Indonesia

Things to Know Before You Go

Nusa Islands Travel Guide: Things to Know Before You Go

The Nusa Islands, located just off the coast of Bali in Indonesia, are a breathtaking archipelago that captivates visitors with their natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere. Comprising three main islands—Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan—this tropical paradise offers a serene escape from the bustling mainland of Bali. With their crystal-clear turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and vibrant marine life, the Nusa Islands have become a sought-after destination for travelers seeking tranquility and adventure.

Nusa Islands Travel Guide

This article will provide you with tips about how to travel from one island to the other such as:

  • Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida
  • Nusa Ceningan to Nusa Lembongan
  • Nusa Ceningan to Nusa Penida

I’ll also provide tips on which island is better such as a comparison of Nusa Lembongan vs Nusa Penida Finally, I’ll give tips on where to stay, the best ways to get around, the best tours on the islands, how to get there and back from Bali, how long to stay and a few other handy pieces of advice I can share after multiple trips to the Nusa Islands.

How to get to the Nusa Islands

There are three main options to get to Nusa Penida depending on your budget and how many logistics you want to manage. Here are the three options with the cheapest first:

  1. Book your ticket: Sanur (Bali) to Nusa Lembongan – Book a regular ferry that leaves from Sanur to Nusa Penida on the reliable website 12go. You then need to moped or taxi across to Nusa Penida via another ferry/boat.
  2. Book a fast boat: Sanur (Bali) to Nusa Penida – This option is great as you go direct from Bali to Penida without having to stop in Lembongan. This option is only slightly more expensive than stopping in Lembongan. This is my favorite option of the three and can be booked on Klook.
  3. Book a fast boat with hotel pick-up: Sanur (Bali) to Nusa Penida – This option includes a fast boat from Sanur (Bali) to Nusa Penida but also includes pick-up from your hotel in Bali in a van. This option from GetYourGuide is a bit more expensive but takes all the hassle out of the transit from Bali to Nusa Penida.
a group of people riding on the back of a boat

BEST NUSA PENIDA TOURS!

These are the four most popular Nusa Penida Tours. I’ve done all four and they are AWESOME!

BEST NUSA PENIDA TOURS!

These are the four most popular Nusa Penida Tours. I’ve done all four and they are AWESOME!

Nusa Lembongan Travel Tips

Nusa Lembongan has slowly grown as a tourist destination thanks to its good surf. I had only heard about the crazy cliff jumping on nearby Nusa Ceningan but there were also so many awesome things to do on Nusa Lembongan. This is definitely known as the surf destination amongst the Nusa Islands. I’ll share my top three things to do on Nusa Lembongan but you can check out the full guide here if you prefer: 15 Awesome Things to do on Nusa Lembongan.

How to get to Nusa Lembongan from Nusa Penida

To travel from Nusa Penida to Nusa Lembongan, you can take a short boat ride that usually takes around 10 to 15 minutes. The boats depart regularly from the designated harbor points on Nusa Penida, such as Toyapakeh or Sampalan, and arrive at the main beach areas of Nusa Lembongan, like Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu. These boat transfers are readily available, and you can easily arrange them through local tour operators or accommodations on both islands. If you want to book them in advance, you can do so by clicking through to the 12Go booking page to confirm your ticket.

a boat docked at a pier.

How to get from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan

To travel from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan, you can easily cross over by foot or motorbike via the iconic Yellow Bridge. The Yellow Bridge connects the two islands and is a popular route for locals and tourists alike. It’s a short and straightforward journey, allowing you to explore the scenic landscapes and attractions of Nusa Ceningan in no time. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll find yourself on Nusa Ceningan, where you can enjoy its serene atmosphere, stunning viewpoints, and charming coastal areas.

TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY ON LEMBONGAN

I’ve written a massive, detailed guide about the Best Places To Stay on Nusa LembonganBUT If you just want me three favorites right now, here they are!

How Long to Stay on Nusa Lembongan

The ideal number of days to stay on Nusa Lembongan depends on your personal preferences and the activities you wish to pursue. However, most travelers find that spending 2 to 3 days on the island provides a good balance of relaxation and exploration.

