With my trip to Bali coming around, I was pretty sure one thing I definitely wanted to do was to visit the Nusa islands – Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan, and Penida. I mean, sure, they were Instagram famous and probably attracted a TON of tourists, lots of whom would be there with selfie sticks and tripods, but that still didn’t take away from the fact that the islands are spectacular. They’re beautiful, and green, and fresh, and raw. And they’re islands, which means beaches, which means YAY FOR ME!
(I’m using italics, GOD, I love that place!)
I had 2.5 full days to explore the 3 Nusa Islands, which, while it is not enough, will just about let you get a glimpse of the gorgeous natural beauty that the islands have to offer. In this post, I’m going to be talking about everything I did there. You can pick up what you would like to do, and plan your itinerary accordingly (or don’t plan, just go, that’s even better 🙂 )
I based myself in Nusa Lembongan, and I found it to be a good springboard to explore Ceningan and Penida. Lembongan is definitely more commercial than Penida – it’s easier to get around, and has all the facilities you might need while you’re there. If you’re there for only a few days, like I was, I would recommend basing yourself in Lembongan and exploring the 3 islands from there itself. If you’re there a while longer, stay for a few nights in Lembongan, and a few nights in Penida.
Nusa Lembongan is about an hour away by speedboat. All boats to the Nusa Islands leave from Sanur every 2- 3 hours, depending on the service provider. Scoot is one of the more established names that you could rely on, but I would suggest going to Sanur beach on the day and booking from one of the operators there itself. Booking online does not allow you to negotiate on the price, and you’ll end up paying way more than you need to. Don’t settle for anything above IDR 400000 – IDR 450000 for a roundtrip. Tops.
You will need to wade into knee-high water to board the boat, and it also involves tossing your shoes into a common crate beforehand, so dress accordingly. It doesn’t matter if you have a backpack or a suitcase, because the guys managing the boat will take care of it for you. And you’re going to be seated pretty close to the water, real low, so if you’re prone to seasickness, pop that pill!
Once you’ve reached Lembongan, the same operator will arrange to drop you off at your accommodation. It’s all pretty well organised, don’t stress too much 🙂
Where to Stay
I stayed at Lembongan Hostel. It’s 15 mins walking from Dream Beach and Devil’s Tear, and about 30 mins from Mushroom Beach.
The hostel was pretty comfortable, with free breakfast and large (SO LARGE), comfortable beds. Scooters and cycles are available for hire at the hostel itself, and so is a scooter drop-off service for a certain charge.
You’ll find plenty of accommodation options near Jungut Batu as well, on the northern stretch of the island. Bali is known for its infinity pools and villas, and if there are more than one of you (or if you’re in the mood to pamper yourself), book yourself a stay in one of the gorgeous villas you find on Airbnb.
Accommodation in Lembongan is slightly more expensive than that in Bali, so it’s probably going to take you by surprise. Just letting you know 🙂
What to Do
The snapshot –
Day 1 – Nusa Lembongan – Jungut Batu, Mushroom Beach, Sandy Bay, Dream Beach, Devil’s Tear
Day 2 – Nusa Penida – Kelingking Beach, Crystal Bay, Angel’s Billabong, Peguyangan Waterfall
Day 3 – Nusa Ceningan – Yellow Bridge, Blue Lagoon, Secret Beach
Read on for deets 🙂
The area where I stayed wasn’t exactly commercial, and while you’d have found scooters at every grocery store or home you asked at, you won’t find a cycle that easily. I had to hop across to the northern part of the island, near Jungut Batu, to find a bicycle, and here’s another word of advice – go as early to get your vehicle as you can.
I went towards afternoon, and I think I got the LAST cycle on the island – it was a super rusty one that clanked and creaked ALL THE TIME, the seat wouldn’t move (thanks, rust) and was way too high, so my feet wouldn’t touch the ground. But hey, I was rather happy about the fact that I actually managed to get a vehicle in the middle of the day, though, so I took it.
Oh, and I also fell into a cactus bush because of it, and was stuck pulling out thorns FROM EACH INDIVIDUAL PUNCTURE dammit, but that’s another story.
Anyhoo, here’s everything you can do at Nusa Lembongan –
So I’ll level with you. Jungut Batu is a harbour, you will ALWAYS find a ton of boats anchored over here. That kind of defeats the purpose of going to a beach for me, because I think beaches are all about losing myself in the sights and sounds of the sea, which hypnotise and mesmerise me. I hopped over to check out Jungut Batu because it was close to where I picked up my bike. It has them white sands, and those turquoise waters though, and is also known to throw up a pretty gorgeous sunset.
2. Bali Eco Deli Cafe
FANTASTIC options for anyone looking for light, organic, vegetarian / vegan food, and it all tastes amazing, Try their ice pops!
What I loved about this place though is that they are one of the few food spots that actually offers water refills, charging for it based on what bottle you’re carrying. Reusable ones are free, plastic disposable ones are charged. They’re doing their bit to combat the plastic problem that is so rampant in Indonesia (and everywhere, tbh), that they’ve got a pretty cool plastic recycling program as well.
3. Mushroom Beach
Ride all the way back to Mushroom Beach, which is a really nice place to just lay down your beach blanket and relax. You can hire a surfboard as well, if the waves are looking good!
