What to choose between Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida
We are often asked if it is worth choosing Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida. We were personally much more enamored (in love with) with Nusa Penida, but we will try to be completely objective in the arguments in favor of each of these two islands.
Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida or Ceningan?
Nusa Lembongan is part, with Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, of an archipelago of three islands southeast of Bali, also called Nusa Penida. The area of Nusa Lembongan is about 8 km2 and its permanent population about 5000 people. A yellow bridge connects Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, the smallest of the three islands. This bridge collapsed in 2016 but the Balinese government has since rebuilt it identically (more solid?). You can therefore move easily from one of the two islands to the other.
A mangrove with an area of 212 hectares occupies the entire east of the island. Tourism development, which began on the island about ten years ago, is therefore concentrated on a small part of the island. And the very many tourist establishments built over the past 10 years thus form a fairly dense network along the north coast. As a result, Nusa Lembongan is now a bit saturated. Tourism is therefore developing accordingly, especially in Nusa Penida, which is around 25 times larger.
So you are preparing your trip to Indonesia and Bali and wondering whether to choose Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan? It all depends on what you are looking for!
How long does it take to reach from Bali to Nusa Lembongan Nusa Penida or Ceningan by speedboat?
From Bali to Nusa Lembongan
The fastest boats from Bali to Nusa Lembongan typically lasts around 30-45 minutes, with fast boats departing from Sanur Harbor.
From Bali to Nusa Penida
The travel time to Nusa Penida is longer than to Nusa Lembongan, as it is a larger island. Most boats take between 60 and 75 minutes to reach Nusa Penida departing from Sanur Harbor.
From Bali to Nusa Ceningan
Ceningan is a small island located between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. The travel time to Ceningan is usually between 45 and 60 minutes departing from Sanur Harbor.
As tourism has been developing for longer, the tourism infrastructure is larger and more diverse in Nusa Lembongan than in Penida. The high-end offer is indeed more present today. There are thus 7 luxury hotels in Lembogan and still none, to date, in Penida, pending the opening of the Adiwana Warnakali hotel. There is also a larger supply of villas for rent in Lembongan.
Nightlife is also more developed in Lembongan. The northern coast of Penida, however, is beginning to host many bars. And new high-end projects are emerging there, such as the Amok sunset bar restaurant.
Scuba diving and snorkeling
Most of the scuba diving or snorkeling sites are in Nusa Penida (Manta Bay, Manta Point, Crystal Bay, Gamat Bay, Toyapakeh, etc…). A few are in Nusa Lembongan (Mangrove, Blue Corner). But in practice, the Lembongan and Penida dive centers go to the same dive sites. And you will be offered snorkeling excursions from each of the two islands. Each island also has very good French-speaking diving centers, in particular French Kiss Divers in Lembongan and Warnakali in Penida.
Beaches and surfing in Nusa Lembongan
A long sandy beach runs along much of the north coast of Nusa Lembongan Island. Where tourism has concentrated. Mushroom Bay Beach and Jungun Batu Beach are very famous. But the beaches of Nusa Penida are more varied, wilder, more spectacular, with a special mention for Atuh Beach and Suwehan Beach. But they are also generally less easily accessible, especially for children.
Surfing enthusiasts will rather choose Nusa Lembongan which has a few waves allowing it to be practiced. Examples include Shipwrecks, Playgrounds, Lacerations, Montags, and Ceningan.
The prize for landscapes unquestionably goes to the island of Nusa Penida with extremely emblematic sites such as Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach or Angel Billabong. As well as very nice excursions to do by scooter or even on foot. The very high cliffs on the west coast of Penida also offer a very good view of the sunsets. In my top 15 sites to see on the archipelago of Nusa Penida, the first 14 are also located on the island of Nusa Penida. And Nusa Lembongan is the 15th.
There are however also some spectacular places to see in Nusa Lembogan and Nusa Ceningan. The main ones are Devil’s Tears, the mangrove or the yellow bridge separating Lembogan and Ceningan. Half a day will however be more than enough to go around these two islands.
