Nusa Islands Guide – Best Things To Do on The Bali Nusa Islands
If you are planning a trip to Bali, you may have heard of the Nusa Islands. If you haven’t heard of the Nusa Islands, you have likely seen Nusa Penida on Instagram! In this Nusa Islands guide, we will be diving into this epic off-the-beaten-path experience in Indonesia.
From the best things to do on the Nusa Islands, planning your Nusa Islands itinerary, how to get to the islands, and which is the best Nusa Island to stay on, I have you covered!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Nusa Islands Guide – Best Things To Do on The Bali Nusa Islands
- What are Bali’s Nusa Islands
- Getting to the Nusa Islands From Bali Guide
- Getting Around the Nusa Islands
- Which Nusa Island is Best to Stay at
- How Many Days is Enough on the Nusa Islands
- Best Things to do in Nusa Lembongan
- Best Things to do in Nusa Ceningan
- Best Things to do in Nusa Penida
- Nusa Islands Packing Guide
- Bali Nusa Islands Guide Wrap-up
What are Bali’s Nusa Islands
You might be wondering, what exactly are Bali’s Nusa Islands. Located off of Bali’s east coast, they consist of 3 islands known as Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida.
Although relatively easy to get to, the Nusa Islands are often referred to as off-the-beaten-path. They offer a more raw Bali experience with less developed roads, simplistic living, and beach vibes. If you are looking for a bungalow experience, the Nusa Islands are for you!
Additionally, when visiting the Nusa Islands can expect great snorkeling, cliff jumps, lots of scenic views, and even a chance to swim with Manta Rays!
Getting to the Nusa Islands From Bali Guide
From Bali, the best way to reach Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida is by ferry. Depending on the island you want to head to, the time can range from 30 – 50 minutes. Nusa Lembongan is the closest.
It’s best to take ferries out of Sanur harbor. Ferries come in all different capacities and speeds. We used the boat company Scoot to and from the Nusa Lembongan which is the closest Island. You can find ferry tickets with 12Go Asia which is our go-to site booking transportation in Asia.
Please note, that there is no actual dock! Once you arrive at the ferry, you will be wading through the water up to the boat. Moreover, you will also need to remove your shoes beforehand which will be put into a bag for when you dock. I would recommend wearing sandals that can handle some water. I use these two for Southeast Asia travel: Birkins | Teva
The ocean in Bali can be pretty rough, especially during a full moon. Make sure to bring seasickness remedies if you need them. I got incredibly sick; so the second I got back home, I invested in Sea-Band which has worked like a charm on other boat trips.
Getting Around the Nusa Islands
The only way to get around the 3 Nusa Islands is by scooter or taxi. Since these islands are less developed, you will find it’s much harder to find taxis, and when I say taxi picture a pickup truck with seating in the bed of the truck. We found they are also more expensive than the mainland in Bali since they are aware there you have few options.
If you feel comfortable driving a scooter on the left side of rocky unpaved roads, then go for it. Renting a Scooter is the cheapest and best way to get around the Nusa Islands. You can get a scooter for about $4-10 USD a day depending on your negotiating skills. Generally, you can get scooter rentals where the boats dock and by areas that have a higher density of accommodations.
We found a lot of rentals by Mushroom Beach, which is where we stayed. Another way you can try to get around is by bicycle. We learned about this at the end of our trip and we couldn’t find any rentals, but they are around.
You can also walk to a lot of main attractions on both Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Nusa Penida is the largest out of the 3 Islands and requires hiring a car or scooter to explore.
Furthermore, you should also know that you can easily get between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan by way of the Yellow Bridge. You can cross the Yellow Bridge on foot or scooter, no cars.
However, to get to Nusa Penida, you will need to go by boat. There are several companies that are offering full-day tours (we went on a fun one) or local boats that can take you over near Mushroom beach and by the Yellow Bridge.
Which Nusa Island is Best to Stay at
Out of the 3 Nusa Islands, I would guide you to stay on Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida. We choose Nusa Lembongan because it is the most developed out of the 3 islands. We also were not sure if we would rent a scooter which is really required for Nusa Penida.
Nusa Lembongan is way more walkable compared to Nusa Penida which is a giant island in comparison. If you have 4 days in your Nusa Islands Itinerary, I would recommend trying 2 days at both Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida.
Nusa Ceningan does not have many accommodations for tourists, so you will be much better at the other two islands.
Where to Stay on Nusa Lembongan
Now that you know which Islands to choose from, here are some places to consider staying.
The Well House (Budget): If you are looking for a budget-friendly bungalow with extremely nice staff, check out The Well House. We had a cute bungalow with a mosquito net and a private outside bathroom and shower. The shower water is cold, but Bali is hot, so it was really refreshing most of the time. Its also located less than 3 minutes from Mushroom beach. Check out Hai-Bar and Grill if you’re in the area for some tasty food.
