Crazy cliffs, white sand beaches, and, supposedly, a time machine back to Bali 30 years ago – that’s what you’ll find on the Nusa Islands.
If you’re looking for an escape from the crowds and affordable luxury villas of Bali, then a side-trip to the Nusas might be just what you’re looking for.
In this Nusa Islands guide, I’ll be sharing everything I learned with you on my trip, including how to get there, where to stay, and the best things to do on each island!
Nusa Islands Guide
How to get to the Nusa Islands
The Nusa Islands are 3 small islands just off the coast of Bali and can be easily reached by a 40-minute fast boat from Sanur or Serangan (Sanur is the main hub for boats to the Nusas, but Serangan also has a few).
When you get to the beach in Sanur, you’ll likely be greeted by someone who will take you straight to one of the many different boat operators. Note that NOT ALL BOATS ARE CREATED EQUAL and you really want to make sure that you’re getting on a safe one.
How to get around the Nusa Islands
Most ferry services to the island also offer drop-off at your accommodation, so you don’t have to worry about getting to your hotel when you land.
Once there, they can help you arrange a scooter rental, but I want to preface this by saying that you should really only rent a scooter if you are an EXTREMELY EXPERIENCED driver. The roads on the islands are extremely bumpy and sometimes non-existent, especially as you get closer to the popular attractions like Kelingking Beach. You do NOT want to take things too lightly in this situation.
I had been in Bali and driving a scooter for more than a month by the time I came to the Nusa Islands, and was pretty confident at that point. But there were still times where I felt like I probably shouldn’t be driving. And I also fell off my bike at one point.
So again, I stress that you should NOT rent a bike if you are not experienced and confident. Seriously.
If you don’t rent a bike, then it’s plenty easy to find a driver to take you to the places you want to go. Just ask at your guesthouse or hostel and they’ll likely be able to arrange someone for you.
Where to stay on the Nusa Islands
There are 3 different islands in the Nusas. While I definitely suggest visiting all 3 islands, you’ll want to make one of them your home base (or two, if you have a bit longer). Which one you stay on depends on what sort of vibe you want.
Nusa Lembongan – The main island and where you’ll likely be taking a ferry to. Lots of accommodation options and a few nice beaches, but also the most crowded.
Nusa Ceningan – The smallest of the Nusas, connected to Lembongan by the Yellow Bridge. A lot less traffic than Lembongan.
Nusa Penida – The largest of the 3 islands and the most remote. Home to some of the hottest hot-spots on the islands, including Kelingking and Diamond Beach.
Nusa Lembongan Guide
Nusa Lembongan is the main of the 3 Nusa Islands and where most of the fast boats drop off. Whether you’re looking for a simple room on the beach & great surf or a luxury boutique experience, you’ll find it on Lembongan.
Things to do on Nusa Lembongan
If you’re looking for a gorgeous stretch of white sand perfect for relaxing, you’ll find it at Dream Beach. It is an incredibly popular spot, but most people only stop to take a photo before moving on and you’ll find that if you actually go down the cliffs to the beach you’ll be much less crowded!
The fascinating Devil’s Tear is right next to Dream Beach and definitely a must visit on Nusa Lembongan. The waves crashing against the cliffs of this little cove go mind-blowingly high, and are especially beautiful at sunset!
Please do be careful when you visit, though. Don’t get too close to the edge for the sake of a good picture, as there have been several tragic accidents here.
The Yellow Bridge connects Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan and is an absolutely gorgeous little thing to photograph. It’s also super fun to ride across!
Go Scuba Diving
I HIGHLY recommend spending at least one day diving in the Nusa Islands!
The famed Manta Point is not to be missed, as tons of absolutely HUGE manta rays congregate here.
I did a two-tank dive to Manta Point and Crystal Bay with Twin Island Dive and absolutely loved it. As one of the smaller dive shops on the island, I actually ended up having a completely private trip, and my divemaster was super attentive and pointed out so many different things to me.
I highly recommend diving with them!
View this post on Instagram
We interrupt your irregularly unscheduled programming to announce that it’s #WomensDiveDay ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ By random happenstance I took my first dive since getting open water certified in Mexico over winter break, and finding out that I was doing it on women’s dive day through the insta posts of some awesome ladies who inspired me to get certified (looking at you @alexinwanderland and @theblondeabroad) made it even cooler! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So glad I decided to take the leap and finally learn to dive. The water has always been my home (I learned to swim before I could walk ????), and getting to see what’s below the surface is so rewarding. Today alone I saw a couple of huge manta rays, a puffed up puffer fish, a catshark, a bunch of sand fish, a lion fish, all of Nemo’s friends, and all sorts of colorful, tropical fish. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ If you’ve ever wanted to try scuba diving, DO IT!!!
