Is Nusa Lembongan worth visiting? This is surely one of the most common questions asked by travelers exploring Bali. The Nusa Islands are only a 20-minute fast boat ride away from Sanur on Bali’s east coast, so you can hop over for a day trip without too much hassle. You could even make it back the very same evening, or opt to enjoy the chilled vibes on this separate string of isles with a couple of nights in a beachside cabana. It’s all very easy to plan.
The Nusa Islands are a chain of three: Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida. They string through the waters to the southeast of Bali and are set to a much quieter pace than their bigger bro. Yep, arriving in Nusa Lembongan, you’ll jump off the boat to meet white-sand bays and crystal-clear waters, high hills dashed with jungles, and sparkling coral reefs running through the seas. It’s paradisiacal to say the least.
The isle sure has a lot to offer, but is Nusa Lembongan worth visiting? Of course it is! So, here are seven unique reasons why we think you should set aside some time to whiz across during your vacation on the Isle of the Gods. It runs through the awesome surf spots, the stand-out beaches, and the epic dive sites, along with a whole load more. Ready? Let’s go…
The beaches are dreamy
Golden sandy beaches with turquoise waters gently lapping at the shoreline – that’s the name of the game on Nusa Lembongan. It’s much more your quintessential tropical paradise than Bali, where many of the beaches are made of black volcanic sand and the most popular spots are built up with hotels and surf schools. On top of that, despite the small size, Nusa Lembongan actually has loads of different beaches on offer. We’ll leave you explore them on your own, but the ones you should have on the radar include:
- Dream Beach – Wavy Dream Beach rarely gets busy and could just be the best-looking bay on Nusa Lembongan, sporting yellow-tinged sand and turquoise shore waters.
- Mushroom Bay – Mushroom Bay looks a little like Laguna Beach in that it’s topped with lux villas and cottages, but the water is famously still and it’s arguably the best beach for families with the kids in tow.
- Tamarind Bay – Another of the gorgeous beaches on Lembongan, Tamarind Bay is a stunner but also a watersports mecca. Come to sup at high tide and snorkel near the reefs that get exposed at low.
- Secret Point Beach – This one’s a bit of a cheat since it actually fringes the edge of Nusa Ceningan (more on how easy it is to get there below). It’s not far from the port – about 1.5 hours’ walk will do it. The reward? A picutre-perfect cove that’s speckled with big boulders and watched over by rugged cliffs.
We should also make a special mention of Jungut Batu. That’s the main bay on Nusa Lembongan and the place where you’re likely to arrive on the fast boat from Bali. But it’s no ramshackle port area. It’s a glorious, exotic run of white sand and azure ocean. We’d also put it down as the best place to watch the sunset on Lembongan. Just watch as the dipping sun turns the seas on fire and Bali turns to a silhouette in the distance!
You get two islands for the price of one
Follow the yellow brick road…Or, in Nusa’s case, the Yellow Bridge! Yep, Nusa Ceningan is the smallest of the Nusa Islands and you can walk right across to it via the famous Yellow Bridge. The bridge alone is a sight to be seen; almost an Indonesian equivalent of San Fran’s Golden Gate if you will.
This suspension bridge connects the two Nusa islands. It glimmers a distinct hue of daffodil yellow as it crosses a shimmering strait of coral-filled waters. It’s only wide enough for bikes and foot traffic, which makes the roads over on Nusa Ceningan extremely quiet. The bridge is important for local commerce and culture, and often features in religious rites and ceremonies performed between Lembongan and Ceningan.
Most people rent a scooter and ride over – just don’t look down because it’s positively vertigo inducing! Once on the other side, you’ll find relatively empty streets that weave and wiggle their way through the jungle. There are loads of things to do and see on Ceningan, including even more jaw-dropping beaches like Secret Point Beach (see above) or the daring cliff jumps down at Mahana Point. Oh, and the island has some seriously romantic honeymoon hotels for those on a loved-up jaunt.
Devil’s Tear and Blue Lagoon
Is Nusa Lembongan worth visiting for the beaches alone? You bet. But what about the other parts of the coastline here? It’s not all blinding white sands and bath-warm waters, you know. Cue the Devil’s Tears and the Blue Lagoon. These showcase the wilder, more rugged corners of these islands, where the shorelines get crumpled by mighty cliffs and the power of the Indian Ocean is spent on the rocks.
Devil’s Tears is the one to visit on Lembongan. It’s situated on the far south of the island. Access is via a dirt track from Dream Beach. Then, you emerge onto salt-sprayed clifftop lookout points that peer over into deep recesses below. The highlight is the natural coast blowhole that sees water blasted sky-high with force. I’s best viewed at high tide. Then comes Blue Lagoon, down on neighboring Nusa Ceningan. That’s less raw and untamed, looking like something out of the Greek islands with its shimmering turquoise waters and high cliffs.
Visiting Devil’s Tears or the Blue Lagoon? Just remember that safety often comes third in Indonesia. You’ll be responsible when walking the slippery rocks and rough terrain. There are no lifeguards at these spots and things can get pretty gnarly, especially when the swell is up!
