No7 was the name of my father's boat 50 years ago. He was a village leader who frequently went to Bali for supplies. The only bananas and coconuts thrive here. Our family has been on Nusa Lembongan for seven generations. This is our home.
In 1982 my father started No7 with 3 rooms. He could see that the day tripper surfers from Bali would like to stay to catch another wave. I was happy to have my surfing buddies stay longer. Back then Lembongan was well off the regular tourist trail.
Traditional Balinese values are still honoured here. When you stay at No7, you stay with my family. I continue to stay true to the traditions. My father and mother continue to live onsite and watch over the day to day operations and tend the fabulous gardens.
Over the years we have continued to add more rooms to No7. Now we have 14, and in December of 2006 we opened Oka Bungalo 7 (loosely translated "son of No7"), on the hill at the south end of the bay Oka hosts luxury in paradise. Amazing views in a spectacular setting.
Nusa Lembongan was a penal colony years ago. Even today it still is off the regular tourist trail... A low, protected island about 11 km southeast of mainland Bali, measuring only four by three km and ringed with mangrove swamps, and palms and white sandy beaches. Inland the terrain is scrubby and very dry, with volcanic stone walls and processional avenues crisscrossing the small cactus-covered hills. Crops are meagre, and the only fruit available is melon. All other food must be imported from the market in Denpasar or from the neighboring island of Nusa Penida.
The island is small enough to explore on foot, offering pristine beaches and coves, majestic views of Gunung Agung, unique Balinese architecture, and the friendliness of a simple country folk. With a lack of arable land and a severe shortage of tourist attractions, the island's economy is limited to its underwater wealth—seaweed. A secondary occupation is catering to visiting surfers. Between Nusa Lembongan and the adjacent island of Nusa Ceningan, the population is only 60,000.
There are just two villages on Nusa Lembongan—the large, spread-out administrative center of Desa Lembongan, and the village of Jungut Batu. Surfers and backpackers hang out in the latter—about 150 per month, for an average stay of three to five days. The only other visitors are European, Japanese, and Australian day-trippers on excursion boats. Jungut Batu offers the island's best accommodations and water sport opportunities. There's motorcycle traffic between the two villages and it's easy to get a lift.
Both villages are heavily involved in the cultivation of seaweed. Before government-supported commercial seafood production in 1980, the people of the island lived on maize, singkong, ubi, beans, and peanuts. Today most everyone is involved in one way or another with cultivation of "sea vegetables," and the air is permeated with its smell.
Visit the seaweed gardens at low tide; they look like gigantic underwater botanical gardens. Two kinds are grown, the small red pinusan and the large green kotoni. Almost the entire crop is exported to Hong Kong for use in the cosmetics and food processing industries. After harvesting, gatherers leave a floating offering of rice and flowers that gently drifts away on the outgoing tide.
Life on Nusa Lembongan is very relaxing, with cool breezes, little traffic, no big hotels, no pollution, no stress, no photocopy machines, and hardly any telephones. Best of all, there are almost no pedagang acung (pushy vendors) and few thieves. Jungut Batu's charming "tree house" bungalow-style accommodations—with outdoor open-air mandi, rickety wooden furniture, sand-floor restaurants and offices—are reminiscent of Kuta Beach 20 years ago.