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Nusa Lembongan: The insider's travel guide

Nusa Lembongan is a small island (8km2) in the southeast of Bali and only a 30 minute boat ride away. Even though one of it’s sister island, Nusa Penida, is 200km bigger, Nusa Lembongan is by far the most popular. Enjoy my ‘insider’s travel guide to Nusa Lembongan travel –  where to eat, sleep, drink and what to do for a complete trip!

Definition: warungs
Noun
warung (plural warungs)

  1. A type of small family-owned business — often a casual, usually outdoor restaurant (or convenience store) — in Indonesia.

 


Why should you go?

Even though Nusa Lembongan is becoming more touristy, it is still small in comparison to Bali, especially when it comes to traffic. On Nusa Lembongan, you can still enjoy the real island feeling. Empty beaches, crystal clear waters, white sands, beautiful corals to dive to and great waves to surf. It is the perfect island getaway to relax and enjoy nature at its best.

How do you get there?

There are several boat companies that leaves several times a day from Bali (Sanur and Benoa Harbor) and it will only take you 30 minutes with a speed boat.

Rocky Fast Cruise are very reliable and even offer a pick-up in Bali, included in the price iif you stay around Seminyak, and if you are a little further away (e.g Canggu) they offer a pick-up for 250’000IDR.

Price: 500 IDR for a return ticket including drop-off to your hotel on Nusa Lembongan. If you go directly to their office in Sanur you can get tickets cheaper (around 300-400 IDR).

Times: Sanur to Nusa Lembongan 10.00 am, 12.00 noon, 14.00 pm, and 17.30 pm

Nusa Lembongan to Sanur 09.00 am, 11.00 am, 13.00 pm, and 16.30 pm

Where should you stay?

Nusa Lembongan hotels are sometimes on the higher side, particularly in the high season (June-September) but luckily there are many options for every price range.

Tiger Lilly’s

My all time favorite hotel in is Tigerlilly’s. This boutique property is surrounded by a lush garden, has an amazing healthy restaurant, a great pool and the rooms are in two-story beach huts. It is centrally located about five minutes with a scooter from the boat drop-off point  of Jungutbatu. Although it is not a beachfront hotel, it is a short five-minute walk to the beach.

If you get a higher room, you get a little more light and privacy, but you have to go outside of your room and walk down the stairs to get to the (private) bathroom. If you stay in the room on the ground floor you have an ensuite bathroom, which I personally prefer. The restaurant and healthy options are great, particularly the Chia seed pudding and the Açaii Bowl in the Restaurant (see below!)

Nusa Lembongan Tigerlilly

Nusa Lembongan Tigerlilly

Tarci Bungalow

A locally owned, family business that started over 30 years ago at the Jungutbatu beachfront. The water is some of the clearest you will find anywhere, with colorful coral reefs surrounding the island on all sides. Beautiful, yet still affordable. They have bean bags and umbrellas at the beach and in their restaurant (Agus ShipWreck) where you can enjoy live music and a great Barbecue.

Hai Tide

This resort has its beach huts literally on the beach with an amazing view over Mushroom Bay. Following an extensive renovation completed in 2013, the appearance and appointments of the Balinese style accommodation has been significantly upgraded and now includes sparkling en-suite bathrooms to all 17 traditional “Lumbungs”. Since it is a resort it can be a bit busier than other places, but if you want to organize a lot of activities, Hai Tide is the best place with its own diving school, appointed a PADI 5 star Dive Resort and provides qualified staff to assist guests with a range of optional scuba diving activities…. and a great restaurant.

Batu Karang Lembongan Resort and Day Spa

And last but not least a recommendation for all the luxury seekers. Escape to the restorative oasis of Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa, a five star retreat where you’ll find nothing but pure relaxation set in style.


What should you do?

Nusa Lembongan Beach

Of course, at the top of the list must be a visit to all the beautiful beaches. If you’re an instagram lover, then this is one of your must-do instagram captures!

Visit the local restaurant for lunch, and although the food is not overly exciting (and for 50’000 IDR entrance fee, approximately 4 USD) you can swim in the pool overlooking this dream beach.

My top suggestion is lunch at the Sandy Bay Beach Club. The food there is amazing and you can swim in the pool for free. The beach at Sandy Bay is almost always empty and free of tourists, and another great Instagram spot.

Other beaches:

Snorkeling and Diving

I am not a diver myself but I did a snorkeling tour and it was amazing. Nusa Lembongan is also famous for its Manta Rays and there are various companies  which offer special Manta Ray tours. This is still high on my list for the next time!

Massage

If you are looking for a good massage, I highly recommend going to Organic Lembongan Spa. The pictures online are not entirely reflective and it is a little run down, but overlook this as the massages are some of the best I’ve had. Go for the classic Balinese Massage for IDR 150’000.


What should you eat and drink?

Whether you want to try local warungs, healthy or even fancy restaurants on Nusa Lembongan, you have many options. Most of the restaurants offer a free pick-up and drop-off service for those among us who would like to have a cocktail or just don’t like to drive when it’s dark.

The Deck

A must visit when you are in Nusa Lembongan. The deck cafe and bar overlooks the ocean and the view is simply priceless. Sip a cocktail and simply enjoy life and the breathtaking view.

Tigerlilly’s

Even if you don’t stay at the hotel you should definitely go there for food. Try the chia seed pudding (pictured here), acai bowl or a pizza.

Lemongrass

This place has healthy western options and also Indonesian food. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Nasi and Mie Goreng are amazing but my personal favorite is the chicken cordon blue with mashed potatoes – delicious.

Crêperie Indiana / Indiana Kenanga Villas

This French restaurant is great at everything. I tried a lot of dishes and loved them all, but my all-time favorite is the chocolate fondant for dessert. Grab a table right on the beach, and sink your feet in the sand or sit on a bean bag and watch the sunset.

Hai Tide

The resort also has an excellent restaurant – I’m a regular here for a pizza and a cocktail. Book a table as it gets busy, and if there for lunch, you will have a view of the boats arriving from Bali and can stare at the crystal clear water.

Anything else you should know?

Since almost everything has to be shipped in boats from Bali to Nusa Lembongan, the prices are a bit higher. You can still find cheap and cute warungs, but in general, expect the price range higher than in Bali.

Talking about money – until two months ago, there were no ATMS in Nusa Lembongan. Now there is one and they are just installing a second one, but I still recommend taking enough cash. In the bigger restaurants as well as hotels you can pay by card.

Motorbike rent! Yes you should rent a motorbike if you want to go explore all those beautiful places. As there are not any cars, only taxis organized by hotels (for pick-up and drop-off), it is safe to jump o n a bike. There is almost no traffic, and it is so small, you won’t get lost!  Price: 80’000 IDR per day.

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