Other hotels include:
- Lembongan Beach Club & Resort (Luxury)
- Naturale Villas (Mid-Range)
- Bay Shore Huts – CHSE Certified (Mid-Range)
Where to Stay on Nusa Penida
If you decide you would like to do some additional exploring on Nusa Penida, which can easily be explored for 2 full days, here are some places to consider staying.
- Hotel Arsa Santhi Nusa Penida (Mid-high)
- Sawit Garden Cottages (mid)
- Sakti Ocean View Bungalows (Budget)
- Ari La Casa (Budget)
How Many Days is Enough on the Nusa Islands
When planning your trip to the Nusa Islands, deciding how many days to stay can feel daunting. For this Nusa Islands guide, I would recommend at least 3 days – 5 days. You can easily spend 1 day on each island and see a decent amount. You could even possibly squeeze both Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan in one day. However, I believe if you have 4 days on a Nusa itinerary would be best.
With 3 days in the Nusa Islands:
One day for each Island or two days in Nusa Penida and 1 day between the other two islands.
4 days in the Nusa Islands itinerary:
2 Days in Nusa Penida, 1 day in Nusa Lembongan, and one day in Nusa Ceningan.
Best Things to do in Nusa Lembongan
Now that we have worked out the logistics of this Nusa Islands guide on where to stay, getting around, etc, here are the top highlights you will want to check out when visiting Nusa Lembongan. All of these attractions can be seen with one day of exploring. Remember, this should feel like a more laid-back vibe, so take it slow, and soak it in.
Devil’s Tear is a scenic outlook from the cliffs and it gets busy, for good reason. The waves, especially during high tide hit the cliffs and shoot up making for a spectacular scene. When you get there, I would recommend walking all the way down to the right. There are fewer people and you will see the water shoot up better.
My favorite time to come to Devil’s tear is during sunset. Grab a beer at the devil’s tear bar (all the way down on the right) find a seat and watch the show. We made this our ritual every night.
Since we visited, they have put ropes up for safety. Unfortunately, waves have pulled people in and because of these islands being remote locations and large drops, the outcome has been fatal.
Located nearby Devil’s Tear is the “dreamy” Dream Beach. This is probably the best beach on the island for swimming as long as the currents are not too strong. For a small fee, you can even hang out by the pool which is a part of Dream Beach hotel. The closer it is to a full moon, the stronger the currents and waves seem to be around these islands. Even if you don’t go into the water here, the beach is still lovely as is the pool.
We stayed right on Mushroom Beach which is smaller than Dream Beach and also acts as a transportation hub for other boats. The water is still beautiful and you will find restaurants and tours in this area. This beach is better for swimming because it is more like a bay, but you have to be careful around the boats.
Best Things to do in Nusa Ceningan
Nusa Ceningan is just a hop skip and a jump from Nusa Lembongan. You can either take a taxi or scooter to the yellow bridge, but as mentioned above, only scooters and people are allowed to cross.
Nusa Ceningan is very small, so the island is walkable, however, it’s much easier to explore this island by scooter, especially if it is hot out. Below are some of the best things to do while exploring Nusa Ceningan.
Yellow Bridge (Bridge of Love)
The Yellow Bridge holds significance to Bali. In October 2016, the bridge collapsed. This incident killed 8 people and injured more. You can’t miss it when crossing from one island to another. The bay it covers has a lot of boats coming in and out, and the water is crystal clear. It is also considered an Instagrammable spot in the Nusa Islands!
Bali has a thing for adding cute Instagrammable swings around. After crossing the Yellow bridge, about 5-10 minutes down you will find cute swings in the bay. Perfect to cool down and take some fun photos.
Tip: Make sure to do this during high tide. If not, all the water will be gone!
The Blue Lagoon is a scenic outlook over the bay of stunning blue water. It can be a little confusing to get here, but just try to follow the signs; you will be rewarded! It is not too far from Secret Beach and Mahana Point which I will cover below.
Secret Beach is part of a resort and not exactly what you can call a secret. For a small cost, come here to enjoy the views, swim in the pool, and hang out by the beach. We enjoyed a couple of beers and pizza during our time here. The staff was incredibly nice, I might add!
I wouldn’t consider this beach a swimming beach, however, during our visit to the Nusa Islands, the surf was very high.
Mahana Point (surf place)
Looking for a designated cliff dive? This cute cliff bar has awesome vibes and a spot to cliff jump, conditions allowing. When we went, the currents were too strong to go in the water, but you are still greeted with lovely views and good food!