This timeframe allows you to soak up the island’s tranquil atmosphere, enjoy its beautiful beaches, indulge in water activities like snorkeling or diving, and explore popular attractions such as Devil’s Tears and Dream Beach. Additionally, with a few days on Nusa Lembongan, you’ll have enough time to savor the local cuisine, experience the vibrant sunsets, and simply unwind in this charming island paradise.

a man is surfing in the ocean at sunset.

Three Best Activities on Nusa Lembongan

In this section, I’ll share my three personal favorite activities on Nusa Lembongan.

Devil’s Tears

Exploring Devil’s Tears is the best thing to do on Nusa Lembongan in my opinion. The outcrop sucks the water in before it explodes out with a boom, creating the tears of the devil. Not only does it make the devil cry but the spray also creates a rainbow on many occasions. Devil’s Tears may get a little touristy but it’s one of my favorite things to do on Nusa Lembongan.

Read the full blog post: Devil’s Tears on Nusa Lembongan

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SWIM WITH MANTA RAYS ON NUSA PENIDA!

Visit Dream Beach

A very dreamy beach indeed. A hotel with an infinity pool and a restaurant overlooking this cute little cove of white sand and crystal clear water. We had a great time swimming in the decent shore break waves at this beach. A perfect spot to hang out for the day with good access to food, drinks, pools and one of the most popular things to do on Nusa Lembongan 

Read the full blog post here: Dream Beach on Nusa Lembongan

Sunset at Devil’s Tears

After enjoying the tears from the devil we headed around the corner to check out what we could find. More outcrops are being smashed by water and some incredible tide pools. We knew we had to come back for sunset when we found the tide pools.

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Nusa Penida Travel Tips

Nusa Penida is the biggest of the three Nusa Islands just off mainland Bali. Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan make up the trio of islands, each with uniquely breathtaking landscapes. I’ll share my top three things to do on Nusa Penida but you can check out the full guide here if you prefer: 27 Awesome Things to do on Nusa Penida.

How to Get to Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongan

To journey from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida, you can take a quick boat ride, which typically lasts around 10 to 15 minutes. Similar to the route from Nusa Penida to Nusa Lembongan, the boats operate regularly, departing from Nusa Lembongan’s main beach areas, such as Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu, and arriving at the designated harbor points on Nusa Penida, such as Toyapakeh or Sampalan. You can book these boat transfers through local tour operators or accommodations on both islands. If you want to book them in advance, you can do so by clicking through to the 12Go booking page to confirm your ticket.

a blue and white boat with people on top of it

How to get from Nusa Ceningan to Nusa Penida

To travel from Nusa Ceningan to Nusa Penida, you first need to head over the yellow bridge to Nusa Lembongan and then make the journey across to Nusa Penida. Boats operate regularly, departing from Nusa Lembongan’s main beach areas, such as Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu, and arriving at the designated harbor points on Nusa Penida, such as Toyapakeh or Sampalan. You can book these boat transfers through local tour operators or accommodations on both islands. If you want to book them in advance, you can do so by clicking through to the 12Go booking page to confirm your ticket.

BEST NUSA PENIDA DAY TOURS

If you are staying in Bali.. take a day trip on a speedboat to explore the highlights of Nusa Penida. It takes just 35 minutes to get from Bali to Nusa Penida by speed boat. Yep, in just one day you can snorkel with Manta rays and visit lots of the best beaches and viewpoints.

Manta Ray Snorkeling Tour

Manta Ray Nusa Penida Tour (from Bali): Snorkeling with Manta Rays is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of the best wildlife encounters I’ve had in my life. The Manta Rays are majestic and very friendly. With a wingspan of 5m, these gentle giants cruise around you while you snorkel amongst them. The Nusa Penida Manta Ray Snorkel Tour includes pick up and drop off from your hotel in Bali and all transport and tickets included.

a man swimming under a manta ray in the ocean.
Nusa Penida Highlights Tour

Nusa Penida Highlights Tour: Get picked-up from your Bali hotel, take a 35-minute fast boat to Nusa Penida and then visit the most popular viewpoints, beaches and snorkel spots on the island. This small Nusa Penida Highlights Tour group tour is the most highly reviewed day trip for Nusa Penida Island. You’ll visit all the most popular spots and can request certain viewpoints on your itinerary. Places you will visit are sites like the ones listed below:

  • Angel’s Billabong
  • Kelingking T-Rex Beach
  • Broken Beach
  • Rumah Pohon Treehouse
  • Snorkeling at Crystal Bay
  • Thousand Island Viewpoint
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TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY ON LEMBONGAN

I’ve written a massive, detailed guide about the Best Places To Stay on Nusa LembonganBUT If you just want me three favorites right now, here they are!

How Many Days to Stay on Nusa Penida

The recommended duration for staying on Nusa Penida largely depends on your interests and the level of exploration you desire. To fully experience the island’s natural wonders and attractions, it is advisable to spend a minimum of 3 to 4 days on Nusa Penida. This timeframe allows you to visit iconic spots like Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong, and Crystal Bay, as well as explore hidden gems such as Atuh Beach and Broken Beach. Additionally, taking a day trip to nearby islands like Nusa Ceningan or snorkeling with Manta Rays can further enhance your Nusa Penida experience. With a few days on the island, you’ll have ample time to immerse yourself in its breathtaking landscapes, do a few activities, and appreciate the rugged beauty that Nusa Penida has to offer.

broken beach

What is it Like Driving on Nusa Penida?

The roads in some parts are fantastic but to get to many of the waterfalls and beaches the roads were pretty crazy. At times we were just driving over small rocks. If you aren’t confident on a moped this could be some terrain too heavy to handle. If you aren’t confident in driving, you can rent a car on Nusa Penida with private driver, which is a good option to visit multiple spots safely in a day with a group of friends.

There were a few spots where locals asked us to pay a small entrance or parking fee. For example, as we left Kelingking we had to hand over 50 cents for parking even though nothing was mentioned beforehand. Just enjoy the views hand over the small fee and continue on your journey.

Drive safe kids! This was me on my first solo trip to Indonesia!!! I learned my lesson and drive a lot safer now and have had no troubles while on the Nusa Islands.

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Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida?

Choosing between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida can be a tough decision when you have limited time to explore the Nusa Islands. Here are some key factors to help you decide:

Staying on Nusa Lembongan:

  • Pros:
    • Multiple beautiful beaches
    • Easy access to the entire island within a short moped ride
    • Opportunity to explore the captivating rocky coastline, such as Devil’s Tears
    • Affordable accommodation options
    • Bridge connection to Nusa Ceningan for cliff jumping and further exploration
  • Cons:
    • Surfing requires a boat trip to reach the reef
    • Half-day boat trip needed to swim with Manta Rays or visit Nusa Penida

Staying on Nusa Penida:

  • Pros:
    • Impressive coastline with breathtaking cliff views at every turn
    • Extensive moped adventures across the island, which is larger than Nusa Lembongan
    • Relaxed atmosphere with eco-stays and vegan cafes
    • Highlights include Kelingking Beach, Manta Rays near the coastline, and good snorkeling opportunities
  • Cons:
    • Some roads may be rough for mopeds in certain areas
    • No access to cliff jumping on Nusa Ceningan
    • Slightly higher hotel prices compared to Nusa Lembongan (still affordable)

Personally, if you enjoy epic cliff views and exploring the land on thrilling moped adventures, Nusa Penida may be your preference. However, missing out on cliff jumping at the Blue Lagoon on Nusa Ceningan would be a disappointment. If you have to make a choice, consider staying in Nusa Penida and try to arrange a day trip to Nusa Lembongan. Nusa Lembongan’s central location makes it an ideal base for experiencing the best of both islands.

Three Best Activities on Nusa Penida

In this section, I’ll share my three personal favorite activities on Nusa Penida.

Visit Kelingking Beach

The Instagram famous coastal cliffscape, which truly does look like a T-rex doesn’t disappoint. I still remember the moment I laid eyes on Kelingking Beach. I watched the crystal clear water slowly form into a wave before crashing below us, in what seemed like slow motion.