Boat connections between Bali and the two islands
Around 16 companies operate 40 daily speedboat connections between Bali and Nusa Penida. I haven’t done the exact count, but I think most companies go to both islands. The crossing time is about 5 to 10 minutes shorter for Lembongan but it is not really discriminating. The price for crossings from Sanur to Bali is also the same. To my knowledge, however, there is no connection by speedboat between Kusamba in Bali and Lembongan.
Finally, for travelers who would like to come with their own scooter, the Padang Bay ferry only goes to Nusa Penida. But it’s only really worth it if you come for more than a week because you can easily find one to rent on site.
The culture and history of Bali are much more present in Penida than in Lembongan or Ceningan. This is indeed where the famous temple of Ped is located, which houses the spirit of the powerful demon Mecaling. And above all, for tourists, the temple of Goa Giri Putri, inside a very impressive cave to visit. Bali festivals and ceremonies also take place in most villages of Penida if you are lucky enough to be present for these occasions.
In the field of traditions, the cultivation of seaweed was one of the main activities of the two islands until recently. But it has practically disappeared everywhere following the development of tourism and global warming. You will still find some near Suana on the island of Nusa Penida.
So, Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan or Ceningan?
In conclusion, choose Nusa Lembogan:
- If you are passionate about surfing.
- Or if you are looking for 4 star accommodation and failed to book in Adiwana Warnakali or a private villa for rent.
- Or if you want easy access to the beach for your children.
But if you want to rediscover the Bali of 30 years ago, enjoy fabulous landscapes, experience exceptional and varied moments on land, in water or under water, choose Nusa Penida!
And if, as we highly recommend, you decide to spend several nights in Penida, you can always take a short trip to Nusa Lembongan. The public boat takes you there in about fifteen minutes for the modest price of 60,000 rupees! And you can always rent a scooter when the boat arrives and go around Lembongan and Ceningan in two hours.
On the other hand, we do not recommend that if you have little time to spend one night in Penida and one night in Lembongan. You will waste time unnecessarily in transfers from one hotel to another.
1. Nusa Penida
The island is large and whatever the length of your stay you will have no trouble filling your days. These are most visited attractions in Nusa Penida:
The place was named Broken Beach because it resulted from the collapse of part of the cliff. The collapsed part has a circular shape. And an arch has formed on the narrowest part that borders the sea. So the whole thing looks like a circular bay with an arch that overlooks the sea. Anyway, look at the pictures, it will be easier than trying to Explain yourselves !
You will probably go around the bay and you will surely take lots of photos. But watch out for the selfies! Several careless tourists backed up too far to take their picture and fell. Since then, signs warn visitors against the risk of falling. Contrary to what the name might suggest, there is no beach at Broken Beach.
Kelingking Beach is a spectacular rocky outcrop into the sea.
The rock of Kelingking Beach looks a bit like the backbone of a dinosaur coming to drink from the sea. On Google Map the bay is called T-Rex Bay. And if you are lucky you can also see Manta rays from the top of the cliff.
The esplanade overlooking the rock is now very popular with tourists and drone pilots. It is clearly one of the places that have contributed to the tourist development of Nusa Penida, in particular thanks to social networks. Kelingking also means little finger in Indonesian. But I find it hard to understand why. Or else it takes a lot of imagination…
The main attraction to see at Kelingking Beach is the view from the top of the cliff. The cliffs of this part of the coast of the island of Nusa Penida are very spectacular but this one is special!
Kelingking Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Nusa Penida. And in my opinion of Bali in the category of wild beaches. Even if you don’t want to go all the way down, take, at least for a few meters, the stairs that descend along the ridge line. You will be much calmer and the photos will be much better. Another tip, take your photos before going down, you will probably be less photogenic after going back up…
The trail then continues to Kelingking Beach (about a 20 minute walk). The fire also destroyed the somewhat complex system of ropes and wooden poles arranged to facilitate the descent. The path has been redesigned and is now more secure than before.
