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Table of Contents
Travel guide for Nusa Lembongan
Why visit Nusa Lembongan?
We almost don’t want to write about Nusa Lembongan. Nusa Lembongan is one of the only tourist-trafficked parts of Bali that has managed to preserve an authentic way of life. Rarely do you get hassled to book a tour or a ride or be called into their souvenir shop. Nusa Lembongan is a low-key paradise for visitors wanting to surf, dive, snorkel, play, and relax without being hassled.
A typical day on Nusa Lembongan is going out for a morning adventure, relaxing on the beach for a few hours, back out for another adventure, and catching the sunset on a bean bag chair with a drink in hand.
The best time to visit Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is great all year round. The busiest season (dry season) is from April to October, with the busiest months being July and August. Though the weather is best during this time, prices climb for accommodation in Lembongan and the surf and dive sites tend to be more crowded than usual.
During the wet season, from November to March, expect short and frequent rain showers (usually followed by sunshine). It’s a trade-off between better weather and more crowds, or short rain showers with short stints of sunshine. The month you visit also depends on your surfing and diving interests, which we will cover in their dedicated sections.
Where to stay in Nusa Lembongan
Since Nusa Lembongan is so small, most accommodation options are central and within walking distance (or a five-minute motorbike ride) away from shops and restaurants. These are our favorite hotels and homestays in Nusa Lembongan.
Best budget to mid-range ($-$$)
Krisna Homestay: Clean, central, and great value, this homestay run by Adil is the perfect choice for couples or solo travelers wanting to stay somewhere safe comfortable. Most bookings include breakfast and there is a small restaurant on-site. Adil, the owner, can help you arrange boat transfers to and from Nusa Lembongan. Great garden landscaping and quiet vibe.
Cubang Hut’s Lembongan: Located on the quiet side of the island near the bridge to Nusa Ceningan, Cubang Huts Lembongan is an affordable option with friendly staff, clean rooms, and all amenities you could want. Each wooden hut has a spacious, bohemian vibe with plenty of lounge space in the rooms and surrounding the pool area.
Chillhouse Lembongan: With a name like this, you know that those working at Chillhouse Lembongan just get what the surf and dive scenes are about. Rooms come with a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and free parking.
Nusa Garden Homestay: Basic, clean rooms at an affordable price, Nusa Garden Homestay is perfect for those with a low budget but high standards. The family that looks after the homestay is friendly and attentive, happy to help arrange transportation and activities.
Best luxury ($$$+)
Batu Karang Resort and Spa: Clean, spacious rooms with great views overlooking the ocean. Restaurants, 3 large pools, and spa on site. Popular resort for couples looking for a romantic getaway or friends looking to unwind in a relaxing space after a big day out.
The Jingga Villas: If you’re looking for luxury in a central location, consider booking a stay at The Jingga Villas. Each villa comes with free wifi, kettle, refrigerator, and more. There is an onsite pool, restaurant, and bar perfect for post-surf chilling.
Lembongan Harmony Villas: This resort offers some of the best panoramas of Nusa Lembongan, so it’s essential that you request a room with a view and patio. Villas come with a kitchen complete with microwave, kettle, refrigerator, and there is wifi throughout the property. Though the villas are up in Lembongan’s small hill area, it is still central to many shops and beaches.
How to get to and around Nusa Lembongan
The only way to reach Nusa Lembongan is by boat. There are no flights to-and-from Nusa Lembongan. We suggest that you leave a day or two buffer between your time in Nusa Lembongan and your departure date from Bali, as boats can be cancelled if there are extreme weather conditions. It is also typically cheaper and easier to book boat transportation through your hotel.
Boats to Nusa Lembongan leave from Sanur. Boat transfers are a door-to-door service that typically include hotel pickup from anywhere in southern Bali’s mainland and dropoff to your hotel in Nusa Lembongan.
The boat companies tend to be the same. None stand out as amazing, and you’ll be shuttled to get from point A to point B. Don’t wear tennis shoes or long pants for the boat ride — you’ll likely have to wade through shallow water to board the boat. All shoes are stored in a bucket. I would also keep your electronics/valuables in a small backpack to place on your lap during the ride. We’ve seen boats drop entire suitcases into the water before.
We do not recommend going over on a small boat. It is simply too risky and the price difference isn’t worth it. There are over 15 stable, sturdy fast boats that service this route — so if one company is booked, you’ll easily find another.
