We just got back from two weeks in Bali – including some time on Nusa Lembongan.
There have always been things we’ve absolutely loved about Bali, as well as some things we didn’t. And then we found Nusa Lembongan (or rather, a friend who is even more of a Bali expert said we HAD TO try Lembongan).
Folks, this is it. Our new Happy Place. It has everything we like about Bali, but the quieter, less built-up vibe that we had been searching for.
And it also seems we’re not alone in feeling this way. Several people we met had been here, gone to the mainland, then come back because they loved it so much. Many others were on their second or subsequent trip. And we get it – Lembongan has the exact vibe we were searching for. We are 100% Lembongan converts!
Below is everything we wanted to know before we left, and what we experienced during our time there. We hope this makes planning your Nusa Lembongan holiday much easier!
Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a booking, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.
Where is Nusa Lembongan, and how do I get there?
Nusa Lembongan is a small island to the East of the Bali mainland.
To get to Nusa Lembongan, you’ll need to take the ferry (or fast boat). Fast boats depart three times per day from Sanur. (Purchase your ferry tickets here) The ferry ride takes approximately 45 minutes, and is reasonably smooth from our experience. (But take seasickness tablets beforehand if you struggle on boats)
Our total cost to and from Lembongan was $190AUD. This included pick up from the airport, transfer to Sanur, ferry to Lembongan, transfer to our villa, and the reverse on the way back to Bali. This also included an additional transfer fee to Jimbaran, which is further than other transfers. For four of us, we considered this very reasonable.
You will get wet getting on the ferry – there’s no dock, so you literally walk out from the beach. My recommendation is to make sure you’re wearing your bathers, and a short skirt/dress/playsuit or pair of shorts. I was wearing sneakers and a maxi skirt, and it was a pain. Speaking of which…
Can I fly into Bali and head straight to Lembongan?
Yes, it’s what we did. But with caveats: firstly, it will depend on the time your flight arrives in Denpasar. Ours was a 6.20am flight from Adelaide, which departed on time. However, we were put into a 15-minute holding pattern on arrival. That put us into Bali at about 10.30am local time. Disembarking, clearing health checks and immigration, collecting our bags and clearing customs was pretty seamless. The only big wait time was the passport line.
Our villa in Lembongan arranged the ferry and transfers for us, and a driver from the ferry company (we used D’Camel but it will depend on ferry times as to who you use) picked us up from the airport. We were in Sanur by midday, allowing us to have lunch before our 1.30pm ferry to Lembongan.
The second caveat is whether you actually want to do it this way. Personally, next time we go (and we will definitely go again), we won’t head straight to Lembongan. The reason for this is we were exhausted. We left our home just after 3am for our flight, with two kids in tow. It was 15 hours from our doorstep to our villa in Lembongan.
Next time, we’ll book a night or two on the mainland to allow us to recharge, have a shower and get changed, and just make the whole process a bit more leisurely. Likewise, I would recommend a night on the way back if you’re going to fly home from Lembongan.
How long should I stay?
I could rant about this for ages, because I tried to find the answer while planning our trip and ended up disappointed.
My honest answer: AS LONG AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN.
We read that you can get everything done in three days. And yes, that’s technically true… But we honestly would have stayed the entire two-week trip if we’d known how much we’d love it. (In fact, we’d live there as digital nomads, so if this is your vibe, here’s some cool new info about Indonesia’s digital nomad visas)
Getting around and costs of living on Lembongan
We had also read that Lembongan was typically more expensive than Bali. For us, this didn’t necessarily hold up, but it would depend on what you do each day.
meals and drinks
Costs of meals varied widely. For example, we got away with a modest but delicious breakfast at a local resto (two serves of pancakes, two serves of mee goreng, and four smoothies) for about $20AUD. Breakfasts at “trendier” places cost more, but still way less than it would in Australia – think $40-50AUD for a family of four including drinks.
Likewise, a dinner at a local warung on the beach, in which we ordered starters, mains, and desserts, three large Bintangs, and four juices, cost us $50AUD. However, dinner and cocktails/beers at a very hip rib joint cost us about $130AUD (our biggest blowout on Lembongan, but again, cheaper than it would have been at home in Australia).
Most importantly, a carton of Bintang will set you back about $55AUD (similar to pricing at home). However, you pay a fee of about $6AUD for the first carton, and you get this back on your next one when you return all the bottles for recycling.
