Nusa Lembongan is a relaxed tropical island located off the southeast coast of Bali. Though the two islands share the same culture and Hindu faith, life on Nusa Lembongan remains far more relaxed than on the busy shores of southern Bali. Nusa Lembongan is a popular destination for snorkelling and diving trips and also attracts travellers craving for a more relaxed holiday – there are no private cars on this tiny island!
Nusa Lembongan Overview
Nusa Lembongan offers a laid back island getaway, with great restaurants and beautiful villas for visitors to choose from. The island used to be the exclusive stomping ground of backpackers but in recent years, Nusa Lembongan has started catering to a more high end clientele, too. Luckily, even with all the recent developments, Nusa Lembongan has maintained its relaxed feel and in many places, the vibe is that of Bali some decades ago. As a testament to the laid back feel of the island, there are no private cars on this petite islet with locals and visitors alike making their way around on motorbikes and on the back of open back vans.
Nusa Lembongan is administratively and culturally a part of Bali, meaning you will encounter the same colourful Hindu ceremonies and beautiful daily offerings on both islands. But the two islands still have their differences. Where southern Bali has gone through rapid development, life on Nusa Lembongan remains low key and relaxed, making this the perfect destination for travellers looking for a laid back, toes-in-the-sand island getaway.
Besides neighbouring world famous Bali, Nusa Lembongan is one third of the Nusa islands, the other two being Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. Nusa Lembongan is connected to Nusa Ceningan through the famous Yellow Bridge, while Nusa Penida is a short boat ride away.
Planning Your Trip to Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan and its two neighbouring islands have become popular destinations all year round. To make the most of the beautiful beaches and to avoid rough seas, it’s best to travel during the dry season (May – September). Our Nusa Lembongan travel guide aims to give you the essential information, list the most popular things to do in Nusa Lembongan, provide more information on locations you want to visit, and finish with some inspiration from our travel writers. For more information on events and festivals taking place throughout the year, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
Nusa Lembongan Weather
The climate in Nusa Lembongan is similar to that in mainland Bali. May through September has the best weather (drier, less humid) and is the best time for many activities including diving and surfing. November though March is rainy season – though rainfall is never excessive so you can do most activities except volcano treks.
The temperature ranges from 24 degrees to 31 degrees all year round.
Rainfall ranges from 0cm to 140cm during the wet season.
Things to See & Do in Nusa Lembongan
One of the best things about Nusa Lembongan is that you don’t actually need to do anything – on this relaxed island, you can simply be for a change. The minuscule island invites travellers to relax and get lost in island time, but don’t worry. There are also ways to keep active in Nusa Lembongan for those so inclined.
Tours & Activities
Nusa Lembongan offers beautiful beaches with soft golden sand framed by turquoise waters. Mushroom Bay on the west coast is generally considered the safest beach for swimming. True to their names, Dream Beach and Sunset Beach are beautiful, but strong currents mean swimming is only recommended for strong swimmers. No matter which beach you’re visiting, always be mindful of the strong currents and tides.
Though it’s tempting to simply park yourself by the pool or beach and stay put, we highly recommend exploring the island. Devil’s Tear is a rugged rock formation which is bombarded by crashing waves, surrounded by tidepools. The waves make for a very dramatic spectacle and the spot also offers magnificent sunset views. It’s best to visit either early or later in the day to avoid the crowds. In the northern tip of the island, you can enjoy a leisurely boat ride through the lush mangrove forest. Another local landmark is the Yellow Bridge which connects Nusa Lembongan to the neighbouring island of Nusa Ceningan.
Speaking of neighbouring islands – Nusa Lembongan offers the perfect opportunity for some island hopping. The island is part of the three Nusa Islands together with Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. The miniscule Nusa Ceningan is connected to Lembongan through the Yellow Bridge which you can cross over on foot or by motorbike. Nusa Ceningan is known for its beautiful beaches and adrenaline inducing cliff jumps.
If you would like to visit Nusa Penida, the largest of the three islands, you will need to hop on a boat which depart frequently from on the Lembongan side of the Yellow Bridge. If you’re not that into DIY travel, there are also many tour companies offering day trips from Lembongan to Nusa Penida. Nusa Penida is becoming increasingly famous for its unique natural scenery, including the Kelingking rock formation, Angel’s Billabong rock pools and multiple snorkelling spots.
Snorkelling and diving are among the most popular activities in Nusa Lembongan and its surrounding waters. The best spots for both snorkelling and diving are located further off from the island, so it’s best to join a local company for a boat tour. For snorkelling, the most popular spots include Mangrove Point in Nusa Lembongan along with Gamut Bay, The Wall and Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida. Most companies will offer tours with the option of one, two or three stops. There are also several PADI diving schools in Lembongan.
