It is our second day in Nusa Lembongan. We wake up early. I look outside and the seascape takes my breath away! We sit in the balcony to watch the sun rise while sipping coffee. The view is spectacular. Soothing breeze and distant sound of waves add to the equanimity of the moment. (#traveltip – If you have a room with a view, ditch sleep.
After a couple of hours of enjoying the glorious view, we get ready. (#traveltip – do not forget your hat, shades and sunblock)
We pack our bags for Activity One of Day 2 – Banana Boating. (#traveltips – 1- Banana Boating is safe for swimmers and non-swimmers alike. Just strap on a life jacket. 2- Better to carry swimming goggles. 3- Try to wear proper beachwear. 4- Carry plastic covers for your phone as shown in the image below, can be used to store money also, available at Sanur beach station.)
Bags ready, we head out for breakfast (#traveltip – breakfast is complimentary at Oka 7). Even the walk down the hill is awesome.
We quickly finish breakfast, change (in the cafe restroom) and head out to the beach. We meet captain Ali who gives us life jackets and explains the drill.
I am sitting on the first seat of the banana boat. I can see captain driving his motorized boat in full speed, making the already angry waves more violent. Our boat, tied to his, dances on the violent waves. I find myself leaning forward while humming the Dhoom title track, having a “Dhoom Macahale” moment. Lame, I know!
Our boat dangles and spins but we manage to make it till the end without having a flip (#travel tip – banana boat may flip and you may fall but do not panic; life jacket will save you.)
We have to check–out at 12 today. So, without wasting any time, we thank captain, collect our stuff and leave for the hotel. We freshen up and finish packing. (#traveltip – carry lots of plastic bags, you will need them to pack wet clothes.)
It is time to bid goodbye to the awesome room. We check-out but keep bags at the reception. (#traveltip – checking out helped us save a day’s rent; At Oka 7, you can leave your bags at the reception, can use the washroom and pool after check out). It is now time for one of the most anticipated activities of the trip- snorkeling.
This is a major bucket list item and has been anticipated for long. Captain is prepping the boat for excursion. I am looking at the sea and having serious doubts. Waves are not friendly– they are untamed, unleashed and wild. I am scared.
The boat is ready but are we? With thousands of little butterflies dancing in my guts, I board. The boat roars to life. Captain confidently speeds up cutting waves right in the middle, racing up in the sea.
We are far away from the beach, there are fewer people around. We spot some snorkelers hither-dither and that gives us some confidence. The sea has turned emerald-green from blue. It is enchanting. I look around and I am stunned at the magnanimity of nature for bestowing us with such a spectacular world.
“We are here,” says Captain. He parks the boat and takes out one snorkeling equipment (life jacket, tube, snorkel set and mask) for each of us. He cleans the mask and snorkel set with liquid detergent. (#traveltip – bring your own mask and snorkel set if possible.)
I strap my life jacket tightly and put on the mask. I am ready to dive in. Or, am I?
Captain asks me to go first. I look at the 3-step ladder that he has adjusted to the boat. Then, I look around. The vastness of the sea scares me to death. I feel a knot growing in my guts and lump in my throat.
I look at one of my friends nervously and ask him to lead the way. Gladly, he agrees. I follow him. I take my first dip and I am in a different world, literally. The minute my head is underwater, all I can hear is the sound of my breath. I look around and I am thrilled. I see an aquatic colony with beautiful fishes, vibrant corals and colorful plants.
A small black fish with fluorescent stripes swims right under me. I follow her. Soon after, I am bombarded with an entire shoal. They all follow her in the same direction some touching me as they go. This cannot be real. All this is too perfect to be true. I feel overwhelmed.
My moments of solace are interrupted by captain. He hands mesome orange slices and gestures towards fishes. I take the slices and go underwater once again. In no time, numerous fishes of different colors and sizes rush towards the fruit and eat it off my hand. It is surreal.
Mangrove Point was like a #snorkelinglesson. We are feeling confident now. We start for the second point – The Wall.