There are three ways to get around on Lembongan. Firstly, you can hire a scooter. Secondly, you can take transfers on the backs of small converted trucks (they have bench seats in the tray and a roof on top). Third, you can hire a golf cart.
We chose the truck option as we didn’t feel comfortable on a scooter, especially as helmets didn’t seem to be readily available. However, we did have one of our friends take us a short distance on their scooter on Nusa Ceningan, which is very calm. We liked the golf cart idea, but parts of Lembongan can be quite steep and hilly, so they didn’t seem as practical in that regard.
Many places on Lembongan offer free pick up and drop off. You simply message them on WhatsApp in advance to say you’d like to come and at what time. We found that it’s better to give some notice (i.e. the evening before for breakfast, or earlier in the day for dinner) to make sure the service is available. Others may not offer this service for free, but can arrange a driver to take you home, and it will only cost a few dollars.
Most drivers will give you their business card. We had a few we could call on, however once we found one we really liked (shout out to Wyan! and email me on email@example.com if you’d like his details) we stuck with him. Building a relationship with a driver means you’ll be looked after.
Our driver Wyan offered to take us around for a whole day to see the main attractions, for around $30AUD. This was the cheapest we’d been quoted, but even the other quotes of around $45-50AUD seemed reasonable to us as a family of four.
tours and snorkelling/dive trips
There are some great options for tours around Nusa Lembongan and to other islands, such as Nusa Penida. Having some bigger tours booked before departure can help with organisation. For example, this Nusa Lembongan snorkelling tour will set you back a little over $60AUD. Not bad for a full day including lunch! Similarly, $60AUD will get you out to all the famous Nusa Penida Instagram sights.
If you’d like to arrange things a bit more on the fly, get your local drivers to take you around. We paid 50,000Rp per adult and 25,000Rp per child (so about 15AUD total) for a half-hour mangrove tour which was delightful (more detail below). Additionally, is cost us about $35AUD for our driver to take us around the island all day.
While many places on Lembongan have WiFi, getting yourself a sim card is the easiest option. This is an island that relies heavily on WhatsApp for arranging tours, transfers, and accommodation requests, so having constant service can get you out of a jam.
We bought a sim card that was about $15AUD for more data than we would possibly use (we continued to use it throughout Bali). We paid more like $30AUD for the guy at the shop to set it up so I still had access to my Australian number for WhatsApp as I had made lots of reservations using this number.
No regrets – it also maid ordering Grab/Gojek rides much easier on mainland Bali.
Where to stay
You won’t find the massive luxury resorts here that you would on the Bali mainland, but honestly Lembongan is nicer for it. What you will find is quaint, friendly 3.5-4 star options with lovely views and relaxing vibes. Villas are also a popular option, just like in Bali.
There are so many options in Lembongan, from guesthouses/homestays, to luxury villas, and boutique resorts. We didn’t have time to check them all out of course. Below are the ones we were able to get a feel for and would feel comfortable recommending.
I really love the villa option for families, and I don’t know anywhere else on Earth that does it as well as Bali/Lembongan.
We stayed at Villa Agung, on the northern tip of Jungut Batu. Villa Agung aptly named, as you can see across the water to Mt. Agung on the mainland – it’s spectacular.
This villa had two bedrooms with their own ensuites, and a large lounge and kitchen. A decent-sized pool with sun lounges is the star, and the deck overlooks the pool. This meant we could laze by the pool and supervise the kids.
Villa Agung is run by Nomad Holiday Rentals, and they run several other villas too. There’s plenty of options for an amazing family villa.
We paid approximately $200AUD per night, which included impeccable service from the Nomad team.
Another option on the northern tip of Jungut Batu is Mahagiri Resort. This resort sits right on the beach and gives a real rustic coastal chic vibe. Rooms are spacious and the staff are really friendly.
Rates start from around $70AUD per night including breakfast, which is honestly a steal.
Acala Shri Sedana
The Acala Shri Sedana is an absolutely gorgeous boutique resort in the South of Lembongan, with stunning views over nearby Nusa Ceningan.
There’s only 13 rooms here, which means you’ll be perfectly looked after and free to enjoy some luxurious peace and quiet.
Rooms start from approximately $110AUD per night, depending on the season.
Ohana’s Beachfront Resort and Beach Club
Ohana’s is famous for its beach club, but now it features beautiful accommodation too.
Going for the bohemian beachy vibe with a touch of extra luxury, Ohana’s is the perfect beachfront spot if you want to relax and be social at the same time.
Rooms at Ohana’s start from approximately $200AUD per night.
