Nusa Lembongan is one of those magical places that feels like what Bali must have been like 30 years ago. In fact, I first visited Nusa Lembongan in 2009 and not a whole lot has really changed since. Cafes and restaurants have become a bit more bougie, and the roads are slightly more paved, but otherwise than that, Nusa Lembongan remains perfectly perfect.
The island of Nusa Lembongan is a 40-minute ferry ride from Bali and once you arrive you’ll be greeted with some of the clearest and most beautiful beaches you’ll see on your entire vacation in Bali.
Sanur to Nusa Lembongan Ferry
The ferry terminal in Sanur is rather fancy and has had a major upgrade since I was last traveling in Bali. It can still be chaotic when you’re trying to pass through men yelling ‘taxi’ repeatedly as you drag your suitcase through the foray.
I would highly recommend booking your ferry tickets in advance, as once you arrive there are so many touts and people trying to pull you into their ticket hall. There are a number of companies that depart throughout the morning and a handful in the afternoons.
Most ferries from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan depart early in the morning, starting from around 8 a.m. before finishing at around 11 a.m. There are a couple of more departures after noon, but the busiest time does seem to be in the morning.
This is of course based on the tides and the best times for the ferries to be able to pull up onto the beaches.
Nusa Lembongan Ferry Prices
I paid 400,000 IDR for a one-way ticket to Nusa Lembongan from Sanur. A return journey would have cost me 600,000 IDR but I was planning on visiting Nusa Penida next and wasn’t sure of my onward itinerary.
If you haven’t purchased your tickets in advance, you simply find a ferry company that is departing at a time that you want to travel, visit their office in Sanur Port and someone will hop off on their motorbike to physically pick up your tickets for you.
Left Luggage in Sanur Port
I spotted at least two places in Sanur Port for left luggage if you don’t fancy hauling your suitcase or backpack to Nusa Lembongan. One of the left luggage storage places was directly in front of Sanur Ferry terminal, The Baggage Bar, another luggage storage was outside of the taxi zone on Jl. Matahari Terbit, and towards the main road and called Sanur Luggage Storage – Penitipan Barang.
Apologies for the vague descriptions and lack of prices, I had lost a brand-new Birkenstock sandal and was frantically retracing my steps whilst trying to soak up all the information I could to write about it later. The good news was my sandal had been found by a group of Balinese taxi men and they kept it safe for me.
Arriving into Nusa Lembongan
Most ferries arrive in Nusa Lembongan and land directly on Mushroom Bay Beach. It’s a really fun experience that requires you to get off the ferry into the water and wade a tiny bit to the beach.
The crew of each ferry are experts in hauling your luggage ashore without it getting wet or falling over, seriously it’s incredible to watch.
The vast majority of ferries that head to Nusa Lembongan arrive in Mushroom Bay Beach, but there is a company called Rocky Fast Ferry that has a jetty that arrives at the east side of Nusa Lembongan. There are mixed reports about Rocky Fast Ferry, well not living up to its name and being quite slow or delayed.
If you are nervous about arriving at Mushroom Bay Beach, please don’t be. The crew are wonderful and really assistive helping you up and onto the ferries. If you are traveling with children, I saw a number of the crew pick up the kids and place them directly on the boat, saving Mom and Dad a lot of unneeded stress and worry.
Where to stay on Nusa Lembongan
There are two distinct areas on Nusa Lembongan to stay at, the first being Mushroom Bay Beach which is where you’ll more than likely arrive. The other larger part of the island which has an abundance of accommodation is Jungutbatu Beach.
Mushroom Bay Beach
Mushroom Bay Beach is in my opinion the best beach in Nusa Lembongan, it’s a wide beach that has fine soft sand and beautiful waters to swim in. There are no beach clubs here, but there are beachside restaurants to choose from.
There is a huge selection of accommodations in Mushroom Bay Beach that range from local homestays to large hotels like Hai Tide Beach Resort & The Tanis Beach Resort that are 3 stars and very affordable.
Mushroom Bay Beach is a fantastic place to base your stay if you want to relax on the beach, have restaurants and bars on your doorstep, and also have close access to the ferries back to Bali or Nusa Penida.
I stayed in the Tanis Beach Resort Nusa Lembongan, it’s quite dated, but really good value. I was initially in a bungalow but I changed rooms to be on one of the upper floors that had a fantastic view over Mushroom Bay Beach.
