Nusa Lembongan And Nusa Ceningan In A Day
As the waves came crashing over the cliff’s in a display of raw power and beauty, I struggled to understand how these oasis islands; Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan; could possibly be considered part of the chaotic Bali mainland.
After all, there were no caravans of tourists blocking the roads and the crowds were relatively small; by Southeast Asian standards anyway.
Myself and a friend that I’d met on my trip to see Indonesia’s sexiest volcano; Mount Bromo; were on a mission to break away from the overcrowded beaches and drunken surf bars of mainland Bali. We had only a few days before she headed off to the Gilis, so we set our sights on the Nusa Islands.
Nusa Lembongan And Nusa Ceningan
Located only an hour Southeast of Indonesia’s main tourist island is Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Pronounced Nusa “lem-bone-gone” and “chen-in-gone”; their main claims to fame are breathtaking cliff views, snorkeling, diving, and surfing; all surrounded by vivid aqua blue sea water.
We had a total of three days which; in my opinion; is the perfect amount of time to see all three of the Nusa Islands. The third being Nusa Penida, which is significantly larger. So we planned to spend one day on Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan; leaving us with two days to explore Nusa Penida.
How To Get There
Like everything else in Southeast Asia; finding a boat to take you to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan is extremely easy. However, the most popular option is to get a fast boat from Sanur harbor.
Most companies are reliable and safe, but there are a few things to watch out for no matter which one you choose.
1. Never pay more than IDR 300,000 or $22 for a one way, or IDR 550,000 or $40 for a round-trip ticket.
2. Put your sandals in your bag before boarding to avoid having them thrown out on the beach with 100 others.
3. When you arrive, be ready to grab your bag from the courier before he/she throws it onto the beach where the waves will most likely wash it away.
4. Make sure that transport to your accommodation is included in the price.
Travel Tip: There is a slow local ferry that leaves from Sanur Harbor and Mushroom Beach; on Lembongan; at 9 AM. It should cost around IDR 175,000 or $12.50 but be warned; it fills up fast.
Where To Stay
There are tons of places to stay on both Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. From high-end resorts to comfy homestays; you won’t have a hard time finding a place to lay your head at night.
I recommend staying in the Mushroom Beach area. It is where the cheap ferry leaves back to Sanur, and way more relaxed than other parts of the island. It also happens to be where the best hostel is located.
Suba Homestay is brand new and a fraction of the cost of the other “budget hostels” on the islands. It is close to the beach but far enough away from the bars to give you peace and quiet after a long day’s adventures. The rooms are clean, the beds are cozy, and the shower is hot.
A One Day Nusa Itinerary
If you happen to be in the same situation as us, and frankly every other traveler we met; and only have a day or two to explore the Nusa Islands, then you might find this itinerary for Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan quite useful.
It covers; in my opinion; the “must see” spots located along the West coast of the islands; starting off with an early morning ride across the Yellow Bridge to the smaller of the two islands; Nusa Ceningan.
Crossing The Yellow Bridge
Before I get ahead of myself though, there are a few options for getting around the islands including renting a scooter for IDR 70,000 or $5 per day, hiring a taxi which can be significantly more expensive, or walking.
I highly recommend renting a scooter as it will give you the chance to make your own plans and go at your own pace instead of being herded around like sheep or not having enough time in the day by walking.
The first stop on this one day adventure around Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan is a hidden beach not too distant from the other attractions but far-removed from the typical tourist route.
A small cove with a few bungalows, a white sand beach, and some of the clearest water on the Nusa islands is all that makes up this hidden oasis on the southern side of Nusa Ceningan. Secret Beach as it’s known, is a great spot to either laze in the sand or go snorkeling the shallow reef that lies just below the surface.
And don’t be surprised if you find that you’re the only ones there.
The next stop of the day was a five-minute ride North back up the road leading to Secret Beach, and then another five minutes West towards the coast.
The Blue Lagoon
A viewpoint atop sheer cliffs looking down into a rocky, aqua blue cove and some of the craziest colored water I’ve ever seen, will be your sign that you’ve made it to The Blue Lagoon. It is one of the top spots on the Nusa islands, and I have no doubt that it will be one of your favorites as well.
The Blue Lagoon
If you consider yourself daring; head around to the left side of the cove where there are some cliff jumping spots that range from 4-13 meters or 13-42 feet. The water is fairly deep there, but the current can be intense.
Make sure that if you do jump on a rough sea day, to swim hard and fast back into the cove where you will find low rocky platforms to climb back up on.
Blue Lagoon Cliff Jump
After we had maxed out our adrenaline meters and spent some time watching the waves crash into the coast, we headed back East across the Yellow Bridge and on to our third location; a dreamy beach with far too many beachgoers.
More Cliff Jumps: If you are craving more adrenaline pumping action after The Blue Lagoon; there is sunset bar on the other side of the cliffs called Mahana Point. They have a few boards to jump off of at 6 and 10 meters or 20 and 32 feet and charge IDR 25,000 or $1.80 per jump.
Hotels and homestays overlooking white sand and clear shallow water at a place called Dream Beach is where we stopped for lunch and took a long nap on the sand; well it’s where everyone else took a long nap.
I can’t ever seem to get my body to relax on a beach even though I do it quite well in a hammock pretty much anywhere else.
If you’re restless like me, then head up to the cliffs for a great photo viewpoint before heading to the beach bar for some food and a dip in the infinity pool.
After what seemed like an eternity of people napping, we hopped back on our scooters and headed to one of the local eateries for a delicious milkshake.
Our next and final stop of the day would turn out to be my favorite on both Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
The sound of waves crashing into the coast can be heard as you approach the final stop of the day; Devil’s Tears. What is hard to make out is the sound that follows.
The cliffs here are formed in such a way that after the waves come barreling in, the back-pressure; much like a whale’s blowhole; throws the water back out. This creates a fine mist in the air interpreted as ‘tears.’ I have no idea what the ‘devil’ has to do with it. Maybe it just makes it sound cooler. 😎
The main area just above Devil’s Tears can get quite touristy and crowded, but if you walk just a few feet across the cliffs to your right, you will find some tidepools that are perfect for some sunset reflections.
Sunset Tide Pools
We chilled out here until the sun went down and even though a thunderstorm over the mainland prevented us from enjoying a typical postcard Bali sunset; we still had an amazing time.
Why Go To The Nusa Islands?
In retrospect, with Bali being a mecca of amazing adventures and breathtaking scenery; the main question to ask is; why go to the Nusa islands?
Every traveler has a different idea of their perfect holiday. But I can tell you that after a month spent chasing waterfalls, laying on beaches, and exploring rice terraces on mainland Bali; that the Nusa islands were hands down the best part of my trip to this paradise region in the South Pacific.