If you are looking to escape to a paradise island during your next trip to Bali, you have done a great job of selecting a fantastic destination! Now let me do my part and provide you with 7 Nusa Lembongan tips to ensure that you have the most epic vacation yet!
The Nusa islands is a trio made up of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, just 30 minutes on a fast boat from the mainland of Bali. Some call the islands the next Gilis with the turquoise waters, white sand beaches and the tropical vibe that never ends.
In recent years the sister islands have seen massive development and spike in tourism, thanks to Instagram photos going viral and putting Nusa islands on the map as top destinations in Bali.
I have traveled to the Nusa Lembongan island numerous times over the last ten years and have witnessed the drastic change in its landscape. With more and more visitors finding their way to this magical paradise, I wanted to share some travel tips that will help you fall in love with the island as much as I have!
Tip #1: Learn to Ride a Scooter
On Nusa Lembongan Bali (as well as on Nusa Ceningan), there are no public transportation options such as Blue Bird taxi, Go-Jek or Grab Taxi that is otherwise available on the mainland of Bali. The only modes of transportation on Nusa Lembongan are a motorbike, bicycle, or your feet 🙂
Surprisingly, I met quite a few people who walked from one corner of the island (Jungut Batu) to the other (Mushroom Bay). While this 4.5km-ish distance is do-able in about an hour, remember that you are in the tropics – it is HOT! Unless you are some kind of a superhuman, you will be sweaty, tired and grumpy if you’re anything remotely like me!
If you want to get around the island and explore the various hot spots such as Dream Beach, Devil’s Tear, the mangroves and the Yellow Bridge that connects to Nusa Ceningan, you’d need to either rent a motorbike or a bicycle (aka push bike).
If you have never been on a motorbike, I do not recommend Nusa Lembongan to be your training ground. First of all, the roads on Nusa Lembongan are narrow, curvy and in some places unpaved. Secondly, there are truckloads of tourists being transported on mini-sized trucks – it may be intimidating for novice motorcycle driver to avoid truck traffic on these narrow island roads.
I highly recommend that, if you are a new or non-scooter driver, you either take a friend who is an experienced driver or, learn to ride a motorbike before you head over to the island.
Tip #2: Take Enough Cash With You
When I first visited Nusa Lembongan 10 years ago, there were no ATMs at all. When I returned six years ago, 1 ATM had been placed on the entire island, which was barely functioning on a good day.
Today, with an influx of tourism on the Nusa Islands, there are now 4 ATMs on Lembongan. Two can be found close to the beach on Jungut Batu, and another two close to Mushroom Beach. You can find the locations on the map below.
Be warned that, the ATMs on Nusa Lembongan remain somewhat unreliable. The machines are often out of cash or, out of order altogether.
To avoid headaches during your tropical vacation on the Nusa islands, I recommend that you prepare enough cash to take with you from Bali.
While big resorts, villas, and restaurants accept credit cards, most of the local warungs, snack shops, or hostels accept only cash. Even in places where credit cards are accepted, you will be charged additional 2 to 3 percent service charge for credit card use.
Map of Nusa Lembongan Island and ATM Locations:
Tip #3: Be Ready to Get Wet on Transfer Day
On the day of your transfer to/from Nusa Lembongan, make sure you wear shorts or something you can roll up to your thighs.
Because you will get wet!
There are no jetties on Bali or on Nusa Lembongan, which means that all the ferry passengers will need to enter the water to hop on or off the boat.
On the beach, you will notice one or two crates before you enter the water – you will place your sandals/shoes in it before boarding the ferry. When you reach the destination, all the footwear will be dumped on the beach, and you can collect your pair.
Tip #4: Avoid the High Season
Once upon a time, Nusa Lembongan was a quiet, charming seaweed farming island with visible local life – the only visitors to the island were avid scuba divers and surfing fans.
These days, thousands of visitors make their way to this tiny island each day, and the mayhem can disrupt your tropical vacation, especially during the high season.
As you may already know, one of the main Nusa Lembongan “things to do” item is snorkeling or diving with the manta rays. Due to the popularity of mantas, it is not uncommon to see up to 35 boats at Manta Point, all carrying snorkelers and divers who are anxious to get a glimpse of the magnificent animals.
What would be an incredible experience of encountering manta rays is inevitably tarnished when you have to share the animal with so many other people, some of whom will have no regard for you or the animal.
Similarly, scuba diving during the high season can be very chaotic and frustrating as well. I dived with Blue Corner Dive Mushroom Bay on this trip and while the dive team was amazing, running into 30 other divers in the same dive site or witnessing a mola-mola chase (I call it harassment) was not enjoyable at all.
If you want to experience a peaceful island getaway without having to dodge the crowds, I highly recommend that you visit Nusa Lembongan during the low season.
And when exactly is the low season, you ask?
Here’s a quick info about Bali’s seasons:
The high season in Bali is generally between July to October, and December around Christmas and New Years.
