We arrived in Bali for our 10 day holiday with only 2 nights accommodation booked. Knowing that we wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city but not travel too far, we began searching for an island close to mainland Bali. That’s when we discovered Nusa Lembongan, a small island located southeast of Bali and only a 35 minute boat trip from Sanur harbour.
We organised a fast boat to take us to Nusa Lembongan through Tijili Hotel for AU $30 pp, this included all hotel transfers to and from the boat and a drop off in Ubud after our trip – what a bargain! We were collected at 8am in the morning and driven to Sanur harbour where we climb onto a fast boat and headed out towards the island. The wind was blowing so the sea was rough, but we felt quite safe and the trip was short enough to keep our minds at ease.
Nusa Lembongan was once a beach shack surfers paradise, but in more recent years has become more popular with families, couples and backpackers all looking for an island retreat. Although Nusa Lembongan has become a popular destination, you can still find a beach shack with a view of the ocean or if you would prefer, there are also plenty of boutique hotels and resorts to choose from.
1. Stay at a hotel/resort with a nice pool
We stayed at Mahagiri Resort – one of the newest hotels on the island with 3 big pools and great views of the ocean. We spent many hours swimming in this crystal blue pool water, sipping on Bintangs and breathing in the fresh ocean air. Most of the beaches on Nusa Lembongan have loads of dead coral washed up on the sand and in the shallow water, this makes it quite painful on you feet when trying to get into the water for a swim. So, unless you are here to surf, we suggest staying at a hotel with a nice pool.
2. Rent a scooter and explore Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
The best way to get around Nusa Lembongan is by scooter. We drove around the entire island a couple of times taking in all the scenery, palm trees and managed to explore Nusa Ceningan which is accessible via a ‘Yellow Bridge’. Being on a scooter allows you the opportunity to nip up small paths and stop off wherever you like. There are many view points on Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan, these can all be found using the local map of the islands (your accommodation should be able to provide you with this map).
The island is about 8km in circumference and is quite hilly, therefore getting around by foot or bicycle/push bike is quite tough and tiring. There are also no official taxis on Nusa Lembongan and motorbikes/scooters are the most popular means of transport.
We hired a scooter through a hotel for AU $10 a day (you could probably find one for less if you hired it directly through a local). This price includes a full tank of petrol, but no helmets and we were not able to find anyone that rented helmets. They actually laughed at us when we asked for helmets with the scooters, and told us “it’s very safe on the island”… Hardly anyone wears a helmet, so we drove very slowly and carefully. Hopefully as the island becomes more popular they will realise that helmets are essential. We also saw Golf Buggies for hire for those that still want to have some fun but aren’t confident enough to ride a scooter.
Check with your insurance to make sure you are covered and have the correct drivers licenses before hiring scooters
3. Eat at Bali Eco Deli
There are many restaurants to choose from on Nusa Lembongan and you are able to find anything from seafood to local Indonesian dishes to pizzas and burgers. We discovered Bali Eco Deli on our first day on the island and stopped there everyday to buy their healthy ice pops – they are super yummy!
Bali Eco Deli also serve a delicious and nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner and pretty decent coffee. The restaurant is very laid back and is set in a garden just off the main road in Jungut Batu. They offer customers free water refills and have a small recycling program set up to help combat the garbage and plastic problem on the island.
4. Have a massage every day
Massages in Bali are so affordable, so why not have a massage every day – prices range from AU $15 – AU $30 for an hour massage depending on where you choose to go.
On our last day on the island we found a small spa call Organic Lembongan Spa. The spa is owned by Wayan Rantau who worked overseas in Hollywood before opening up a spa on Nusa Lembongan. This spa offers a selection of treatments, however we only had a massage there but, it was probably the best massage we had in Bali.
5. Watch the sunset from a beach bar
There are plenty of beach bars on Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan and what’s better than sitting watching the sunset with a cocktail (or Bintang if you please) in hand after a hectic day of relaxing around the pool, snorkeling and scooting around the island.
6. Visit Seabreeze Ceningan
Whist riding around Nusa Ceningan be discovered this cute, laid back cafe right on the water with a view of Nusa Lembongan, the yellow bridge and the seaweed farms. Make sure you stop here for a drink or something to eat. They also have two swings and some hammocks over the water for some Instagram worthy pics.
7. Kayak in the Mangrove forest
The mangrove forest is situated on the northern end of the island. Once you arrive at the mangroves you will have a choice of things to hire, from kayaks and stand-up paddle boards to gondolas and local boats. We opted for a kayak and took a peaceful paddle through the mangroves. We ventured off the main stream into the mangrove forest where we sat quietly on our kayak and listened to and watched the amazing bird life.
8. Snorkel at Mangrove Point
Head out on the road towards the mangrove forest, where you will find plenty of little places that offer snorkeling trips. We stopped at Golden Reef Warung where Captain Momoi took care of us. They are able to take you to various locations including Nusa Penida where you will see Manta Rays. We decided to snorkel at Mangrove Point which is about a 5-10 minute boat ride, about 20+ meters from the beach. Captain Momoi took us on a private trip which cost AU $35 for the two of us for an hour, this includes all snorkeling equipment and some bread for the fish.
The reef is full of life and the water is crystal blue and calm. We saw loads of different fish and when you drop bread into the water the fish come swimming from all directions for a feast.
9. Admire the view at Panorama Point
Panorama point is a great little view-point on the top of the hill with views of the island towards the north and mainland Bali. Take a drive up here for sunset or sunrise for some great photos and to admire the views.
To get to “Panorama Point” you need to take the main road from Jungut Batu and continue up a steep hill. The viewing point comes up fairly quickly on the right-hand side once you’ve reached the top of the hill, so don’t go too fast or you might go straight past!
10. Breakfast at Lemongrass
Lemongrass is located on the main road in Jungut Batu. They serve delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. They regularly have live music and at night the restaurant looks pretty with all the lights in the trees.
And like all good things our time on Nusa Lembongan ended too soon. We would highly recommend this island as a close escape from the mainland, although there is lots of development happening on Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, the islands still have a relaxed authentic feel.