Snorkeling and diving are among the great attractions of a trip to Lembongan, providing an enjoyable and more active alternative to soaking up the sun on the beaches. If you’re not keen on swimming out from the shore to find a snorkeling spot, another option is to take one of the full-day Lembongan island snorkeling tours which operate most days from Mushroom beach.
There are plenty of popular sites to visit, though where you go on one of the guided tours will depend on local weather conditions and the time of year. There are numerous locations close to the shores of Lembongan, but many more further off around the coastline of Nusa Penida.
Arranging a tour from Mushroom Bay
We were able to book our snorkeling tour though the management of our guesthouse – TS Huts – in Mushroom Bay. The cost for a full-day boat trip was IDR 250,000 (€15) per person, including rent of mask and fins.
We left the guesthouse just after breakfast for the short walk to the boarding point. Here we joined the other guests for the day – around a dozen snorkelers in all, mainly Europeans.
Lembongan Island Snorkeling – 1st Stop: Mangrove Point
From Mushroom Bay, our small boat traveled round the north west coast of Nusa Lembongan, giving us a good view of the beaches of Jungut Batu.
To my surprise, the first location where we stopped was just off the north coast of the island – at Mangrove Point (see Lembongan island map). I had actually already snorkeled in the same spot a few days earlier, when I hired a boat off the beach.
Today the sea was a lot calmer than on my previous visit – when it was quite choppy. Underwater, though, the view was much the same in the morning light. There was plenty of colorful coral and shoals of small multi-colored fish.
The depth here varies between 3-10 meters (10-30 feet). We were keen to try out our underwater video camera, and this depth offered good visibility and lighting.
Lembongan Island Snorkeling – Onwards to Crystal Bay
After around an hour at Mangrove Point, we all boarded and continued our journey through the channel between Ceningan and Nusa Penida to Crystal Bay.
Unlike Mangrove Point, this is a large but sheltered bay. The snorkeling area is shallow enough for good visibility, but (like Mangrove Point) the site is very popular with tour boats. This may be a better place to visit privately much earlier in the morning before the other boats arrive.
The snorkeling here is quite pleasant, but there is not a great deal to see.
Down the Coast of Nusa Penida to Manta Point
Having so far seen little in the way of larger fish, hopes were high as we headed south-east down the coast of Nusa Penida to Manta Point.
Apart from the snorkeling, this trip along the rugged cliffs of Nusa Penida is a treat in itself. The promise of Manta Rays at the end of it would be the icing on the cake.
My last close encounter with a Manta Ray was in the crystal clear waters of the Maldives. If our next location lived up to its name, we’d all be going home happy punters.
After a half-hour boat ride, we stopped in a very wide bay under the green-topped towering cliffs. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed immediately after jumping into the deep, murky water. Visibility was severely limited. Even if there were rays swimming around the bay, the chances of sighting one were slim.
Half a dozen of us gamely scoured around the bay, but the depth and darkness meant that there was literally nothing to see. Maybe if we had scuba gear (and a torch) we could have found what we were looking for.
As it was, this was just another dip in the ocean.
Lembongan Island Snorkeling – Last Stop: Secret Manta
Climbing back onto the boat, we could see that our tour guides were disappointed with the lack of any sightings. On the way back up the coast they stayed alert, and stopped for one more attempt at a site called Secret Manta.
This place was well-named, because the mantas here managed to stay pretty secret.
All that remained was to head back to Mushroom Bay to get something to eat. In fairness it had been a very enjoyable day out, and a chance to see something of the surrounding islands.
Snorkeling trips will always be a little hit-and-miss, so its often best to leave your expectations back on the beach.
After 8 days we were coming to the end of our stay in Lembongan. This had all been a bit of a lightning trip since we had only 14 days in total, including visits to London, Bali and Hong Kong.
It’s surprising how much you can pack into a short amount of time – if you do your planning well enough.
Our plan for the next 24 hours was to get in as much shopping as possible before leaving, since Denpasar is known for its excellent and inexpensive markets and stores.
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