Indonesia is an insanely gorgeous country made up of several islands which has grown immensely in popularity over the last few years. Unfortunately, with popularity comes crowds. Nusa Lembongan, a much quieter island of Bali, boasts crystal clear waters with colourful coral reefs, volcano views, and pumping surf with much less tourists. We’ve been fortunate enough to visit this Indonesian paradise twice, once in 2016 and again just last summer. Based on our experiences, we’ve put together some helpful info about Nusa Lembongan and what we think is the best way to see as much of this paradise as possible!
GETTING THERE: After landing into Denpasar Airport on the main island of Bali, you will take a high-speed ferry from Sanur that takes around 45 minutes. You can hire a taxi at the airport (negotiate a price BEFORE getting into the car) or hire an uber to get you to the ferry location. *Heads up: You’ll have to walk through the water to get on/off the ferry so be prepared 🙂 There will be guys there to help carry your luggage/surf boards for you which is nice but they aren’t always gentle with your things. Keep anything valuable on you at all times. Try to get a window seat as the waters once you get to Lembongan are gorgeous! Lembongan doesn’t allow any real cars on the island and most hotels/hostels are at least 10 minutes from the ferry drop-off so we recommend you pre-arrange pick-up from your hotel (it’s an experience, they come get you in these funny min-trucks since no real cars area allowed on the island).
GETTING AROUND: If you’re staying in the main stretch of ‘downtown’ Lembongan, you can walk to many restaurants, shops & bars. But the island is surprisingly larger than it looks and there are tons of hidden gems sprinkled throughout the island. If you want to maximize your time and see as much as possible, we suggest you RENT A MOPED! You can get helmets (suggested since there are some crazy drivers out there) and this is the absolute BEST way to see the entire island and neighboring Nusa Ceningan which is attached by a cool yellow suspension bridge. It’s pretty cheap, something like USD$10/day and sometimes you can even rent from the place you’re staying or anywhere in town.
WHERE TO STAY: We personally prefer to stay on the West side of the island since that’s where ‘downtown’ is (and majority of the surf). On our most recent trip, we stayed at a more affordable hotel right on the water and in front of the surf break Shipwrecks called Linda Beach Resort. Now…it’s only USD$24/night which is a steal considering the location BUT there were a few things lacking: our A/C would go out periodically, the WIFI was total shit, and the drinks were kind of expensive. But the staff was super nice, the pool is awesome, location couldn’t have been better, and breakfast (tasty!) was included in our room rate.
The time before that, we stayed further on the Southwest side of the island at a place called Bay Shore Huts which was awesome. The surf break ‘Playgrounds’ is right out front and it’s just east of Mushroom Beach. It’s further from proper town but an easy moped ride in, plus there’s a walking path all along the water to town. It’s pricier but worth every penny! You get your own private hut with outdoor bathroom (life changing), an infinity pool, a very good restaurant with breakfast included, a second pool in the back, and beautiful gardens. There’s an area of restaurants and shops just down the road from here on the beach you can walk too also which is nice!
Of course there’s tons of places to stay, so now that you have a layout of the island hopefully you can make a better educated decision!
FOOD: There’s TONS of awesome places to eat and drink on Lembongan, but here’s a few of our favourites 🙂
- Warung Bambu: Epic local spot on the beach (toes in the sand) **order the ‘Banana Leaf fish’, OMGGGGG.
- Ginger & Jamu: Epic spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner right on the beach. Literally everything is good AND they have great vegan options!
- Lemongrass: Great for dinner and they usually have live music.
- Hai Ri Zen: A fancier dining experience with a beautiful thatched roof. Not too expensive for what you get.
- Cloudland Bar: The perfect sunset cocktail spot
- Bob’s Beach Bar: another good sunset bar on the water, a little less ‘developed’ but the guy Bob is a legend. *They don’t have a website or trip advisor listing so here is the address: Jl. Jungutbatu, Jungutbatu, Nusapenida, Kabupaten Klungkung, Bali 80771, Indonesia
ACTIVITIES: We feel the best way to make a plan of attack in a new location is to simply map it out on Google maps or Maps.me and make a big loop based on those locations. See what makes the most sense and break it down into a multi-day itinerary (based on your trip length) that way you don’t overwhelm yourself or end up missing some killer stuff! (Just remember, it’s not about the destination. It’s the journey: Riding around the island is half the fun!)