Best Things to do in Nusa Penida
The staff at The Well House was able to book us an amazing trip with one other couple to go snorkeling and then take a day trip through the best spots of Nusa Penida. While you do not need a tour to explore this island, we really enjoyed it since we were not great at driving the scooters. Below are some of the best things to see and do in Nusa Penida.
Snorkeling in Nusa Penida
During our tour, we snorkeled at 3 different reefs in a traditional Bali balancing boat. After snorkeling, we were dropped off in Nusa Penida where a driver picked us up in an air-conditioned SUV (we couldn’t believe it!).
Nusa Islands guide Insider tip: I would recommend motion sickness remedies. Driving through Nusa Penida is like taking a bad roller coaster ride at Disney! Many of the roads are unpaved and rocky with a lot of up and down hills, but you will find some of the most stunning views.
It wouldn’t be a Nusa Islands guide without including Kelingking Beach! Welcome to the Insta-famous T-Rex beach. This is one of those beaches you think back to the videos where you see Instagram vs Reality.
Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line to take a picture here. If possible, I would try to arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds, but even with the crowds, the views are still out of this world.
If you really want to be adventurous, you can climb all the way down a very steep path to the beach.
Nusa Islands Guide Insider tip: You might want to bring wet wipes while exploring around the island since you will mainly only find squat toilets.
Not too far from Kelingking beach is Angels Billabong. Here you can find scenic views and a natural swimming pool. If you want to swim in the natural pool, make sure you go during low tide when the waves are not coming over!
People have been pulled out to sea from waves crashing over, so going in at low tide is crucial.
Next, head over to the insta-famous Broken Beach! It is within walking distance of Angels Billabong and overall the scenery is just stunning here. You can even walk across the bridge during your visit
Tip: When you sit down for your insta-pic, just beware, the dirt stains!
Crystal Bay Beach
Finally, a beach on this Nusa Islands guide you can actually swim at! This beach has tons of food and fresh coconuts, but please make sure to clean up after yourself. During our visit, we found lots of trash on the beach along with tons of broken coral.
To help reduce waste, reusable water bottles, metal straws, making sure your waste makes it to the trash bins and coral-safe sunscreen are ways to help keep the beach beautiful. For more of my sustainable travel tips, click here!
Diamond Beach is another top place to visit on Nusa Penida. Only consider visiting this beach if you are staying on the island. Diamond beach is located on the far east side of the island making it difficult to see in just a day.
Peguyangan Waterfall (Guyangan Waterfall Nusa Penida)
Another very popular place to add to your Nusa Penida itinerary is Peguyangan Waterfall. Enjoy dramatic cliff views with a small waterfall. To visit this attraction, you will need a full day on the island as well.
Rumah Pohon Treehouse
Another famous viewpoint to visit during a trip to Nusa Penida is at the Ruman Pohon Treehouse. This view is also quite famous on social media. Remember when visiting, that people do rent the treehouse to stay in, so be respectful.
Thousand Island Viewpoint
Last but not least, is the Thousand Island Viewpoint. If you love stunning panoramic views with limestone cliffs, and stunning blue water, add this to your Nusa Penida bucket list. This is also where you will find the treehouses.
Tips Before Visiting Nusa Penida
- I would recommend bringing your own snorkeling equipment since the ones that were provided were… not so sanitary looking.
- We really wanted to swim with manta rays, however, the water was too rough to go out. If this is high on your bucket list, try not to go around a full moon when the tides are heavily affected. Check out this Manta Ray tour!
- Bring a waterproof camera! (I use a GoPro Hero 7) and coral-safe sunscreen. I use Blue Lizard Australian Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30 or Juice Beauty SPF 30 Sport Moisturizer.
Other Tips to Know about the Nusa Islands
- The islands get extremely dark at night since there are no street lamps.
- There are a lot of stray dogs. Don’t try and pet them, just walk on the other side of the road.
- There is a lot of pollution. You will find garbage piles in a lot of areas. You will also see they burn their garbage. Unfortunately, as a small island with limited resources and capital, it’s their only current option. Do what you can to help reduce your waste.
- The tap water is not safe to drink.
- You will need bug spray with DEET.
Nusa Islands Packing Guide
Here are some additional things you will want to bring with you to the Nusa Islands aside from what was mentioned above!
- Quick dry towels – Small and easy to pack
- Bug spray
- waterproof phone case
- A dry bag
- Battery Pack – Small one | Larger one
- Cute Bathing suit – Cute Cutout One Piece | Cute Bandeau Bikini | Ribbed Checky Two Piece | Bright Color Block One Piece | Cover-up
- Sun Hat – Oversized hat from Lulus | Floppy hat
Bali Nusa Islands Guide Wrap-up
This concludes the best things to do on the Nusa Islands of Bali. No matter which island you decide to stay at, you will be rewarded with amazing scenery and a more off-the-beaten-path feel!