Complete Guide to the Nusa Islands, Bali – Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan
If you’re looking for the ultimate island vibes while travelling around Bali, you need to hop on a boat and check out the Nusa Islands! In case you’re planning a trip to Nusa Lambongan, Nusa Penida or Nusa Ceningan soon or you simply don’t know which one of them to choose, this complete guide to the Nusa Islands is here to help you!
Even though they are getting more and more popular with tourists, the slower pace of the Nusa Islands is the perfect getaway from the bustling streets of Bali mainland. Think turquoise waters, hidden beaches, dramatic cliff sides and a rich ocean life. If you want to live the island life as a solo traveller or with your friends or if you want to plan a romantic getaway, these three superb islands are for you!
Scroll down to find everything about the Nusa Islands – which one of the 3 to choose, how to get there, what to do on the islands, where to say, where to eat and more!
Which one should you choose?
The three Nusa islands are each pretty unique in their own way and offer different perks and advantages, so it all comes down to your own preference. Lembongan and Ceningan are connected by a bridge, so really you can explore them both together very easily. If you’re struggling to decide which one to use as a base, here’s a short breakdown to help you choose:
- Nusa Penida – the biggest one of them all. It has superb beaches, lots of exciting viewpoints, caves and waterfalls and adventurous activities such as cliff jumping.
- Nusa Lembongan – smaller, but also the most popular, which means it’s also the most crowded. There are countless activities to be done here.
- Nusa Ceningan – the smallest of the three, with a laid-back vibe, perfect for relaxation away from the crowds. Keep in mind that there aren’t as many restaurants and bars here, compared with the other two above. But still, you won’t get bored!
The good news is that all three are VERY easily accessible from mainland Bali – no more than 40 minutes by boat. I’d say to pick either Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan as your base and then visit the other two as a day trip using a boat. I’d personally choose Nusa Lembongan!
How long should you stay on each of them?
- Nusa Penida – 3 days
- Nusa Lembongan – 2 days
- Nusa Ceningan – 1 day
This post will offer you a pretty good idea about how many activities you may want to do in each spot, so you can better plan your itinerary.
How to get to the Nusa Islands
As I mentioned before, all three islands are easily accessible if you’re already in Bali. And following my suggested plan above, let’s say that you want to make Nusa Lembongan your base for the trip. This works wonderfully, as you can visit Nusa Penida with a short boat ride and you can visit Nusa Ceningan easily as well with a scooter.
Okay, now let’s find out how to get to each one of them from Bali. First of all, you need to know that the most popular departing point to the islands is Sanur Harbour in Bali. Basically, once you arrive at the harbour, then the rest is a breeze. The drive to the harbour takes 60-90min from Ubud or Uluwatu, 60min from Canggu and 40min from Seminyak.
BALI TO NUSA LEMBONGAN.
Wondering how to get to Nusa Lembongan from Bali? There are plenty of companies that can take you from Bali to Nusa Lembongan. The most reputable companies are: Scoot, Marlin and Rocky. The majority of boats leave from Sanur Harbour (it’s the most convenient) but some (Rocky) leave from Serangan Pier.
TIP: Make sure to check with your accommodation on the island before you book. Often, they will include transportation in the cost of the stay or can help you to arrange the journey over.
Duration: 30 minutes
Ticket Price: 500,000 to 650,000 IDR (36 to 46 US$) for the roundtrip ride (including hotel pick up and drop off).
Schedule: there are normally 4 boats each day per company.
Alternative: I have also found this very convenient fast boat to Nusa Lembongan that you can book in advance.
NUSA LEMBONGAN TO NUSA PENIDA.
If you’re wondering how to get to Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongan (and vice-versa), you don’t need to worry about booking your tickets in advance – it’s easy! You can just buy them at the pier. The pier on Nusa Lembongan is called Yellow Bridge and the pier of Nusa Penida is ToyaPakeh Harbour.
Duration: 15 minutes
Ticket Price: 60,000 IDR each way (4.30 US$)
Schedule: from 8AM to 5PM, leaving very often.
Alternativ: Or you can take this fast boat to Nusa Penida (and the other way around) that you can book in advance.
NUSA LEMBONGAN TO NUSA CENINGAN.