Day trips to Nusa Penida
A day trip to Nusa Penida is a must when staying on Nusa Lembongan! If you’ve ever seen an influencer’s pic of Bali on Instagram, the chances are you will have seen the various hotspots of this rock: Kling King Beach (also known as Jurassic Park Beach because it resembles a prowling T-Rex!), Crystal Bay (a handsome arc of yellow sand between two forested headlands), and Diamond Beach (a hidden bay with jagged rock stacks that could easily be on the Great Ocean Road). The views will take your breath away.
There are daily boats from Nusa Lembongan’s Yellow Bridge that run almost every 30 minutes between 9am and 5pm. Just remember that schedules run to island time. On the other side, it’s best to get a driver or guide to take you around in their car. The roads are extremely basic and are dangerous for inexperienced scooter riders, but there is still lots to see.
Nusa Penida has many traditional temples and is the most spiritual Nusa Island. The most intriguing spot of the lot is probably the Goa Giri Putri Temple, a colossal cave temple dedicated to a Shivaite princess. Then there’s the mystical Pura Batu Medawu, the largest shrine on Penida that has carved Hindu gates and stunning views of the coast. If you do visit any of the temples, always be respectful towards the locals and wear appropriate clothing. It’s always good have a sarong with you just in case.
To swim with giant manta rays
The reefs that surround this island are rich with life. In fact, Nusa Lembongan is famed for its abundance of marine creatures, and it’s become something of a scuba diving mecca in recent years. That’s mainly because this is one of the best places in Indonesia to swim with giant manta rays. There are even dive sites dedicated to the great grazers of the sea, called Manta Bay and Manta Point.
And you don’t even have to dive to catch a glimpse of them. At feeding time, it’s possible to hop in and go snorkeling with giant manta rays, no bubble tank in sight. Early mornings are generally the best window of all. You just need to know where to go, so hiring a local guide is wise because the best locations can change regularly. When you’re in the water with the giant manta rays, you’ll probably feel a tingling sensation over your skin. This is caused by the plankton that the mantas feed on, so it’s a good sign that you’re going to see them!
Along with giant manta rays, you’re also likely to see other tropical marine life including:
- Small reef sharks – if you’re (un)lucky!
While Bali touts the likes of Bingin and Ulus – epic surf breaks one and all – there’s something more off-the-beaten-track on offer down in Nusa Lembongan. In fact, there’s no doubt that Lembongan is the best of the three Nusa isles for surfers. It’s got the best exposure to the westerly swell channels that come alive in the main dry season and a smattering of very high-quality reef breaks. Most are accessed by boat from the port at Jungut Batu Beach. Here are the main places to know about:
- Playgrounds – An inviting wave within paddle distance from Tamarind Bay steps; A-frame and can get quite punchy on the low tide.
- Lacerations – Powerful right hander that gets super hollow with 4+ feet swell, suitable for beginner surfers on a small swell and towards high tide.
- Razors – A left hand wave option and good for smaller days. The wave can get fast as the waves get bigger.
- Shipwrecks – A super powerful right hand wave best left to the most experienced surfers.
As the wave names suggest, the reefs around the island are notoriously sharp and unforgiving. A Lembongan Kiss is a common souvenir surfers take home – it’s the sort of kiss that needs lots of bandaging and iodine solution! For beginners, there are plenty of local surf schools that offer fantastic coaching. Check out Newbro Surf School or Mojo Surf.
Is Nusa Lembongan worth visiting for its wilder side? For sure. Cue the mangrove forests that dash the whole north shore of the island. They are primeval swathes of emerald green before a perfectly sapphire ocean, running for nearly 1.5 miles across and over a mile from top to bottom. They dominate huge portions of the island, and offer visitors the chance to see something totally different to the sugar-soft beaches.
A few narrow waterways pierce into the mangrove swamps. They wind and meander through the clusters of green forest to reveal strange habitats and the strange critters that inhabit them. The locals insist that there aren’t any crocs or other dangerous creatures lurking in the bush. We’re not sure we believe them but lots of people choose to kayak or paddleboard their way through on a mini safari.
All along the track to the mangroves are fantastic local warungs (traditional Indonesian taverns) serving fresh fish. If you want to experience the warmest welcome and the best hospitality, head to the family run Warung Bambu (the red snapper or the local jacket fish are both excellent there).
So, is Nusa Lembongan worth visiting?
Is Nusa Lembongan worth visiting? It 100% is worth visiting. Whether you come for a week-long honeymoon between the uber-chilled beaches of Nusa Ceningan or a quick day of surfing on the Shipwrecks break of Lembongan itself, this one’s a real adventure waiting to happen. Most of all, we’d say it’s the perfect place to go to escape the hubbub of southern Bali, where the resorts of Kuta et al forever pump with life. It’s a quick fast ferry over and bingo: You’re in a Southeast Asian paradise without the crowds.