Nusa Lembongan: My Review of the Island

Modified on January 21, 2024

Nusa Lembongan is a popular island facing Bali. Here is a review of Lembongan with tips to help you decide whether or not you should include it in your itinerary.

Table of Contents

Where is Nusa Lembongan located?

Nusa Lembongan is situated off the East coast of Bali, just west of its larger sister Nusa Penida. Between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida, there is the small island of Nusa Ceningan, connected to Nusa Lembongan by a very iconic yellow bridge.

The island of Nusa Lembongan, and by extension Nusa Ceningan, are truly very small. Lembongan is 8km², so you could walk around it in about 3 hours (I don't recommend doing it, it's just to indicate the distances!).

In terms of size, you are somewhere between one of the Gili Islands, which are really small, and a more imposing island like Nusa Penida.

Nusa Lembongan is inhabited by only about 5,000 people, to give you an idea.

How do you reach Nusa Lembongan?

Nusa Lembongan is only connected to Bali by small boats, known as fast boats. So, if you want to get there, you have no choice but to take one of them.

Note that unlike Nusa Penida, which is connected to Bali by ferries, large boats that can carry cars, trucks, and other vehicles, it is not possible to bring your own vehicule to Nusa Lembongan.

The majority of boats to Lembongan depart from Sanur. Staying in Sanur the night before is a good idea if you plan to go to Nusa Lembongan.

What does Nusa Lembongan look like?

Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan really look like a miniature version of Bali. Nusa Lembongan / Ceningan and even Penida are inhabited by Balinese (mostly Hindus) and Nusa Lembongan is administratively in Bali.

Both islands are rather flat, especially compared to Nusa Penida. The beaches are either coral beaches or sandy beaches in small coves. Note that seaweed farming is very common in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, so a part of the beaches is occupied by seaweed farms.

The center of Nusa Lembongan and part of its waterfront are occupied by a mangrove that can also be visited.

nusa lembongan seaweed

The major highlights of Nusa Lembongan

There are many reasons why Nusa Lembongan has long been in the spotlight as one of the most visited islands around Bali. Here are its biggest strengths in my opinion.

The view from Nusa Lembongan is stunning

I find the view from Nusa Lembongan, especially from its West and North sides, really hard to beat.

Not only do you have a clear view of Bali from picturesque beaches, but most importantly, you can see Mount Agung like nowhere else in Bali when the weather is clear.

And since the island is small, you have this impressive view from almost everywhere, with a little end-of-the-world vibe that is not unpleasant.

All hotels and guesthouses (or almost all) are beachfront

One of the big advantages of staying on a small island around Bali is that naturally, you will never be far from the beach.

The locals of Lembongan have naturally placed most hotels and guesthouses on the beach, and those that are a bit inland are rarely more than a 10-minute walk from the beach in any case.

Some establishments in Lembongan are truly magnificent, especially those perched on the small cliffs overlooking the Lembongan lagoon and offering that breathtaking view of Bali.

There are no traffic jams or even cars on Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan does not suffer from the traffic jam problem of its big sisters Nusa Penida or Bali.

And those who have been to Bali already know: traffic jams and traffic in general are really big drawbacks of the island.

In Nusa Lembongan, only locals and hotels have vehicles to transport tourists and goods. But even there, they are very few.

Everyone moves either by scooter, and for the more adventurous, by bicycle, which is a welcome change when you're tired of spending hours in a taxi.

Nusa Lembongan is a fun mini Bali to explore

Due to its human-sized surface and the fact that it is quite easy to move around on your own by scooter or even by bike, Nusa Lembongan is a destination that I find really fun to explore.

It's kind of a mini Bali that you can tour in a few days, with landscapes that are very different from one end of the island to the other, which is surprising for such a small area.

In addition, you are officially still in Bali, so you can taste Balinese specialties or see certain aspects of the local culture as you would on Bali.

Nusa Lembongan is one of the few destinations for both surfing and diving

If you are a fan of water sports, you probably already know: diving destinations in Indonesia are rarely surf destinations, and surf destinations are rarely diving destinations!

Lembongan is clearly one of the exceptions. Here you have both world-class surf spots, very good snorkeling destinations on-site, and Nusa Penida nearby by boat, whose reputation is well established when it comes to diving.

Nusa Lembongan view

The negative sides of Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan is not without its drawbacks, even though the island has many advantages. Here are some negative aspects to keep in mind.

You have to take a boat (fast boat) to Nusa Lembongan

Taking a fast boat is absolutely mandatory to go to Nusa Lembongan.

Depending on the companies, the season, and the weather, the experience can range from rather pleasant to very unpleasant. Unfortunately, it's always a bit of a gamble.

If the 30-minute to 1-hour journey to Nusa Lembongan is often relatively peaceful and much shorter than some journeys like the Gilis, it can still be a somewhat of a pain (or an adventure if you prefer to look at it that way) if you don't like port docks, confusing boardings, or worse, if you get seasick.

Like all good things in life, Nusa Lembongan is earned!

Getting around inside Nusa Lembongan involves knowing how to drive a 2-Wheeler (scooter or bike)

To get around Nusa Lembongan, there are not 10,000 options:

  • Either you drive a scooter
  • Or you rent a bike
  • Or you get around on foot
  • Or you use certain "shuttle" offered by your establishment

This is not really a disadvantage in itself, considering there are no cars and traffic everywhere in return, which is in my opinion a great deal.

But if you don't know how to drive a scooter and you're not fit enough for cycling, it can be an issue. Getting around on foot is possible for short distances, but I don't recommend walking around the island for too long.

Nusa Lembongan is relatively isolated from Bali and therefore lacks some conveniences

Nusa Lembongan remains a large isolated village compared to the main island of Bali. Naturally, the infrastructure and amenities have nothing to do with Bali.