Buying return is always cheaper than one-way. Rates can be bargained down, especially if you are in a group.
Boat companies for Nusa Lembongan transfers
Scoot: Includes to and from hotel transfers. 650,000 IDR return per adult.
Rocky Fast Cruise: Includes to and from hotel transfers. 500,000 IDR return per adult.
Avoid: Semaya Boat Cruises, a fast boat company that has an unsafe track record with overcrowding and breakdowns. Sometimes, fast boat companies change their name after an incident. Google each one — including our recommendations — before booking to see if there have been any recent incidents. This is especially important if you are booking a package to the Gilis, where the ocean can get quite rough.
How to get around Nusa Lembongan once you’re there
It’s easy to walk from place to place around the island if you stay somewhere central (where the fast boats drop off and pick up). Motorbike rental tends to be slightly more expensive than mainland Bali’s — because of the lack of competition. Expect to pay around 70,000 IDR per day and up for a motorbike rental.
There is one main road that loops around the island. You can drive around it as often as you’d like and stop wherever you feel like. You can drive across the bridge to Nusa Ceningan, a small but charming island with few tourists.
Where to eat in Nusa Lembongan
Green Garden Warung: If you are vegetarian or vegan this might be the best place you’ve eaten, ever. The menu is extensive, affordable, delicious, and fresh. Tucked away behind the main road, dine on fresh vegan food on wooden picnic tables with a thatched roof. Order a smoothie bowl for a filling and fresh breakfast, or a burger for something more hearty.
Bali Eco Deli: Though a bit touristy, Bali Eco Deli makes a strong effort to reduce plastic and give back to the community. The granola is great and it’s one of the best places to get your coffee fix. This is also the best place to refill your water bottle.
Warung Putu: Warung Putu has one of the best vibes on the island, where you can eat or drink while swinging over the sea. Grab a dish of cheap and authentic Indonesian food and enjoy the view.
Ketut’s Warung: If you’re looking for a cheap and authentic Indonesian fix, Ketut’s Warung is your place.
Ginger Moon Taco and Pizza: Sometimes after a long day of surfing and diving, all you want is a filling meal. Ginger moon serves their take on Mexican food with nacho bowls and burritos. Or, order a pizza!
Top things to do in Nusa Lembongan
Yoga and pilates: Prepare for your surf or dive session with a yoga class at Yoga Shack, Yoga Bliss, or Serenity Yoga. Some dive schools also offer occasional yoga classes.
Spend the evening at Blue Corner Dive: Once the sun goes down, Blue Corner Dive is one of the most popular places to be. They usually have an activity night (trivia, movies, games) so it’s a great way to meet friends. Everyone typically rotates between a colorful beanbag chair on the beach, the Spanish themed bar, and the pool.
Devil’s Tears: Don’t cry, angel. Devil’s tears is a beautiful spot where you can watch waves crash and spray against jagged rocks. Go when the tide is high, just before sunset.
Kayaking: Rent a kayak and spend the day exploring the mangroves or paddling out near the surf breaks. There are a few platforms where you can watch surfers catch waves. Bring a snorkel set, tether the kayak to the platform, and go for a dip!
Watch a movie at Jungut Batu Theatre Restaurant: Every night, this restaurant serves Indonesian fare while you relax in a comfortable beanbag chair. The movies range from 1990s kids classics to old horror to recently-released flicks. If it’s raining, grab your bean bag early as it will likely fill up quickly.
Venture to Nusa Ceningan: Cross the bridge from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan and explore the beautiful areas on the other side. Simply wander around, driving wherever the road takes you (hint, not very far). Most people go here for cliff jumping or zip-lining with Abyss Zipline. It’s a great way to see an area that few other tourists do.
Explore the mangroves: Rent a standup paddleboard, take a boat ride, or paddle through the mangroves. It’s a unique natural site not commonly seen in other areas of Bali.
Other essential facts
Keep Nusa Lembongan authentic and clean by supporting local businesses and cutting down on plastics.
Respect Balinese Hindu practices and holidays. Avoid stepping on the daily offerings (canang sari) or wandering through the temples if there is a ceremony happening.
The reefs surrounding Nusa Lembongan are very stressed and bleaching is an unfortunate occurrence. Only wear reef-safe sunscreen in the water. Better yet, cover up with a rashguard to minimize leeching foreign substances into the ocean.