Eating & Drinking in Nusa Lembongan
There are plenty of good dining options on Nusa Lembongan – just don’t expect fine dining! Much like the island itself, the dining scene in Lembongan tends to be low key and relaxed. Think long dinners with friends and family with your toes dug in the sand and the ocean breeze playing in your hair.
Most of the restaurants on the island are local warungs and laidback cafes serving Western favourites and smoothie bowl type of fare. Most venues are focused around Jungutbatu and Mushroom Bay on the west coast, with only a handful of options in the more rural areas. Getting to and from restaurants is made easy since most restaurants offer a complimentary pick up and drop off service to and from your accommodation.
Sunsets are the main event on Nusa Lembongan, with travellers gathering to beachfront and clifftop venues on the west coast to witness this stunning natural spectacular. The island also offers a handful of beach clubs, ideal for lazing the day (and night) away with a cold beer or cocktail in hand. Though there are plenty of ways to pass your nights on the island, Nusa Lembongan lacks the hectic nightlife which has taken over other nearby islands like Gili Trawangan – many would say this is one of the perks of staying in Lembongan.
Nusa Lembongan Neighbourhoods
Nusa Lembongan is a petite island measuring just around eight square kilometres in size, so no matter where you stay on the island, you’re never too far from the (laid back) action. That being said, the island does have specific pockets catering to different tastes. The busiest locale is the immediate area surrounding the port in Jungutbatu. Another popular locale is Mushroom Bay which offers a beautiful beach and a good selection of restaurants. One of our favourite parts of the island is the southwest corner where you’ll discover the beautiful Dream Beach, a fabulous beach club and a community of stunning beachfront and clifftop villas.
Nusa Lembongan & Surrounds
Nusa Lembongan is located right off the coast of Bali – the boat ride from the relaxed seaside town of Sanur in mainland Bali over to Lembongan takes just over 30 minutes. Another option is to catch a boat from Padang Bai, a quaint port town located on the southeast coast. For those wanting to experience East Bali before or after visiting Lembongan, we strongly recommend spending a few nights in the relaxed beachside hub of Candidasa which is home to some of the best oceanfront villas in Bali. Interestingly, Nusa Lembongan is administratively part of the Klungkung regency, an area with a strong historical and cultural heritage. Finally, Nusa Lembongan is neighboured by two petite islands – Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan are both known for offering stunning natural scenery off the beaten tourist track.
Nusa Lembongan Villas
There are around 20 Ministry Approved villas in Nusa Lembongan. Though the island is getting more popular, it still remains under most travellers’ radar and as a result, prices tend to be lower than in mainland Bali. If you’re looking for a beachfront or an ocean view villa at a great price point, Nusa Lembongan is a great option.
Nusa Lembongan villas range from around USD $160 per night for a two-bedroom villa to around USD $1,000 per night for a five-bedroom luxury villa. All of our villas come with professionally trained staff. Many villas offer personalised services including: butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, drivers and other services you won’t find in a hotel.
Due to the island’s small size, there is no airport on Nusa Lembongan. There closest airport is Ngurah Rai International Airport which is located on the neighbouring island of Bali. This busy airport serves around 20 million passengers every year and is well connected to international destinations via direct flights, including those offered from Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Dubai.
From the airport, it takes about 40 minutes to reach the closest harbour which is located in Sanur. From here, boast depart to Jungutbatu in Nusa Lembongan with a transfer time of around 30 – 40 minutes. There are several carriers operating on the route – the most recommended company is Rocky Fast Cruises. Alternatively, you can also reach Nusa Lembongan with boats departing from Padang Bai and Benoa. Remember to wear flipflops and shorts when travelling as you’ll need to wade through the water to get to the boat. For guests who’ve booked through Ministry of Villas, our concierge team can help arrange airport and boat transfers to and from Nusa Lembongan.
Nationalities from over 160 countries are eligible for visa free entry into Indonesia. This means your passport will be stamped on arrival at the airport, allowing you to stay in the country for 30 days. For stays longer than 30 days, you will need to obtain a visa which will require further arrangements. Please note your passport must be valid for six months after your date of arrival in Indonesia.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island and depending on where you’re staying (and how much luggage you’re bringing!), you can reach your accommodation from the harbour on foot, by rental motorbike or local pick-up truck services. Most accommodations will offer a complimentary pick up service from the harbour.
Nusa Lembongan is petite in size, so getting around the island will usually not be a problem. Note that there are no private cars or official taxis on the island. Most restaurants offer free pick up and drop off services throughout the island.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island, so walking is often a valid option for getting around. Many of the restaurants, villas, hotels and beaches on the busier west coast are connected through walkable roads. It’s good to remember that the weather can get very hot so bring along some water and sunscreen if you’re planning to walk around during the day. Parts of the island are hilly, which can make for a rather exhausting hike.
