Trippin' on Indo

Short-term memory loss in the South Pacific.

Oct 4, 2010
Outside Magazine

Lembongan's western coast    Photo: Kurt Henseler/Redux


Shrines decorated for the Hindu Odalan festival.


Lembongan traffic

LEMBONGAN ISN'T EXACTLY out of the way—just seven miles southeast of tourist-clogged Bali—but it stays perfectly out of your way. Nothing about the place gets between you and your vacation. A three-square-mile speck of coral reefs, empty beaches, and hillside bungalows, the Indonesian island is what Henry Miller meant when he said of Big Sur, California, "There being nothing to improve on in the surroundings, the tendency is to set about improving oneself."

The easy access from Bali—plus the presence of several consistent surf breaks and dive spots—has given Lembongan a small but steady tourism economy to supplement the traditional kelp farms. My wife and I thought it might be a nice change of pace during our 16-day honeymoon on Bali. It ended up being the highlight of our trip.

It's hard for either of us to say exactly why. I know we surfed and took a beginner scuba excursion. But mostly what we have are hazy recollections of long naps, afternoon strolls, and laughing over dinner about how we'd managed to fill another day doing ... er, well, we were never quite sure. And still aren't. We barely even have any photos from our stay. That's Lembongan's gift: letting you let go.

I imagine this empty-mindedness is the sort of self-improvement people seek from meditation retreats. But this retreat has cold beer and a really hollow reef break—from what I can remember.

GET THERE: Island Explorer Cruises offers day trips to Lembongan for $85 per person, including food and activities, and beachside bungalows for two from $90 per night (

Filed To: Surfing

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