The first time I rode a motorbike I was terrified. I was vacationing in Hawaii when my family peer pressured me into renting a scooter. Though my family views me as both a laid-back hippie and an adventurous traveler, I am actually a pretty anxious person. So I was petrified as I swerved my scooter onto the highway and wobbled along Oahu’s breathtakingly beautiful windward coast. I was pretty sure I was going to die every time a car sped past me or a 40-mile-an-hour gust of wind threatened to knock me over. I spent the day oscillating between feelings of sheer panic and utter joy, but by the end of it I was sold.
I am now a firm believer that renting a motorbike is the best way to explore a foreign city. Ever since my trip to Oahu some of my most memorable travel experiences have been on a scooter – from coasting past emerald-green rice paddies in Pai, Thailand, to getting caught in a monsoonal rainstorm in Bohol, Philippines, to happening upon gorgeous secluded beaches in Langkawi, Malaysia.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would rent a scooter on Nusa Lembongan. The small Balinese island is roughly 8 kilometers around and is the perfect size for exploring by motorbike. Its hilly terrain and steep roads make it difficult to get around on foot. And since there are no official taxis and relatively few cars, motorbikes are by far the most popular means of transport.
Despite the fact that I typically travel with my boyfriend, I always rent my own bike. Maybe this is because I love the freedom that comes with riding on my own or perhaps it’s due to my need to be in control. But given our tight budget and the small size of the island, it seemed like a waste to rent two bikes. So I begrudgingly opted to share. Aaron took the reins and I hopped on the back, raring to go. But given the poor alignment of the rickety bike (it seemed to always want to veer dramatically to the right) and the fact that we rarely ride tandem, we got off to a shaky start. We swerved down the road – braking abruptly and lurching forward each time we tried to avoid a pothole or made an effort not to run off the side of the road. We looked like complete novices. But after a few somewhat embarrassing minutes, we got the hang of it.
We ended up keeping our rickety old motorbike for the entirety of our stay on Lembongan. And I’m so glad we did. We had the best time just cruising around and happening upon stunning vistas, delicious restaurants, and unexpected adventures.
A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan
Dream Beach – It’s a perfect white-sand beach with giant turquoise waves. The strong currents make it pretty unsafe for swimming. But for a fee you can use the infinity pool at Dream Beach Huts, which overlooks the beach.
Devil’s Tears – Huge waves crash violently into the cliffs. And, yes, you will get wet! To get here from Dream Beach just turn right and follow the dirt pathway along the cliffs. This is the perfect spot for sunset!
Sandy Bay (aka Sunset Beach) – Located down the road from Devil’s Tears is this small coral-filled beach. The Beach Club resort occupies this land and is a popular restaurant for sunset beers.
Mushroom Bay – Most tourists stay around here. There are a few restaurants and a decent swimming beach (that is if the boats aren’t docked in the bay).
Panorama Point – Located in between Mushroom Bay and Jungutbatu. Pull off the road right across the road from Panorama Restaurant to snap a photo from this unreal viewpoint.
Jungutbatu – This is the main town on Lembongan. Head here to catch a glimpse of authentic village life. There’s plenty of traditional Balinese architecture to see and lots of delicious (and cheap) Indonesian food to eat.
Nusa Ceningan – Venture over the narrow, wooden suspension bridge. (It might look sketchy, but it’s safe!) Veer to your right and you’ll see rectangular crops of seaweed being harvested just off shore. Follow the signs to Blue Lagoon for some cliff jumping action!
Here are a few things you should know if you’re renting a motorbike on Lembongan:
Cost – I paid 70,000 rupiah (including a full tank of gas) per day for my scooter, but I’m sure you can do better if you haggle!
Where to rent – I rented mine from my hotel. You can pretty much go to any hotel or restaurant and they’ll either rent you a scooter or point you in the right direction. It’s that easy!
Road conditions – The roads on Nusa Lembongan are full of potholes and the roads on Nusa Ceningan are just plain awful. I wouldn’t recommend riding a motorbike if you’re not at least a little experienced. For a beginner’s guide on riding a motorbike, read my complete guide here.
Sharing the road – A lot of guidebooks say there are no cars on Lembongan. This is not true. The roads are very narrow (about 6-8 feet wide) and there are plenty of trucks that come barreling down them.
Map of the island – Good maps don’t really exist. My best advice is don’t be afraid to get lost; sometimes this can lead to the best finds. Plus, how lost can you get on such a tiny island? People here are very friendly so you can always ask for directions. But, just to help you get your bearings, here’s a map!
Renting a scooter gave us the freedom to explore the island many times over, and we discovered new things every day. Scooting around Nusa Lembongan was a blast!
If you’re really up for an adventure head over to neighboring Nusa Penida. This island is a literal 10-minute boat ride away. It’s absolutely stunning and way less touristy than Nusa Lembongan. As an added bonus Nusa Penida is the perfect Balinese island to motorbike around!
Are you terrified of riding a motorbike, like I used to be? Or do you enjoy riding motorbikes in other countries? If so, what is your favorite place to explore on a scooter?