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Nusa Lembongan – Travel guide at Wikivoyage

Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. Fast becoming one of Bali’s most popular attractions, this island is a world away from the hassle and hectic pace of South Bali. Neither hawkers nor traffic mar the magnificent scenery; this is a fine place to just put your feet up and relax. Main activities include surfing, diving and snorkeling. The water is some of the clearest you will find anywhere, and a vivid aqua blue in colour.

Understand

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Touches of Robinson Crusoe at Dream Beach

Nusa Lembongan is approximately 8 km² in size, and is one of three neighbouring islands, the others being much larger Nusa Penida and tiny Nusa Ceningan (also covered by this article). The three islands are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait. Some visitors may find Nusa Lembongan a little slow after the pace of South Bali.

Many areas around the island are good for diving and snorkeling, with abundant marine life and healthy coral. Surfing can get a bit crowded, but the waves are good. There are several white sand beaches away from the main centres which are virtually never crowded. There is a flourishing and well established seaweed farming industry here, and many visitors find it interesting to learn about this.

Southeast Nusa Lembongan with the hills of Nusa Penida in the background

Orientation

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Two main beach areas have traditionally attracted visitors.

Jungut Batu in the northwest is the bigger of the two, and has myriad hotels and cheap eateries. This is the area which traditionally attracted backpackers and surfers to the island. The white sand beach here is pleasant enough but nothing to get too excited about, and it is a little narrow in places. The hillside to the south of Jungut Batu known as the Bukit () has been developed and has attracted some higher level hotels and private villas. The views from the Bukit are perhaps second to none on Nusa Lembongan. Sunsets are best viewed along the main Jungut Batu beachfront.

Mushroom Bay to the southwest of Jungut Batu is a quaint, attractive and sheltered bay. It is an especially nice spot after 15:00 when the day trippers have returned to Bali, and it has a great white sandy beach, along with some cozy little water-side restaurants.

Further south, the lesser known beaches either side of the Devil’s Tear outcrop, known as Dream Beach and Sunset Beach (or Sandy Bay), are increasingly drawing more visitors. The coastal landscape in this part of the island is mostly low-lying limestone cliffs, and there are some dramatic cave formations.

The north end of the island is fringed by an important mangrove forest, and the eastern side of the island is separated from neighbouring Nusa Ceningan by a shallow estuarine channel.

The main population centre of the island is Lembongan Village in the southern interior, and it is here that you will find the homes of many traditional island families.

Climate

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The climate of Nusa Lembongan is similar to neighbouring ‘mainland’ Bali, but it is noticeably drier here, particularly in the period of May to September. If there is a time to avoid, it would be the height of the rainy season in January and February.

Culture

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The local Lembonganese are Hindu and visitors will notice little or no difference from the prevailing culture on the Bali mainland.

Talk

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Balinese is the most common language of communication between local residents, with Bahasa Indonesia a distant second. The Balinese spoken here is a distinct dialect, and sharp-eared linguists would certainly notice this. English is widely understood and spoken, often with an Australian accent!

Get in

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Map of Nusa Lembongan

The only realistic way (although you can charter a helicopter) to reach Nusa Lembongan from Bali is by boat. There are several options according to budget and speed. Most of the scheduled fast boat services leave from Sanur Beach. Other services run from Serangan and Benoa Harboursin south Bali, and there are a couple of services to and from Padang Bai in East Bali.

As of 2021, there are over 20 different fast boat operators going to Lembongan, making it hard to chose one that is reliable, safe and value for money. Standards vary widely, so some caution is advised. If you want to compare services ahead of time, a simple online search for “Bali to Lembongan” should get you pointed in the right direction.

If leaving from Bali, you can simply go directly to a fast boat office of your choice (usually near the departure point) to book. The best places to check live seat availability and get immediate confirmed e-tickets online are Gilibookings.com or the cheaper Gilitickets.com. Otherwise you can go direct to one of the fast boat company websites to make reservation inquiries which in some cases takes 24 hr to get confirmation.There are also plenty of local agents selling tickets that you can purchase when there, or you may be able to book with staff from your hotel. If you are coming from Lombok or the Gili islands it may be easier to pre-book online as options are more limited and local fast boat offices less prevalent (excepting perhaps Gili Trawangan).

The majority of fast boat services to Lembongan do involve getting your feet wet at boarding and disembarkation. Also, nearly all offer complementary pick up and drop off services to/from the most popular areas of Bali.

Arrival

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There are three main arrival locations on Nusa Lembongan:

  • Jungut Batu beach in the north of the island
  • Mushroom Bay to the west
  • The base of the Yellow footbridge between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, in the south of the island.

The latter 2 options are mainly used by larger fast boat and fast ferry (charter) services that dock at dedicated floating pontoons near to the coast, using smaller craft to transfer people ashore.

