I simply adore Bali. So imagine my delight when we discovered Nusa Lembongan Island, a kind of a quiet mini-version of Bali, just a 30-minute speed boat ride away. Lembongan is a super-chilled out small island with gorgeous blue-turquoise water, dreamy white sand beaches and boutique-y bungalows. There are no cars around; just motorbikes, bicycles, small converted pick-ups (for moving people and goods around the island) and golf carts.
Nusa Lembongan is a perfect little getaway for a couple days if you want a little change of scenery from the main island of Bali. There’s some awesome surfing (not that we attempted but so we were told); superb snorkeling and scuba diving – including the possibility of seeing some manta rays; stand-up paddle boarding; kayaking in the mangroves; and even some cliff jumping (if you are slightly insane – see below).
It’s easy and cheap to rent a scooter and ride around the island. The roads are in pretty bad condition so expect a slow and bone-jarring ride. But it doesn’t really matter as distances are short – the whole island is only a few kilometers long. From Nusa Lembongan you can easily get to the neighboring Nusa Ceningan by the rickety suspension bridge. Ceningan is even smaller than Lembongan but has some great spots to check out.
We stayed on Lembongan for two nights and I think that was perfect for us. Here’s some practical information, our two-and-half-day itinerary and a list of things to do in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
Nusa Lembongan Island transportation and pricing info (as of May 2015):
- Transportation from Bali: Scoot speed boat from Sanur, Bali to Nusa Lembongan. Return fair US$47/person including pick-up/drop off from/to Canggu in Bali, and also drop-off and pick-up service on Lembongan. Booking online was easy and payment was through PayPal. The boat ride from Sanur to Lembongan is only about 30 minutes. Scoot’s service was smooth, the boat ran on time and we thought it was excellent value considering transportation from/to Canggu, which is about a one-hour drive from Sanur, was included. Scoot have multiple boats running each day. We took the 9:30AM boat and arrived on Lembongan at 10AM.
- Accommodation: We stayed in the quiet area of Tamarind Bay, at Kencana Garden, which is a charming new small bungalow operation with just three bungalows in a lush garden setting. US$35/night including breakfast. The bungalows have lovely private outdoor bathrooms (as in a modern bathroom which just happens to be open air). Stargazing whilst showering, anyone?
- Scooter rental: We rented a scooter through our accommodation for about US$5/day.
Bonus note for Nusa Lembongan Island: Bring a sufficient amount of cash with you! There’s only one ATM on the whole island and during our stay it was inoperable. It’s also good to note things tend to be a little more expensive in Lembongan than in Bali given that everything needs to be brought in on boats.
Nusa Lembongan Island 2-and-half-day itinerary
Day 1 – Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan:
Our ‘sightseeing’ on day 1 started with Mushroom Beach in the southwest of Lembongan. It’s a beautiful white sand beach with several restaurants and hotels as well as some touristy activities like banana boat rides. A bit busy but still a gorgeous spot for a long lunch and a swim if you like.
- Dream Beach. A stunning little beach towards the south end of the island. The waves were pretty big when we visited and we didn’t swim, but apparently it’s good for swimming when it’s a little calmer.
- Devil’s Tear. Just a few minutes’ walk from Dream Beach, this rocky outcrop is a glorious spot to watch crashing waves and water plumes – although this is very much dependent on conditions. We visited Devil’s Tear on two separate days, and on the first day it was simply breathtaking with HUGE waves crashing in. On the second day the ocean was much calmer and frankly there was little to see beyond a (still) gorgeous view.
- Ride over the narrow and rather rickety yellow suspension bridge to neighboring Nusa Ceningan.
- Check out (and smell) seaweed drying on the sides of the road from the many seaweed farms.
- There’s a road that goes through the middle of Nusa Ceningan and climbs (at times at a slightly scary incline) to Ceningan Cliffs Restaurant. There are stunning views towards Nusa Penida, the third and much larger island in the cluster of three islands. A great spot for lunch or a cold one.
- Ride over to the Blue Lagoon Cliff Jumping area. There’s a nominal fee of about $0.40/person to enter the area. At the time of our visit it seemed like the cliff jumping business was no longer operational. It was all a bit ramshackle but you can still enter the area, and potentially, if you are pretty insane, jump the 13 meters (about 42 feet) into the ocean. On the day of our visit it pretty much looked like the ocean was boiling and there were huge waves crashing into the cliffs. On a calm day it MAYBE wouldn’t seem like a suicide mission to jump, but there was no way we were doing it. Jumping or no jumping, it’s well worth the bumpy ride over as the views are stunning and the Blue Lagoon is just that – incredibly blue.
- Ride back over to Lembongan. Dinner at Tamarind Beach watching the stunning sunset and the volcanoes on Bali looming in the distance.
Day 2 – Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan:
- Private snorkeling trip around the islands on a traditional fishing boat. Our roughly three-hour trip cost only US$30, including decent snorkeling gear. We organised the trip through our accommodation, Kencana Garden, and we thought it was a great deal. You can expect to pay a bit more if you’re heading out from the main tourist area of Jungutbatu Bay.
- Lunch at Mushroom Beach.
- Ride over to the mangrove forest on the north side of Lembongan island where you can go kayaking in the mangroves. We opted for a much lazier afternoon of lounging on the beach at ‘Captain Good’s Restaurant’ sipping on some fresh coconut juice. There are many small beach restaurants on this stretch of the road.
- Another glorious sunset dinner on Tamarind Beach.
Day 3 – Some morning activities before returning to Bali:
- After breakfast we rode back over to Dream Beach and Devil’s Tear again – much calmer on this day.
- Stop to check out Sandy Bay, a pretty little bay with an attractive looking beach club which apparently is a popular wedding venue – what a gorgeous spot!
- Pick-up by Scoot people-mover truck from our accommodation to Jungutbatu Bay at 11:30AM.
- 12:30PM ferry back to Sanur, Bali.
- Transportation back to our accommodation in Canggu was in a Scoot mini-van. This was included in the cost of our Lembongan tickets.
Nusa Lembongan Island – Our verdict
Nusa Lembongan is absolutely stunning. Even though it’s small, there’s definitely enough to keep you busy (or not busy, if that’s what you prefer) for at least a few days. It’s easy and pretty fast to get to from Bali, especially if you are staying near Sanur. You can also easily combine it with a trip to the equally gorgeous Gili Islands over on Lombok, as Scoot and other boat operators have services directly from Lembongan to Gilis.
If you don’t have the option to stay overnight, you can also do a day trip from Bali but I’d say it’s absolutely worth staying over for at least a night or two. Lembongan was a bit more developed than I expected it to be, especially around the main area of Jungutbatu, however it still has a very relaxed and low-key vibe about it. All in all: stunning tropical island perfection – a little slice of paradise.
More on Nusa Lembongan Island
A short video of our two days on Lembongan on our Coconut Compass Youtube Channel: