Getting a little bored of Bali and hate the massive crowds that seem to be everywhere lately? Bali may be a great place to kick back and relax, but do remember that the world is your oyster, and there are always many more places to explore!
Fortunately, these places might also be somewhere right beside you. If surfing the waves, sunbathing on the beach and basking in the glow of nature is your thing, why not check out the Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida islands?
Photo via: balihaiaquanauts
The trio of islands are only a short boat ride from Bali, and better yet, they have not been exposed to the tourism boom as quickly as Bali has.
Yes, this means what you think it means – it will be just you, the trees, birds, and breathtaking views that stretch for miles and miles. You won’t even have to plan anything, since these islands are the perfect places for a lazy, laidback time to yourself. Just follow the steps that we’ve laid out for you below, and enjoy your holiday!
If you’re headed for Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan or Penida, you’re definitely going to have to set foot on Bali first.
Once you’re in town, you can then head over to the Sanur coast and catch a speedboat ride to either Nusa Lembongan or Penida. Nusa Ceningan is linked to Lembongan via a gorgeous hang bridge, so no worries about missing it out!
a. The fuss free way to happiness (Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida)
We’ve mapped out the cheapest and easiest way for you to make the trip:
The fuss free way to happiness (Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida)
Step 1. Apply for leave
May the force be with you.
– Effort required to put your boss in a good mood.
– Many, many nights of working overtime in order to clear your work.
Step 2. Get on a plane to Bali
~2 hrs 30 min
Jetstar or AirAsia from $120.
Step 3. Get to Sanur
Airport taxi transfers to Sanur cost IDR$95,000 (approximately $6.50).
Step 4. Catch your boat ride to freedom
To Nusa Lembongan
Step 5. Look at the glorious view around you.
Photo via: EmilyJemily
If you have any lingering worries or stress-inducing thoughts – shake it off, shake it off!2. Getting around
Here’s an overview map of the Nusa islands.
View detailed maps of Nusa Lembongan & Ceningan, Nusa Penida
As the islands are relatively small – except for Penida, which is bigger – there are not a lot of choices when it comes to transport. However, it’s also easy to get around on your own two feet; why rely on others when you can rely on yourself and save some money in the process, right?
And don’t worry, you won’t have to swim around to explore all three islands.
You’re there to relax, have fun in the sun, and possibly rock a new tan when you get back. What could be worse than being stuck in your villa all day because the weather is being uncooperative?
Fret not, we list the two major seasons you should watch out for to get the most out of your time on Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan, and Penida!
October – April
May – September
Tip: January and February see some of the heaviest rainfalls, so avoid these months at all cost!
So you googled these islands, and it doesn’t look like there’s much to do there? Don’t judge – at least, not before you take a look at our list of incredible must-dos.
You’ll definitely be surprised at how many fun activities there are to keep your mind occupied, whether you’re a go-getter or a lie-downer.
4-a-1. Slide down a waterslide on water: Bounty Day Cruise
Ever tried zooming down a giant water slide while you’re on a boat?
Photo via: wcaksono, siscaharry, gabyinasia2011
Slide your way to more good memories at the Bounty Day Cruise, which features a mega 44-metre slide and other thrilling activities such as banana boat rides, canoeing, snorkeling and more!
4-a-2. Get a heavenly view: Devil’s Tears
Often pegged as the one place you definitely must visit in Nusa Lembongan, the Devil’s Tears is a gorgeous lookout position atop a cliff.
Photo via: muhamadakbar,-riku
Grab an advantageous spot at sunset to catch a great view, or simply enjoy the cooling wind as you watch the ferocious waves crash against the cliff side. Watch your step, and stay clear of the edge!
4-a-3. Go on an archaeological adventure: Underground House Gala Gala
Ready for a mini adventure? Check out this quaint little house – built personally by a local man over a period of 15 years, using nothing but a crowbar!
Photo by Shasya Pashatama via Surgamakan
It also happens to be located completely underground. Coolest house award, anyone?
4-a-4. Connect with nature’s beauty: Mangrove Forest
If you’re after a relaxing day out instead of anything too strenuous, why not try a scenic boat ride or kayak through Nusa Lembongan’s iconic mangrove forest?
Photo via: Min, triznataby
All you have to do is sit back and breathe in the nature all around you – perfect for soothing frazzled nerves.
4-a-5. Soak, dip, relax: Dream Beach infinity pool
Okay, so salt water and sand might not exactly be everybody’s thing, but who wouldn’t love to kill the heat via a long dip in an infinity pool overlooking a gorgeous coastline?
Photo via: mariekevdbelt, jennybridgette
You can do that at Dream Beach Huts, a beachfront resort located at Dream Beach. The best thing? You don’t even have to be a guest at the hotel – all you need is IDR$50,000 (approximately $3.40), and you’re all set.
4-a-6. Get a tan: Mushroom Beach
The Mushroom Beach is the perfect alternative for the popular Jungutbatu and Dream beaches.
Photo via: byheronvsheron
With shimmering white sand and the occasional banana boat sighting, the waters are great for a swim during high tide. To get some quiet time to yourself, head out in the early morning or evening.
4-a-7. Hike for beauty: Pura Puncak Sari
Situated at the top of the hill, the hike up to this temple will provide you with gorgeous panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, Nusa Ceningan and Penida.
Photo via: gobeach
You may not be the type who enjoys a good workout, but trust us, the views are definitely worth it. Coordinates: -8.6877566,115.4404467
4-b-1. Challenge yourself: Mahana Point Cliff Jump
Daredevils, here’s your calling. Fancy jumping from a high cliff top into clear blue waters below, as the world around you spins and shifts?
Photo via: ggilvina, travel pirate
Mahana Point, a little bar located on a cliff top in Nusa Ceningan, gives its customers a chance to do exactly that.
If the sight of other brave jumpers have already got your blood racing, kudos to you! And if you’re not sure whether this is a good idea yet, you could always have a drink or two at the bar to boost your courage.
You can do it (or you could just sit back and watch the surfers ride the waves)!
4-b-2. The Blue Lagoon at Nusa Ceningan
The crystal blue waters of Nusa Ceningan’s Blue Lagoon are the picture perfect ideal of an island paradise.
Photo via: gunkdeyoga
Most people come to simply admire the million dollar view, but a few adventure seekers and daredevil locals have claimed an overhanging ledge as a legendary cliff-jumping spot. (Cliff jumping is now prohibited due to safety reasons)
Unfortunately, do note that a few unsuspecting travelers have been washed off the ledge in rough weather, and local authorities actively discourage jumping.
4-b-3. Get in touch with local culture: Seaweed Farming
Seaweed farming is a major activity on the island, where so many of its locals depend on this business for survival.
Photo via: Min
And as for us tourists, we get to take in the unique sight of farmers harvesting seaweed from the coast!
It definitely is a sight you won’t get anywhere else – you haven’t been to the Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida islands if you haven’t seen seaweed farming.
4-b-4. Be a hipster: Bridge from Nusa Ceningan to Nusa Lembongan
Whenever we go on holiday, we’re always looking for that perfect spot to snap our next Facebook profile picture (don’t pretend you don’t).
For Nusa Ceningan, one of the most popular photo spots would probably be the incredibly scenic bridge connecting it to Lembongan.
Photo via: gunk_dna
The bright yellow bridge creates a striking contrast against the deep blue of the water, creating a great vibrant background for pictures. Go ahead and snap away!
4-b-5. Watch cockfighting: Bakung Temple
Cockfighting has always been a part of traditional temple ceremonies in Indonesia, and a form of entertainment for those who place their bets on the roosters.
(If watching animals get pitted against each other isn’t for you, skip this.)
Photo via: BartSpeelman
For those who don’t want to miss out on such a defining part of Indonesian culture, Bakung Temple on Ceningan island has regularly held cockfights that you can watch.
Maybe after a round or two, you’ll change your mind about those docile looking chickens.
4-b-6. Natural phenomenon: Swallow’s Cave
There is a little miracle of nature located in the western part of Nusa Ceningan – a swallow cave that can only be accessed by man at low tide.
Photo via: baliwww, greglasley
If you visit the cave at sunset, you might even get to witness the majestic sight of swallows flying around it!
4-c-1. Be mainstream: Diving/snorkelling
Most people who visit Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida are there for one major reason: the unique and diverse underwater wildlife that is waiting for them.
Photo via: hypebali, sellysylvia
Naturally, diving and snorkelling is an extremely popular activity; especially at the Manta Point and Crystal Bay.
Divers at Manta Point will get the unique opportunity to swim with giant manta rays, and at Crystal Bay, you might even lay your eyes on the monstrous size sunfish (Mola Mola) if you’re lucky!
Just note that the currents here tend to be strong, and you’ll have to be a certified experienced diver to dive here.
4-c-2. Explore Penida’s natural wonders: Angel’s Billabong, Pasih Uwug, Bukit Teletubbies, Atuh Beach
Nusa Penida might just be a small island compared to other places in the world, but it sure has its share of wondrous natural wonders.
