Bali is one of the few places on earth that can be anything you’d like it to be. Though countless places on the island have been overrun with Australian backpacker discos, chain hotels and tourist traps, there are still some areas which take everything “awe inspiring” and visually trounce it. To escape the world, we rented an Airbnb villa on an island off of Bali, and it was by far one of the coolest things we’ve ever done. Surprisingly, it didn’t even require A-list celeb pricing either. 

“You’ll need to wear flip flops, the ferry that picks you up from Bali departs from the edge of the beach”.

Reaching Nusa Lembongan, the idyllic island- just 30 minutes from the east coast of Bali by boat was an amusing, bumpy breeze. As we transitioned from waters edge to beach, we realized that we’d arrived in a place, where much like the show “Cheers”, everybody knows your name. With just a handful of villas and charming beach clubs on the island, there were no busses, no trains, and most importantly, no infrastructure for tourist traps. All you’ll find here: pristine beaches, ridiculous sunsets, world class snorkeling, scuba, infinity pools, strong mojitos, temples and wonderful people. Oh, and a place where you can get a private chef (ingredients and clean up included) for up to four people- for $60. Yep, that’s for all four, not per person. 

“The massages are 100,000 IDR ($7) per hour, and she’s properly trained”

After a windy drive in a hatch back mini truck, we found our (unfortunately temporary) home: Villa Nusa. Owned by Donna Gelardi, a British expat from a historic family of hoteliers- Donna fell in love with the island and never made it back, and we quickly realized why. Jasmine scented cold towel to the face, ice cold cracked coconut to quench the thirst, and a quick tour of the four + bedroom villa, we were officially in heaven. Well, a heaven where an active volcano sits visible across the water, that is. We found the place on Airbnb, and kept coming back to it, eventually deciding we simply had to book because of a pictures similar to this one (which we took on our phones, by the way)…

“Let the staff know if you need anything, or if you want to visit their village”

While a tiny room on the mainland at a top (touristy) resort would run $350+ a night, we were able to rent an entire villa, complete with our own infinity pool (and staff) for less. You could’ve easily slept six guests. Within hours, we realized that this was what “getting away” is all about. In fact, with our private chef hired at just $60 per meal, which included all ingredients, clean up and preparation, we managed not to leave the villa for an entire day. Transitioning from pool-to lounge chair, to bar-to bed, but mainly, staring in awe from the waters edge of our private pool at the volcano- just miles across the ocean. 

“He worked at a Michelin starred restaurant in Paris, but he just couldn’t leave, so he stayed”

But alas, the island was not worth missing out on. It’s an incredible place, and a tight knit community. It’s a place where locals work together, living a life that most westerners only know from story books. Single room schools, open houses, village worship, fishing for a living, walking to work. But let’s stay on point: it’s a place with ridiculous beaches, incredible natural beauty and the quiet, authentic vibe that many ex Bali fans seek. It’s NOT for the night club scene, but it’s for just about anyone who appreciates an escape. Speaking of which, it’s also a place where former chefs, working Michelin starred restaurants have also permanently escaped, favoring simple, charming outposts over city life. Yep, there’s great food to be found on the island-whether you’re looking for $1 authentic Indonesian warungs, or $30 a plate western delicacies, or perhaps the best breakfast we’ve ever had at the “Eco Deli”, which ran about $4. With just a short scooter ride, walk or jump onto the back of a mini truck, you can hit any of the islands beach clubs, reefs or bars- the full tropical island experience. Leaving the only question: when are we going?