If you’re not a certified diver, you can always get your open water or do a discover dive. Or, if you’re not interested in diving at all, there are plenty of snorkeling trips to take as well!
Although I didn’t partake, another popular activity on Lembongan is surfing. The most popular surf spots include Playgrounds, Lacerations, Razors, and Shipwrecks.
For a complete surfing the Nusa Islands guide, click here.
Where to Stay on Nusa Lembongan
Like a lot of places in Bali, you are really spoiled for choice when it comes to accommodation on Nusa Lembongan. After doing a bunch of research, here are a few of my top picks!
Lembongan Hostel – $ – If you’re looking for a classic hostel experience, then go with Lembongan Hostel. It has great reviews, a pool, and is just a short ways away from the popular Dream Beach.
Twin Island Villas – $$ – I stayed in the absolutely GORGEOUS Twin Island Villas, the sister hotel of Twin Island Dive, while on Nusa Lembongan and loved it. Perched on the top of the island, it has views for days, and I was served a delicious breakfast on my terrace each morning 🙂
Dream Beach Huts – $$ – If you’re looking for a hut right on the beach, then Dream Beach huts is the way to go. These fun huts are right on Dream Beach and the hotel also features an infinity pool!
Ohana’s Boutique Resort and Beach Lounge – $$$ – Although I didn’t stay at Ohana’s, I did stop for dinner at their Beach Lounge one night and was thoroughly impressed. If you’re looking for an insta-worthy boutique hotel on Nusa Lembongan, this is it.
Nusa Ceningan Guide
As the smallest of the three Nusa Islands, you might be surprised at all that Nusa Ceningan has to offer.
Things to do on Nusa Ceningan
Perhaps one of the most visually stunning bits of cliff I have ever seen, Blue Lagoon is located on the far side of the island. It has some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen, and the sand at the bottom is almost a pink color!
If you feel like getting your blood pumping, then after the Blue Lagoon head over to Mahana Point for some cliff jumping.
There’s a small restaurant and both a tall and short jump.
Since I was traveling alone and didn’t really have anywhere to leave my stuff (and also, I was scared s***less), I didn’t go for the jump. But you can find a full guide here if you’re interested!
There’s also a more off-the-beaten-track surfing spot at Mahana Point.
The Sand Ceningan
If you’re looking for a suuuper laid-back beach lounge vibe, then you absolutely have to head to The Sand on Ceningan. If you follow one piece of advice from this Nusa Islands guide, make it this one!
The Sand is located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the yellow bridge and is home to several super cute swings and hammocks.
They serve smoothies and typical beach bar food which is pretty decent as well!
Where to Stay on Nusa Ceningan
Secret Point Huts – $$ – If you’re looking for laid-back huts on a secluded beach, you’ll find them at Secret Point Huts on Ceningan. It’s the perfect escape!
Le Pirate Beach Club – $$ – Trendy Le Pirate Beach Club’s location on Nusa Ceningan is almost too cute to handle. Complete with blue-trimmed thatch huts and a pool with a view, you won’t regret staying here.
Blue Lagoon Avia Villas – $$$ – The ultimate in Luxury, Blue Lagoon Avia Villas are located RIGHT on the Blue Lagoon, with views that are to. die. for.
Nusa Penida Guide
The largest of the three Nusa Islands and home to several hot spots such as Kelingking Beach, you’ll definitely want to visit Nusa Penida. Keep reading this Nusa Islands guide for more!
Things to do on Nusa Penida
Unfortunately, I fell off my scooter on my first day on Nusa Penida, so didn’t actually get to do anywhere close to all of the things to do on Nusa Penida that I wanted to. I did do a TON of research beforehand, though, so thought I’d still share the things I wish I’d done 🙂
Also known as T-Rex Beach, Kelingking Beach is the spot that you’ve seen all over Instagram. Get to the viewpoint early to avoid the crowds, and if you’re feeling up for it, hike down to the beach. Most people don’t go past the viewpoint, so you’ll have an entirely different experience.
Unfortunately, I missed out on Kelingking because I fell on my motorbike the day before I planned to visit and wasn’t feeling up to more biking adventures, but you can find a great guide to visiting here.
Crystal Bay is one of the most popular beaches on Nusa Penida and super easy to access. It’s also a great snorkel and scuba spot!
Angel’s Billabong/Broken Beach
Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach are practically right next to each other, which is why I put them together here. Broken Beach features a stunning arch in the cliffs, while Angel’s Billabong is basically a natural infinity pool!
Banah Cliff Point
If you want to get a great view of Penida Island and the surrounding ocean, head to Banah Cliff Point, just past Kelingking on the west side of the island.