Nusa Ceningan can only be reached via the other two islands, you cannot go there directly from Bali.
The most popular route is Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan. There’s a bridge connecting Nusa L to Nusa C called the “Yellow Bridge” (or “The Bridge of Love” as it has been renamed after its reconstruction in 2017) and you can easily cross it by foot or scooter. It’s all a matter of minutes!
Best organised tours to the Nusa Islands
Here’s a smart shortcut: if you don’t want to be bothered with all the planning yourself, you can book an organised trip and have a tour agency arrange everything for you. Easiest and most convenient option if you don’t mind paying a bit extra for the organisation! This is also an excellent choice if you don’t have a lot of time and you only want to visit these islands as day trips from Bali.
Here are some of my best finds:
- Bali: Best of Nusa Penida Full-Day Tour by Fast Boat – for those that want to visit Nusa Penida quick and easy in a single day without staying overnight;
- From Bali: Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan Island Tour – combo tour with lunch included and some swimming as well
- Bali: Full-Day Snorkeling Trip to Nusa Penida & Manta Point – fancy some snorkelling instead? This one’s for you!
- Bali: Snorkeling Day Trip to Nusa Lembongan – fancy some snorkelling, but on Nusa Lembongan? This one’s for you!
What to do on the Nusa Islands
After all this talking, you MUST be curious: what’s there to do on each of these islands? Why is everyone visiting them? Good news: you can find a short X-ray of things to do on each of the three Nusa islands below.
WHERE TO STAY IN NUSA LEMBONGAN
I’m starting with Nusa L, of course, as this one will be your base (most probably!). Here are the best things to do in Nusa Lembongan island.
RELATED READ: If you want to read my detailed article about what to do here, I recommend clicking here: Best Things to Do in Nusa Lembongan, Bali.
- Devil’s Tears – unmissable, especially if you’re looking for a great place to see the sunset. Or, for some of the loco locals… cliff jumping into the water!
- Dream Beach Nusa Lembongan – probably the best beach on Nusa Lembongan for some relaxation with music, drinks and good food;
- Mushroom Bay Nusa Lembongan – go here if you’re in the mood for some SUP or to simply eat some good food in a beachside warung and enjoy the island vibes;
- Swim with Manta Rays – one of the best things to do on the Nusa Islands, especially if you’re a diver – it will surely make your trip unforgettable! You can book tours through your accommodation.
- JungutBatu Beach – definitely the longest beach on the island and a good place to see the sunset too.
- Mangrove Forest – take a boat tour (or the self-guided kayak tour) if you want a relaxing experience in the lush mangrove forest;
- Sandy Bay – a laid-back, secluded beach that also has a great beach club (Sandy Bay Beach Club) where you can grab some lunch for an upscale experience.
WHERE TO STAY IN NUSA PENIDA
God, there are SO many things to do here, I don’t even know where to start! Pssst: some people say that Nusa Penida is THE place to go if you want to experience real Bali island life. I don’t know ‘bout that, but it’s definitely worth seeing it with your own eyes.
RELATED READ: Here’s my shortlist below, but you can find many more recommendations for unmissable things on this island in this article: Best Things to Do in Nusa Penida, Bali.
- Broken Beach Nusa Penida – a beautiful cove with an impressive archway. And impressive is kind of an understatement in this case, trust me.
- Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida – now this is something out of this world! This secluded beach is enclosed by a cliff which creates a wonderful view and tons of photo opportunities. Don’t forget to check out Kelingking Cliff Lookout as well while you’re there.
- Thousand Islands Viewpoint – also called Pulau Seribu, this is one of the best viewpoints in Nusa Penida. Scratch that, there are actually two viewpoints here and the second one hosts the famous Tree House as well!
- Crystal Bay Nusa Penida – come here for some incredible crystal-clear waters!
- Diamond Beach and Diamond Beach Viewpoint – Another beautiful beach and another notable viewpoint;
- Manta Bay / Manta Point – the best place to go if you want to jump in the water with some Manta Rays. And you will want to see them, of course;
- Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave – I know, this one’s a challenge to pronounce but it’s a real hidden gem almost on top of a mountain;
- Peguyangan Waterfall – A steep cliff with blue steel stairs that will take you to the bottom, where you’ll find an impressive waterfall.