Float atop a natural infinity pool at Angel’s Billabong, visit the broken sea Pasih Uwug
Or heal your eyes with vibrant greenery at Bukit Teletubbies and look across magnificent views at Atuh Beach. – take your pick.
4-c-3. A different kind of cave: Giri Putri Cave Temple
You’ve probably been to one of the magnificent temples located around Bali; after all, these old infrastructures are an integral part of local culture.
However, the Giri Putri Cave Temple in Nusa Penida is not just your regular temple. Just as its name states, it’s located inside a cave, and you’ll even have to crawl through a 2-metre long tunnel to get inside! Fascinating, isn’t it?
4-c-4. A once-in-a-lifetime view: Banah Cliffs
If you’re a fan of heights and don’t mind a bit of a workout, hiking up the Banah Cliff in Nusa Penida could prove to be a very rewarding experience.
Photo via: nusapenida, Jalanjalanmen
Once you’ve reached the top of the imposing structure, you’ll be faced with a panoramic view of the unbelievably blue sea – and if you’re brave enough to look down, the waves crashing against rock formations is a beautiful sight that you’ll never forget.
4-c-5. The islands’ their oyster: Bali Bird Sanctuary
The Friends of the National Parks Foundation has set up a bird sanctuary on Nusa Penida, and its two sister islands, where many endangered Indonesian bird species are given a new lease of life and protection from poachers.
Photo via: fnpf
Check out the sanctuary to catch a glimpse of some of the rarest birds in the world, including the Bali Starling – the second rarest type of bird in the world!
It’s true that Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida are not anywhere as developed as Bali is, but you don’t have to worry about accommodation issues. The growing number of tourists have caused many new villas to set up shop on the islands, and are ready for your stay.
You might even be surprised at how luxurious and well-equipped some of these resorts can be. From romantic rooms for honeymooners, to a mountain resort for the zen yoga master, there really is something for everyone here.
5-a-1. Sunset beauty: Poh Manis (from $39)
Why go somewhere else to hunt for the picture-perfect sunset when you can view it from the comfort of the hotel pool?
Poh Manis, with a gorgeous pool located at a cliff edge, gives you the edge you need (hur hur) to catch the sun setting between the hills – casting the area around the villa in a warm golden glow.
It’s the place to capture your hipster pool shot.
5-a-2. All natural: Twin Island Villas (from $82)
Go for a vacation that will make you feel like you’re on the top of the world – literally – at the Twin Island Villas!
This private pool villa, with its full glass walls and elevated position, provides 180-degree views of the surrounding greenery. Here, you and your significant other are guaranteed a cozy, private and romantic time to yourselves.
5-a-3. Live like a royal: Villa Bukit (from $236)
Villa Bukit is a luxurious mansion that you’d hardly expect to see on a laidback island like Lembongan.
Armed with private swimming pools and fully staffed with personal cooks, housekeepers and security, you’ll have all the peace and quiet you’ve dreamed of – and still stay close enough to the action on the beach!
5-a-4. The sea is your neighbour: Open Villa (from $298)
Imagine falling asleep to a soothing view of the sea washing against the sand on the beach. Doesn’t that sound great?
At Open Villa, everything is very open indeed; not only does the main living area adopt an airy, charming wooden concept, your bedroom is also located just behind a glass wall showcasing the beautiful blue sea. You won’t even need a fan, for the sea breeze will take care of everything.
5-b-1. Budget fun: Le Pirate Beach Club (from $41)
If your main goal is to have fun in the sun all day, ride the waves and slouch on the beach, Le Pirate Beach Club will be the best – and most convenient – choice for you.
Photo via: diannapriasari, liaayuliana
Particularly suitable for large groups of friends, the beach club also has a gorgeous infinity pool right beside the sea, where you can catch some of the best views in the area.
5-b-2. Like no other: The Palms Ceningan (from $73)
At The Palms Ceningan, you’ll get to enjoy your holiday in a villa unlike any other – the rooms here are completely made out of coconut wood, and furnished with recycled boat wood furniture.
Photo via: nuelocastelli
Even better, you can lounge on the spacious deck before your room, and enjoy a panoramic view of the ocean. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin or two!
5-c-1. Tradition with a twist: Agung View Villa (from $50)
This charming establishment overlooks the ocean, and also provides a modern twist to the traditional lumbung-style villa.
The spacious and open concept gives you a great view of the ocean from different parts of the villa; no matter where you are, Penida’s beauty will surround you. Just beware of the flying bugs!
