A slice of Indonesian paradise awaits you just a short 45 minute boat ride away from main Bali. There you’ll find two little tropical islands connected by a yellow scooter-only bridge. These beautiful and low-key islands are called Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
It’s fairly easy to arrange a boat ride over (and pretty cheap, too). Most hotels on the islands will advise of the best and most cost effective way to get you there, and/or arrange it for you. Honestly, the trip was significantly more smooth than I even imagined it would be. Tourism is at the forefront of everything in Bali, and as much as there can be taxi scams and people hassling you to buy their products, they really do a great job of providing travellers with information to make for smooth and memorable trips.
We stayed on Nusa Lembongan, in a spot I would deem as the best on the island. There’s various pockets of Lembongan that can be busy and over-crowded, particularly with boats of Chinese tourists coming in for the day, but the spot we chose was the peaceful Song Lambung. Nestled perfectly in a cove with it’s own bay and just a five minute walk to excellent dining and lounge bars, Song Lambung Beach Huts were the perfect home for our 4-day Nusa Lembongan adventure.
Let’s chat more importantly about why Nusa Lembongan should be on your Indo must-see list. Not only is the pace of life wayyyy slower and chilled out to main Bali, there’s a perfect balance of local flare and western comfort. You can experience authentic Indonesian culture during the day, and settle in with a snazzy cocktail at night. So where do you stay, play and eat on Nusa Lembongan? I was hoping you’d ask.
Areas around Lembongan in a nutshell:
The North Side of the island (near the Mangrove): for the most part, it’s quiet and fairly isolated, there are some awesome warungs to have afternoon beverages at, but more on that later.
Jancuk Beach: Where most of the speed boats come in and a lot of local Indonesian shops are. Just between it and Song Lambung, along the waters edge, is where you’ll find all the western eateries and bars. They all boast happy hour deals, and tasty food with both local Indonesian and western options. I’ll share our favourites below. 🙂
Song Lambung: There’s only a few villas, as well as the SL Beach huts located in the Song Lambung Beach area. The Beach is quiet, and you can also rent Stand-up paddle boards, and there’s a nice little wave to try and surf right out the front. From Song Lambung, you can also see the main two surf spots on Lembongan – Playgrounds & Shipwrecks.
Mushroom Beach: Is very busy. It has plenty of accomodation and dining options and is quite nice visually speaking. It’s only downfall is that it’s the main port for which large boats of Chinese tourists come onto Lembongan. It’s not a far stretch to say that once per day you might get lost in a crowd of aimlessly walking tourists make their way from the boat to the cars that cart them around the island. We had to get intense on the horn of our scooter a few times, because it was just so crowded. We liked Mushroom Beach to visit, but it wouldn’t be somewhere we would stay.
Dream Beach: Like Mushroom Beach, this is a very popular spot for the tourists who come in by boat to stop at. As it implies in it’s name, it’s very dreamy, and there’s a nice resort with a pool looking right out onto the waves. If you don’t mind lots of people, this could be a place for you.
Sandy Bay: We didn’t explore too much here, but it definitely seemed way more relaxed, with a nice beach and accommodation areas. It’s a little further from eateries and activities, but if you’re on a family vacation it could be the perfect choice.
Nusa Ceningan: This island is very relaxed. We didn’t spent too much time scoping out the accommodation options, but along the west side of the island there were plenty of warungs which looked like a good time to sit and sip some drinks at. Pretty much anywhere you stay on Ceningan would likely be alright, but if we were to stay there it would be right at the Ceningan surf spot, which also has a cool little warung right on the cliff. (You can also pay $5AUD to jump off a platform from the cliff to the water.)
So, with the different areas of Lembongan laid out for you, I’ll share what we liked the best!
As previously mentioned, we would 100% recommend Song Lambung Beach Huts. At $85/night, we had our own private hut with a balcony that looked out onto the sea, air-conditioned room, private bathroom as well as included breakfast. The property also has an infinity pool that looks out to the sea, and the property itself is tucked away nicely in the cove. The restaurant and pool loungers are the perfect place to hang for a break between sightseeings, and the property manager, Nick, will arrange anything you might need during your stay. After touring around the entire island (and Ceningan, too), we still loved this place the most.
You must go snorkelling with the Manta Rays. I was terrified at first. I mean, how could a giant sting ray not want to sting me? I still don’t know the answer to that, truthfully, but the locals just laughed when I seemed concerned for my safety so I think that means it’s alright.
Scooting around is also mandatory. Half the fun of a new place is discovering little corners of the island that I couldn’t possibly tell you about in this blog. However, some of our favourite spots were: the Agung Warung and Ceningan Cliffs. Agung Warung is essentially a beach cafe/bar with amazing food and smoothies, and provides an amazing spot to lounge all day if you like. Calling all digital nomads, this is the place to set up shop and work for a few hours. Ceningan Cliffs were simply gorgeous. Eat some local Indonesian food and sip on a Bintang while looking down across the strait between Ceningan and Nusa Penida. There’s also a popular swing for people to get their photo taken on. Swings are pretty big in Indonesia, I still haven’t figured that one out yet…
If you like Yoga, you’ve got a few options to get your zen on in Lembongan. Depending on where you’re staying, there will be a yoga studio just a short walk or scooter away. Staying in Song Lambung, I chose to do two classes, one at the Yoga Shack and one at Yoga Bliss. They were both awesome and affordable at $10AUD/class.
There’s so many places to choose from, but here were my absolute favourite.
Mola Mola, Mushroom Beach: best smoothie bowls EVER. Plus, they’re served in coconut shell bowls, so yeah, pretty authentic.
Thai Pantry: I think the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had was at this little kombi van which sits on a porch along the boardwalk of ‘western’ eateries. After you’re finished your meal, bring your drink onto the upper deck and lounge on a comfy mat, looking up at the stars.
The Deck: A fairly western choice, but with cocktails that you just can’t resist, the deck attracts a sort of ‘upper class’ vibe, and rightfully so because it’s not super affordable. However, just like I just mentioned though… the cocktails are INSANE. Their happy hour is from 5-6:30pm, and certiain cocktails are 25% off, which make them around $6-8 AUD. I recommend the Laut Bali!
There you have it, folks. Four days on Nusa Lembongan was a pretty good amount of time, though if you were interested in hanging out and relaxing, a whole week wouldn’t do you harm. This little island is only a short trip from Bali, but feels like a world away, and I highly recommend it.