It’s common for snorkel tour boats to feed fish in this area. If you see this, speak up and let us know about it. Feeding fish causes an imbalance to the ecosystem and can even kill fish. Don’t support a dive company that feeds or handles fish.
Reef cuts can get infected easily. There’s a small medical clinic on Nusa Lembongan, but if you have a serious injury or illness, you’ll need to head to mainland Bali for treatment. There are no decompression chambers on Nusa Lembongan.
Bring cash. Sometimes the ATMs on Nusa Lembongan run out. Sometimes the credit card machines don’t connect.
Chapter 2: Dive guide for Nusa Lembongan
The best dive and snorkel sites in Nusa Lembongan
The diving area for Nusa Lembongan covers the three Nusa islands (Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan). There are shallow sites with coral reefs, sites renowned for mantas, and even areas where mola mola are frequently seen. Most dive sites are around Nusa Penida, the largest island of them all. The most important thing is to plan you dive days around the sites you want to see.
There are over twenty dive sites around Nusa Lembongan — so you’ll never run out of places to go or things to see. Here are our favorites.
Lembongan Bay: Just out front of the main stretch of the island is Nusa Lembongan Bay, a surprising site with smaller reef fish and colorful coral bommies. It’s a great site for novice divers as its max depth is 12 meters and there are typically no currents. Look for frogfish, unicorn fish, eels, and porcelain crabs.
Blue Corner: Blue corner is an intriguing dive site best for experienced divers. The steep, sloping reef that drops beyond 30 meters houses crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans. However, the real appeal is looking out into the blue, where you might see mola mola, eagle rays, reef sharks, marble rays, snappers, and much more.
Mangrove Point: A reef that slopes from 5 to beyond 30 meters. Lots of colorful corals, macro-life, triggerfish, stingrays, and other creatures often taking shelter under the table coral. Small sharks, hammerheads, and other pelageic fish often make an appearance, too.
Crystal Bay: A beautiful and mostly shallow dive site ranging from 5 to 35 meters with colorful coral bommies and smaller reef fish. The deeper area is a hot spot for mola mola from July to October.
Manta Point: As you can probably guess, manta rays adore Manta Point and this dive site is what made the Nusa islands (Nusa means “island” as a side note) so famous. The plankton-rich water is a feeding ground for manta rays, and it’s common to see them all year round.
Secret Manta: Another hotspot for manta rays, Secret Manta is a shallow dive site (10 meters) that is about half an hour from Nusa Lembongan. While the topography is quite bland compared to many of the other coral rich sites, it almost makes each manta sighting feel more special than a dive with marine-life overload. This spot can have quite a surge, so prepare in advance if you get seasick easily.
*Snorkeler friendly in calm conditions
Toyapakeh: This site is perhaps the most colorful in all of Penida’s coastline, with a variety of abundant marine wildlife. You’ll find schools of fish, vibrant corals, and nearly all types of fish that come through the region. Look for trigger fish, moray eels, octopus, nudibranches, and rays. This is one of the only spots with serious depth, making it a great training spot for freedivers.
Some more advanced sites include Ceningan Wall that has a gamut of marine life ranging from nudibranches to pelagic fish and Toya Pakeh Wall which is known for its swim-by mola molas.
The best time to go diving in Nusa Lembongan
Diving in Nusa Lembongan is wonderful all year round! In strong sea conditions, the water can be a bit choppy and dive boats might be hesitant to go to some of the further or more isolated dive sites.
If you want to see mola mola (oceanic sunfish), visit between the months of July and October.
If you want to see manta rays, they are there all year long but there can be weeks of hit-or-miss.
What you can expect to see in Nusa Lembongan
Reef life: Napoleon wrasse, clownfish, trigger fish, pipe fish, moray eels, cuttlefish, reef sharks, lion fish, unicorn fish, pygmy sea horses, nudibranches, hard and soft corals — including impressive table corals, frogfish, sea turtles, hairy lobster, porcelain crab, shrimp, sponges, and much more.
There are over twenty dive schools on Nusa Lembongan, so choosing the right one can be intimidating. No matter whether you like small schools with a personal touch or large schools with plenty of action, there is definitely something for you on Nusa Lembongan.
