Away from all the crowd of Bali there is another paradise, Nusa islands. If you had ever searched the images of Bali, chances are you might have seen the pictures of a beautiful, oddly shaped beach, Kelingking. Funny thing, this world famous attraction that gets tagged under Bali is not situated there but in Nusa islands! 30 minutes away from the eastern side of Bali, the world of Nusa islands awaits you with the treasures that doesn’t end with just Kelingking. Breathtaking cliff points, colorful lagoons, beaches with different shades of blue water, snorkeling with Manta rays, swings on the shallow waters, the things that you can see and experience here is countless. If you are visiting Bali, Nusa islands is a place that you shouldn’t be missing.
What is it?
It is actually a group of three small islands – Nusa Lembongan, 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.
Back 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 both Lembongan and Ceningan, on the next two days we spent time in Penida. My only regret is I wish I had more time to spend there.
This itinerary helps you to plan a 3 days trip to Nusa islands based on how we travelled. But honestly, I would suggest you spend more days there if you can to explore these islands without rushing through it.
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. The journey takes around 30 minutes if you start from Sanur.
We took a D’camel‘s boat from Sanur around 9.30 am. Our pickup was from the town of Ubud in an A/C van around 7 in the morning.
Eka Jaya operators provide you an option to go directly to Nusa Penida. First, they take you to a floating jetty situated between these three islands and from there on a small boat they will transport you to Penida.
Ticket PriceThe price is usually 200,000 IDR which includes the pickup from most of the major towns of Bali that includes Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud, and drop to your hotel in Lembongan. Without pickup service, the price 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 the cheapest way to travel, tickets cost of 100,000 IDR but it takes around 90 minutes to reach.
Day 1 – Nusa Lembongan & Ceningan
You can cover Lembongan and Ceningan islands in one day. All you have to do is, upon reaching Lembongan, make sure you waste no time. Check in to your hotel quickly, rent a scooter and start immediately. Most of the hotels have the motor scooters renting facility.
Price for the scootersThey have a fixed price across 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 at the southern tip, and reserve the second half of the day for Lembongan.
Blue Lagoon is a place that I have seen nothing like before. The amazing blue shade of the ocean water makes you wonder that is this place even real. Reaching here is a 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 water. It looked like someone mixed cobalt in these waters!
Mahana Point – Cliff Jumping (Surf Place)
Ok, cliff jumping is not for everyone, right? In Ceningan, people with some serious guts do it from the diving board fixed on the Mahana point restaurant. Anyway, 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 suitable parking spot in the former place, better you park your vehicle near here and take a walk. For the folks who enjoys surfing, this is a great spot for you.
The Old Tree of Ceningan
A scenic, lonely place near the blue lagoon where you can just gaze at the ocean and think…. what will I have for lunch today?!
Yellow Bridge Point & Beach nearby
First thing that you will notice when you cross the Yellow bridge will be a beach on its right side. Filled with bars and restaurants of different cuisines, all facing the crystal clear shallow sea water, this is the perfect spot to answer the above question – the lunch. Have food, drinks, relax, and take some lovely pictures from their famous beach swings.
It is time to go back to Lembongan.
Devil’s tear is the major attraction of these two islands. 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 also consist of natural infinity pools where few people do some extremely dangerous adventure stunts.
This small little beach near Devil’s tear is one among the top beaches of Nusa islands. Unlike the water in the former place, here she is very calm. Fancy for a light snack after swimming… head to any restaurants nearby.
It is at the northern tip of Lembongan island where the road ends. You can do a boat tour through these thick mangrove forest. Since I come from a place in Kerala, India 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, small but an immaculate backpackers’ hostel. It got 4 beds in an AC room, clean toilets and also they include breakfast with the stay. You can rent motor scooters from here.
Day 2 & 3 – Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is the largest among the three islands. To be honest, two days is not 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 her highlights in two days, like we did.
Getting to Penida
Public boats that’s start from the Yellow bridge is the most viable option to go to Penida. 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.
Renting a scooterIt is better to rent a scooter from the harbor itself. Penida is a big island and you may have to travel longer than you did in the former islands to get to your hotel. So if you take a scooter 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 before you leave.
Things to do
Though the beaches cover Nusa islands from all sides just like Bali, most of them aren’t suitable for swimming, because of shallow water, ferocious waves and rocks. But Crystal bay beach is one exception. For me, among all the beaches I had been during my trip, the best one for swimming was at Crystal Bay. The water here so calm and clear. It is a hotspot for snorkelling as well. This will be the first spot you find while coming from the harbor.
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 beat thee crowd, go early in the morning. Though it is restricted some people still go all the way to the bottom to take pictures, which is highly dangerous..
Broken beach is just a few meters of a walk from Angles Billabong. This naturally formed tunnel on the arch-shaped cliff is another famous Instagram spot.
Move further towards south to see Kelingking viewpoint, undoubtedly the star of our trip. If you haven’t dropped your jaws already by seeing all these natural wonders, you will definitely do it here! The view of the T-Rex dinosaur shaped cliff and the beach next to it is beyond describable. You can easily spend hours here gazing at this natural beauty.
The cherry on the top is actually the beach at the bottom. Getting there is a very hard task though, one has to climb down through some steep steps which at some point feels like rock climbing. But I bet you will find it is worth.
SwimmingSwimming in Kelingking beach is very dangerous because of the strong current. The sea might look calm sea for sometime but the waves will hit back instantaneously. There are no warning signs anywhere here, which makes the matter more difficult to notice.
Like the nature wasn’t done with Kelingking it made another spectacular spot near it…Paluang cliff. The locals have made a boat-shaped view point there which you can see even from Kelingking. What I don’t get is why many people don’t go there. Anyway, if you want to move away from the crowd of Kelingking but also wants to enjoy some mesmerizing views, 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 at the eastern coast of Penida, side by side to an enormous cliff. Getting there is a long but enjoyable The Atuh beach got amazingly clear water but not ideal for swimming due to the rocks in it.
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.