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From South Bali

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By far the most fast boat services to Lembongan depart from Sanur beach, which can be found at the end of Jalan Hangtuah. The exact departure and arrival point on this beach depends on the tide, however some operators have a waiting area on the boulevard or beach for checked-in passengers. Nearly all the Sanur services sail to Jungut Batu on Lembongan.

Serangan Harbour hosts some of the best established fast boat companies in the region, some of which service Lembongan from time to time. The advantage of Serangan is that boarding takes place from dedicated jetties, rather than the beach. There is also a larger fast boat that sails from Serangan to the floating pontoon at the back of Lembongan island, avoiding wet feet on both ends of the journey.

Benoa Harbour has a couple of very large fast ferry operations to Nusa Lembongan, but cater mostly to mass group bookings from Asian tour operators and are thus often chartered out and not always available for individual ticket sales.

Crossings from south Bai to Lembongan generally take between 35 and 45 min, depending on the sea conditions and arrival point.

From East Bali

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Padang Bai has a fast boat jetty most often used for services to Lombok and the Gili islands, however as of 2019 there was also a daily trip to and from Nusa Lembongan, taking about 45-min.

From Nusa Penida

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Neighbouring Nusa Penida is much less visited, but slowly growing in popularity. It’s relatively straightforward to get between the islands with local speedboat charters. It’s just a short hop over, typically taking only 10-min.

From the Gili Islands and Lombok

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Several fast boat services offer connections between Lombok, the Gilis and Lembongan. These are usually en-route to or from Bali so make for an excellent island hopping route. Many travellers chose to spend a few days on Nusa Lembongan before or after their time on the Gili islands and/or Lombok. Travel time varies per route, as some boats sail via Padang Bai Bali or Sengiggi, Lombok. On average, the journey time is between 2 and 3 hrs.

Get around

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The cliffs of southwest Nusa Lembongan make for excellent walking

Nusa Lembongan is a nice place to walk, with coastal paths linking nearly all the guest houses, hotels and restaurants. Most walks will take less than two hours. The less developed southwestern area of the island has some spectacular coast paths which provide easy walking, great views back to Bali, and spectacular sunsets. You can cross by foot to the small neighbouring island of Nusa Ceningan via a scenic suspension bridge.

From the end of the beach at Jungut Batu it is a 35-min walk along the coast to Mushroom Bay.

By bicycle

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Bicycles can be rented at some hotels and guest-houses. Some of the roads are quite well surfaced, but be prepared for some very degraded surfaces in places and there are some steep hills. A significant road resurfacing project is going on throughout the island in October 2015, which is improving matters. This is a great way to see the island at your own pace. Expect to pay about Rp 20,000-40,000 per day.

By motorbike

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Motorbikes are also widely available for rent, but may be unnecessary given the short distances involved — the island is only about 4 km end-to-end. Expect to pay Rp 50,000-100,000 per day, depending on how busy it is. Local boys are more than happy to transport you on the back of their motorbike for a fee.

By truck

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There are virtually no cars on Nusa Lembongan, and any business or local resident wishing to bring one to the island needs special permission from the village elders. This will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Local 4-wheeled transport is available though in the form of basic pick-up trucks which most hotels and restaurants use. These are useful for transport to and from the boat transfer point when you are likely to have heavy bags, but are otherwise not really necessary.

By boat

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Local boatmen are willing to take you by boat from Jungut Batu to Mushroom Bay. One way should cost about Rp 30,000. A return trip can be negotiated down to Rp 50,000.

See

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Crashing waves at Devil’s Tear

The attractions here are mostly natural. The beaches and other coastal landscapes are obviously a key draw, as are the sunsets. There are a limited number of man-made attractions, most notably temples and the rickety suspension bridge.

Beaches

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Other

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Nusa Lembongan is famous for spectacular sunsets

A road in Jungut Batu

Do

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Activities are very much water-based, with surfing and scuba diving being especially notable.

Yoga

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Surfing

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Nusa Lembongan was first opened up as a tourist destination by surfers, and it has long been an established part of the Bali surf circuit.

There are three main breaks, all off the top half of the west coast, with another less well known just to the southwest off Nusa Ceningan. , and are all close offshore and reached via an energetic paddle from the beach, or in a more leisurely fashion, by a local boat (perahu) which can be chartered from the nearest beach.

Whilst the breaks usually suit intermediate to experienced surfers given they all break over coral reefs, the aptly named Playgrounds is a little more forgiving and can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike. All the surf breaks become extremely crowded during the dry season

Although surfable all year round, waves are best when winds are in the southeast quarter, normally from April to September/October.

There is a thriving surf scene in Jungut Batu. When compared to its tiny population, Nusa Lembongan has produced a number of international competition-quality surfers. Any keen surfer will certainly not be short of company here.

