Nusa Lembongan & Ceningan are located at the southeast coast of Bali and are a world away from the hussle and bussle and bright lights that Bali has become. We had read that these were the white beaches and hideaway spots that people imagined of Bali but never quite found; and we would have to agree. Although Bali has its obvious draw, for us, Lembongan & Ceningan were still so much more undiscovered, quieter and more full of local culture than you would ever find on a walk around Seminyak.
To get to the islands you must depart from Sanur. Make your way straight down to the harbour front, past all the usual touts, where you can find the public boat office which offers the cheapest and easiest way to make the hop across to the islands. Don’t be alarmed when you have to walk over some jagged rocks to get onto the boat itself, this, believe it or not, is apparently the norm for a 300k return trip!
A couple of scratches, cut hands and knees and a distinctly fuel smelling boat later and we were hurtling across the massive waves on the way to our first destination of Nusa Lembongan! We spent a total of three nights exploring both islands which was enough to see what they had to offer but we certainly could have spent longer had we had more time and should the weather have played ball and allowed us more time to sprawl out on the beach…rain in Bali…who knew!?
The boats arrive either to Mushroom Bay or Jungut Batu Beach. After hurriedly getting on to the next departing boat we failed to realise that ours was headed for Mushroom Bay despite us staying on the other end of the island at Jungut Batu – so be sure to check this before your own boat as it will most certainly help on the other end! Transport on the island, as we swiftly found out, is extortionately expensive – 150k to get from Mushroom Bay to Jungut Batu -which, we told the drivers, was crazy for a ten minute drive and more than the price for the room we had booked! So, in true backpacker defiance (or so we like to think) we decided to walk the 8km across the island with our backpacks to find our accommodation! Here’s us feeling very good about ourselves…
All that being said renting a moped here is an absolute must if you are going to see anything! Whilst the island is not exactly huge everything is quite spread out and so walking takes rather a long time and unless you want to spend a small fortune local transport is not really an option. We hired a moped for 70k for the day with a tank of petrol…all set for a day of exploring! It is a beautiful island even in itself with scatterings of Balinese temples and waving schoolchildren on every bend but here are our top picks of must see’s around the island…
The weather was not really on our side when we arrived to Devils Tear on the western tip of the island but actually the wind and rain made for an even more exciting visit! The waves were absolutely huge and such an incredible sight to watch as they rolled in and crashed up against the rugged rocks. Proof to us and others (hopefully) that it doesn’t always have to be bright sunshine to enjoy these paradise islands. We couldn’t tear ourselves away from this spot and it was a highlight standing at the edge of the rocks waiting for the enormous crashing waves to break over us with nothing but the Gopro and each other to cling on to! So, rain or shine get yourself down to Devils Tear – we even went again the day after to see more of the mesmerising waves!
Just slightly south from Devils Tear, Dream Beach is a smallish cove with white sand and beautiful blue sea. Even in the rainy mist when we visited we could imagine on a sunny day it would be a perfect paradise spot to while away the days. Up behind the beach is a cliff top restaurant/bar and even a little swing to daydream the day away.
This is the bigger village between the two on the island but we much preferred the atmosphere here and the beach! Centered along the main road, aptly named Jalan Jungutbatu, and then splaying out on alleyways leading down to the beach this is a really cool little village. There are an abundance of homestays and traditional warungs and it seems a few more modern cafes are also popping up along the main road. And, not forgetting the many small little local shops with pretty much everything you could ever need each manned by incredible friendly smiling local ladies. The beach itself is wide with white sand stretching as far as the eye can see. We took a walk on our last day, once the sun had finally re-appeared, to see what was around the bend and once we finally reached the corner there was even more beach so that it seems it is never-ending! Perfect for relaxing and forgetting your worries (should you have any!) or if your feeling more adventurous there are paddle boards or snorkels to rent in the small bars which line the back of the beach!
As you zip around the island from point to point you will no doubt come across the very top point of the island which, although is really just a stop at the side of the road, is worth a stop even to just take a few snaps of Jungut Batu stretching out into the distance below.
Venturing round to the east coast of the island you will find the mangrove forest. We took a drive by on our moped and whilst it was a lovely and green the mangroves are largely covered and you really cant see much from the road. So, if you are going to do it, we would recommend doing it properly! Hire a kayak and paddle round for an hour or so and you may see a lot more than we did!
This is the smallest of the three islands neighbouring Bali and is adjoined to Nusa Lembongan by a bridge. Its easily explored in half a day as is relatively uninhabited and so far relatively undeveloped for tourists but this is half the draw…that and the beautiful rugged coastline which extends to this island too! So hop on your moped and get exploring our top sights below…
The yellow bridge
It would be really hard to miss this as all roads on Lembongan lead to here and you must cross it in order to get to Ceningan! When you turn the corner and see it for the first time it is surprising how completely out of place it looks but crossing it is the fun part! The bridge itself is incredibly narrow and whilst it looks sturdy from afar when you’re on your moped the bowing, creeking wooden planks and rattling bolts beneath you make you start to think otherwise! Still…its an awesome feature and we caught what we think was the best glimpse of it from below on the way back from Nusa Penida island in the morning sun aboard the public ferry.
We heard that you can surf here if that’s your thing but on driving round we didn’t really see anywhere where it would be possible due to the huge waves breaking on sharp rocks….but hey, you may be much braver than us!
We happened across a cool cafe on the top of cliff at the northern end of the island which has two cliff jumping spots…head towards blue lagoon resort and the signs will do the rest for you! The biggest jump off of a platform over the cliffs at the end, we imagine, would be amazingly refreshing on a calm, sunny day but when we looked down into the ginormous crashing waves below we both thought otherwise…go and jump should you dare! (Note it also costs 25k per jump!)
Just around the bay from the cliff jumping spots you can also follow signs for the Flying Fox where you will find a zip line which you can fly over from one side of the bay to the other over the crashing blue waves below. We recommend this as a fun draw if you are travelling with children as it was fairly gentle but fun to go and watch all the same!
So there you have it…we hope you enjoy exploring these two beautiful islands as much as we did!
C & J