We took a short trek down the spine of the T-Rex and took in the epic drop-offs down each side. This is definitely my favorite thing to do on Nusa Penida and is just one of those landscapes that make you feel small. It’s easily the most popular beach on Nusa Penida, and for good reason. One of the best ways to visit Kelingking Beach is on this Ultimate Nusa Penida Day Trip Tour from Bali or you can rent a car on Nusa Penida with private driver.

Nusa Penida has so many amazing views making it hard to pick a favorite. But when the cliffs form in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Kelingking Secret Point Beach it is bound to be a crowd favorite. Kelingking actually translates into English meaning Pinkie a term referencing the smallest finger on the hand.

a woman sitting on a hill overlooking the ocean.

Snorkeling with Manta Rays Tour

Snorkeling with Manta Rays at Manta Point on Nusa Penida is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Nusa Penida is an island just off the coast of mainland Bali, which takes just 35 minutes to reach by fastboat. The Manta Rays are majestic and very friendly. With a wingspan of 5m, these gentle giants cruise around you while you snorkel amongst them. This Nusa Penida Manta Ray Snorkel Tour includes pick up and drop off from your hotel in Bali and all transport and tickets included or if you are already in Nusa Penida this Manta Ray Snorkeling Tour is a bit cheaper.

SWIM WITH MANTA RAYS ON NUSA PENIDA!

Hike Down to Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach, located on the eastern tip of Nusa Penida Island in Indonesia, is renowned for its captivating natural beauty. The beach boasts an exceptional landscape characterized by pristine white sands, crystal clear turquoise waters, and towering cliffs. Its unique rock formations, reminiscent of glittering diamonds, give this beach its distinctive name. A steep staircase carved into the cliffs provides access to the beach, offering breathtaking panoramic views during the descent.

The most important rock though is the diamond-shaped rock in the shallows of the water. The beach is after all named after this diamond-shaped rock I believe.

stairs leading down to a beach with a body of water in the background.
a group of people sitting on top of a sandy beach.
a man walking up a set of stairs next to the ocean.

Nusa Ceningan: Travel Tips

Nusa Ceningan is a small tropical island, which is part of Bali in Indonesia. The island is nestled between the popular Nusa Lembongan and the large island of Nusa Penida. The trio of islands is an awesome spot to explore and get away from the craziness of mainland Bali.

Nusa Ceningan was the adrenaline spot of the Nusa Islands in my opinion with cliff jumping around every corner. I spent five nights in Nusa Lembongan and day trip to Nusa Ceningan, which is accessible by bridge. Ceningan is quite a small island and I didn’t even rent a moped, instead, I opted to discover the coast on foot with my two mates.

I’ll share my top two things to do on Nusa Ceningan but you can check out the full guide here if you prefer: 7 Awesome Things to do on Nusa Ceningan.

How to get to Nusa Ceningan from Nusa Penida

  1. Catch a boat to Nusa Lembongan: Start your journey by taking a boat from Nusa Penida to Nusa Lembongan. The boats operate regularly and depart from designated harbor points on Nusa Penida, such as Toyapakeh or Sampalan. These boats will take you to the main beach areas of Nusa Lembongan, like Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu. If you want to book them in advance, you can do so by clicking through to the 12Go booking page to confirm your ticket.
  2. Cross the Yellow Bridge: Once you arrive at Nusa Lembongan, head over to the iconic Yellow Bridge. The Yellow Bridge connects Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, allowing for easy access between the two islands. Cross the bridge either by foot or with a motorbike.

Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan

I think when considering whether to visit Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan, the beauty is that you can visit both. You can think of these two islands as just one island because they are connected via the yellow bridge. You can walk or ride your book over the bridge with no fee. The distance across both islands is very small so it’s convenient to cliff jump on Nusa Ceningan and then hang out at a beach half an hour later on Nusa Lembongan. You won’t need to make the choice of either Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan… you can have both.

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Two Best Activities on Nusa Penida

In this section, I’ll share my two personal favorite activities on Nusa Penida.