- Boat + Snorkel Day Trip: You can book this either through your hotel or by simply walking around town and looking for signs advertising these. The 1/2 day tour will boat you around Cenengan & Lembongan, including Manta Bay. Be sure to ask your captain to take you to “The Drift” on the East side of the island! It’s a section of reef where you can jump in and float along for 20 minutes without having to swim at all! The boat drives around and picks you up after. It’s awesome. **If you are interested in diving or getting certified, there’s dozens of companies on the island that offer both!
- SUP the Mangroves: Rent SUPs on the North of the island by the hour and take them through the mangrove forrest. It’s usually empty and the water just outside it is crystal clear! If you have your own goggles, bring them with you as you can paddle to the edge of the reef and do a little snorkel while you’re out there.
- Panorama Point: A quick 10 minute drive from town towards Mushroom Bay is the most scenic lookout on the island. On a clear day Mount Agung towers in the background! *Also a great spot around sunset.
- Dream Beach: This beautiful beach now has a hotel/restaurant overlooking it where you can purchase day passes to hang at the pool or grab a pizza & enjoy the view.
- Devil’s Tear Lookout: A raw, beautiful rocky point. When the surf is up there’s crazy spray and crashing waves! Be careful though, the rocks are mega sharp and get slick when wet.
- Sunset: Don’t forget to catch a sunset! Due to it’s shape, there are numerous sunset spots scattered all over the island. I think our favorite may have been just out front of our hotel at Linda Beach Resort!
As mentioned earlier, Nusa Lembongan is actually connected (by bridge) to a second island called Nusa Ceningan. It’s just a quick 10 minute moped ride across the infamous yellow suspension bridge to reach dozens more secret beaches, unique hotels, and some pretty sweet surf breaks. You should absolutely cross the yellow suspension bridge to Nusa Ceningan!
- Mahana Point: There’s a surf spot called Mahana Point which is definitely somewhere you want to check out. Perched atop the cliff overlooking a left point break is the Mahana Point Bar and Cliff Jumping. The water is so blue and clear, it’s heaven! You can sit with a cold Bintang and watch as the surfers catch wave after wave. There’s also a reefy beach/cove you can hang out at if you want to be on the sand. We ended up here probably 4 days out of the 7 we were on Lembongan since the surf got small at Shipwrecks but was perfect here!
- Blue Lagoon: Beautiful blue waters on a rocky cove and sometimes crazy big splashes when the swell is big.
- Relax: Hang out at one of the many beach-front bar/restaurants with an infinity pool 🙂
- Explore: Just drive your moped around the island and explore. It’s the perfect place for it and you’re sure to stumble upon your own hidden gem.
A third island just around from Ceningan, this is the most uninhabited island of the three and has some of the most unique beaches in all of Bali. You can reach Nusa Penida three ways: catch an 20 minute ferry at the start of the yellow suspension bridge on Nusa Lembongan with Gili Getaway (we just paid cash on arrival for a ticket), pre-arrange a day-trip with a private company by boat, or pre-arrange a day-trip with a private company by boat + van. The only downside of Nusa Penida are the roads which are absolute shit (unlike Lembongan & Ceningan) so whether you’re driving or riding on the roads, be prepared. We took the ferry (cash only on arrival or prebook online) & rented a moped on arrival for the day. We won’t sugar coat it, it was a tricky and slightly perilous ride, lol. The roads are only paved nicely for the first mile leaving out of town, then it turns to a mix of pave/dirt/pot hole central…you have to drive carefully and slowly. We had never fallen once on a moped until we got to Nusa Penida. That being said, it was a slow slide down a gravely hill and we made it out with just a few scrapes. But I just want to emphasise how much more difficult it is to drive on Penida. So keep this in mind when planning your trip!
- Kelingking Beach: Since the roads suck, it’s going to take you much longer to get around than what any map will tell you. Most likely it’s an hour to get from town to Kelingking Beach one-way. If you have enough time and it’s not too crowded, BRING SNEAKERS & take the hike down Kelingking cliff to the beach below. It’s kind of treacherous but also awesome and the beach is insane. There were women down below selling waters & beers, but you can also bring your own in a backpack full of snacks & beverages if you prefer. **Be sure to pack out whatever you bring in and DO NOT leave any trash down at the beach! It’s a pristine area and we all should do our part to keep it that way 🙂
- Angel’s Billabong: Unfortunately we started our day too late and didn’t have enough time to make it to Angel’s Billabong but it looks breathtakingly beautiful. If you get an early start to your day, definitely add this to your list!
There’s so much to see & do on this island, you’re sure to discover things we didn’t list here! Now go enjoy those beautiful beaches & have a Bintang for us!