Measuring just 4 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide, Nusa Lembongan is a tiny island off the south coast of Bali, which is rapidly becoming one of the province’s most popular destinations. One of three islands in this perfect patch of Indian Ocean, Nusa Lembongan is a true tropical paradise, a place where there are few cars to spoil the tranquillity, where the waters are impossibly turquoise and the main activities are surfing, scuba diving and beach-lounging. While boutique accommodation is now appearing alongside the rustic surfer’s shacks on Nusa Lembongan, the island has retained its local flavour, and it has an attractive blend of the chic and the traditional.

Nusa Lembongan’s mellow vibe makes it an ideal retreat. While away days lounging on the pristine, uncrowded stretches of white sand, which look out over clear, bath-warm waters. Of the many beaches to choose from, Jungut Batu in the northwest is the most popular with the surfer and backpacker crowds, and is known for its affordable hotels and restaurants, and its mesmerising sunsets. A little further along the coast lies Mushroom Bay, a pretty sheltered bay with plenty of sand to sink your toes into and a cluster of seaside restaurants where you can dine.

Despite its small size, Nusa Lembongan offers lots to do and plenty to explore. Scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing should all be high on the list, and there are tour operators on the island offering trips and excursions to all three Nusa islands. The islands are surrounded by a plentiful marine park, where iridescent fish dart among thriving coral reefs. Dive sites range from easy wall and reef dives to more challenging drift dives. Lucky divers might glimpse enormous manta rays, huge oceanic sunfish (mola mola), white-tipped reef sharks and turtles. The snorkelling here is also first rate, and can be done either from shore or as part of a leisurely boat trip aboard a traditional jukung wooden boat or through a dive centre.

Nusa Lembongan first attracted foreign attention from wave-seeking surfers, and today surfing is very much the backbone of the island’s tourism. There are some top-notch reef breaks, all accessible by boat, with daunting names such as Playgrounds, Lacerations, Razors and the iconic Shipwrecks.

One of the best ways to get to know Nusa Lembongan is to set off on a day of exploration, either on foot, by bicycle, scooter or golf cart, or as part of an organised day trip. You can take slow ambles along the coastal paths, stopping in secret coves to enjoy a cool beer in a rustic café or to take a dip in the irresistible waters. Head to the northern mangroves to discover a different type of landscape and hop in a canoe to low-lying limestone cliffs and watery caves. Nusa Lembongan is also home to a thriving seaweed farming industry. Visiting a seaweed farm makes an interesting addition to a day trip, allowing you to learn about local traditions and see the farmers at work.