Exploring the Nusa Islands of Indonesia [Lembongan, Penida, Ceningan]

the nusa islands bali indonesia visit

The ‘Nusa Islands’ are located just off the mainland from the popular holiday destination Bali. Accessible only via ferry, some of these islands are may be overlooked when people head to visit Bali. There are three Nusa Islands, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. Nusa Penida is the largest and most well known of the three. This is mostly due to photos and videos of the impressive beaches that circulate over social media. Nusa Lembongan is the second largest, and personally our favourite. While Nusa Ceningan is the smallest, and is often overlooked.

We loved our visit to all three of these islands. In particular, we found the relaxed pace, something the locals referred to as ‘island living’, a nice change from the often chaotic Bali. Getting to the Nusa Islands occurs via ferry from the port town of Sanur on the Bali mainland. This process is easy enough, but be prepared for a little chaos, things running late, and not a lot of guidance on where to go. It is easy enough to buy tickets online through ‘Bali Ferries’, but make sure you get to the port early to ensure you can check in. The ferry ride should take between 30-45minutes depending on which island you visit. We recommend going earlier in the day if possible when the waters are often calmer. We spent a total of 5 nights on the islands (majority on Nusa Lembongan, 1 on Penida, and a day trip to Ceningan) and found this a good amount of time to relax and explore.

See our thoughts on the Nusa Islands, including links to our detailed guides for each three destinations.

Nusa Lembongan:

This island destination is a true paradise and we consider it a ‘hidden gem’ of Bali! The relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals, beautiful beaches and amazing beach cafes/bars means this place is a wonderful spot to spend a few days! Only 30 minutes from mainland of Bali, Nusa Lembongan has to be one of our favourite travel locations to date! Home to a multitude of amazing cafes and bars right on the beach (e.g. Ginger & Jamu, Ohana’s), a tropical on-the-water bar located 100m offshore (Lago Pontoon), and some beautiful beaches, this island has a lot to offer. See our complete guide below, including where to visit, and our delightful and budget friendly accommodation spot.

Nusa Penida:

Nusa Penida offers those stunning views of jagged cliffs and beaches you see on your social media feed. There are a multitude of tours running from Bali to Nusa Penida, and it is easily the most popular of the three islands. We visited Nusa Penida for a 2 day tour, staying one night on the island. The guide below contrasts the pros and cons of visiting the island. Overall, we found the beauty to be incredible, however the ‘touristy’ nature of Penida was also evident. Perhaps this was even more stark as we came from Nusa Lembongan beforehand, which had a completely different feel. We’d urge you to read a guide below to make an informed decision before you visit!

Nusa Ceningan:

The ‘little sister’ of the Nusa Islands is a perfect day trip option from Lembongan. It is a tiny island that can be traversed very easily on scooter. You access Nusa Ceningan via the iconic yellow bridge linking it to Lembongan. The island has some incredible ‘hidden’ beaches, great surfing waves, a number of well positioned beach bars, and is overall a great day trip option. See our thoughts on Nusa Ceningan below!

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