The low season extends from January to March, which is Bali’s rainy season. The climate during these months can be hot and humid and risky with the possibility of rain. Even though some other tropical regions see torrential rain during the “wet season,” Bali is quite moderate. The rain is mostly sporadic, and it clears out after an hour or two in the morning. Most days, you can enjoy the sunshine after the AM showers.
Admittedly, last year (2017) was an exception. We saw a TON of rain starting in November, from the morning through the night for weeks at a time. We can never know what the weather will bring. Visiting Bali during the rainy season can always be risky.
I’d say the best time to visit Nusa Lembongan is from May to June, and also early November. The island is relatively quiet, and you can enjoy your holiday above and under the water in peace. Otherwise, if you visit Nusa Lembongan during the high season hoping to escape the massive crowds of the mainland, you will be disappointed.
Tip #5: Explore the Island During the Off-Peak Hours
With the exponential growth in tourism over the last several years, Nusa Lembongan now receives thousands of visitors during the day who are a part of the day-trip package.
The day trippers typically arrive around 9 am and leave the island around 4 pm. These peak times are the worst times to explore some of the main attractions of Nusa Lembongan, as you will be met with truckloads of tourists.
Below are some of the popular day trip destinations, and my tips on how you can explore and enjoy them!
Even though Mushroom Beach is listed as a beach destination on many travel guides, you should know that the bay is used by local operators as a “port” for picking up and dropping off guests for day trips (snorkeling, diving, island hopping), as well as marine activities such as banana boat rides.
One of the main day trip operators, Bali Hai Beach Club Cruises also operate in and out of this bay, leaving hundreds of tourists between 10am to 3:30pm to hang out right on Mushroom Beach.
With so much traffic, noise, and activities on the beach, Mushroom Beach is not an optimal location for a relaxing day on the beach if you asked me.
Instead of Mushroom Beach, head to any one of many pristine Nusa Lembongan beaches such as Tamarind beach, Dream beach, Sandy Bay beach or Sunset beach.
South Jungut Batu
Jungut Batu Beach, unlike Mushroom Beach, is a long stretch of shoreline – so if you want to avoid the crowd, just stay away from the south where the fast boats pull in and out for their transportation services.
Most tourists who visit Devil’s Tear on trucks and buses are hoarded by a group leader, so head to a cliffside that is not occupied by the masses.
Devil’s Tear is a fairly long coastline of cliff views, and you can easily find a secret little spot where you can have the breathtaking horizon all to yourself!
The Mangrove Forest
The mangroves are located on the northern tip of the island and used as a base for marine park activities for large tour groups. Between about 9am to 4pm, this area is very populated and congested – I say avoid it at all costs.
I visited the mangroves at sunrise around 6am, and there was no other soul on the beach. I was met with some cute puppies though, who wanted to distract me from my photoshoot!
The mangroves get amazing sunrise and sunset hues – it’s the perfect time to visit, enjoy some peace and take incredible photos!
Dream beach is located right off of the parking lot where the tour-group-trucks drop off day visitors for Devil’s Tear – so it’s inevitable that you will run into the influx of tourists especially during the high season. But the Dream Beach is, indeed, dreamy with the various shades of turquoise water against the white sand beach. The beach is worth a visit, even if you have to duck the crowds.
Even if you don’t make a beach day at the Dream beach, go for a brief stop to gaze at the incredible colors of the ocean while sipping on a coconut.
Tip #6: Get off the Beaten Path
Nusa Lembongan is a tiny island, and you can easily drive around the entire island in a day. Aside from the famous island “attractions” such as Devil’s Tear, Dream beach, and the mangroves, there are so many hidden spots to be explored!
Drop the travel guidebooks and let your adventurous spirit guide you off the main paved path. On multiple occasions, I hopped on a scooter and just drove around (pretty much in the other direction of the crowd). One day I stumbled upon a field of tall coconut trees (I love coconuts!), and on another day, I discovered a secluded drop-off where I had an incredible cliff view all to myself!
Tip #7: Don’t Forget the Sister Island – Nusa Ceningan
Exploring Nusa Ceningan will require at least half a day – better for a full day trip (and also requires a motorbike) – but it’s well worth the time and the travel if you are heading to Nusa Lembongan.
If you don’t get to visit anywhere else on Ceningan, don’t miss the Blue Lagoon.
Yes, it’s crowded.
Yes, it’s touristy.
But oh my goodness, it is stunning!
I don’t even know how to explain the shades of baby blue in that lagoon. The colors all around the Blue Lagoon are absolutely breathtaking, and you can explore several angles of the lagoon with a short hike.
But please watch your steps – a man recently fell to his death trying to take photos too close to the cliffs.
Nusa Lembongan is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful paradise islands I have ever planted my feet on. The photos don’t really do justice to the countless awe-inspiring views you can see from this small island.
With such a short distance from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, this magical destination should not be missed if you are heading to Bali!
I hope you find these 7 Nusa Lembongan tips helpful for your island getaway!
If you have any other tips to add, please feel to let me know in the comments below.