5-c-2. Countryside retreat: Namaste Bungalows (from $25)
Located in a spacious compound surrounded by nothing but nature, the Namaste Bungalows is truly where you get to kick back and relax.
The traditional villas are not overtly luxurious, but provide you with a comfortable setting to rest your body after a long day out exploring the islands. Air-conditioning, modern toilets, and a comfy daybed are just a few out of the many facilities that the villa has for you to enjoy your stay.
As human beings, our number one priority has to be food, and thankfully, Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida have no lack of good food. From healthy bites to meals that come with good views, you’ll never run out of delicious choices!
6-a-1. Chill by the sea: Hai Bar and Grill
The Hai Bar and Grill at Mushroom Bay is perfect for a chill meal by the seaside.
What could be better than feeling the breeze against your face as you dig into some perfectly marinated prawns and savoury crème brûlée – under the shade of the gorgeous bamboo structure?
You can even choose to lay back in a beanbag on the beach with a cool drink. A great way to spend the day when all you want to do is relax.
6-a-2. It’s a starry romance: Sandy Bay Beach Club
Sandy Bay Beach Club, the place where many tourists think has the best seafood on the island, doesn’t just provide good food.
At night, little lanterns are lit above tables, and you get to eat surrounded by both starlight and never ending views of the ocean and cliffs before you.
Photo via: katherine, jlovstorun, tottitalia
The views are everything; in fact, we would say it makes the food taste even better, but popular dishes such as the burgers, ribs and delectable cocktails would probably taste really good too at any other place.
6-a-3. Candle-lit date night: The Deck Cafe & Bar
Romantic dinners by the ocean can hardly get better than this – The Deck Cafe & Bar looks just like something out of a fairytale at sunset.
The lights are lit, and the setting sun casts a magical purple glow on the surface of the ocean. Sound good?
You’ll witness all these from the comfort of your sofa seat that faces the sea, as you sip at an amazing snickers milkshake, and tear away at the pizzas. Don’t you wish you could be there right now?
6-a-4. Best local food (and a burger bar!): Warung Putu
Want some good Indonesian food in Lembongan? Warung Putu is the place to get it.
Photo via: releaseurchakra, trover
This traditional warung, located conveniently near the suspended bridge connecting Lembongan to Ceningan, offers the most authentic local fare (and a burger bar!) along with a great view of the seaweed farms.
Don’t miss out on the chicken satay on lemongrass sticks, beef rendang and chicken curry!
6-a-5. Go green: Bali Eco Deli
Health junkies will fall in love with the Bali Eco Deli, where everything is good for the environment and your health.
Photo via: engageyoga
Some of the health-friendly choices include yummy fruit salads with yoghurt and muesli, smoothies, and even pastries–all made from organic ingredients.
6-b-1. Treehouse dining: The Dafish Accommodation, Bar & Cafe
Ironically, the Dafish Accommodation, Bar & Cafe doesn’t exist under the sea. In fact, the establishment sits among the trees – a beautiful treehouse with views that go on for miles.
Photo via: arhrch, imanix, ulanyuktatma
The bar and cafe, which is part of a compound consisting of three bungalows and a pool, serves a wide variety of western cuisine that has been highly raved about by guests.
But the best part of the restaurant has to be its amazing vantage point. Watching the sun set over your head and the rest of the world? That’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
6-b-2. Prime spot: Sea Breeze Warung Ceningan
If there’s one thing that Nusa Ceningan is overflowing with, that’s amazing views.
Photo via: mullynicho, meikitkit
The Seabreeze Warung is another prime location to catch the sunset on the island (actually, at this point, we think the sunset would look amazing wherever you go).
The traditional Indonesian restaurant offers multiple mouthwatering treats, such as the popular grilled fillet fish and seafood curry – you definitely don’t want to miss this place.
6-c-1. Live seaweed farming: Penida Colada Lounge Bar
This minimalistic establishment on the beachfront is literally situated right in front of the seaweed farm in Nusa Penida, making for some very unique entertainment throughout your meal.
Enjoy a wide variety of dishes, such as grilled tuna and fresh-cut fruits, or sit back with a friend and drinks during happy hour.
6-c-2. Finding the right balance: Warung Ulam Segara
One of the hippest and most popular eateries on Nusa Penida, Warung Ulam Segara has attracted many tourists with its unique decorations and balanced mix of Western and local food.
Loved by both locals and foreigners alike, the warung is known for its grilled fish dishes and unique, cozy atmosphere – perfect for hanging out with your buddies late into the night.
So now you’re ready to have the time of your life in Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida! Which island would you want to explore the most?
We would say all three. Time for some bag packing!