If you’re new to Indonesia and in particular Bali, like me, then you may never have even heard of the islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan about a 45 minute boat ride from Sanur on Bali’s East Coast. I’d heard of the more famous Gili Islands, known for their amazing beaches and party atmosphere but we opted for the lesser known Nusa islands and I’m so glad that we did! We only had the time and budget to visit Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan as these two islands are easily accessible via boat and are connected by a bridge; unlike Nusa Penida, which is the largest of the three islands but much less travelled. The islands are stunning and although they are visited by many tourists, there is more of a sense of traditional Balinese life, underpinned by amazing natural beauty. So heres my list of 5 things not miss on Bali’s beautiful Nusa Islands…
1. Snorkel With Manta Rays
I don’t really need to say much more…but I will. This is number 1 on my list and definitely not only a highlight of my trip to Bali but a highlight of 2018 for me. We went with Lembongan Snorkelling Tours from Nusa Lembongan http://lembongansnorkelingtrips.com/. A free hotel/hostel transfer is included in the price from anywhere on the island; the company offer various tours including diving tours but we went for the snorkelling option as neither of us had dived before and it was the cheapest! The manta snorkel tour cost just 300,000 IDR/ 30 AUD / 16 GBP! It’s insane that people are able to experience this amazing marine life in such a beautiful setting for so little money. There was a small group of around 10 of us on the tour which lasted around 3 hours in total – approximately 25 minutes of snorkelling in each of the 3 snorkel spots just off the largest island of Nusa Penida. The guides informed us that we weren’t guaranteed to see the manta rays, however we were lucky and got to spend a full 25 minutes in the water with them, they’re completely wild and are attracted to the tour groups by the guides offering them food. The sheer size and majesty of the rays is amazing, not to mention the the abundance of coral, fish and marine life in the other two snorkel spots!
This is a link to my Manta Snorkel vlog if you want to see more… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4WBJJ2IUe0
2. The Blue Lagoon
Nusa Ceningan’s Blue Lagoon is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! You’ll have to cross the bridge from Nusa Lembongan either on foot or via scooter to get here, we had scooters but if you don’t it’s still well worth the walk! As Nusa Ceningan is a small island the lagoon isn’t well signposted so I’d recommend getting a Balinese sim card and using a phone map. Photos don’t do this place justice, there were countless variations of blues in the water that I didn’t even realise existed. You can cliff jump here, but if doing this without a guide be very careful of rips and hidden rocks. Whether you want to jump off of a cliff into it or just marvel at it, the blue lagoon will 100% leave you in awe!
3. Sunset Dinner On The Beach
There is something for everyone when it comes to beach restaurants on Nusa Lembongan, whether you fancy treating yourself to a posh dinner, a BBQ buffet and set menu or a more chilled, cheaper backpacker atmosphere.
After a hard day of scooting around we took a sunset stroll down Mushroom Beach to Mola Mola bar for a cheap but delicious traditional Balinese meal accompanied by a few cocktails. As the sun goes down watch the sky turn all colours of orange and purple while the moored fishing boats bob in the bay. There are lanterns everywhere and the restaurants are actually on the beach; meaning you will be sat at a dining table tucking into your Nasi Goreng with your toes in the sand and the sound of the ocean lapping on to the shore … what more could you ask for!?
4. The Yellow Bridge
The Yellow Bridge connects Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan and is definitely ‘ONE FOR THE GRAM’. It is pretty easy to find as there aren’t too many roads on either island but if your’re struggling, the easiest thing to do is map somewhere on Nusa Ceningan (or vice versa, depending which island your’re on) and you’ll have to cross the bridge to get there. It isn’t really much more than a bridge that connects the two islands but scooting across it made for some incredible views of both islands from a unique perspective. The bridge is only wide enough for motorcycles and pedestrians so watch out for locals if you’ve hired a scooter – you don’t want to be ‘that tourist’.
5. Island Beach Bars
As you cross the bridge over to Nusa Ceningan and follow the coast round you will find an abundance of beach bars top your right. There are plenty to choose from so take your pick! All of them offering cold beers, cocktails, traditional food and a chilled atmosphere. We went for Seabreeze – mainly because it looked the coolest and had an infinity pool. What was meant to be one beer turned into about 5 Bintangs as we watched the sunset behind the silhouette of the sea swing. We also made some friends in the pool ( as we didn’t get out of it for about 6 hours) and ended up coming back later in the evening for dinner with them! The island beach bars are definitely one for the Nusa Island’s list – there’s nothing not to like!