Since the distances are generally small, you can also bike your way around much of Nusa Lembongan. You can rent a bike at a rental shop or directly from your accommodation for about IDR 50,000 (USD $4) per day. The roads are in varying condition throughout the island so remember to keep your eyes on the road and drive safe.
If you’re planning to visit different parts of the island and especially if you’re looking to explore the neighbouring island of Nusa Ceningan, hiring a scooter can be a great way to get around. Daily rentals are usually around IDR 50,000 – 80,000 (USD $4 – 6). You should only hire a scooter if you have previous experience driving and have a valid international driver’s license. Though most locals tend to go without, always wear a helmet when driving.
Another way to explore Nusa Lembongan is to hire a self-drive electric golf buggy. You can rent a buggy through certain accommodation or reach out directly to the rental companies. The daily rate is usually around IDR 800,000 (USD $57). Hiring a buggy is a safe and environmentally friendly to make your way around the island.
Due to the island’s miniscule size and restrictions regarding the number of cars allowed on the island, there are no private vehicles and no taxis on the island. There are, however, several local pickup trucks offering rides across to the island. Most restaurants offer free pick ups and drop offs. If you’re looking to tour the island (especially if you’re travelling with a bigger group) you can also hire a truck for private use, with rates starting at around IDR 600,000 (USD $43) for three hours.
Nusa Lembongan is an administrative and cultural part of Bali island. The Balinese are among the friendliest and most welcoming people on the planet. This is all the more reason to return the favour and be respectful towards the local culture. Like anywhere else in the world, common sense and basic human decency goes a long way. For more detailed information about local culture, language and safety in Bali, check out our comprehensive Bali guide.
SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping on the island… or it can be frustrating! To ensure a smooth exchange first decide what the item is worth to you, then ask the seller for their price – your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price. They are likely to respond with a counteroffer, which you can either accept or negotiate further. If you don’t like the price and you walk away there is a good chance the vendor will call out to you with a better (usually final) price. Keep in mind, if an agreement is reached, you’re committed – you should buy if your offer is accepted.
In late 2018, Bali’s governor banned single use plastic on the island, meaning shops, boutiques and supermarkets no longer give out plastic bags. When out and about, it’s best to carry a reusable bag with you.
Most restaurants and villas include a service component already so tipping is not expected, but if service is good, an additional cash tip is appreciated.
Indonesia’s country code is +62. Data speeds of 3G and faster is the norm across Bali. Local prepaid SIM cards are sold everywhere; any modern mobile phone will work. As of 2018, all prepaid SIM cards need to be registered which you can usually do with a copy of your passport directly at the shop where you purchase your SIM card. Prepaid SIM cards come loaded with pulsa (credit) or mobile data which you can later easily top up at other outlets. Most if not all minimarts and local phone shops can top off your SIM card when needed. Most villas provide broadband Internet and free Wi-Fi is common in cafes, restaurants, hotels and shopping malls.
Health & Safety
It’s important to note that compared to many places in the world, Bali and Nusa Lembongan are fairly safe. There have been some high-profile cases of visitors being injured or killed on Bali, but in many cases these tragedies have been inflamed by media sensationalism.
The beaches in Nusa Lembongan are subject to heavy surf and strong currents. Be careful when swimming over coral and never walk on it. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment. Lastly, water pollution is a problem in busy neighbourhoods. Avoid swimming near open streams flowing into the sea as they are often contaminated by run-off from built-up areas.
Violent crime is uncommon in Bali, however bag-snatching from motorbikes and petty theft does occur. Take extra care with your phone if riding pillion on a motorbike as phones regularly get snatched from unsuspecting tourists using a navigation app. Otherwise, take the same precautions you would when travelling anywhere in the world and secure your money before leaving an ATM (and don’t forget your card!), don’t leave valuables on a beach while swimming, and use in-villa safes to store your valuables.
Tap water in Nusa Lembongan is not safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and cheap, however Ministry of Villas encourages visitors to keep a reusable water bottle to reduce plastic consumption.
Travel insurance is absolutely essential for every traveller. A typical travel insurance policy will have coverage for a traveller’s main concerns, including trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and lost luggage. Most policies are built to be comprehensive to protect travellers from a variety of events that may cause financial loss before or during their trip. Some policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’ which can include scuba diving, renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at World Nomads and you can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Nusa Lembongan Stories
Nusa Lembongan offers the ideal island escape with paradise beaches, laid back restaurants, great snorkelling and an irresistibly relaxed way of life. When our team needs a break from Bali, we make our way to this paradise island. Check out our latest Nusa Lembongan blog posts written by experienced Ministry of Villas travel writers.