Dream Beach on Lembongan Island is so Instagramable that if it was breakfast, it would be a smoothie bowl. Actually, imagine a smoothie bowl smothered in avocado and perched on top of a pancake stack. No longer actually food, just a series of hashtags.
Because, like the breakfast that is photographed but never enjoyed, Dream Beach serves more as a #location rather than a beach.
Busloads of Chinese tourists arrive at intervals, wrapped in layers of clothing. They pose for photos with selfie sticks and then scurry off to the next viewpoint.
Drones controlled by the sons of Russian oligarchs or Emirati princes buzz noisily overhead taking aerial photographs of their owners, whilst the double infinity pool plays host to a constant procession of photo-shoots of such jaw-dropping narcissism that I wonder if I’m trapped in an episode of Black Mirror.
Bikini-clad women or shirtless men pose and preen from every angle then return to their phones to filter, airbrush and hashtag; their partner – previously put to temporary use as a photographer – now ignored.
Disgusted with the whole spectacle, myself and friend John go to enjoy the beach “in real life” – not before taking some infinity-pool selfies though! #ifyoucantbeatthemjointhem!
Like the rest of Lembongan, Dream Beach has two high tides a day. If you visit in the morning you’ll find almost no beach. A thin strip at the top might give you a false sense of security and you spread out your sarong on the sand, but then suddenly a huge wave will crash in and wash away your flip flops if you’re not quick enough.
However, there’s an area towards the middle of the beach, which goes back to some beach huts and where sunbathing is possible. The sea itself is choppy and a flag indicates that there are strong currents and no lifeguard on duty, so you enter at your own risk. You can see grown men getting swept off their feet by water not reaching past their knees and, on entering, you immediately feel the power pulling you in both directions. Huge waves crash close to shore and you have to decide in a split second whether to ride it, duck it or jump it. The wrong decision can get you dragged under and rinsed out.
It’s exhilarating and exhausting and it’s not long before a beer and some food is required.
Café Pandan has a prime location overlooking the beach from 2 levels. The first level sits next to the double infinity pool and is great for narcissist-watching, whilst the top level has some comfy seating, better views and is a bit quieter.
Prices in Lembongan are higher than the rest of Bali and the menu reflects that, although at around 80-120k for a main, it’s not as expensive as it could be, given the location. We have calamari and spring rolls to start and both are delicious, fresh and lightly fried.
The mains are hit-and-miss, with fish coming out the winner. Either pepes ikan or the tuna steak were both succulent and tasty, served with rice and salad and sambal. Whereas the pork was tough and fatty and the dish itself was reminiscent of a bad Chinese takeaway.
We decided to order wine, as lunch on the beach is not complete without it. They have Hatton at 60k a glass or Plaga at 70k a glass. Figuring the more expensive one would be better, we went for Plaga and – although not terrible – it was far too heavy; dark yellow in colour and verging on the sweet-side. However, it was cold enough and so we ordered a second glass (didn’t seem to be any saving involved in getting a bottle – glasses were decent servings). Wine tipped the bill into the realms of the ridiculous and although the food was fairly average, it was well worth it for the location.
By the time we had finished, the tide had turned and, although there was more beach to enjoy, the sea had receded to a point where you were likely to come across rocks under foot if you went in more than a few feet.
Afterwards you can go and watch the waves crashing at Devil’s Tears while you digest your meal and check your IG account for how many likes you got on your infinity pool selfie.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Enjoy the view in “real life”
- Speak to your human companion and leave your phone alone, ffs!
- Get the starters at Café Pandan, they’re great!
- Take your drone. Everybody will hate you
- Forget the obligatory selfie at the infinity pool