Outer Lim­its

The is­lands off Bali’s south­east coast beckon with white-sand beaches, clear wa­ters, and plenty to do both above and be­low the waves.


En­ter the USAT Lib­erty, an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary cargo ship that was tor­pe­doed by a Ja­panese sub­ma­rine in World War II and sub­se­quently beached on the is­land’s eastern shores at Tu­lam­ben. In 1963, the tremors em­a­nat­ing from deep be­neath Mt. Agung pushed the ves­sel back into the ocean, where it came to rest on an un­der­wa­ter slope. Since the co­ral-en­crusted wreck is very pop­u­lar, it’s best seen ear­lier in the day, though a night dive is also a must for sight­ings of hump­head par­rot­fish and the elu­sive nudi­branch known as the Span­ish dancer. Far­ther along the coast, to the east of Tu­lam­ben, you’ll find Amed, a string of qui­eter fish­ing vil­lages on black-sand beaches. Free­d­iv­ing has been gain­ing trac­tion in this part of Bali, with the open­ing of two schools in the area. Jemeluk Bay is a fine place to learn the sport, thanks to its po­si­tion shel­tered from strong cur­rents and the dra­matic co­ral walls drop­ping to a depth of more than 40 me­ters. Snorkel­ers will also find plenty to ogle at in Jemeluk—the reef here be­gins by slop­ing gen­tly away from shore, and even in the shal­lows it boasts healthy corals and abun­dant fish life. Far re­moved from the hus­tle and bus­tle of Kuta or Seminyak, th­ese isles are worth more than a day trip from the “main­land.” Nusa Lem­bon­gan is as much a haven for re­lax­ation as it is a surfer’s mag­net, thanks to the re­li­able waves, var­ied lodg­ings from sim­ple beach huts to up­scale pri­vate vil­las, idyl­lic coastal walks, ex­cel­lent snor­kel­ing, and a hand­ful of se­cluded beaches. Smaller but no less scenic, neigh­bor­ing Nusa Ceningan has its own no­table surf break, gor­geous sun­set views over Bali, and for the brave, a heart-stop­ping zi­pline high above a rocky la­goon. Rugged, un­tamed Nusa Penida—the largest of the group—has lit­tle in the way of tourist in­fra­struc­ture, but of­fers sights such as the clus­ter of grassy, con­i­cal hills known as Bukit Tele­tub­bies, the sheer lime­stone sea cliffs in the south, and Goa Karang Sari, an im­pres­sive lime­stone cave on the eastern coast. Be­low the wa­ter’s sur­face, Nusa Penida is famed for its world-class div­ing: manta rays can be seen year-round, while the pre­his­tori­clook­ing mola mola (oceanic sun­fish) are most com­monly sighted from July to Oc­to­ber. Non-divers should head to Crys­tal Bay for some of the is­land’s best snor­kel­ing.

The quiet vil­lages of Amed, over­looked by Mt. Agung.

A mola mola (oceanic sun­fish) as seen off Nusa Penida.

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