Bali is known as the Island of the Gods, but few realize it is surrounded by many little islands, each magical on its own and worth the effort to get to. Get there and determine the pace you want in a tropical hideaway.
If you feel too cramped in Kuta or Ubud, you can opt for the quietness of these small islands off the southeast coast, where you will find some stunning hideways and natural wonders.
A mere 30 minutes away by fast boat (see video) are three sister isles that are being discovered by those in search of authentic village tourism experiences. Hello Bali magazine recently listed 100 things in Bali visitors love and hate. Coming in at 100 was Nusa Penida, Lembongan and Ceningan.
Nusa Lembongan – home of Blue Corner Dive shop– is close enough to be a day boat trip. But stay over for the reef snorkeling, drift diving, mangrove paddling and filming the blow hole. There are clean and affordable new accommodations like Well House, and the best place for a cold beer and Aussie beef is at the Sandy Bay Beach Club. The outdoor lounge with wide screen TV was popular for watching both the Balinese and Australian Olympic competitions.
Ceningan is small, connected to Lembongan by a narrow suspension bridge big enough for a scooter or pedestrian. No cars on the island, nor roads, but new construction is underway for modern hideway accommodation. Ask your motorbike tour guide to skip the cave house and head to the cliff jumping spots for some astounding blue water visions.
Nusa Penida is the most remote and largest of the group, with very traditional culture and spectacular eco diving in spots like Crystal Bay (shore-ly extraordinary!) where there's a plethora of coral, fishes and underwater creatures in crystal clear water.
All three are into seaweed production. A cash crop where the farmers get paid every 15 days for hard labour of cultivating, drying and packaging seaweed that ends up in pharmaceutical production labs around the world.
Can you handle it?
No ATMs, No nightlife. No Wifi. No cars, no motorbike helmets required, no asphalt roads, no stress. On the plus side, there's some mobile coverage, some TV, some air conditioning and some hot water showers.
If yes, get there before its changes and tourists arrive in numbers (now that the word is getting out). Divers and snorkellers from every part of the world already know about the ravishing reefs surrounding the Nusas.
--The Rainbow Rambler has visited the 3 sisters. Ask about travel tips to the Nusa islands.