Blue Corner Dive: A 5 Star PADI dive center with well-maintained equipment, friendly instructors, and a beautiful property. If you are looking to fine-tune your skills with an advanced course, this is a top choice. Blue Corner is popular even among non-divers thanks to its social bar area and nightly events. They have a second school in Mushroom Bay on Nusa Lembongan as well — though we recommend enrolling diving at the Lembongan Bay center because the atmosphere is little more upbeat.
Lembongan Dive Center: An efficiently run and locally owned PADI dive center with an experienced staff. Equipment is near new and well-maintained. They focus on small groups, so each dive has a personal touch.
Scuba Center Asia: A 5 Star Padi dive resort run by Kim and Bastiaan, two Dutch experienced divers. They take price in being professional and welcoming to divers of all levels — including those who are inexperienced and nervous. It’s located in beautiful Mushroom Beach and its lively bar with scuba-themed cocktails is typically the only nightlife happening in the area. Since Scuba Center Asia is a relatively small center, there is still a personal touch to every interaction.
Siren Diving: This friendly dive center focuses on the essentials when it comes to diving. Though they don’t have beachfront property with a pool, they do have a friendly staff and you might even be guided by the dive shop owners.
Tamarind Divers: Tamarind Divers is a small shop with a heavy emphasis on safety and marine conservation — you won’t see divemasters grabbing coral heads, here! It’s obvious that the staff and owners have a passion for the ocean and are happy to share it with anyone who joins them for a dive.
Freediving in Nusa Lembongan
Blue Corner Freedive: The best freediving school in Nusa Lembongan (and by far the most organized). They currently teach beginner and level one freediving courses.
Freedive Nusa is on the neighboring island of Nusa Penida and offers SSI freediving courses. You can still dive the same sites as schools based out of Nusa Lembongan (most dive sites are off the coast of Nusa Penida anyways), and the island of Nusa Penida is truly untouched by tourism. It’d be wise to stay at the freedive school for the full experience.
PLAYGROUNDS Paddle out: Coconut Beach Direction: Left and right-hand over reef. Swell: S – W swell, E wind, 1-8 ft. Tide: All tides.
Playgrounds is the friendliest wave around with long lefts and a quick right. It tends to be the most crowded — often with beginners who’ve just rented a board at one of the Coconut Beach stands — but is simply a fun wave with easy takeoffs.
LACERATIONS Paddle out: Coconut Beach, past Playgrounds and through the boat channel Direction: Left and right-hand reef break with an occasional barreling right when it gets big. Swell: S – W swell, E wind, 3-12 ft. Tide: Mid to high tide.
Lacerations earned its name exactly how you think it would. When it gets big, it can be a much more challenging wave than its neighbors. Steep, peaky waves appear out of nowhere and get more hollow during low to mid tide. It’s a quick but fun wave worth sitting out the crowds for.
SHIPWRECKS Boat out: Paddling here would be exhausting — though it is possible. Catch a ride out and back. Direction: Right-hand over reef. Swell: S – W swell, E wind, 3-12 ft. Tide: Mid to high tide.
A fast right-hand barrel with an open shoulder. Shipwrecks earned its name from the rusting ship parts protruding from the reef, threatening to impale you. This break get very crowded and very heavy with a strong current — experienced surfers only.
CENINGAN Boat out or motorbike and paddle: A break between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan Direction: Left and right peaks Swell: S – W swell, E wind, 3-10 ft. Tide: All tides
Ceningan is the most exposed wave for incoming swell. Steep, fast, and fun. Closeouts are common. If it’s flat at Lemongan, there should still be something at Ceningan.
You can rent standup paddleboard and take them all around Lembongan Bay a mix of flatwater and wave surfing. It is also possible to standup paddle around the mangroves. Rental tends to cost 50,000 IDR per 2-3 hours.
The best surf schools in Nusa Lembongan
The Newbro: This company offers adventure activities, including surf lessons. They are skilled at coaching surfers nervous about taking off over reef and continue to rack up positive reviews from those who join them. Package your surf lessons with a snorkeling tour for great value.
Nusa Islands Surf School: Learn how to surf with friendly instructors keen on making you feel confident on taking off on your own. The vibe among this crew is relaxed and non-judgemental — the perfect combination for a good surf coach. They also offer accommodation and activity packages.
Ready to explore Nusa Lembongan for yourself? Let us know about your experience in this fun island in the comments!
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