While planning your holiday vacation to beautiful Bali, Indonesia, it’s good to know a little about the surrounding islands that are less impacted by tourism, that are just as breathtaking, if not more so, than Bali.
Bali’s tourism is booming and the crowds can become quite overwhelming at times. If you crave wild nightlife, decent beginner to intermediate surf, and a wide variety of top rated western restaurants, Canggu and Seminyak are for you. If you want a relaxing time among expansive rice fields, temples, and world-class yoga, head to Ubud, but don’t stay too long in the center. Authentic culture lies outside the city center.
Off the coast of Bali float three smaller islands: Nusa Penida (largest), Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan (smallest). And if you go farther east you’ll hit Lombok. Here is my guide to hitting all these islands.
Getting to the Nusa islands:
Book your trip through your accommodation (some surf school’s in Bali may help with booking too). This includes:
- Taxi pickup from accommodation
- Drop off at the harbor
- Pick up from the harbor of destination
- Drop of at the hotel
If you purchase one way, your services will end with the drop off at your hotel on the island you arrive on. This ticket is normally 350,000 IDR ($24). If you purchase round trip then you will also be picked up at your accommodation on the island, dropped off at the harbor, picked up on mainland Bali, and brought to one of the locations they offer (Seminyak, Kuta, Denpasar, etc). This ticket will cost you anywhere between 550,000 – 650,000 IDR ($38/45).
When booking with your accommodation in Bali, you may choose which island you want to be dropped off at Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan.
Between these two islands runs a small public boat seating ten passengers leaving at all times of the day. Once ten people show up to the loading area, the boat leaves. Extremely simple. This will cost 50,000 ($3).
There is a third island between Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan: Nusa Ceningan. This small island is accessible by a conjoining bridge to Nusa Lembongan. You may walk or ride your rental scooter over the bridge.
The fast boat leaving from Bali to the Nusa islands takes roughly 30 minutes.
Getting to Lombok:
Lombok is farther away from Bali than the smaller islands are from Bali. Hence, the fast boat will take up to 1 or 2 hours. This will cost around 400,000 IDR ($28). The ferry, which only costs 76,000 IDR and allows cars and motorbikes on board, is a longer pursuit, but worth the significant cost difference. From Nusa Penida you will take a ferry to Padang Bai (small island above Bali) that may take up to 4-5 hours, or only 2, depending on how many boats are in the cue. From Padang Bai, you will switch ferries and ride 4-5 hours to Lombok. Timing varies depending on how many boats are in the harbor waiting to unload passengers and supplies. Both ferries are clean and spacious with upper decks for chilling.
Personally, this ferry ride was my silver lining. I needed some downtime to regroup after a couple weeks in Bali. I got to read, write, take photos, listen to music, set my hammock up on the upper deck, and roll out my yoga mat to stretch and meditate. I watched a massive group of fish feeding and jumping out of the water and ended the day with a spectacular sunset aboard the ship.
If you take the ferry to Lombok, you must sort out all of your transportation services to the harbor on the Nusa islands to the harbor (motorbike taxi by a local for 50,000) and to your accommodation in Lombok, as this ferry ride is never apart of a travel bundle deal.
You may book the fast boat to Lombok at any tourist information shop on Nusa Penida and Lembongan.
It is important to book the travel bundle deal from your Bali accommodation to the Nusa islands. Otherwise, you will end up paying more in taxis and could possibly miss the departure time if your driver cannot find the drop off the zone in the harbor, which happens often.
Indonesian’s are the most helpful people. Things are so easy to sort out in this country so do not stress if things don’t always go to plan.
Trust the journey and enjoy all of it!