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Having my best friend Morgan with me here makes home seem much less far away.
Photo: Tyler Correll
After two full weeks of fun in Bali, it was time to get away from the scene and check out another island paradise, Nusa Lembongan. On Monday, Morgan and I booked a boat and were told the ride would be an easy, smooth 20 minutes, and well, only half of that was true. After the bumpiest 20 minutes of my life, we landed on Nusa Lembongan, fully expecting the surfboards to be snapped clean in half. As soon as I hit the beach, I unzipped my board bag, anticipating the worst, and was pleasantly surprised that my boards had miraculously survived the boat ride from hell.
Once we settled into our new accommodation, we made plans to meet up with our friends Tyler and Jose, who we met last week in Uluwatu. They’re both from Costa Rica, but Tyler’s parents also live in Encinitas part time! We had a mellow surf the next morning at a spot called shipwrecks and had absolutely no clue what adventures were in store for the rest of the day. We ate some brekkie, rented some scooters (sorry Mom!), and set off for Nusa Ceningan, the next island over, which is easily accessed by a somewhat questionable bridge that is painted bright yellow, appropriately named ‘The Yellow Bridge’.
Our first destination was a location called Blue Point, where, you guessed it, there is a point with some ridiculously bright blue waters, known for good waves and epic cliff jumping. The surf looked like it had amazing potential, but the tide was definitely too low when we saw it. Unfortunately, that meant the water was super shallow, so cliff jumps were a no-go. On to the next spot: Blue Lagoon! Very creative naming process over here.
There wasn’t much beach at Blue Lagoon, so we just took in the beautiful scene at the viewpoint. These waters definitely fit the location title, with some of the most beautiful shades of blue I’d ever seen. While it was stunning to check out, we were craving some more exciting adventures, so we headed down to what we thought were the docks to grab a boat to Nusa Penida. We found some boats, but there were no docks in sight, and definitely no public ferries to other islands. We spotted an old fisherman and asked where we could find a boat. He said he could take us, and after a minute of bargaining, we parked our scooters and were off to Nusa Penida, with plans to be picked up at six in the evening.
Once on Penida, we did some more negotiating to land ourselves scooters for the afternoon, and asked around for directions to a secret beach that Tyler had been researching for months. At every fork in the road, we made sure to ask locals if we were headed in the right direction, and after a much further drive than expected, we made it to the overlook for the secret beach. As we approached the cliff, we collectively made a gasping noise, because we could not believe what we were seeing. These were by far some of the most amazing, unbelievable, breathtaking cliffs I had ever seen, hundreds of feet above a stunning, pristine beach.
After a little bit of searching, we found the trail (if you could even call it trail) down to the beach, accompanied by a sign that read, something along the lines of, “WARNING: Fence broken. No access down to beach. We are not responsible for your accidents.” Comforting, right? We figured it couldn’t be THAT bad of a hike, so we continued downward. The beginning portion was difficult but doable, but the further down we went, the steeper the trail became. About halfway down, the descent was essentially sheer cliff, and it was safest to climb backwards instead of just walking. Thirty grueling minutes later, we finally reached the purest, whitest sand I had ever seen, and I ran straight into the shorebreak, soaking up the overwhelming beauty of the beach.
No matter how much I try to describe the magnificence of these giant limestone cliffs towering above crystal blue waters, words will never be able to capture the images in my head. I just sat on the beach with my friends, wondering in awe how we were so lucky to have found such a heart-stoppingly stunning place. I was in a complete state of joy and peacefulness when I heard Tyler say it was six, which was the time we were supposed to be back at the boat... at the harbor an hour bike ride away. As the sun sank behind the cliffs we knew it was time to say goodbye to the beach, because that climb would not have been fun in the dark. We started scrambling up the giant cliff, making a mad dash towards the scooters. Luckily, it was a full moon, so we were able to see our pathway well after the sun had set. We drove off in a hurry, hoping we would make it back before our fisherman friend left us behind.
About 20 minutes into the drive back across the island, Tyler’s bike sputtered to a stop. Unfortunately the fuel gage on his scooter was broken, so he had no idea that his gas tank was almost empty! In the darkness, Jose and I sped over to the next town, not knowing where it was or how long it would take to get there. We found an unmarked building with three locals out front, and when we asked where we could find some petrol, they miraculously produced a plastic water bottle filled with fuel, out of the blue. We paid them, borrowed a funnel, and brought the gas back to our stranded friends.
At this point, it was getting really late, and we still had some pretty rickety roads to get through before making it to the harbor. As quickly as we could, we navigated the potholes and sharp turns, and cheered when we saw the twinkling lights of the boats dotting the channel. We rolled up to the scooter rental guys, and saw our fisherman friend, waiting patiently for us, two hours late. We thought we had overcome all the obstacles at this point, but when we went to give the scooters back, the rental dudes started yelling at us in Bahasa Indonesian. We asked what was wrong, and they tried to explain that one of the scooters we were returning was not theirs.
We told them that this was the scooter they had given us, and that there was no way we accidentally took the wrong bike back. We had photos from when they originally gave us the scooters, and they still didn’t believe us, claiming that the scooter they had given us was white. We told them that the first thing we noticed about the bike was that the fuel gage and speedometer were broken, and when we showed them this was the bike with the broken dash, they continued to argue and yell. They then said that if we gave them 150,000 IDR (about $11.25 USD) they would let it go, and use the bike to go back and find the “other bike.” This was when we realized that it was a scam, but our hands were tied. We were outnumbered by the locals, and there was no winning, especially with the language barrier, so after a few more minutes of negotiating, we paid the guys off and got onto the boat, defeated.
We gave our boat driver a hefty tip for his patience, and hurried off to find dinner. At that point, nothing sounded tastier than a giant plate of Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) and a glass of fresh, cold watermelon juice. Of course, there had to be one more hiccup before the night was through, and the first two warungs we approached were out of food. Finally, nearby our homestay, we found some delicious local foods, and after we scarfed down our meals, we all almost fell asleep at the dinner table! One ice cream bar later and it was off to bed for us groms. Even though we had some obstacles throughout the day, we all agreed it was was an amazing adventure, and one of the best days of our entire time in Indonesia, and probably our lives. These are the types of thrills I was hoping to find when I left home, and now that I am actually experiencing them, they are better than I could have ever imagined.