The Nusa Islands consist of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, and Nusa Ceningan and are often wrongly thought of as being part of Bali. The Nusa Islands are actually located in a different regency but you can easily visit them via a short ferry ride from Padang Bai in Bali.
In recent years the Nusa Islands have rapidly started to overtake Bali as the place to come if you want to experience a true island paradise and consist of gorgeous sandy beaches which back on to some of the best diving in the region. The most visited of the islands is Nusa Lembongan followed by Nusa Penida, although if you really want to get away from it all then you can head for Nusa Ceningan which is the smallest island and sits between the two.
Some favorite activities on the Nusa Islands include surfing, diving, and snorkeling, although you can also spend time trekking in the forests here or exploring the other-worldly mangroves by boat. If you want to eschew the adventure activities however, then the Nusa Islands also make the perfect place to relax and get away from the crowds on Bali, and you can easily spend a week here sunbathing on the beautiful beaches and enjoying the peace and quiet.
Here are the 25 best things to do on the Nusa Islands…
1. Visit Crystal Bay
Crystal Bay is one of the most stunning areas of Nusa Penida and is made up of a long strip of sandy beach on the north coast which faces across to idyllic Nusa Ceningan.
The waters here are, as the name suggests, crystal clear and people flock here for diving as well as snorkeling.
There is a good chance of seeing sharks and rays here although bear in mind that this is such a beautiful spot that it is also one of the more visited parts of the island.
As a result you will find some amenities here like small cafes and shops selling cold drinks although it is hardly likely to get crowded here so it just means that you can enjoy the surf with a cold beer and watch the sunset.
2. Explore the seaweed farms
Nusa Lembongan is famous for its seaweed farms which makes sense as this part of Indonesia is covered in seaweed.
To find the farms make your way to the shoreline in the southeast of the island where you will see locals harvesting and drying the seaweed in the sun.
The best way to know if you are close to a seaweed farm is to look out for the poles in the water, and be warned that you won’t be able to swim here as this is an agricultural part of the islands.
The seaweed is used to make Asian cosmetics and the smell is particularly pungent but this is a great chance to see a homegrown industry at work on Nusa Lembongan.
3. Fly through the air on the Abyss Zipline
If you want a thrilling experience on Nusa Ceningan then try the newest attraction on offer here in the form of the Abyss Zipline.
Nusa Ceningan is known for its amazing cliffs and now you can take in the scenery firsthand by speeding along a line that will take you skirting over the crashing waves.
This is absolutely the best way to take in the views over the water here and the dedicated instructors will explain all the safety procedures to you so that you can fly from cliff to cliff safely.
4. Take a Beach Club Cruise
Nusa Lembongan is known for its beach club and the best way to experience this is to take a Beach Club Cruise.
This will see you board the Bali Hai II boat and gently cruise to Nusa Lembongan Island and once there you will be able to sunbathe on the golden strip of sand in front of the crystal clear turquoise waters of Nusa Lembongan Bay.
This means that you get private use of the beach club as well as food and drink provided on board the boat so if you want to get out on the water in this part of Indonesia then this is one of the most luxurious ways to do it.
5. Hike through Tembeling Forest
You will find Tembeling Forest on Nusa Penida and this is a great swathe of virgin rainforest that cuts across the pretty island.
The forest is the home of an amazing array of flora and fauna including some colorful birds so nature lovers should be sure not to miss it off the itinerary.
It also makes a nice change from the beachfront vistas of Nusa Penida and you can follow a range of trails through the forest, many of which take you past scenic waterfalls with limpid pools that are perfect for cooling off in.
It is also possible to go for a ramble in the forest as part of a walking tour of the island if you don’t want to go it alone.
6. Sunbathe on Mushroom Beach
Mushroom Beach on Nusa Lembongan is probably the first place you will see when you arrive on the island, as this is also where most of the boats dock.
That said, you will still find a long expanse of white sand here and this is the perfect spot if you want to go swimming, snorkeling, or diving.
One of the big draws here is that you can also sleep close to the beach in one of the traditional wooden huts called a lumbung and take in the seaside vistas as soon as you set foot outside your bungalow.