The sight of unending sea and distant lush hills – all leading towards an end that seems to be moving with us, is spellbinding. The deeper we go, the scantier people we see around. Confidence turned out to be quite temporary out here. Waves are getting brutal as we approach The Wall. We can feel it because the boat is literally dangling with the current.
It is time to go in the sea again. The second time should be easier then why do I have goosebumps? My heart is pounding and I cannot feel my legs. The Wall is scarier. I take a deep breath and descend into the sea.
The current is fierce, it is maddening. I hold on to ropes and tube to keep myself stable. I am not able to venture much far from the boat. After a few minutes of struggle, I realize that my body will not stop toppling here. I have to go with the flow (pun intended!)
I dip my head inside and suddenly I am on the planet of colors. I am looking at a rainbow of marine life gathered in profusion. Sea green, black, orange, purple, white, golden – I see so many colors at once. This is a visual treat.
I start gasping for air after a few minutes. I pull my face out, take the mask off and breathe in huge gulps of air. I feel tear drops trickling down my eyes. I don’t understand why – because I was suffocating or because I am experiencing something beyond the extraordinary.
I look around and realize that everyone else has gone back to the boat. I decide to take a last look before resigning. I put on the mask and dive in. I am taken aback. There is a big fish staring at me from not too far away. I stare back. We gaze at each other for what seems like an eon but the moment is ruined when waves turn me upside down. She was big. Really big.
I feel like a kid who watches a magician’s performance stargazed and captivated, only, the magic I am witnessing is real. It is the canvas, on which Mother Nature boasts of her exquisite art. Everyone on the boat seems equally immersed in the divinity of this place. I hop on the boat and take my seat.
We are all bruised, eyes are burning and skin is absolutely dehydrated. (#traveltip – in the sea, carry sanitizer, antiseptic cream, sunblock, moisturizer, sterilized wipes and fresh water.) We clean ourselves quietly as the boat heads to the final destination – Crystal Bay.
This feels eerie. We are approaching Crystal Bay and there is no sign of even a single boat around. Captain tells us that very few people go there as it is too dangerous.
Gusts of wind are whooshing on the surface of the savage tides, as if mocking the sea for a death race to the horizon. The sun is shining brighter by the minute as if overlooking at the deadly games of the wind and sea, and having a gala time at it.
We are here. I feel nauseated. My head is spinning as I look around. No sign of life yet nature personifying an exaggeration of aliveness. Wow! I hold every cell of my body together and dare to dive. When I look underwater, I am mesmerized. I see marine life thriving in calmness and tranquility. How can this world be so composed and calm when the sea, that is, their home is an embodiment of sheer aggression? Talk about oxymoron.
We did it! This is the look on everyone’s face. I feel high like an adrenaline junkie who just got doses of the best stuff ever. We want to stay longer but it is not safe plus we have a 4 o clock cruise to Sanur and hence, Kuta. I look around and take in as much of this paradise as possible. I feel ecstatic.
It takes us almost an hour in the taxi from Sanur to Kuta. We arrive at the hotel – Taxa Uma, which is a decent budget accommodation. One of the best perks of staying here is that it is centrally located.
We check-in and I quickly take all wet clothes out of the bags (#traveltip – carry an extra small bag for sandy footwear) and spread them for drying. (#traveltip – Taxa Uma has spacious rooms with cloth drying racks.) We shower and then rest for a bit.
Kuta is known for its happening nightlife scene and we are in one of the most bustling areas. (#traveltip – if you are into clubs, do not forget to pack a decent party-wear) It is 8:30 pm and we head out. There is no dearth of lounges, pubs, bars discs, shopping malls and restaurants here.
As we are walking on the streets, exploring the area, we come across an open-air cafe where a live band is performing.
We enjoy the band for a bit and then find an Indian restaurant – Shankara. (#traveltip – Shankara offers good food but not-so-good tea; if you are a tea lover – carry tea bags) After dinner, we head straight back to the room. We have to be ready for Day 3 in Bali tomorrow.
P.S. Extremely Important Travel Tip – You will need special round sockets to charge your phones, use a dryer etc – Sample shown in pictures below: (Thank me later!)