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Scuba diving

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Oceanic sunfish in the waters off Nusa Lembongan

Diving is of quality in the crystal clear waters around the island. A number of reputable dive shops are present, and this is a notable teaching destination. Many hundreds of visitors have learned to dive here.

For more experienced divers, the most interesting sites are off neighbouring Nusa Penida. There are some challenging drift dives here, and dive operators will visit certain sites only when the sea conditions are safe. There are plenty of options for easier flat reef and wall dives as well. Marine highlights include large manta rays all year round, spectacular, massive oceanic sunfish () in season (July–October), white-tipped reef sharks, nurse sharks and the odd hammerhead. Whale sharks are far from regular, but the odd migrant is seen. Last but certainly not least, four species of sea turtle can be found here. All operators offer scheduled trips to the prime dive sites around all three islands.

Prices vary little from shop to shop. Course fees run from about US$60 for a half-day Discover Scuba introduction, to US$395 for PADI Open Water certification. A fun dive will cost approximately US$35-45 including all equipment, with discounts offered for multiple dives. Dive shops have variable opening hours according to seasonal demand. Night dives are widely offered and offer a fantastic underwater experience.

Snorkelling

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Healthy reef-life in clear waters off Nusa Lembongan

Non-divers should not feel left out, as good snorkelling is available close inshore at various spots around the island. Perhaps the two best areas are Mushroom Bay on the west coast, and the mangroves on the northern tip. Equipment can be hired from your hotel or on the beach, and depending on the quality of the gear, you should expect to pay Rp 20,000-50,000 for renting a mask, snorkel and set of fins.

If you fancy getting further offshore, dive shops may sell you a snorkeling space on a scheduled dive boat, subject to availability.

Also, local boatmen are willing to take you by boat to various snorkeling spots. Depending on the number of snorkeling spots you want to visit, a boat trip can be arranged for about Rp 200,000-300,000 (including snorkeling gear). An enjoyable snorkelling spot reached by boat only is the west coast of neighbouring Nusa Penida, with Crystal Bay being especially rewarding. There is a strong current along this coast. The boatman will drop you off at the beginning of the current, and you can drift while snorkeling along the drop off wall with beautiful coral and loads of fish. The boatmen will follow you and pick you up at the end of the drift.

Other water sports

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Families with children will not be short of options. The full gamut of typical resort-type, mechanised water sports are available, including wake-boarding and banana boats. Those who care a little about the environment may be keener to patronise the sea kayaking option. Your hotel will be able to assist with booking any of these activities. Alternatively, just head down to the beach at either Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu, and figure it out for yourself. Costs start at about Rp 150,000 for a single banana boat ride.

Walking

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This is an excellent island for walking and keen visitors should not hesitate to just head off and explore the myriad tracks that criss-cross the island.

Walking itinerary

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The low cliffs in the south offer some splendid coastal walking routes. Perhaps the best of them starts at Dream Beach, from where you should take the obvious footpath north over the Devil’s Tear outcrop, pausing to see some of the most dramatic wave formations anywhere around the island. The crashing plumes are sometimes huge here, so be prepared to get wet! Continue northwards to Sunset Beach and explore the cove. If you time your arrival for low tide, the cave at the eastern end of the beach may be accessible.

At the opposite end of the beach you will find the Beach Club. From here follow the footpath leading northwest up the hill always keeping the private villas to your left, until you again hit the cliff line. From here you will see right across the Badung Strait to Bali. Follow the cliff path northwards and then around to the east, all the time pausing to appreciate the dramatic coastal formations. Birdwatchers should lookout for flashes of turquoise and white, as spectacular sacred kingfishers are common in this area, and offshore it is worth keeping an eye out for huge frigatebirds. Keep following this path eastwards, and you will drop down into Mushroom Bay where the suggested walk ends and refreshments are available.

Spa facilities

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Buy

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Some hotels and scuba shops will accept credit cards, although many of them charge a fee of 3-5% for charges to a credit card.

There is now one MasterCard ATM here but it doesn’t always have cash so visitors should bring enough cash with them. Money changing facilities are available at hotels, but the rate given is always unfavourable, so don’t bring just cash, but rupiah. If you do run out of cash, a same day return ATM run to Sanur is possible. Alternatively, some hotels will do a cash advance on your credit card for a fee of 8%-10%.

Small shops are widespread, and they are geared towards basic visitor requirements, stocking sun-block, cheap knock-off boardshorts and hats, as well as the usual range of snacks, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes. Do not though expect anything too sophisticated. There is little in the way of souvenir type shopping on the island, and there is nothing of this nature which would not be better purchased on the Bali mainland.