4. Dream Beach
One of my FAVOURITE beaches in Lembongan, it lives up to its name. You will catch a glimpse of the beach when you park your bike, and you will fall in love. Just look at it.. The waves are perfectly turquoise and crash up into perfectly pristine sands.. You will NOT want to leave; I know I didn’t. I came back here twice during my very limited time at Lembongan, and while I know I could’ve done something more in that time, I have no regrets at all 😀
Also, Dream Beach Huts that overlooks Dream Beach has an infinity pool that you can use for free between 4 and 7 PM – HAPPY HOURS! You also get one-for-one on cocktails during that time. If you miss happy hours, you can use the pool for a minimal charge.
5. Devil’s Tear
This is just marvellous and you CANNOT MISS this when you’re in Lembongan. Water gets sucked into the outcrop, which then bursts into an explosion of mist and spray, throwing little dancing rainbows everywhere as it turns into mist and recedes into the ocean, before doing it again. It’s a play of nature, and it’s pure magic.
My favourite of the three. Nusa Penida is all about those blues and greens. It’s much larger than Lembongan and Ceningan, so you’ll need a scooter to get around. It’s also far less commercial than the other two, which means the roads are not at their absolute best in all places. Too often did we see travellers falling off their scooters, and a whole lot of folks ending up with bandages.
Head down to the Yellow Bridge; that’s the port from where you’ll be taking a 40-minute ferry to go to Nusa Penida.
Roundtrip ticket: IDR 200000
There are two ways to explore Penida – hire a scooter and get around at your own pace, or go with a tour operator. I was still recovering from a scooter accident from earlier, and was planning on taking a tour or a guided bike, but I bumped into a couple of girls from my hostel at the pier. We decided to take two scooters and hung out together for the day, and that was a lot more fun than any tour could’ve possible ever been!
Also, a tour will set you back by IDR 500000, as it involves a driver and a car, so best opt for that if you’re in a group of 4 or 5, so costs work out. Hiring two scooters cost us IDR 120000, which worked out to IDR 40000 each. You can hire these (AND a helmet, do not forget a helmet!) once you arrive at Penida, you’ll see a row of shops.
You’ve probably seen this one all over Instagram. Popularly known as the ’T-Rex’ beach, owing to it’s iconic T-rex shape (I think it looks like a whale), this is where everyone heads for the money shot. It’s perfect. You’ve got a stunning green cliff framed by the magnificent turquoise waters, enclosing a pristine, sandy beach. Paradise at its finest.
Here’s the thing, though. Of the hundreds of tourists that clamour over there for the ‘Instagram shot’, only a fraction will actually hike down to the beach. With good reason. The hike is pretty strenuous – it takes about 45 minutes to climb down, and a little more than an hour to climb back up. The path is steep, along the side of the cliff, with bamboo railings and ropes to aid the process, but IT IS WORTH IT! The beach is one of THE most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, and the lack of people makes it even more of a treasure. So do it!
2. Crystal Bay
Crystal clear waters form a stunning spot to float around, swim a little, and relax. Grab a beer and a satay and soak in some rays while watching the sun glint off the azure waters.
3. Angel’s Billabong
When nature gives you a natural infinity pool, YOU SWIM IN IT! Because that’s what Angel’s Billabong IS! Word of advicecheck for low tide before you go, so you’re safe from crashing waves and actually get a chance to swim in the little clear pool.
4. Broken Beach
It’s called broken beach because of a broken archway that allows water to flow in from the ocean, AND WHO DOESN’T WANT TO SEE THAT, AMIRITE? You can’t get into the water, but it’s a pretty sweet place to look around.
5. Peguyangan Waterfall
You must’ve seen pictures of the blue ‘stairway to heaven’ pop up all over your social media feeds! Hike that, and you get to these falls. Again, it’s a pretty steep hike down the side of a cliff, but hey, there’s STAIRS this time! And it’s always worth chasing waterfalls, so if you’ve got the time, DO IT!
I’ll level with you. I only had a day, and I got off to a late start, so I couldn’t see the waterfall, or do a lot of other things I wanted to. I also hiked down to Kelingking, which took up a chunk of my time. If you get an early start, though, you’ll be able to cover everything I’ve written above, without rushing too much.
The yellow bridge is an iconic landmark in Nusa Lembongan. It connects the island with Ceningan, and if you have a cycle or a scooter, you’ll use it to cross over.
2. Blue Lagoon
The bluest of blue waters splash into this cove, it makes for a gorgeous place to simply stare, captivated. But that’s not all you can do here. The Blue Lagoon is a popular spot for cliff divers of all levels, so if you were looking to nail that backflip and dive right in, this is the spot for you.
3. Secret Beach
This is a relatively secluded beach (you probably got that from the name itself though), and is looked over by the Villa Travally resort.
Here’s a helpful little tip about the Nusa islands – they’re peppered with gorgeous resorts with infinity pools overlooking the beach, but you don’t have to be a guest to use them. You can go to the restaurant, which is open to public, buy yourself a drink, and take a dip in that gorgeous infinity pool, before you head down over to catch some waves, or a few rays at the beach.
There are plenty of beaches and waterfalls to visit on the islands, and everything you see here WILL take your breath away. Don’t try to pack in too much into your visit though. You will find yourself rushing from place to place, and all that driving will leave you tired and stressed. That is the LAST thing you want to be in a place as gorgeous as this. The Nusa islands are made for a slow, leisurely visit, where you take in what comes at your own pace and savour every single moment of it. I know I will go back there someday, and I’ll take a week or two just to soak it all in.
I’d love to know if this helped you. Drop me a line in the comments 🙂