecting on an experience I had here in the states flying with Winter who must have been 9 months old at the time.  The flight attendant looked at my child like a bomb ready to detonate when I asked her if she could hold her for one minute while I put my heavy suitcase above in the overhead bin.  She declined. I was taken aback.  This is the literal opposite experience you will find in Bali; the people understand that babyhood is a part of humanhood. 

In Bali, people live with many generations in one compound. Grandparents, parents and babies all together, all working to support one another.  Several times I found sweet ladies from the restaurant whisking Winter away as I enjoyed a few bites of my meal child free.  The gal next door to the villa ended up being a wonderful babysitter and took Winter a few times when Josh and I went scuba diving together by ourselves.  My favorite beachfront restaurant to have breakfast, Ginger and Jamu, had a bucket of sand toys they handed over.  Winter would dig contently as I sipped on a cappuccino and dug in myself on a delicious acai bowl every morning. Just the two of us early risers- it was peaceful and it was a beautiful moment in time.

Getting There

It was quite easy to arrange transportation to the island through our airbnb host.  I just gave her the information for where we were staying on mainland Bali and she helped arrange a driver to pick us up 2 hours before the departure of our fast-boat which she also booked for us after sending us several departure time options.  

The cost was 250k IDR for our car to the port (17.00 USD).  The cost for the Boat from the Rocky departing port was 31.00 USD or 450,000 IDR per person.  The baby was free.  Transfer to our airbnb was included.  There were other fast boat companies.  All had similar pricing but Rocky had the most convenient departure times for us with more options.  We were satisfied with our experience using them and I would refer them to a friend.  And you!

Fastboats cure the soul.

Paddle Boards/ Surfboards

No need to bring.  There were several rental places along the beach and in town.  The cost for a few hours a day was about 10 bucks for Josh’s rental.  The break itself can appear flat during low tide, suddenly grows with incoming tide.  The surf pops up to be a playground. Short, intense ride, fairly safe, although can be shallow on the far inside. Easy tube, and right-hander makes it popular.  There is a water taxi (cost a dollar or 2 USD) that will take you out to the break.  You just wave at the boat when you are ready.  Paddleboarding at the transition between low and high tide is great and you can see the beautiful rocks and reef underneath you.

Scooters

A local man arranged for us to rent scooters from him.  There are scooters everywhere on the island.  We paid about 15 dollars a piece for a full day rental which included our gas and helmets.  Josh wore little Winter in the Ergo baby on the few times we took her with us.  We would not recommend scooting with the baby on mainland Bali as a tourist.  There is far too much going on and quite easy/ common for people not from there to crash.  “The Bali Kiss” is a familiar sight.. bare exposed legs with exhaust pipe burn or road rash seemly speckling the skin.  No bueno.  We did feel comfortable bringing her on a short trip on the non-congested roads of Nusa Lembongan over to Nusa Pineda but please do only at your own discretion.  You would never want to injure or kill your child for a 12 minute scooter ride on holiday.  

Places to Visit

Nusa Lembongan is connected to Nusa Ceningan by a sweet little well known “yellow bridge.” You can only walk across it or take a motorcycle to the other side as the bridge is so narrow.  Right on the other side you will find many places to grab a beer or a drink and take photos on one of those cute over the water swings.  We didn’t really stop to do this so I cannot suggest one in particular but they all looked like they offered the same things. Bintang for cheap and pretty ocean views.

Yellow bridge crossing. Beep! Beep!

About a 20 minute ride from the town of Nusa Lembongan, over the yellow bridge, you can get to a really beautiful break called Mahana Point. We stopped at a bar called The Last Wave and took in all of the beauty.  Here the cliffs are high and so are the waves. Ahhh. Other places to check while you are on Ceningan are Sunset Beach and Secret Beach.

Mahana Point from a distance.

Devils Tear

Devil’s Tear is where you can see the ocean meet the land in a violent crashing of waves as they break along the steep cliffside.  The sea sprays up a wall of water towering 30 feet overhead.  It is quite beautiful.  Don’t be a kook.  Respect mother nature and be sure to stand back from the water’s edge.  If there is water where you are thinking about standing you best think again. Don’t be those people who die taking a selfie.  It’s a bad look.

The beautiful cliffs at Devils Tear.
Pulling in with Grandpa to watch the waves.

The Takeaway

Finding common ground is a gift that parenthood is teaching me. Me peeling off to do my own thing that suits my own needs without interfering in someone else’s idea of a good time just doesn’t happen too frequently anymore. In search of some relaxation I found a nice little haven in Nusa Lembongan. There was truly something on the island for everyone.

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