The Nusas: Bali’s Little Islands

I hadn’t even heard of the Nusa islands until I started planning our Bali trip. I knew I wanted to visit a Balinese beach city (we had already planned a yoga retreat in Ubud) but I didn’t want to go to a popular party spot like Canggu or Seminyak. A friend of ours had visited Nusa Penida and it looked gorgeous so we decided to start our Balinese (and Indonesian) adventure here!

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures from our time here. I took most of the pictures on our GoPro which randomly stopped working! We tried to go to a repair shop on the island, but no such luck. Thankfully our sea-soaked phones (they got soaked on a boat in Cambodia) recovered after a couple of days in rice, so we were able to get some photos off of them.

Getting to Bali from Sihnoukville, Cambodia

We were coming from Koh Rong Samloem so we flew from Sihnoukville to Despensar on AirAsia and had a layover in Kuala Lumpur. After 9 hours of travel we arrived in Despensar near midnight. It was too late for a ferry to the island so we stayed one night in Despensar at The Janan Villa. It was close to the Sanur ferry terminal and nice enough.

Getting to Nusa Lembongan from Despensar

So there are three Nusa Islands; Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Ceningan. We stayed on Nusa Lembongan (the mid-size island closest to Bali) and decided to do day trips to the others. We took a ferry from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan. It was $20 per person and took about one hour.

What to do in Nusa Lembongan

Our favorite thing to do on an island this size? Rent a scooter and explore! The scooter was only $7 a day!

Start by hiring a private boat to swim with mantas. It costs next to nothing and you can jump out and swim with manta rays! The water was crystal clear. They weren’t as huge as the ones we later saw in Komodo, but still super awesome! The captain also dropped us at some other cool beaches to snorkel. There are some more structured group tours, but we always bring our own snorkel gear and talk to people at the boat dock to DIY it.

Catch sunset with BYOB beers at Devil’s Tears or get a nice cocktail and a dip in the pool at Sandy Bay Beach Club or Ohana’s on Jungutbatu Beach.

Where to Stay in Nusa Lembongan

I loved our hotel, Lembongan Cempaka Villa. The pool was so nice and the staff was incredible. Plus it had all of the beautiful Balinese touches and decor.

What to do in Nusa Ceningan

Take the yellow bridge to Nusa Ceningan and do a self-guided island tour. Once on Nusa Ceningan head to the gorgeous Blue Lagoon. Be sure to watch surfers at Mahana Point (there’s a cliff jump here too!) and swim over to Secret Point. Stop at Le Pirate Beach Club (We ended up staying at another Le Pirate property in Flores.) and Seabreeze for drinks along the way.

What to do (or not) in Nusa Penida

Okay so we didn’t actually make it to Nusa Penida. We took a boat over and rented a scooter to go to the famed Kelingking viewpoint and beach. (If you’re reading this post you likely know the one. It’s all over IG and looks like a T-Rex). Up the hill on the way to Kelingking we almost crashed. The road was TERRIBLE and had so many potholes. We decided it wasn’t worth a wreck so we called our loses and turned around. We chilled at a restaurant until it was time to take the boat back to Nusa Lembongan. Lame, I know. But hopefully we made the right call!

If we had made it, I had these places on my list to check out:

  • Angel’s Billabong
  • Broken Beach
  • Atuh Beach 
  • Thousand Island (Pulau Seribu) Viewpoint
  • Diamond Beach
  • Suwehan Beach

If you’re planning a Bali trip, don’t skip the Nusas. The little islands are filled with beauty and fun activities.

You need to visit Nusa,


Note: We visited Bali in April 2019.

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