Latest update: 19 January 2023
The Nusa Islands are the little brothers and sisters of Bali. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida are fabulous island getaways from the larger island of Bali. Life is just a bit more relaxed here.
Relaxing on the Nusa Islands
The Nusa Islands, especially Nusa Penida, answer the question: “What would Bali look like without all those tourists?” Although they’re getting more and more popular over the years. In 2017, I heard nobody talking about them; now, they seem to be on everyone’s Bali bucket list.
I only have two days to visit the islands and choose to stay on Nusa Lembongan with a visit to Nusa Ceningan. The Nusa Islands mainly attract surfers and divers. The waves are way too intense for me, and I decided diving wasn’t for me years ago. Fortunately, besides relaxing, there is much more to do on the Nusa islands.
Stay in Jungutbatu
Nusa Lembongan is a very diverse island. Beaches, mangrove forests, green hills, and small villages alternate. I stay in Jungutbatu because it is close to the boat arrival point, and there are quite a few restaurants. Perfect, as I don’t particularly appreciate going out on a scooter or bicycle in the dark.
I stay at a simple homestay: Hokita Home Stay. A friendly man welcomes me and tells me what the island offers. I immediately book a snorkeling trip with him, and later, he helps me rent a bike. The room is simple, clean, and close to the beach. The room is simple, clean, and close to the beach. There are several restaurants to the left and right of the homestay. You can find everything on Nusa Lembongan: from simple rooms to luxurious star resorts.
Snorkel with manta rays on Nusa Lembongan
I can’t go to Nusa Lembongan without joining the manta rays snorkeling trip. These giant beasts average about 4.5 meters in length and can have a wingspan of up to seven meters. Wow, that’s pretty impressive. The death of Australian Steve Irvin also flashes through my mind. But don’t worry: that was a stingray. The manta rays are harmless, although I quickly swim away when one comes straight at me.
Snorkeling trips are offered everywhere on the island; you can also book online. The tours go through Manta Bay, Christal Bay, and Mangrove Point. The water is super clear and wonderfully warm. Of course, several boats with tourists are simultaneously at the same spots. However, snorkeling still feels relaxed and calm. Also check the video for snorkeling with the manta rays.
Discover the Nusa islands by scooter or bicycle
Rent a bicycle or a scooter and tour the island, including Nusa Ceningan, in a day. It is quiet on the streets because there is not a single car on the islands. It is, therefore, also great for touring around for the less experienced scooter rider. However, some roads are difficult to pass, especially in the hills. They are not paved, so you must make your way through the overgrown paths full of stones. I choose a bicycle; I am Dutch, after all! It’s hard work in the heat, but I feel very sporty. I rent a bike for 20,000 IDR. That is less than € 1.50. I almost feel guilty.
Suspension Bridge and seaweed
Via the Suspension Bridge (or Yellow Bridge), you can easily cross from Nusa Lembongan to the smaller Ceningan island. Two scooters can only just pass each other on the yellow bridge. The bridge was renewed around 2017 because it unfortunately collapsed. Due to a ceremony, many people used the bridge, but it was simply too many people for the construction.
From the bridge, you can see all the seaweed farms on your right. Depending on the wind, you may even smell it. A lot of seaweed is grown in this region, especially for export. It’s hard work and, unfortunately, yields little money.
Ziplining in Nusa Ceningan
At the Ceningan Island Resort, I do a short zipline (the Abyss zipline) across the sea from the cliff. In 2017 I paid 80,000 IDR to scream the lungs out of my body. The sound of the video is not great, sorry.
When I arrive sweaty on my bike, I’m hoisted into a harness in no time and clicked onto the zipline. I don’t even have time to think about my fear of heights. The zipline itself takes maybe just ten seconds. The view is fantastic. And after this adrenaline rush, I dive into the nice infinity pool of the resort. A man compliments my screaming earlier: “we heard you, girl.”
After a juice, I walk over the cliffs to Secret Beach from the resort. How powerful and ruthless nature is here. This is pure bliss.
Cliff jumping on Nusa Ceningan
At Mahana Point, daredevils can do a cliff jump. It is no less than 15 meters high. I had absolutely no intention of jumping, and when I get there, that choice is immediately confirmed. Some people do jump. They end up in the water and have to swim as fast as possible as soon as they surface; otherwise, they will hit the rocks. A girl comes back with a bloodied knee. She says the water is too shallow. A guy thinks he’s tough and tries to somersault. He hits the water hard and then coughs up blood. The cliff jump closes immediately, no more jumping today.
Beach hopping on Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan has many beautiful bays and stretches of beach. The beach at Jungutbatu is quite long and wide. Bali is on the other side. You can see the sun set over Bali. Other beaches include Dream Beach, Mushroom Beach, and Sunset Beach. Sunset Beach is not really a beach for sunbathing. Just hit the beach clubs. Sandy Beach Beach Club (Google Maps location) is a bit chic, but has fantastic views, a small infinity pool, and a good menu. If you book for dinner, you can even arrange to be picked up from your hotel.
Mushroom Beach has several beach bars where you can relax. The water is more passable here, but boats do arrive regularly. Ultimately, I like the beach at my homestay in Jungutbatu the best.
Eating and drinking on Nusa Lembongan
There are so many places in Nusa Lembongan (but also Nusa Ceningan) where you can eat. I eat delicious fish at Warung Bambu (Google Maps location). I have breakfast twice at Bali Eco Deli (Google Maps location). In the evening, I visit the Blue Corner Bar (Google Maps location) twice for a drink. It’s one of the few places that’s still pleasantly busy after dinner. Partying on Nusa Lembongan is not an option. It is a quiet island where a full moon party is organized every now and then. Still, it cannot be compared to the nightlife of Gili Trawangan, for example.
How do you get to the Nusa Islands?
Convinced you should go? From Sanur, it is half an hour by boat to Nusa Lembongan. I decide to go directly from the Gili islands to Nusa Lembongan. With the Scoot boat, I arrange a three-hour trip from Gili Air with a stopover at Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. This includes drop-off and pickup at my stay on Nusa Lembongan, a boat to the mainland (Sanur), and a minibus to my next stay in Bali. And I’m lucky: because more people want to go to Uluwatu, the van goes all the way to the south of Bali. Make sure you confirm the boat back to Sanur on time. The mid-morning boat is very popular, and the number of places is limited. Booking online in advance is, of course, easier.
More Bali inspiration
Useful links for your Bali trip
- Travel guides. Are you getting all excited about your Bali trip? I understand! To add to your anticipation, you can order a travel guide, for example at Bol.com, Amazon, or Book Depository.
- Flights. Compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Train, bus, and boat. Reserve busses, trains, and boats in Bali at Busbud, 12Go, or Omio.
- Accommodation. All-time favorites: Booking.com and Airbnb. Would you rather stay in a hostel? Check Hostelworld.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. For tours with locals you go to WithLocals. And Baja Bikes offers excellent bicycle tours.
- Attractions and museums. Check out Tiqets for museum and attraction tickets (and get a 5% discount with discount code KIMOPREIS22)
- Car rental. I often rent at EasyTerra because of their all-inclusive / worry-free offer.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? For the Dutch readers, please check out these organizations: ANWB vakanties, Sawadee, Tui, Corendon, Shoestring, and Vakantie Discounter.
Or treat yourself to a yoga retreat in Bali.
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First published: April 2017. Updated since.