There's no mall where you can find everything in Nusa Lembongan, no big hospital with state-of-the-art equipment, and few banks, for example.

It's rarely a problem if you plan to stay a week on Lembongan, but for longer stays, you might quickly run out of something and would therefore need to go to Bali.

The islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are small

Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are small islands that you can quickly explore.

Nothing like Bali, which would take several years to discover fully, let alone the entire Indonesian archipelago, which would probably require multiple lifes!

After 3-4 days on Nusa Lembongan, you will likely have seen all the highlights without rushing anything.

However, many people return to Nusa Lembongan very regularly, even if they have already seen everything, because, well, it's nice. But if you need something new to discover or do every day, you'll quickly run out of options.

What to Do in Nusa Lembongan?

Here are the activities that I particularly recommend in Nusa Lembongan.

Explore Nusa Lembongan by scooter: a great way to discover the island

Nusa Lembongan is an island best explored by scooter, and sometimes by bike. The roads are in good condition, and all the attractions of Lembongan and Ceningan are easily accessible:

  • The most popular beaches: Dream Beach, Mushroom Bay, Jungutbatu Beach
  • The mini cliffs and rocks of the Blue Lagoon
  • The iconic yellow bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan
  • The waves on the rocks of Devil's Tear

Surfing (more suitable for experienced surfers)

There are several surf spots on Nusa Lembongan, but they are mostly reserved for experienced, even very experienced, surfers! I know some who have had some scary moments on the reefs of Nusa Lembongan... Even the supposedly "beginner-friendly" spot on Nusa Lembongan is a reef that can be quite challenging and wouldn't be considered a beginner-friendly spot in many countries.

Among the must-visit spots in Nusa Lembongan:

  • Playground (supposedly beginner-friendly for Lembongan, but more intermediate in reality)
  • Lacerations (the name is self-explanatory, I suppose)
  • Shipwreck (for experienced surfers only)
  • Razors (another self-explanatory name)

Diving or snorkeling in Lembongan or Penida

It is possible to dive in Nusa Lembongan, directly on the reefs when the swell is not too strong.

Otherwise, many offer the opportunity to dive or snorkel in Nusa Penida, which is only a few minutes away by boat.

Spending time in one of the bars and beach clubs in Nusa Lembongan

Nusa Lembongan has some bars and beach clubs facing the sea that are quite nice, and relatively few compared to some places in Bali.

In short, if you like lounging by the pool while being served cocktails with a sea view, there are several establishments for that in Lembongan, and it's not necessarily the worst idea.

Doing nothing: Nusa Lembongan is an excellent destination for relaxation

In my opinion, Nusa Lembongan is also a pretty good destination for those who don't want to do much, or at least not much. After all, you didn't go to Lembongan to work, and certainly not to suffer!

Between hotels and villas with beach views, the possibility of getting around on foot or by scooter easily, and that iconic view, it's also a good place to just sit back and wait for time to pass.

How many days minimum should you spend in Nusa Lembongan?

Ideally, a 3-day getaway to Nusa Lembongan seems to be the right duration for most people. Anything less might be a bit rushed, especially with the boat ride. Longer than that and the most active people might start to get bored!

I would say that the minimum is still 2 days, boat included, if you want to explore a bit and have time to enjoy your stay without feeling rushed.

Who do I recommend to include Nusa Lembongan in their itinerary the most?

Anyone who wants to explore some of the small islands off Bali should stop by Lembongan, which is easily accessible and relatively quick to explore. Here are those to whom I recommend it most:

Nusa Lembongan is a good destination for those who want to discover a small, human-sized island

If you want to play modern-day adventurers on a small island that gives a feeling of the end of the world, Nusa Lembongan is perfect for that.

Not only is the island and its neighbor Ceningan beautiful and human-sized, but they also have fewer traffic issues than their big sisters Nusa Penida and Bali.

Nusa Lembongan is a true surf destination off Bali

Most surfers should seriously consider Nusa Lembongan, especially if they have a good level.

The reefs of Nusa Lembongan can form beautiful and tubular waves, although quite dangerous when the right conditions are met. Since you have to take a boat to reach Nusa Lembongan, there are always fewer people on these waves than on the Bukit or the East Coast of Bali, even if you won't be alone in the water either.

Nusa Lembongan is kind of mandatory during an itinerary of the Nusas (Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida)

If you plan to visit Nusa Penida and have some time before or after, I strongly recommend stopping at Lembongan (and Ceningan). Although they are close, these islands have completely different landscapes and atmospheres.

Especially since, unlike Nusa Penida, for which I recommend a minimum of 3 days to really explore it, Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan can be explored in 2 days, especially if you're coming from Penida.

In short, if you're wondering if going from island to island to visit from Lembongan to Penida is worth it, the answer is yes.

Some tips before going to Lembongan

Lembongan, like many small islands, has some peculiarities that are better to keep in mind.

It's better to book your boat and hotel before going to Lembongan

Okay, I know, most people always book a round-trip boat and hotels before going to Nusa Lembongan.

But there are always some free spirits who leave without a care. And it was my case the first time I went to Lembongan.

Keep in mind that there are not 15,000 hotels in Lembongan, and when they are full, they are full! My optimism almost got me into trouble, and I briefly thought I was going to sleep outside, which I do not recommend.

There are not thousands of bank branches in Nusa Lembongan, and very few ATMs. So, the ATMs might be out of cash, or there might be a problem that makes them not work at that precise moment, and therefore, it's impossible to withdraw cash.

I have also had the issue one day when the internet was not working AND the ATMs were out of bills anyway.

It's always possible to work something out with merchants (you pay by card, they give you cash), but it's more of a hassle than withdrawing a bit of extra cash before going on the boat.

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