Don’t get discouraged halfway through. Because the ascent is easier than the descent. You are indeed facing the slope going up. It is therefore much more reassuring and therefore paradoxically less tiring.
It takes about 20 minutes now that the stairs have been set up to descend to Kelingking beach. Allow 30 minutes with a few breaks to come back up from the beach.
Crystal Bay combines the attractions of a sandy beach easily accessible by road, a spectacular rock planted in the middle of the bay and a renowned spot for scuba diving or mask and snorkel. The must see places in Nusa Penida.
Crystal Bay Beach is one of the most visited beaches in Nusa Penida. It is easily accessible by scooter from the port of Toyapakeh. The road has indeed been recently resurfaced and is very good. The sunsets, facing the beach, are among the most spectacular in Nusa Penida.
But you can also spend a pleasant day there. For the more athletic, there is no shortage of activities. Others may prefer to stay on a sun lounger under the shade of an umbrella.
And if you are very lucky you may see dolphins there. And finally, do not go swimming on the right side of the bay (when you look at the sea) because the waves could drag you on the corals. In short, if you follow all these instructions, swimming and snorkeling with mask, flippers and snorkel are very nice!
The beach is also an easy starting point to go and see the Manta rays while snorkeling. You can book with your hotel or otherwise try your luck directly with captains early in the morning.
A billabong normally refers to a body of water consisting of an oxbow that forms when the course of a river changes. Here, it is rather a natural pool that has formed in the cliff. The pool fills up at high tide and the water remains trapped at low tide. The water is very clear and it is quite fun to go swimming there when the sea is low.
On the other hand, be careful, if the sea rises or if the sea is strong, as soon as the first wave enters the pool, it is imperative to get out. I’ve seen tourists get knocked off balance by a wave. And they were lucky not to be swept away by the wave outside the pool, because then it is almost impossible to come back. The next two photos were taken 5 minutes apart…
2. Nusa Lembongan
We often hear that Nusa Lembongan looks like Bali twenty – thirty years ago! The atmosphere here is very relaxed and away from the madness of Kuta. Nusa Lembongan is also famous for its seaweed cultivation on the beach which is very interesting to watch. The island also has great surf spots along its shores, for those who like to catch waves. Nusa Lembongan only offers a few underwater sites, but they are amazing! Most of the dive sites are actually located around Nusa Penida.
Nusa Lembongan, a small island paradise located just off the southeastern coast of Bali
It offers a serene escape from the bustling mainland. With its stunning turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and laid-back atmosphere, Nusa Lembongan is a hidden gem that beckons travelers seeking a tranquil retreat.
The island’s charm lies in its untouched beauty, where you can explore rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and lush mangrove forests. Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts will be delighted by the vibrant marine life and coral reefs that surround the island. Crystal-clear waters provide excellent visibility, making underwater adventures a must.
Nusa Lembongan also offers a range of water sports, from surfing to paddleboarding, catering to both relaxation and adventure seekers. The local culture and warm hospitality of the island’s residents provide a genuine connection to Balinese traditions and a chance to savor delicious local cuisine.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, exploration, or a mix of both, Nusa Lembongan stands as a captivating destination that complements Bali’s allure while offering a unique and tranquil escape.
3. Nusa Ceningan
Currently Nusa Ceningan does not offer accommodation or diving.
In Ceningan you will also find many quiet little beaches, especially the first beach out of the bridge is very beautiful, with swings and hammocks all over the sea in the middle of the water. When the tide is high enough, the water is level and reveals a magnificent sandbar in the middle of the water, so you can walk with water 10 cm (4 inches) above your feet for more than 50 meters (164 ft).
Nusa Ceningan, one of the three Nusa Islands nestled between Bali and Nusa Lembongan, is a picturesque haven that promises a serene escape from the usual tourist spots. Known for its intimate atmosphere and breathtaking landscapes, Nusa Ceningan offers a quieter, more laid-back experience for those looking to unwind in a tropical paradise.
