The octopus's garden

Ceningan Island – The octopus's garden

On and around Ceningan Island

While there might not be a great number of octopi under the sea around Ceningan Island, there is an awful lot of garden. Or more specifically, seaweed farms. Seaweed is the mainstay of the population of Ceningan and it can be seen everywhere, spread colorfully on tarpaulins, drying in the sun.

Ceningan is tucked behind the bigger, touristy island of Lembongan on Bali’s east coast. Life here is hot and relaxed. The seaweed farmers get up early to go out to sea, and rest in the heat of the early afternoon. Later, as the day cools, they go out again, and their boats can be seen crowding around their plantations, like a floating marketplace.

Ceningan’s residents have had to fight for this life however. A few years ago the local government proposed to sell the island to resort developers. Only unwavering local opposition stopped the plan, a win for both the community and the environment. Ceningan is small and at certain times of the year, quite dry.

Water supply is becoming an issue. Yet Ceningan is extremely pretty. Exploring the island, from the coral reef on the eastern tip to the cave of nesting swallows on the western, with lots of stops for chats with friendly locals in between, makes for a wonderful day.

Note that all trips to Ceningan require at least one overnight stay due to the ferry schedules. The boat trip takes one hour from Sanur, and is a pleasant and scenic ride with the locals. Don’t wear long trousers, as you’ll have to wade on and off the boat!

What Ceningan villagers offer to visitors

Each trip to Ceningan is different, depending on your interests and the activities of the villagers at the time of your booking. A tailor made plan will be made in consultation with you, prior to departure. Activities you may choose from in Ceningan include:

  • You can swim, snorkel and surf to your heart's content. See a stunning array of fish and coral in the clear waters on the eastern tip of the island, or look for waves on the pounding southwestern coasts. Snorkeling gear is available, but brings your own surfboard.
  • Go out with a farmer to see the seaweed plantations by foot or canoe. Learn how the seaweed is tied to frames to grow, and how it is harvested. If you're game, have a go of carrying a basket of seaweed on your head, local style.
  • Visit the swallow cave at sunset to see the swallows dart in and out of their nesting site. Learn about the strategy for sustainable management of the site (the nests are sometimes harvested for sale to other countries). This is an amazing place to watch the waves crashing below.
  • Take it easy with the locals – wander around the island, sit on the bamboo resting platforms or siesta with the Ceningan folk. If you're ever stuck for conversation topics, try seaweed…
  • Trips to Ceningan include a Balinese welcome snack on arrival, lunch and dinner, and another snack before departure. Other drinks and nibbles in between meals are always available.

Accommodation in Ceningan

Accommodation in Ceningan is a homestay with a local family. You will have your own basic but comfortable room with a single bed, and share the family bathroom.