A Weekend in Nusa Lembongan: Spotlight on 353 Degrees North Villa
I spent the best weekend at the dreamy 353 Degrees North Villa on the remote island of Nusa Lembongan off the Southeast coast of Bali.
Located just a short 30-minute ferry ride from Sanur Beach in Bali, Nusa Lembongan is a rugged little gem of Indonesia. At only 8 square kilometers, the beauty is raw, the pace is slow, and the tourists are seemingly nonexistent. Among the lush landscape and exotic charm is a dreamy villa perched atop the island like a pristine cherry on top of a sundae. Staying at 353 Degrees North was like disappearing into my own personal heaven for a weekend.
The gorgeous infinity pool is one of my favorite features of the luxury villa, with sweeping views overlooking a huge volcano in the distance (Mount Agung) and adorned with turquoise-blue poolside beanbags, sun loungers, and daybeds just made for relaxing with a glass of wine in hand. There is also an adorable outdoor patio area where we would have our tropical breakfasts each morning, as well as steps up to a gorgeous rooftop terrace, where we watched the colorful sunrises and sunsets melt over the edges of the island each day.
The owner of the villa, Jodie, is famous around the island, as are her two rescue pups, Molly and Max, who adorably hang out in the villa (and are probably the luckiest dogs in the world). It is immediately clear that Jodie has ensured that her impeccable villa is paradise found for each and every one of its guests. A top Australian interior designer in her own right, every detail and decoration is exquisite. She’s also arranged a full staff and security is on site to tend to your every need, from helping to plan transportation and activities, to making you breakfasts, lunches and dinners that will blow your mind. The chef is incredible, so I recommend taking advantage of his cooking (and desserts!) as much as possible. Our melt-in-your mouth hamburgers with grilled pineapple were a highlight after a full morning spent snorkeling, as was the incredible seafood barbecue and balinese crepes he whipped up for us to enjoy with the sunset.
Activities through 353 Degrees North
Snorkeling with Manta Rays
We didn’t know what to expect but knew we were in for an adventure when the manager of the villa told us that snorkeling with Manta Rays was one of the best activities we could do on the island. A 7am departure (to ensure the best visibility and the most rays!) later, and we were off to a beach where a private boat picked us up and took us around to the best spots for swimming with the mantas. He would spot them from above, tell us where they were, and within seconds we were in the water surrounded by HUGE rays. It was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Island hopping the Nusa Islands: Taking a day trip to Nusa Penida
I knew when we planned our trip to the Nusas that Nusa Penida was a must-see. Instagram-famous in the travel circles for its STUNNING views, I knew we just had to see Nusa Penida’s famous aqua blue water and jetting cliffs.
Located only a 10 minute boat ride away from Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida is known as “the real Bali”, and feels like you are stepping back 30 years in time. The roads are rough, the town is sleepy, and the whole island feels unfound. Even its most famous sites are found only by climbing through hillsides and rocks. It is everything your adventurous deserted island dreams are made of. We hired a guided tour through 353 Degrees North and could not have had a more perfect day sightseeing around Nusa Penida.
Broken Beach This was our first stop in Nusa Penida and our minds were immediately blown. It is even more beautiful in person than you could ever imagine.
Angels Billabong Located in the same area as broken beach, you can climb down the rocks to a beautiful natural infinity pool to cool off after hiking around the island all day. It’s surreal and so, so beautiful.
Kelingking Beach Instagram-famous for it’s stunning sweeping views of the rugged coast of Nusa Penida. Not for the weary or anyone afraid of heights! This was a tough trek, but well worth it for the best coastal views in Indonesia.
Crystal Bay Named for its crystal-clear waters, Crystal Bay is a calm diver’s paradise and a pretty beach. A great stop in Nusa Penida. You can get there by land or by boat.
Snorkel or Dive Tours
Along with snorkeling with Manta Rays, you can visit deserted beaches such as Gamat Bay and Crystal Cove to find some of the best snorkeling or diving you’ve ever done (equipment provided).
Blue Corner Beach Cafe
Blue Corner is a gorgeous beach cafe to have a casual dinner and watch the sunset. We loved the mexican food here! You can also get it to go and bring it back to the villa.
Getting to Nusa Lembongan
One of the best things about the Nusa Islands is, despite feeling like you are a million miles away from the faster pace of South Bali, they are super easy to get to. All you need to do is take a 30 minute taxi ride from Seminyak, or a 20 minute motorbike ride to arrive at Sanur Beach, where you’ll catch the fast 30 minute boat to Nusa Lembongan. You can book your fast boat ticket ahead of time with Glory Express or Dream Beach Express, and the cost should be around 300,000 rupiah per person. Boats depart hourly all day starting at 8:30am, and the last one returns around 5pm. If you’ve already booked your accommodation (like we had with 353 Degrees North), there will be a driver waiting for you when you disembark the boat.
353 Degrees North (named for the compass point of the center of the property) features a master bedroom with a beautiful luxury bathroom complete with a garden outdoor shower as well as custom-designed Moroccan cabinetry and beautiful patterns artfully designed by the owner Jodie herself. The other two king-sized guest suites are just as impressive, with one featuring its own garden and the other with sweeping ocean views. In the living areas, impeccable, exotic decor brings the villa to life.
Aside from the sheer beauty of the property, one of my favorite parts of the villa was that it truly felt like our home for the weekend. We had the option to make our own meals in the kitchen, order wine and cocktail necessities through the manager, and even relax with a good DVD (there is a big collection there!) after an exhausting day of climbing around Nusa Penida. We also loved the surround sound Sonos system, which you can bet was blasting Jimmy Buffett all day while we were relaxing in the infinity pool. It was an ideal weekend in an ideal home.
My experience at 353 North Villa was nothing short of spectacular and easily the highlight of my trip to Bali. I hope you all will check it out and tell Jodie & the lovely staff I say hi!