Amazing Sea Worm Festival In Lombok You Don't Want To Miss

sea worm festival bau nyale lombok


Guarantee Once In Lifetime Experience!


sea worm festival bau nyale lombok
Sea Worm Festival ‘Bau Nyale’ Celebration @ Pantai Seger

sea worm festival bau nyale lombok

Welcome to Lombok! Right here on this tropical island, a unique and amazing festival is an annual attraction for tourist all over the world. The local indigenous Sasak community celebrate this sea worm festival also known as ‘Bau Nyale’ (pronounced as Ba-u Nya-le). This event is held every year at south eastern Lombok at Kuta district.

One week before this celebration, all accommodations in Kuta are fully booked with local and overseas visitors who want to see the festival.

sea worm festival bau nyale lombok
Colorful Nyale sea worms


What Is ‘Bau Nyale’ ?   In the Sasak language, Bau’ means ‘to catch’ and ’Nyale’ is ’sea worms’. So, this festival is all about catching sea worms. Not just any sea worm. This particular species is in a variety of color – brown, pale cream, re and green. You can’t miss it. these are the only type of worms that comes to the surface from the sea.

Some researchers say the worms are from a Palola species, while some call it the Eunice Fucata. Apart from spawning on certain times of every year, not many facts are known about these worms.  Facts or not, come and enjoy the unique sea worm festival.

sea worm festival bau nyale lombok
Collecting Nyale Sea Worms in the night

The Legend Of Bau Nyale    Once upon a time, the south eastern part of Lombok was a very famous kingdom. The name of this place is Tonjeng Beru, which covered modern-day Central Lombok district. The king had a princess. Her name was Putri Mandalika or Princess Mandalika. She was the most beautiful maiden in the entire kingdom, as well as being kind and well-loved by everyone. Seven princes came asking for the Princess’ hand in marriage. Each vowing to launch a war if they were rejected in favor of one of the other princes. All of them were rich, powerful and handsome (also the not so handsome). This caused plenty of friction and ill-feelings among her suitors. Thus, a war was imminent within the surrounding regions.

Princess Mandalika tried her very best to calm the situation. Sadly, she failed. Rather than choose one, she would sacrifice herself to everyone. So she jumped over the cliffs of Seger Beach. Before she jumped, she promised not to leave her people, and to return each year to visit her beloved kingdom. Everyone searched the surrounding sea for the princess. Instead they found colourful sea-worms, called Nyale, which is believed as the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika.

For many centuries, the island’s Sasak inhabitants celebrate the annual sea worm festival at Seger Beach to catch the worms that they believe is the spirit of “the wise princess.”

sea worm festival bau nyale lombok
Statue of Princess Mandalika

Why is this celebration important to the local Sasak community?     The highlight of the ceremony is when the local priest or ‘Dukun’ go to the sea to observe the spawning Nyale and predict the rice harvest for the year. A good catch by any person is a sign that this year’s rice harvest will also be good. Nyale are also traditionally associated with fertility, good luck and prosperity. Sea worms that are caught are placed in irrigation channels surrounding paid fields to ensure a good yearly harvest.

When is this happening?    The celebrations take place on the 20th day of the 10th month on the traditional Sasak Calendar. This is in February each year at a time close to the full moon in the south coast beaches of Lombok. The most popular site for celebrating Bau Nyale is at beautiful Seger Beach near Kuta at the area called Putri Nyale (Princess Nyale).

Bau Nyale celebrations started since the 16th century. Cultural activities such as betandak (answering rhymed poems), belancaran (sailing with vessels), bejambik (giving souvenirs to our lovers), and the performance of the legend of Princess Mandalika. During Bau Nyale, people catch the sea worms using hands or basins. Lombok people believe that the more sea worms they catch, the greater their fortune will be for the whole year.

According to an article in JakartaGlobe, Bau Nyale festival is the best event to develop Lombok tourism through culture and tradition

Fancy Eating Sea Worms? – Taste good too    Nyale are eaten sometimes raw when they are caught, or steamed, fried, or made into Pepes Nyale, which is a local Sasak dish. The Nyale are mixed with coconut and spices, then wrapped in a banana leaf and roasted over the fire. The sea worm taste is delicious and rich in protein. It is special because it is available only once every year.

sea worm festival bau nyale lombok
Sea Worm Dishes – Bokosawu Nyale (L), Nyale Pa’dongo (R)

There are two Lombok signature dishes made of Nyale sea worms – 1) Bokosawu Nyale. A mixture of raw sea worms, basil leaves, and lime juices.  2) Nyale Pa’dongo, roasted sea worms with grated coconut, shallot, garlic, basil leave, and Lombok chili. It is very nutritious food. The Nyale sea worms contain protein, phosphor, and calcium needed by our bodies.

Experience It!     Sea worm festival Bau Nyale is an amazing once in lifetime experience. All visitors and tourists are very welcome. Join in the fun and feel the excitement of local island life. Hear legendary stories of Lombok. ‘Nyale’ sea worms are believed to bring good luck and lots of prosperity to those who catches them during Bau Nyale. Who knows? These legends may come true for you.

Accommodation usually books up extremely quick during the festival . Many Lombok locals from around the island and tourist that travel from all over the world come to view the spectacle. It is indeed a case of ‘the early bird catches the worm’

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Video credited to AMBARAJAYA Pictures

More sea worm festival videos HERE



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