I kept my curtains open and woke up to the most wonderful blue skies and sparkling sea views. There are 2 pools, but one of the best things is that its only a few feet away from the ferries (Tanis ferry in particular). Which made dragging my 20kg suitcase across the sand even easier!
If you’re looking for an easy and accessible beach and restaurants then look no further than Jungutbatu Beach. The beach here is the longest on the island and has the largest amount of accommodation found. The best selection of restaurants and bars is also found on Jungutbatu Beach.
Coconut Village Guest House – Great budget accommodation with a swimming pool and 50 meters from Paradise Beach.
O’Hana’s Beachfront Resort – One of the most popular hotels on the island and almost impossible to get a reservation in. Includes a pool, beachfront access and beautiful rooms. You’re in one of the best locations on the island. Next door is Ginger & Jamu, a great place for meals.
Ketut Losmen Bungalows Lembongan – Directly on the beach and really budget-friendly. It’s got a no-frills look about it, but who cares when you’re steps from the sea.
From Mushroom Bay Beach it’s a 12-minute motorbike ride across to Jungbatu Beach – there is one really steep hill you will need to navigate. My top tip for driving here is to brake the entire way down the hill and ease off as you get down to the bottom of the hill.
The Shacks at Sandy Bay are where to stay on Nusa Lembongan if you’re seeking a little bit of solitude but also knowing that you’re not too far away from restaurants and bars. The property is stunning, as are the adorable rooms that have been decorated with a lot of care.
There’s not a lot happening on Dream Beach and that’s probably the appeal to a lot of people who love to come to Dream Beach Hotel, spend their days on the gorgeous beach, catching up on rest and eating in the nearby beach club. It’s total escapism.
Dream Beach Huts – Infinity Pool, outrageous views, and a sparkling beach. Perfection.
Water Blow Huts – Just a short walk away from Devil’s Tear, these bungalows feature outdoor bathrooms and a large swimming pool.
Where to eat in Nusa Lembongan
Mushroom Bay Beach
On the main street of Mushroom Bay Beach you’ll find Mushroom Espresso, a small cafe to grab a coffee ( the service is extremely slow here, I waited 40 minutes for a coffee, but it could have been the day in itself.) A really popular spot for breakfast.
For live music and ample food selection head to Lgood Bar & Grill Lembongan that was pretty busy every night I passed by.
Indi Warung Lembongan Bar & Grill is a small Indonesian restaurant that grill right out the front and has excellent prices. Freshly caught fish and specials of the day are must-try items.
The majority of the Nusa Lembongan’s best restaurants and bars are found on Jungutbatu Beach.
One of the most popular beach clubs on Nusa Lembongan is O’Hana’s Beach Club, it’s also a superb place to base your stay too. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, you’re sure to find something on the menu to enjoy.
Right next door to O’Hana’s is the lovely beach-side cafe, Ginger & Jamu that serves excellent breakfasts and coffees. Watching surfers catching waves in front of you whilst munching on a smoothie bowl is just something else.
Grab a quick coffee or some baked goods from Jungle Bakery for your daily exploration of the island.
Close to the Mahagiri Beach & Resort , Bronzer Cafe is a nice place for a quick lunch or to grab a coffee.
The Deck Cafe & Bar is a beach bar on the headland that overlooks Jungutbatu Beach. It’s recommended to head to the Deck Cafe for sunset, but I found it completely underwhelming. Sunsets are better viewed on the other side of the island in Sandy Bay Beach Club. There are a number of bars before you arrive at the Deck that have live music or dinner specials that could be worth checking out.
Head for sunset to Sandy Bay Beach Club to catch a lovely sunset and eat some of the best food on the island. I enjoyed the beef rendang here, as well as the epic sunset. Sandy Bay Beach Club is a great spot to spend a lazy afternoon and they have a swimming pool too, the beach below looked quite rough to swim in.
Getting around Nusa Lembongan
The easiest way to get around Nusa Lembongan is to rent your own scooter. The island is small and it’s one of the better places to learn how to drive a scooter if you’ve never done it before. The roads however are not in the best condition, so it’s best to stick to the main roads until you have a certain level of comfortability riding your scooter.
Fun fact, long before I had my driving license, Nusa Lembongan was the first place I rented and drove a scooter.
Renting a scooter varies from each place but you can expect to pay around 80,000 – 100,000 IDR per day. I paid 80,000 from a place close to my hotel.
