Away from all the crowd of Bali there is another paradise called Nusa islands. If you have searched the images of beaches of Bali you probably might have seen the picture of Kelingking beach (shown below), but the funny thing is that it is not actually in Bali but in Nusa islands! Nusa islands offer you this and a lot other mesmerizing things including breathtaking beaches, cliff points, snorkeling with Manta rays and many more; all this is just 30 minutes away from Bali, by sea. If you are visiting Bali, Nusa islands is a place that you should not miss.
What is it?
It is actually a group of three small islands – Nusa Lembongan, the first one and most probably your first pit stop, followed by Nusa Ceningan, the smallest of three and last but not the least – Nusa Penida, the largest among them, where you should spend more time.
In 2018, I visited Bali with my friend and undoubtedly the highlight of my trip was the time I spent in Nusa islands. We stayed there for 3 days. On the first day we covered Lembongan and Ceningan, then the next two days we were in Penida. The only regret I have is that I wish I had more time to spend there.
So this itinerary helps you to plan a 3 days trip to Nusa islands, based on how we spent our time there. But I really suggest you spend more days if possible to explore these islands in much more relaxed way.
Speedboats operated by the private operators are the best option to reach Nusa islands. Most of the operators take you to Lembongan, the first island, from the harbors of Sanur/Serangan/Padang bai in Bali. It takes around 30 minutes to reach Lembongan.
We took D’camel‘s boat from Sanur around 9.30 am in the morning. Our pickup was from Ubud in an A/C van around 7 in the morning.
Eka Jaya operators have an option to go directly to Nusa Penida if you want. First they take you to their floating jetty which is in between these three islands and from there on a small boat they take you to Penida.
The ticket prices are usually 200,000 IDR which includes the pick up from the main areas of Bali that includes Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud and drop to your hotel in Lembongan. Without pick up it will come down to 150,000 IDR.
Another option is to take the public ferry from Sanur. What I heard is that you can purchase the tickets directly from there. It is a cheaper way to travel, the ticket cost around 100,000 IDR but it takes around 90 minutes to reach.
Day 1 – Nusa Lembongan & Ceningan
Lembongan and Ceningan islands can be covered in one day. All you have to do is that upon reaching Lembongan make sure that you don’t waste much time. Check in to your hotel fast, rent a scooter and start immediately. Most of the hotels provide the rented scooters from the hotel itself.
The price for the motor scooters are fixed across all the islands – 70,000 IDR with full tank petrol.
Things to see
I would suggest you start from Ceningan island which is connected to Lembongan by a picturesque yellow bridge situated at the southern tip and reserve the second half of the day for Lembongan.
Blue Lagoon is a place that I haven’t seen anything like that. The amazing blue shade of the ocean water makes you wonder that is this place even real.
Reaching here is little tricky though. We couldn’t see any sign board while coming from the yellow bridge. Checking the route on your cellphone maps would be the best option.
Make sure you walk a little further towards the side of Mahana cliff jumping point to see some more crazy shades of blue on the water. My first reaction of it was, who mixed cobalt in the water?!
Mahana Point – Cliff Jumping (Surf Place)
Ok, cliff jumping is not for everyone. People with some serious guts do it from the diving board fixed on the Mahana point restaurant. But it takes no risk to watch other people do this crazy stunt, from a distance, like I did!
This place is just a few minutes of walk away from the Blue Lagoon. Since there is no good parking spot in the former place, better you park your vehicle here and take a walk to both these places. This area is a good spot for surfing as well.
The Old Tree of Ceningan
A scenic lonely place where you can just gaze at the ocean and think…. what will I have for lunch today?!
Yellow Bridge & Beach nearby
The first thing that you will notice after crossing the Yellow bridge will be this area. Filled with restaurants on the shores of the crystal clear sea water, it is a perfect spot to answer the above question – the lunch.
Have food, drinks and relax. Whatever you do, don’t forget to take some pictures on the famous beach swings.
Drive back to Lembongan to see the crazy waves of Devil’s tear where the mother nature unleashes ferocious waves that hit the rock side and sprays it all over. Be very careful while standing there, one small slip and it could be very fatal.
Situated at the western shore, this will be an ideal place to see the sunset from Lembongan.
It is also consist of natural infinity pools where few people do some extremely dangerous adventure stunts.
Dream beach is one of the famous beaches in Lembongan. Though it is situated close to the devil’s tear, the waves on this beach are very much relaxed, making it a perfect spot to swim.
It is at the northern tip of Lembongan island where the road ends. There is an option to take the boat ride through the thick mangrove forest. Since I come from a place in Kerala where my backyard is practically a mangrove forest itself, this wasn’t a place that fascinated me much, so we spent more time on the beaches instead.