- Banah Cliffs – an excellent place if you want to have the sunset all to yourself.
I know, this list is pretty long as it is, but there’s actually so much more to see on this island!
THINGS TO DO IN NUSA CENINGAN
As I mentioned before, Nusa Ceningan is more laid-back and often seems like a secluded piece of Bali heaven. Although the list of things to do in Nusa Ceningan is not as huge as the other two, there are still some very exciting activities awaiting for you there.
RELATED READ: For the full article on all that there is to do in Nusa Ceningan, click the link here: Best Things to Do in Nusa Penida, Bali.
- Yellow Bridge – this is actually the bridge you’ll have to cross from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan and it’s an attraction by itself. Its bright yellow color can be a great backdrop for a couple of pictures;
- Blue Lagoon Nusa Ceningan – a rocky cove with superb blue water and the best place on the island to see some cliff jumping;
- Secret Beach Nusa Ceningan – if I’m telling you about it, is it really secret anymore? I guess not, but you just HAVE to go there! This beach is an amazing place for relaxation and you can even stop by Driftwood Bar Hotel for a cocktail and a dip in their infinity pool;
- Mahana Point – another cool cliff jumping spot and a surfing spot as well.
Where to stay in the Nusa Islands
Regardless if you choose to stay on Nusa Lembongan or any of the other two, you’ll find some very good hotel recommendations for your trip below. If you’re searching for even more options, you can check out this article: Where to Stay on Nusa Islands, Bali.
WHERE TO STAY IN NUSA LEMBONGAN
- Bucket List Bungalows – Cute and cozy bamboo bungalows located a few minutes from the beach, this is the best value stay you’ll find on the island. Each bungalow has a private garden decked out with cosy swings and hammocks to soak in the sun.
- Ohanas – This boutique resort is a pricier option but located on the oceanfront, and with a social beach club vibe, you have everything you need if you’re looking for a stay that provides it all. They have different types of rooms for all budgets – from one-bedroom suites to private villas. Truly a very nice hotel in Nusa Lembongan!
- The Acala Shri Sedana – A 4-star resort with amazing, beach-vibe rooms, located only 2km away from Mushroom Bay. They also have a great on-site restaurant and a free shuttle service that can take you around the island!
- Indiana Kenanga Villas – the ultimate beach club stay, this is by far my top choice for a luxury Lembongan stay.
WHERE TO STAY IN NUSA PENIDA
- Adiwana Warnakali Resort – an excellent resort with nice rooms, a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and a bar as well. The best thing about this place is that the rooms have superb sea views and there’s also a shared terrace where you can relax and unwind.
- Nusa Sedayu Hotel Nusa Penida – looking for beachfront accommodation? This one’s for you! This awesome hotel awaits with a bar, a garden, a terrace and a… water park as well. Lots of fun to be had here!
- Penida Bambu Green – This holiday park is a bit more budget-friendly but it doesn’t skip on awesome facilities as well, such as a garden, a pool and a restaurant as well. And the location isn’t bad either, close to the White Sand Beach.
WHERE TO STAY IN NUSA CENINGAN
- Twilight Ceningan – A gorgeous 4-star accommodation that has literally everything you can think of: beach access, an outdoor pool, a bar, a restaurant and countless opportunities for snorkeling and fishing as well. A perfect place for some world-class relaxation!
- Blue Lagoon Avia Villas Nusa Ceningan – Located pretty close to Devil’s Tear, this beautiful 4-star Nusa Ceningan hotel has an outdoor swimming pool where you can stay and splash all day. If you’re bored, you can relax in the garden or sip a cocktail at the on-site bar!
- Nusa Veranda Sunset Villas & Restaurant – A great location, pretty rooms and a laid-back vibe – this accommodation is simply a good choice! They also have a sun terrace and the possibility to book various activities around the island through them.
How to get around the islands - scooter rental
Let’s talk about getting around the islands. Luckily, Nusa Lembongan is small and easy to zip around by motorbike or scooter. A small yellow bridge connects Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan, so it’s easy to cover both islands in a couple hour’s drive. You can also explore Nusa Lembongan by car if you would prefer, but unfortunately you can only reach Nusa Ceningan by bike as the connecting bridge is not wide enough for cars to pass.