The Nusa Ceningan Blue Lagoon

Nusa Ceningan’s Blue Lagoon is a remarkable natural attraction, boasting dazzling, clear, turquoise waters. This cove, nestled against the cliffs on the island’s southwestern tip, is not just a feast for the eyes, but also a hotspot for adrenaline junkies due to its famed cliff-jumping spots. However, visitors should proceed with caution because of fluctuating sea conditions. The vivid color palette of the lagoon and the surrounding cliff vistas provide an ideal backdrop for photographers.

But the Blue Lagoon isn’t merely a sight to behold. The entrance of the cove offers prime spots for cliff jumping. With jumps from approximately 4m, 6m, 8m, and 13m, the spot caters to a range of bravery levels. The water was so deep that the bottom seemed too distant to be a concern.

Read the full blog post here: Blue Lagoon Cliff Jump on Nusa Ceningan

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Mahana Point Nusa Ceningan

Mahana Point cliff jump, Nusa Ceningan’s prime hangout location, provides an overhang of rocks jutting out into the sea. It’s a peaceful location for a restaurant and bar, complete with a 10m and a 5m diving board, along with a ladder for safe re-entry.

Mahana Point offers a range of activities to engage in post-lunch or dinner. From surfboard rentals to enjoy the waves off the bar, to the thrilling cliff jumps which are the main draw, there’s never a dull moment here. Additionally, it serves as an excellent vantage point for the sunset, ensuring that the buzz at this bar and restaurant never dies down.

Equipped with both a 10m and a 5m diving board, Mahana Point cliff jump offers a safe and convenient experience with a ladder for easy exit, unlike the scramble necessary at the nearby Blue Lagoon Cliff Jump. However, they do charge for each jump. The 10m jump costs around 50,000 rupiah, and the 5m jump comes at 25,000 rupiah, translating to roughly $4 USD and $2 USD respectively. While these prices may have gone up at the discretion of the owners, spending $5 for a single ocean jump might seem a bit high to some.

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Which of the three Nusa Islands is Best to Stay On

Among the three Nusa Islands, Nusa Penida is often considered the best choice to stay on due to its abundance of activities and sightseeing opportunities. Here’s why:

  1. More Activities: Nusa Penida offers a wide range of activities for adventurous travelers. You can explore stunning viewpoints like Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong, and Broken Beach, which provide breathtaking landscapes and photo opportunities. Additionally, Nusa Penida is renowned for its diving and snorkeling spots, where you can swim alongside majestic Manta Rays and vibrant marine life.
  2. Spectacular Natural Attractions: The island’s rugged and untouched beauty sets it apart from the other two Nusa Islands. Nusa Penida boasts dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches, and impressive rock formations, creating a truly awe-inspiring atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy exploring unique sites such as Crystal Bay, Atuh Beach, and Peguyangan Waterfall, making each day an exciting adventure.
  3. Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience: Nusa Penida offers a more authentic and less crowded experience compared to its neighboring islands. While Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan have developed tourist infrastructure, Nusa Penida retains a sense of raw natural beauty and tranquility. It allows you to immerse yourself in the island’s serene atmosphere and escape the bustling crowds.
  4. Day Trip Possibilities: Staying on Nusa Penida provides convenient access to neighboring islands like Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. You can easily plan day trips to explore their attractions while having Nusa Penida as your home base.

Overall, choosing to stay on Nusa Penida allows you to engage in a wide range of activities, witness breathtaking natural wonders, and enjoy a more authentic and less crowded experience. It’s an excellent option for travelers seeking adventure, stunning landscapes, and a deeper connection with nature.

a pool with lounge chairs and a thatched roof.

Are the Nusa Islands Part of Bali

Yes, the Nusa Islands (Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan) are part of Bali, Indonesia. They are located just off the southeast coast of Bali and are easily accessible by boat. Many travelers visit the Nusa Islands as an extension of their Bali trip, taking advantage of the proximity and the unique experiences offered by these picturesque islands. While they are separate land masses, they fall under the administrative region of Bali and are often considered part of the overall Bali experience.

MORE NUSA ISLANDS BLOG POSTS

There are a ton of epic things to do on Nusa Penida, but I also wrote detailed guides for all of the adventurous things to do on Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan. You can explore more of my guides by clicking one of the links below.

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