7. Visit the Friends of the National Park Foundation Bird Sanctuary
Located on Nusa Penida is the Friends of the National Park Foundation Bird Sanctuary which is the place to come if you love birds and want to know more about their welfare and protection in Indonesia.
The Friends of the National Park Foundation Bird Sanctuary is also responsible for the amazing starling introduction program here as well as taking care of the natural environment on Nusa Penida.
8. Cycle around Nusa Lembongan
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of Nusa Lembongan is to rent a bicycle on the island and then cycle around.
It is far more difficult to cycle on other islands like Nusa Ceningan so make the most of the easier terrain on Lembongan as well as the well marked paths.
The best way to see the island is to cycle along the coastline and there are paths that skirt almost the whole way around and due to its size it is possible to tour much of the island in just a few hours.
9. Visit Pura Penataran
Pura Penataran on Nusa Penida is one of the most important Hindu temples on the island and is a pilgrimage spot for many who visit.
The deities of this temple are said to guard against illness, death, and disease and devotees come here to pray to ward off any bad luck or evil spirits.
The temple is one of the most lavishly built in this area which makes it stand out against the rest of the island and if you happen to be on Nusa Penida then this is one cultural site not to be missed.
10. Take in the views on Dream Beach
Dream Beach is often described as one of the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia which is high praise indeed.
The beach is, as the name suggests, like something out of a dream and you will find a long strip of white sand which has some gorgeous views across the water.
The beach also has a small resort if you want to stay here longer and a cafe where you can grab a cold beer and spend the day relaxing in this stunning environment.
One thing to note however is that you should exercise caution if you want to enter the water as the currents here are strong and can change very quickly.
If you want to paddle in the shallows however then the visibility is excellent and you will be able to take in a range of underwater creatures without having to venture too far.
11. Check out the caves at Broken Beach
Broken Beach, also sometimes known as Broken Sea, is called Pasih Uwug in Indonesian and sits on Nusa Penida.
It would have started out life as a cave and over time however the roof of the cave has eroded and all that is left is a large hole in the ground that looks like the imprint created by a giant’s fist.
Water has now spilled over from the sea into the cave and you can hike along the cliffs and look down over this amazing natural phenomenon.
If you are lucky you may even catch a ray swimming through the water at the same time and this is one of the most amazing natural attractions in all of Indonesia.
12. Take a boat tour around the mangrove forests
In the north of Nusa Lembongan you will find a huge swathe of scenic mangrove forests.
Most visitors choose to visit these by taking a tour on an outrigger boat around the different picturesque waterways and this is a great activity if you are travelling with children who will be mesmerized by the twists and turns through the mangroves.
As you would imagine plant and animal life abounds here and you are likely to see a wide variety of birds who call the mangroves home.
13. Dive at Temple Point
If you like diving then don’t miss the chance to dive at Temple Point on Nusa Penida.
Here you will find one of the most amazing underwater worlds around Bali and if you don’t want to dive then you can also access this site just by swimming and snorkeling out to the area.
You can get to Temple Point from Crystal Bay and once you look under the water you will find a range of gorgeous statues including Buddha carvings and other beautiful images fashioned out of rock.
This is actually an art installation rather than a natural sunken city but it is still a beautiful underwater experience that you won’t find in many other places around the world.
14. Go hiking at Bukit Teletubbies
You may not be expecting to find a set of hills called the Teletubbies Hills in Indonesia but this is exactly what you will find at Bukit Teletubbies on Nusa Penida.
The hills got this surprising moniker as their shape is said to look like those of the rotund creatures in the children’s cartoon and this makes a great spot if you want to get away from the beach for a day and explore the interior of the island.
You can trek up into the hills and take in the idyllic surroundings that provide views across lush emerald green terraces.
15. Test your nerve at Mahana Point Cliff Jump
Mahana Point Cliff Jump on Nusa Ceningan is ideal if you want an adrenalin packed afternoon.
The point is basically a wooden dive post on the side of some craggy white cliffs and you can jump from here into the turquoise blue seas below.
There are actually a few jumps here of various heights and it is up to you to see how brave you feel on the day.