Connected to Nusa Lembongan by the iconic yellow bridge, Nusa Ceningan exudes an unspoiled charm. The island is characterized by its azure blue waters, rugged coastline, and stunning viewpoints that provide awe-inspiring panoramas of the surrounding ocean. The vibrant underwater world here is a haven for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, boasting colorful coral gardens and diverse marine life.
Despite its small size, Nusa Ceningan offers a variety of activities, from exploring hidden beaches to cliff jumping into inviting lagoons. The island’s tranquility and slower pace provide the perfect backdrop for relaxation, meditation, and the chance to connect with nature.
For those seeking a break from the bustling streets of Bali, Nusa Ceningan offers a slice of paradise that transports you to a simpler, more idyllic world. With its raw beauty and untouched charm, this hidden gem is a testament to the quieter side of Bali’s enchanting archipelago.
How to get to Nusa Penida by fast boat?
More than 8 fast boat companies cross from Sanur to Nusa Penida for a total of 18 connections per day. And 3 companies from Kusamba to Sampalan which provide 20 connections per day.
Angel Billabong fast cruise
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departures at 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 2:15 p.m. and 5:20 p.m.
return to Bali: departures at 7:20 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
+62 82 144 048 323
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departures at 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
return to Bali: departures at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
+62 81 246 892 524
+62 81 338 754 848
Semabu Hills Fast Boat
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departures at 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
return to Bali: departures at 8 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departure at 7:30 a.m., 8:15 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
return to Bali: departures at 9:15 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departure at 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.
return to Bali: departures 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Funtastic Fast Boat
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departure at 9:45 am
return to Bali: departures at 8:30 am
Sanur > Nusa Penida: departure at 8:15 a.m.
return to Bali: departures at 4:30 p.m.
+62 82 339 616 768
Angel Billabong, Maruti Express and Semabu Hills are very reliable.
Sanur > Sampalan: departure at 8:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Sampalan Bali: departures at 1:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
WhatsApp: +62 81 808 072 488
From Kusamba to Sampalan
From Kusamba to Sampalan (or Buyuk): 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. (Buyuk), 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (Buyuk)
From Sampalan (or Buyuk) to Kusamba: 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m. (Buyuk), 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (Buyuk)
Kusamba to Sampalan: 6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Sampalan to Kusamba: 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
From Kusamba to Sampalan: 7:15 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
From Sampalan to Kusamba: 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.
Schedules by departure time from Sanur
- 7:30 am with Angel Billabong, Maruti Express, Ax Stone or Semabu Hills
- 8h with Semabu Hills
- 8:15 a.m. with Ax Stone or Ray Fish or with Idola Express to Sampalan
- 8:30 a.m. with Angel Billabong
- 9am with Maruti Express
- 9:45 a.m. with Funtastic Fast Boat
- 11 a.m. with Ax StoneMidi with The Tanis
- 1pm with Semabu Hills
- 2:15 p.m. with Angel Billabong
- 3 p.m. with Maruti Express
- 3:30 p.m. with Ax Stone or with Idola Express (towards Sampalan)
- 5:20 p.m. with Angel Billabong
Schedules by departure time from Nusa Penida
- 7:20 a.m. with Angel Billabong
- 7:30 a.m. with Maruti
- 8h with Semabu Hills
- 8:30 a.m. with Funtastic Fast Boat
- 9:15 a.m. with Ax Stone
- 10 a.m. with The Tanis
- 12:30 p.m. with Maruti Express
- 1pm with Angel Billabong
- 1:15 p.m. with Idola Express (from Sampalan)
- 1:30 p.m. with Semabu Hills
- 2:30 p.m. with Ax Stone
- 4:00 p.m. with Angel Billabong
- 4:30 p.m. with Angel Billabong, Maruti Express, Semabu Hill, The Tanis, Ax Stone or Ray Fish
- 4:30 p.m. with Idola Express (from Sampalan)
- 4:45 p.m. with Ax Stone
Please kindly note that in the event of bad weather the schedule may change.