Find a full guide to visiting here.
Tembeling Beach & Forest
Another spot I’m super bummed I missed was Tembeling Beach and Forest. This natural pool is more off-the-beaten-path and looks sooooo gorgeous!
You can find a great guide to visiting here.
You know that precarious blue staircase you’ve seen all over Instagram? You’ll find it and the gorgeous Pegutanga Waterfall on Nusa Penida.
Goa Giri Putri Temple
For an entirely different experience on Nusa Penida, you’ll absolutely want to visit Goa Giri Putri Temple. Located inside a cave, it’s one of the most unique temples in Bali.
Finally, something I actually managed to do on Nusa Penida!
The famous Atuh Beach is located on the East Side of Nusa Penida and is a great place to stretch out on the sand or go for a swim. There are a few basic huts that sell coconuts and food if you’re feeling peckish.
Beware that it is a rather long walk down a cliff to the beach.
Diamond Beach is one of the most famous spots on Nusa Penida and for good reason – it’s totally stunning.
Walk down a thin, steep set of stairs and you’ll find one of the more unique Bali swings, run by a super adorable family that will more that happily conduct an entire photoshoot for you. Exhilarating and so much fun!
Rumah Pohon Treehouse & Thousand Islands Viewpoint
Just past Atuh and Diamond Beach on the east side of the island is another Instagram-famous spot: Rumah Pohon Treehouse and the Thousand Islands Viewpoint.
There isn’t much to do here besides stop and snap a few pictures, but it’s certianly a site to behold!
You can also book a night in the treehouse on Airbnb.
Where to Stay on Nusa Penida
Rumah Pohon Treehouse – $ – If you really want a bucket-list experience, spend the night in the famous Rumah Pohon Treehouse. The actual treehouse is super basic, but it’s definitely something to write home about! You can book the treehouse through Airbnb (click here for $40 off your first stay), but be sure to book well ahead of time as it’s super popular!
Write Hostel – $ – A super tiny hostel (just one 8-bed dorm) but super welcoming and colorful! The beds in the dorm also feature privacy curtains and look super comfy.
Double’D Hostel – $ – For a slightly large hostel experience, go for Doubl’D Hostel, set in tranditional Balinese-style buildings.
Krisna Guest House – $ – For an affordable but pleasant stay, I highly recommend Krisna Guest House. I spent two nights here and really loved it. The rooms were huge, the bed was comfortable, and the breakfast was really delicious! They also had bikes to rent that were pretty decent and gave me lots of information about where to go on the island.
Penida Bambu Green – $$ – For a boutique hotel on Nusa Penida, you can’t go wrong with Penida Bambu Green. With gorgeous villas made out of bamboo, it’s an super unique spot as well.
Suggested Nusa Islands Itinerary: 4 Days on the Nusa Islands
I spent a total of 4 days and 4 nights on the Nusa Islands (2 nights on Lembongan and 2 nights on Penida) and think that it was the perfect amount of time for exploring the islands.
If you have the same amount of time, I highly recommend following the same itinerary that I did (minus the falling off the bike bit). If you have an extra day, I’d recommend spending it on Nusa Penida since there’s so much to do there.
Keep reading this Nusa Islands guide for my exact itinerary.
One your first day on the Nusa Islands, take the ferry to Nusa Lembongan and check into your accommodation on either Lembongan or Ceningan.
Then, spend the rest of the day exploring Lembongan and Ceningan by motorbike or by hiring a driver.
Visit Dream Beach, Devil’s Tear, the Blue Lagoon, and any other spots on the two islands you might want to check out.
Stay: Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan
On your second day on the islands, take a scuba trip to Manta Point (I highly recommend Twin Island Dive) to spot some absolutely huge manta rays.
If you’re not a diver, there are loads of snorkel tours as well.
Grab dinner and a prime sunset viewing spot at Ohana’s Lembongan.
Stay: Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan
For your third day on the Nusa Islands, head down to the Yellow Bridge and take a boat over to Nusa Penida.
Check into your accommodation and rent a motorbike or find a driver to take you to explore the East side of the island, including Atuh Beach, Diamond Beach, and the Rumah Pohon treehouse.
Stay: Nusa Penida
On your last day in the Nusa Islands, get up super early to head to Kelingking Beach before the crowds get there.
Spend the rest of the day exploring the West side of the island, which includes spots like Crystal Bay, Angel’s Billabong, Peguyangan Waterfall, and Tembeling Beach & Forest.
Stay: Nusa Penida
Final thoughts on the Nusa Islands
The Nusa Islands have SO much to offer in terms of exploring and photography opportunities. I highly recommend spending a few days on the islands for an escape from it all!
And that’s it for this Nusa Islands guide!