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Eat

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Virtually any place you stay on Nusa Lembongan will have a cafe or restaurant attached to it, and the majority of these encourage non-staying guests to eat with them. These can be of variable quality and any casual visitor could be forgiven for thinking the food on this island is terrible! Some of the better budget options can be found at Linda’s Bungalows, Mainski, and Dream Beach Huts.

There are a few good local warungs to choose from, but by-and-large there have not been many decent independent restaurants on Nusa Lembongan. That is now changing at a pace though and the more notable exceptions to the old rule are listed below. Fish is naturally a great option.

Traditional jukung outrigger in the mangroves

Drink

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As with restaurants, there are few independent drinking establishments. Most cafes and restaurants attached to hotels also double as bars. Nusa Lembongan is known as being very quiet for nightlife. A few beach parties are advertised around the island during high season, and there is sometimes a small monthly full moon party.

Sleep

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This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard room:

Budget
Under Rp 300,000

Mid-range
Rp 300,000-1,000,000

Splurge
Over Rp 1,000,000

There is a broad range of accommodation, with options to suit almost any budget. Most budget accommodations can be found at Jungut Batu, while more up market accommodation is further south, around Mushroom Bay, the Bukit and Dream Beach. Traditionally, budget guest houses aimed at young surfers and back-packers dominated, but that changed as more and more well-heeled visitors discovered the island. Some of the older budget options are very tired indeed, and visitors should bear that in mind when assessing where to stay.

Check-in and check-out times are something of a movable feast at most hotels. It is safe to assume a time of about 13:00 for check-in and about 11:00 for checkout, unless specifically stated otherwise.

There are no formal campsites on the island but travellers do sometimes pitch tents. A small donation to the local community is recommended.

Budget

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There are myriad small, cheap back-packer places in the small lanes leading off the main road in Jungut Batu.

The aqua coloured waters of Mushroom Bay

Looking across the Badung Strait to Mount Agung

Splurge

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Private villas

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The following are all stand-alone, self-contained villas with private swimming pools.

Nusa Ceningan

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Stay safe

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This is a safe island and reports of crime, major or minor, are rare. Most common is the theft of items left in unlocked rooms, so as you would anywhere in the world, just be sensible.

Drugs are not especially widespread here, but you may be offered marijuana or mushrooms, and more rarely, harder drugs. Be aware that the former is highly illegal in Indonesia and penalties are harsh. The Indonesian legal position on mushrooms is unclear but to be totally safe, visitors should steer clear.

The biggest dangers to visitors are related to the sea. Swimming is not be taken lightly in any waters around Bali, and Nusa Lembongan is no exception. Mushroom Bay and the area around the mangroves in the north are largely safe for swimming, but still take care. Swimming at Dream Beach and Sunset Beach (in particular) should be avoided by all but the very strongest of swimmers, and even then with great caution. Surfing at all four breaks is challenging for beginners.

Stay healthy

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There is a small medical clinic in Jungut Batu with an attendant doctor. This is a perfectly good facility for treating minor ailments, but visitors with anything approaching a serious problem should get back to Bali as quickly as possible. Opening hours are erratic and unpredictable. Ask at your hotel.

Like all of Bali, Nusa Lembongan is officially a malaria-free zone. Dengue fever is a potential problem. Unlike in mainland Bali, there are no recent cases of rabies.

Connect

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Telephone

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It is possible to make phone calls from Nusa Lembongan. Although a little pricey, public telephone offices () can be found at the Scoot boat office and at Bungalow No7.

  • International phone operators: 101.
  • International Direct Dialing prefix: 001, 007, or 008.
  • The area code for Nusa Lembongan is officially 0366, although 0361 is also widely used.
  • Landlines are not that common, and even many well-established businesses operate with mobile telephones only. All of the major Indonesian mobile networks have coverage of the island.
  • For directory inquiries, dial 108 from a landline or 0361-108 from a mobile phone.

Nusa Lembongan receives good 3G coverage by all the major Indonesian networks.

Internet

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Most places to stay and some restaurants now have wireless internet capability for guests but it’s often very slow.

There are a couple of basic, well signed public internet cafes at the southern end of the main coast road in Jungut Batu. Look for the signs and expect to pay about Rp 30,000 per hour. Service is sometimes very slow. Most of the internet cafes also have a download limit in addition to charging for time, so save your media streaming activities for Bali.

The national phone company, Telkomsel, provides a decent 3G connection, however it may default to GPRS.

Go next

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  • The vast majority of visitors leave the way they came in, i.e. back to Sanur and then on to elsewhere in Bali.
  • For the adventurous, a side trip to Nusa Penida island will get you well off the beaten path.
  • There is a daily direct boat service to mainland Lombok and Gili Trawangan.

This city travel guide to Nusa Lembongan is a star article. It is a high-quality article complete with maps, photos, and great information. If you know of something that has changed, please plunge forward and help it grow!

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