All in all, the best idea would be to get around with a scooter. I would 100% recommend it! It’s a fun and easy way to explore the island and see the hidden and hard-to-reach places. The roads are much quieter than on mainland Bali and with less traffic it feels much safer too.
You can rent a scooter in every town and through most hotels. The average price of a scooter rental is around 75,000 IDR (5.30 US$) per day. The easiest option is to rent one from your hotel, if they offer this price or something similar. If not, as you arrive at the harbour there will be people renting scooters for around this price. If you choose to opt for renting a scooter from the pier, remember two things: you can bargain the price and make sure to check the scooter’s condition before paying!
Where to eat on the Nusa Islands
There are numerous good places to eat and grab a drink on all three islands, so scroll down to find some of my recommendations!
TIP: It may sound surprising, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead, as many places offer a free transport service to collect and drop you off at your hotel. Perfect if you want to enjoy a couple of drinks or don’t want to drive your scooter home in the dark!
WHERE TO EAT IN NUSA LEMBONGAN ISLAND
- Ginger & Jamu – This is a beach side restaurant that serves smoothie bowls, brunch and some good local options too. Great, vibey place to come for breakfast or lunch.
- The Deck – This is a restaurant with a cliffside dining terrace in front of the sea. The restaurant is pricier than other options (I guess because of its great location) but offers free pick-up from your hotel after 5 PM, making it an amazing choice for dinner or drinks during sunset hours.
- Kayu – A really good option for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The food here is delicious. Personally, I loved the beef rendang tacos and the seared tuna poke bowl!
WHERE TO EAT IN NUSA PENIDA ISLAND
- Organica – an amazing place for breakfast or lunch. They have colourful smoothie bowls, as well as fish dishes and some staple Indonesian dishes as well.
- Dapur Kue Hamzah – for a little bit of traditional food and some of the best nasi campur on the island.
- Penida Colada Beach Bar – a very good place for cocktails but also some quick bites.
WHERE TO EAT IN NUSA CENINGAN ISLAND
- Sea Breeze Warung – More than a restaurant, Sea Breeze Warung created a space by the sea for people to hang out and socialize, with hammocks, comfy seating, and even some swings. The menu has tons of options, both local and international. We spent a morning here lounging by the pool, playing on swings and chilling in hammocks and we really enjoyed it!
- Next Level Cafe – a cute little open-air cafe with good coffee, good food and a beautiful view of the water!
- Le Pirate Nusa Ceningan Beach Club – a cool beachfront place where you can eat, drink and, if you pass the minimum spend, you can also take a jump in their pool!
- Klyf Club – with amazing views of the blue lagoon, come here to chill out and enjoy a luxury pool club vibe.
My travel tips for travelling to the islands
Now that you know everything there is to do, see and eat on all 3 Nusa Islands, let me give you some of my most precious advice before you leave:
Come prepared with enough cash for your stay as the ATMs across the island are not always reliable. Some of the beach clubs and restaurants accept card payment, but it’s better to play it safe!
EXPECT A HIGHER PRICE TAG.
Island life comes with a higher price as everything has to be imported from mainland Bali. You can still find cheap warungs, but expect a general rise in prices. It is what it is!
BRING SOME WET WIPES WITH YOU.
This advice is especially good if you’re riding a scooter on the islands. The roads can be dusty so it’s good to have these on hand so you don’t look like you belong in the cast of Mad Max in all your photos. For the same reason, it’s also good to carry a mask with you so you can cover your mouth and nose.
BRING A SCARF TOO.
Or a sarong. Oftentimes, you’ll need them in order to enter various sacred places such as the Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave and it’s better to have them than pay the small fee for nothing. And here’s a golden tip as well: leave a scarf on your scooter’s seat whenever you can. This way, the seat won’t be burning when you return to your scooter!
It’s been a long road but here we are at the end of my complete guide on the Nusa Islands! In this article I have told you literally everything you need to know about Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan, from what to do, where to stay, where to eat and more. Plus lots of tips that will help you choose one of them for your visit.
Or, even better, I hope this post helped you to decide to visit all three!
In case you want to read about more exciting places in Indonesia (Bali, Uluwatu, Komodo Islands and more), I recommend clicking here to read all about my year-long adventures in this incredible country.