Adiwana d’Nusa resort
Adiwana d’Nusa is a sleek 4-star option nexto to the Mahagiri on the northern end of Jungut Batu. Again, this fabulous location allows an easy walk to some of the island’s best bars, restaurants, and dive shops.
Adiwana d’Nusa has standard resort rooms, pool access rooms, and private pool villas. It’s also great for kids, as it’s right on the beach, offers kids meals, and offers babysitting services on request.
Rates for the Adiwana d’Nusa start from approximately $180AUD per night.
Where to eat and drink
Bali Eco Deli
We really loved our breakfast at Bali Eco Deli, and we loved their sustainability philosophy as well.
You enter the courtyard through a classic Balinese wooden door, and the entrance is lined with bamboo. It just feels special.
The kids ordered a stack of pancakes each (one berry, one caramel), while the grown-ups had omelettes. Everything was delicious, and I can confirm the lattes are just like at home in Australia (very important!)
Ginger and Jamu
For the paleo/keto-heads among us, Ginger and Jamu is a great option.
We tried a few things here that the kids didn’t love, but they were happy with the banana oat pancakes and dragon fruit juices. Mr. Winter ordered the big breakfast and it was to die for – just order this and everyone will be super happy.
Ginger and Jamu is also right on the beach – we sat under a giant fig tree with the sand in our toes as we enjoyed breakfast. Heaven!
We stopped into La Bianca for a mid-morning smoothie on our walk around Jungut Batu. La Bianca had caught my eye when we arrived (it’s right on the beach where the fast boats arrive) and it looked divine.
While I can’t speak to the food as we only ordered drinks, La Bianca is a delightful place to sit and watch the world go by. And the smoothies and milkshakes are delicious, so I would 100% give the food a go. The tapas, seafood, and curries look delicious.
Coconut Hut is a delightful cafe and mini-golf course on the northern stretch of Jungut Batu.
The menu has some great Asian-fusion and Mexican-inspired options – think fish tacos and sticky sesame chicken.
We also loved having a laugh with the staff here. The Coconut Hut is just such a chill vibe and the staff really make that happen.
Coconut Hut is a few doors down from where we stayed at Villa Agung, making it the perfect spot for afternoon catch-ups with friends.
OMG this place is so cool!
Have you ever eaten ribs at a restaurant with its own swim-up bar? Well, come to Nick’s Place and try it!
This was one of the most expensive meals we had on the whole holiday, but we didn’t hold back (beers and cocktails, pork ribs, seafood, the whole nine yards).
Nick’s Place is another option that offers free pick up and drop off – just give them enough notice by messaging them on WhatsApp to make a dinner booking.
Things to do on Nusa Lembongan
Explore the Mangroves
We truly loved taking the time to explore the mangroves. A welcome respite from the heat, taking a boat through the shady backwaters of the mangrove forest allowed us to take some quiet time and just enjoy the experience.
Where the mangroves meet the ocean, and you pop out onto crystal clear sea water, is pretty spectacular too.
Entrance to the mangroves is just up from Jungut Batu (about 5-10 minutes).
Snorkelling and scuba diving
The waters off Lembongan are teeming with wildlife. Most famously, divers come here to dive with Manta Rays.
Lembongan’s clear waters are a great place to dive, whether you’re experienced or just learning.
Take a trip to Nusa Ceningan
Crossing the Yellow Bridge to Nusa Ceningan is an event in itself. However, when you get there, take some time to walk around Lembongan’s quieter little sibling. Here you’ll find tiny, meandering streets, cool restaurants/bars/warungs, friendly locals, and cool beach clubs such as Sea Breeze, KLYF Club, The Sand, and Le Pirate.
Ceningan is the perfect spot to watch the tides go in and out. Stunning blue waters at high tide give way to seaweed farms and rock pools full of sea creatures at low tide. This was a real highlight for the kids.
Hang out at a beach club
There are many options to choose from when it comes to Beach Clubs in Lembongan.
Sandy Bay and Ohana’s are probably the two most famous, and considered the most trendy. However, several other accommodation options have beach clubs attached. Examples are Lembongan Beach Club and Rocky Beach Club.
Explore Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is the largest of the three islands, sitting south of Lembongan and Ceningan. It is rugged and untouched – but famous for some very pretty cliffs and beaches you’ve likely seen on Instagram.
You’ll need to catch another boat to get to Penida, and we advise booking a tour if you’re just coming for the day. There’s a lot of ground to cover.
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