How to go from Seminyak to Nusa Penida by fast boat?
The departure can be done from two ports: Sanur Port or Padang Bai Port. If you leave from Sanur, you will arrive in Nusa Penida on the port of Toyopakeh, in 25 minutes with a fastboat.
On the other hand, if you leave from the port of Padang Bai, the crossing will be done by ferry in 2 hours and you will disembark at the wharf of Sampalan, on the northeastern tip of Nusa Penida.
1. First from Seminyak you need to drive to the ferry terminal in Sanur (Sanur Port or Pelabuhan Sanur).
2. Once you’re in Sanur Port, then take a fast boat to Nusa Penida (around 40 minutes).
From Padang Bai Port to Sampalan Port (Nusa Penida)
If you stay near Candi Dasa (a small coastal town in eastern Bali), chose Padang Bay Port to go to Nusa Penida, it’s closer! From Candi Dasa to Padangbay Port (10,7 km) around 20 minutes drive.
On the other hand, if you leave from the port of Padang Bai (Pelabuhan Padang Bai), the crossing will be done by ferry in 2 hours and you will disembark at the wharf of Sampalan, on the northeastern tip of Nusa Penida.
Ferry companies and ports of arrival in Nusa Penida
If you have already booked your speedboat ticket, you can check below which boat company arrives at which port in Nusa Penida.
Ferry Companies to Toyapakeh Harbor, Nusa Penida
|From Sanur (southeast of Bali):
|From Kusamba (northeast of Bali):
|Angel Billabong Fast Cruise
Crown Fast Cruises
El Rey Junior
Gogun Fast Boat
Angkal Fast Boat
Semabu Hills Fast Boat
Semabu Hills Bateau rapide
Ferry Companies to Buyuk Harbor
|Caspla Bali Sea View Speedboat
Marlin Fast Boat Speedboat
Dream Beach Express Speedboat
Ferry companies to Sampalan port
S’Gening Fast Boat
RECAP Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida
Choosing between Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan depends on your preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. Here’s a brief comparison to help you decide:
- Landscapes: Nusa Penida is known for its rugged and dramatic landscapes, including iconic viewpoints like Kelingking Beach and Angel’s Billabong.
- Adventure: Ideal for adventurous travelers who enjoy exploring less-developed areas, hiking, and snorkeling.
- Seclusion: Offers a more secluded and authentic atmosphere compared to more touristy areas.
- Beaches and Adventure: Nusa Penida is renowned for its dramatic landscapes but has limited beach club and nightlife options. It’s more suitable for those seeking adventure, hiking, and nature exploration.
- Beaches: Nusa Lembongan is famous for its pristine beaches, such as Dream Beach and Mushroom Bay, with white sand and crystal-clear waters.
- Water Activities: Great for water activities like snorkeling, diving, and paddleboarding. The island has vibrant coral reefs.
- Relaxation: Nusa Lembongan provides a more relaxed and laid-back vibe compared to the larger and busier Nusa Penida.
- Beaches and Water Activities: Nusa Lembongan boasts beautiful beaches and vibrant coral reefs, making it an excellent choice for water activities. While it may not have extensive beach club scenes, some beachfront spots offer a relaxed atmosphere.
- For Adventure and Scenery: If you prefer dramatic landscapes and are up for an adventurous experience, Nusa Penida may be the best choice.
- For Relaxation and Water Activities: If you’re looking for beautiful beaches, water activities, and a more relaxed atmosphere, Nusa Lembongan might be the ideal destination.
- For a More Active Scene: If beach clubs and a bit of nightlife are essential, you might want to consider spending the majority of your time on the mainland in Bali and visiting Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan for a day trip or short stay.
Consider your interests and the type of experience you’re seeking to make the best decision. Both islands offer unique charms, so you may also consider combining visits to both if time allows.
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