16. Go surfing on Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan has long been known as the place to come if you want to surf and get out of crowded Bali.
There are three large breaks here called Playgrounds, Lacerations, and Shipwrecks and you can either paddle out to the breaks from the shore or take a boat to the line up if you want to conserve your energy.
The breaks are best for experienced surfers as they are located above coral reefs although Playgrounds is a little easier and intermediate surfers can surf there when the waves are less rough.
17. Visit the Marine Megafauna Foundation
Also known as the MMF and located on Nusa Penida, the Marine Megafauna Foundation is a research center that is dedicated to taking care of marine life in the waters around the island.
The foundation does a lot of work with manta rays in the region and they do educational sessions every Tuesday and Thursday at the Yoga Shack on Nusa Penida at 6.30 pm.
The lectures are meant to educate those on the struggles of marine life in these waters as well as highlight ways to protect the fragile ecosystems beneath the sea in this part of the world.
18. Learn to free-dive
If you have already given diving a try and are in the market for something new, then consider learning how to free-dive on Nusa Lembongan.
One of the best places to do this is at the aptly named One Breath Freediving School in Jungut Batu and here you will be able to take classes with dedicated instructors who will take you out to a range of dive sites around the island and introduce you to a whole new way of experiencing the ocean.
19. Relax at Mushroom Spa
Mushroom Spa on Nusa Lembongan is part of the Mushroom Beach Bungalows and if you have spent a long day diving or enjoying other water sports then you can come here to unwind.
The spa looks over the gorgeous waters of Sanghyang Bay and you can have a leisurely massage here or treat yourself to a cleansing body scrub or a manicure and pedicure.
20. Spend the evening at Ceningan Shisha Lounge
Nusa Ceningan is not well known for its nightlife but one of the exceptions is Shisha Lounge.
The lounge sits close to a range of eerie mangrove swamps and you will find a waterfront bar that has a famous happy hour every evening.
They also serve a range of international and Indonesian dishes and they have board games that visitors can borrow for a laid back game night on Nusa Ceningan.
21. Go spelunking at Goa Giri Putri
Goa Giri Putri lies under the earth on Nusa Penida and is a famous cave which has a temple located inside.
The temple is considered a site of pilgrimage in this part of Indonesia and you will need to wear a sarong to enter.
To get to the cave you can climb down a flight of stairs into the main chamber and there is a meditation area inside that you can access after you have washed in holy water handed out by the resident priests.
As you would imagine this is an extremely magical place and is made even more beautiful thanks to the eerie rock formations like stalagmites and stalactites that line the inside of the cave.
22. Dive at Manta Point
Manta Point is located on Nusa Penida and is one of the most famous spots if you want to dive on the island.
As you would expect from the name, the main reason to come here is for the chance to swim with the amazing Manta Rays that glide elegantly through the water and many visitors feel that the chance to get up close with these fascinating creatures is the highlight of a trip to Indonesia.
23. Take a class at Yoga Shack
Yoga Shack is something of an institution on Nusa Lembongan and you can come here and take a class if you want to relax and unwind.
There are a variety of different classes that you can take including Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin classes and whatever your level of ability there will be a class for you.
Visitors can either do a drop in session or you can also buy multiple class packages.
24. Have something to eat at Sandy Bay Beach Club
The Beach Club at Sandy Bay is something of a well established institution on Nusa Lembongan and people flock here to spend the day on the beach with some delicious food and drinks.
The club sits on the sand and has its own pool and you can enjoy a great barbecue here every day that consists of freshly caught seafood paired with delicious cocktails and plenty of cold beer.
25. Climb a tree house at Rumah Pohon Batu Molenteng
In the middle of Nusa Penida and looking out over the stunning Atuh Beach is Rumah Pohon Batu Molenteng which is truly the best way to check out the island.
The rooms consist of tree houses perched high above the cliffs of Nusa Penida and you can climb up here via a ladder and spend the day in your own private tree house.
If you want to make the most of the experience then bring some food and drinks up here and spend the day enjoying the views before staying for the spectacular sunsets that Nusa Penida is known for.