If you’re after incredible views, unbelievably blue water, and beautiful beaches, then the Nusa islands might just be the perfect place. Although only 25 minutes from mainland Bali, once you set foot on these three islands you’ll feel instantly chilled out from their relaxed and undeveloped island vibe. The five days we spent exploring the Nusa’s were so dreamy, we wanted to share with you our guide & tips!
Know before you go
- How to get there: from Sanur (Bali) you can take a boat ride, which takes about half an hour and will cost about 150k IDR. On the way there we went from Ubud so the ticket was slightly more but included a shuttle to Sanur, as well as the boat to Nusa Lembongan – this kind of service should be available from most places in Bali. You can also go directly from the Gili islands (Lombok). We booked our boats one way and stayed 5 days, but it is possible to book a guided tour to visit and come back in the same day from Bali.
- Getting Around: As the islands aren’t too developed, neither are the roads – we hired scooters while we were there and it was a very bumpy ride! If we went back we’d hire a scooter again as we love the freedom, but if you aren’t confident on a bike then taking tours and staying near the places you want to hang out may be a better option.
Things To Do:
This was one of our favourite spots in Lembongan, the impressive waves crash against the rocks creating huge sprays, followed by huge jets of mist a few seconds later – it was like nothing we’d ever seen before. We went there quite a few times, often at sunset as it was even more beautiful when the low sun was shining through the mist and the sky lit up pink. Also if you walk a bit further over the rocks to where the sun sets, there is a great viewpoint which even has a sunset bar where you can buy Bintangs (by this we literally mean a booth selling beer). Loads of people hang out here, and it’s one of our all time favourite places to watch the sun go down!
There are a few nice beaches in Lembongan, and none of them are too built up, the ones we saw were:
Dream Beach – This was our favourite beach – beautiful white sand, and there are a few bars overlooking the beach (one of them with a pool).
Sandy Beach – The next bay along from dream beach is sandy beach, again beautiful white sand but there are a lot of rocks near the water so be careful if you do want to swim
Jungut Batu- This is the most built up beach, with a lot of accommodation, shops and bars around. It’s a good place to book daytrips, diving, snorkeling etc. It’s also a great place to watch sunset and get dinner at one of the beachfront restaurants. When we did go in the day it was low tide which wasn’t great so we moved on – definitely check before you go!
Mushroom Bay – Our boat dropped us off here and it looked really nice, with crystal blue waters but we never actually made it back.
Snorkeling with Manta’s
This was one of our highlights! The snorkel tour goes to three spots – Manta Point, Crystal Bay & then either Toyapakeh or Mangrove Point (ours went to Mangrove point). The main street on Jungut Batu has lots of tour providers offering this trip, most hotels can arrange it too – we paid 150,000 IDR for this but some of them were 200,000+.
The first day we had booked to do the group snorkelling tour we were told the waves were too rough for Manta Point, which was the main reason we wanted to go – so postponed for the next day (our last day). Luckily, the second time round we were allowed to go to Manta Point, however, the water was still really rough.
We saw some manta rays from the boat, then when we got in the water and snorkeled we managed to see one which swam really close to us, which was one of the most incredible experiences! They are such beautiful creatures and we really couldn’t believe how big they are up close. Unfortunately after seeing the first manta we got called back to the boats as the sea was too choppy. The next stop was crystal bay which was again pretty rough (not as bad as manta though), and then luckily our last stop, Mangrove Point was flat. The second two spots didn’t have any mantas, but we saw loads of incredible fish and beautiful coral – plus the water is so clear and blue, so despite the choppy waters at times, it was still a really nice place to snorkel.
The crazy waters were apparently due to the time of year and a little bad luck, so it’s probably worth speaking to someone about this to find out how it is when you’re there if you aren’t a confident swimmer. However, we’d really recommend the snorkelling as seeing the manta’s was such a highlight for us.
We missed the mangrove forest as we’ve seen others before, but you can rent a stand up paddle board to go through, or do a tour, and people we met really recommended the SUP.
Cookies Coffee Shop – This was connected to the first place we stayed, and conveniently did the best coffee, and amazing Indonesian food
Green Garden – So reasonable and yummy
Tigerlilly’s – This was on the pricier side but we treated ourselves and it was worth it! Delicious healthy food in such a peaceful setting
Bali Eco Deli – We didn’t actually get around to eating here, but it looked amazing for smoothies and healthy food
We stayed in three different places, two in Jungut Batu and one near Dream Beach. Our favourite was the one by Dream Beach: we preferred being in the quieter area and the accommodation, Smooth Garden, was one of our favourite places we’ve stayed – if you’re going to Lembongan we’d highly recommend it. The reason we had to move around so much was because a lot of the accommodation on the small island was booked up – definitely book in advance if possible.
Nusa Ceningan is a small island right next to Lembongan, they’re connected by a yellow bridge which you can cross on scooter or foot… at low tide its basically one island.