Where to stay
At Lembongan, we stayed in the Pange hostel, a small but very neat backpackers hostel. It got 4 beds in an AC room, clean toilets and breakfast is also included. You can rent motor scooters from here.
Day 2 & 3 – Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is the largest of all islands. To be honest, two days are not sufficient enough to see and experience all the things that this beautiful island has to offer but if you are on a tight schedule, you can cover almost all the important places just like we did.
Getting to Penida
Taking the public boat from the Yellow bridge is the most viable option. The tickets cost 60,000 IDR for one direction. Don’t make the mistake by booking the return ticket from there itself like we did, because they charge you the same amount even if you book a return ticket from Penida. So if you lose the ticket or change the plans like going to Gili islands from Penida then there is no point in buying the return tickets earlier.
It is better to get a rented scooter from the harbor itself. Penida is a big island and depending upon your hotel’s location you may have to travel a bit longer than the former islands. So if you take it from the harbor, on the day you leave the island, you don’t have to look for another transport to get back to the harbor. You can ride back on it and hand over the vehicle.
Things to do
For me, among all the beaches that I had been during my trip, the best beach for swimming was Crystal Bay. The water is so calm and clear. Lots of people do snorkeling near here as well. This is the first point you will find while coming up from the harbor side.
Angles Billabong & Broken Beach
Angles Billabong is famous for its natural infinity pool. Usually, this place gets crowded very much. So if you want to spend some time away from all the crowd go early in the morning.
Broken beach is just a few meters of a walk from Angles Billabong. This naturally formed tunnel on the arch-shaped cliff is another great Instagram spot.
Undoubtedly the star of this trip is Kelingking viewpoint. The view of the T-Rex dinosaur like shaped cliff and the beach adjacent to that is just breathtaking. You can easily spend hours here by gazing at this natural beauty.
The beach at the bottom of it is just mesmerizing. Getting there is a very hard task though, one has to climb down through the steep stairway which at some point feels like rock climbing. But it is absolutely worth it for sure.
Beware, you should not swim here at all, as the waves get so strong and huge like tsunami waves periodically.
As of December 2018 the road condition to Angles Billabong and Kelingking is very bad that practically there is very little of asphalt is left. Driving on a motor scooter, especially if you have someone in the back going to be very difficult.
It is very close to Kelingking, you can see a ship shaped viewpoint from there. For me, this place was the best during my trip. I don’t understand why many people don’t go there. Anyway if you want to move away from the crowd of Kelingking but at the same time you wants to enjoy some amazing natural beauty, then this is the place people.
Go there by sunset. It is magical guys, trust me on this.
It is at the southern point of Penida. Long blue colored steps that lead to the waterfall is the main attraction of this place.
Atuh Beach & Diamond Beach
By scenic wise, these two will come very close to Kelingking. Both are situated at the eastern cost of Penida, side by side to a huge cliff. Getting there is a long drive but it is totally worth it. The Atuh beach got amazingly clear water but not ideal for swimming due to the rocks in it.
You have to pay 10,000 IDR to enter here. The ticket includes the visit to both the beaches.
Drive through southern cost
After visiting Atuh beach take the right upon reaching the main road to reach the eastern coast of Penida. The lush greenery on the way will soon give the way to the calm and beautiful face of Bali’s ocean water.
Watch nature paints the color of the sky as the sun goes down, with giant Mount Agung in the background.
Snorkeling is one the best thing that you can do in Nusa Penida. Even if you book it from Lembongan or Ceningan they will take you to Penida only where all the snorkeling points are present. During my time in Bali, I did snorkeling in Gilli islands also but I found the one I did in Penida was more interesting. I didn’t go to the Manta Ray point (turned out there was no Mantas on that day) but the fishes that I saw were so beautiful and colorful (I didn’t have a Go-pro with me so just imagine some cool images in your mind).
The prices vary from 150,000 to 250,000 IDR depending on the number of points that you want to go. It is always good to book the trip from the harbor directly than going through your hotel agents. There you will have more options to choose from and bargain.
Street food from the local market
The northern side of Penida got an amazing street food market. Don’t forget to try the chocolate pancake from there.
If you have only a single day to explore Penida, then its better to hire a car with driver to reach around the places. Penida is a big island compare to the other two, so you have to drive a lot between the places. Also the condition of the road is very bad in many places (as of December 2018).
But if you want to visit only Crystal Bay, Angles Billabong and Kelingking Beach, then it make sense to rent a scooter because all these places are somewhat nearby.
Where to stay
In Penida, we stayed in Yuda homestay, located on the northern shore. It had the most spacious room out of all the hotels that we stayed during our trip. But we were the only guests in the property, so the ambiance was so dull, besides they didn’t provide the breakfast.
Bintang is a famous backpackers hostel in this island which got very good vibes.