Otherwise, there are communal taxi’s that roam around the island, put your thumb out on the side of the road and tell them where you’re heading and they’ll name their price. The taxis are open at the back and you’ll be sharing with a few other passengers.
Things to do in Nusa Lembongan
One of the best things to do on Nusa Lembongan is to rent a motorbike and take off for the day. You’ll end up exploring the entirety of the island in a single day and stumble upon heaps of things to see and do.
Nusa Lembongan Mangroves
The mangroves of Nusa Lembongan are a natural defense system against climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and keeping it underground, as well as offering protection from rising sea levels.
You can take a boat ride through the mangroves and it is incredibly peaceful. I had a wonderful woman from the Surya Mandiri community who pushed me around on her boat for 30 minutes, pointing out small animals that were too quick for me to make out. In the mangroves of Nusa Lembongan, 28 species of birds, monitor lizards and mud-crabs have made this their home.
A lot of couples rented kayaks and were making their way through the serene mangroves. The price for a private mangrove boat was 300,000 IDR. I didn’t try to negotiate the price, but you can share the boat with other people if you hang around long enough.
One of the main industries aside from tourism on Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida are seaweed farms. You’ll see the farms in the water especially as you cross over the Yellow Bridge that connects Lembongan with Ceningan.
You’ll be able to witness the collection and storing of the seaweed which kept me entertained for a while, and this product is a huge life resource for the local people of the Nusa islands.
The iconic yellow bridge connects the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. There are two ways to cross the bridge, either by foot or by scooter. Cars are not allowed on the bridge, nor would they fit to be honest.
When riding your scooter across the yellow bridge its best to keep at a slow and steady pace. It’s really narrow and can be a tiny bit daunting when traffic is coming from the other direction, but everyone is very patient.
One of the best things to do on Nusa Lembongan is to explore on your own schedule. Head down a dusty bumpy road and who knows what you’ll come across at the end of it. There are lots of hidden and secret beaches around the island, small beach bars that are worth stopping at and supporting local businesses as well as stumbling upon the natural sights of the island.
One of the most popular day trips off the island is to go snorkeling with the manta rays on Nusa Penida. Snorkeling trips leave in the morning and return just after lunchtime, leaving you with ample time to explore the island.
I did the Manta Ray trip in October and unfortunately, we didn’t get to swim with the mantas as they hadn’t been seen in a few days, there were however lots of fish to see, and I even spotted a sea snake and a turtle.
It’s really enjoyable even if you don’t get to swim with the Manta Rays – I rented a GoPro from the tour company to capture some images for an additional 150,000 IDR.
Best Beaches on Nusa Lembongan
Some of the best beaches on Nusa Lembongan are easy to access, and a few are a little bit trickier.
Mushroom Bay Beach is very easy to get to. The beach has ample room to lay down, and swimming is completely possible here. The ferries do come and go throughout the morning and early afternoon, but it makes for excellent watching.
Tamarind Beach feels hidden away from the rest of the island. You’ll find a dive shop, and long-tail boats and that’s about it here. It’s the perfect beach escape for those looking for an escape.
The signage for Secret Beach is, well, quite hidden. Head in the direction of Tamarind Beach and you might spot a tiny sign for it. Once you get there you’ll need to navigate down a sharp incline by foot and then you’re pretty much guaranteed to have the entire beach to yourself. It’s beautiful but there are no facilities, so you’ll need to come prepared with water, snacks and a good book.
Dream Beach certainly lives up to its name and is very dreamy. A large white sandy beach that has strong currents, be very wary of actually swimming here. There is a small supermarket before you head down to the beach, and a small beach club to grab something to eat if needs be.
Jungutbatu is one of the longest beaches on Nusa Lembongan, you’ll spot the wreck of a crane in the background, and surfers in the morning. The beach is a bit more narrow here, but its still a nice place to spend a morning walking up and down it before you pick your spot for the afternoon to lay out on.
White Sand Beach
Located in front of the Mahagiri Resort, you’ll find a large swing, white sand and palm trees. White Sand Beach is beautiful and worth stopping off for a swim before or after heading to the mangroves.
Nusa Lembongan is just a fantastic place to spend a couple of days exploring or relaxing. The island is whatever you want it to be. Explore on your own terms and enjoy every second, I’m still thinking about my time there. It’s a very special place and worth spending at least 2 nights of your Bali vacation on.
Interested in more Bali related content? Read my posts on the best beach clubs in Bali, or my top tips for visiting the wonderful island of Bali.