We went to Ceningan on two different days– because it’s such an easy journey you can easily pop back and forth between the two during the day.
Things to do:
Blue Lagoon has stunning view points and is a popular cliff jumping area on Ceningan, there are a few different jump-points which you’ll see marked on the rocks there. We arrived super excited to jump, but then the waves were so crazy! We were weary as there was no one else there jumping, and spoke to a local who said someone had hurt their back so it had shut down. Theres not really anything to ‘shut down’, because it’s just a cliff with a few different points cemented flat for you to jump from – but the next people we spoke to said you can jump when it’s higher tide and the waves aren’t so crazy.
We’d love to go back and actually do the cliff jumping, but when we were there it definitely wasn’t the right time! If you do want to do this then go on a day when the waves are relatively flat, check that it is high tide and definitely take some wet shoes – the only way out is climbing up extremely sharp rocks, you’d cut your feet so badly without them.
Luckily blue lagoon is still well worth a visit even without jumping, the viewpoints are incredible, and we ended up staying there for quite a while just sat watching the waves tear through the incredibly blue water.
Jumping off point in the background (to the left)
Crazy swells near blue lagoon
This is another jumping spot close to Blue Lagoon, however, this one is a bar/restaurant with 2 dive points. One is 10m and the other 6m, you have to pay for both of them and the higher one is supervised to keep it safe. When we were there the waves were too crazy, and the tide was too low to do the jumps, which was a real shame! But we still had a drink and some food there, and watched the surfers at the surf point nearby. Next time!
Secret Beach / Beach bars
Secret beach is definitely a little gem, a nice sandy beach – again there are some rocks and the waves are crazy, but that seems to be standard for Lembongan & Ceningan. There are also two different pools you can use nearby, one was a hotel (Villa Trevally) which we used to get into Secret Beach , and the other is high up overlooking it (Driftwood bar)- this will be signposted as a zipline spot (you can also do that there). Both of them if you buy some drinks and food you can use their pools.
The pool at Villa Trevally overlooking Secret Beach
Along Ceningan there are a few different places to catch an amazing sunset:
- Le Pirate Beach Club – This is such a cute little place! They have a pool too, but only a certain number of non-guests can use this when it’s busy
- Last Stop – Just down the road from Le Pirate is Last Stop, they have lots of beanbags, a swing, hammocks and a happy hour
Next level café – One of the best smoothie bowls we’ve had in Bali, and good pizza too
Because we had already dropped our bags in Lembongan we stayed there, but there are some great places to stay in Ceningan. Some places we liked the look of were:
Le Pirate Beach Club
Yellow Bridge Homestay
From Nusa Lembongan we took a day trip to Nusa Penida. we simply went to the yellow bridge between Ceningan and Lembongan and arranged for a boat to take us over (as well as for them to bring us back at 5pm). You can also arrange a guided tour if you’d rather.
Once we were on Penida we rented a scooter for 50,000IDR. The roads on the south side of Penida were the worst we experienced, and everything on the island is a lot more spread out than we had thought – so we ended up racing around on bumpy roads to try and fit in everything we wanted to see, which wasn’t ideal. If you’re happy to just see the attractions on the west coast, you can do this in one full day (we arrived in Penida quite late and would recommend going early). However, if you want to venture further it would be wise to stay overnight or do the day trip twice.
Things to do:
After seeing loads of photos this T-Rex shaped rock online, we thought we knew what to expect – but this really blew us away! You literally feel like a human drone as you overlook the incredible formation – it doesn’t seem real.
The path down is quite tricky, we didn’t walk the full way down because of time, and also because of everyone on their way back up seemed to be really struggling in the mid day sun (lazy us!) But if you do there is a lovely beach at the bottom.
Seganing Waterfall/Bana Cliff
We unfortunately couldn’t make it to these two as they were re-tarmacking the road, but they look incredible and are on the route so definitely stop by to see them if possible (hopefully you’ll have some nice new roads to drive down!)
Angels Billabong & Broken Beach
The road to these two was the bumpiest we had encountered on the island, but once we got there they were totally worth it. Both of the sites are so incredible! Angels billabong is a natural infinity pool, just make sure you take flip flops or shoes you can wear in the water because the rocks you need to climb down are really sharp.
From here we had to race back to the boat.. writing this it seems like we didn’t do that much with our day there, but it was actually one of our favourite days since we started travelling, everything is just way more spread out than you would imagine thanks to the windy bumpy roads, but even as you drive through these you get to take in the stunning scenes of this beautiful island.
We got coconuts and snacks in little shacks by Kelingking and Broken beach, so don’t have proper food recommendations. If we went back to Nusa Penida we would stay over night and make sure we could see more of the island, such as Atuh beach.
We hope our Nusa Island guide is helpful! Have you been to the Nusa Islands? Let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!