Explore islands near Bali. If you are planning a trip to Bali DO NOT miss a trip to some of the nearby islands. Tourists flock to Nusa Lembongan for diving and snorkelling. Nusa Penida Island to explore the unspoilt island and beaches, the Gili islands to really get away from it all and Lombok for some R and R. The further away, the quieter the island.
It is super easy to island hop. Fast Ferries travel from Sanur in Southern Bali to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida, Lombok and the Gili islands.
Fast Ferries to the Islands
I decided to rent a luxury Villa on Nusa Lembongan (last minute, impulse decision due to the fact that I lost contact with my friend from France – another story all of its own!). This was a great decision and I enjoyed a wonderful stay in a super luxe Villa. The staff at my Villa organised a transfer to the island with Rocky Boats.
Make sure to book online because these boats do get booked up. There are several Boat companies to choose but I went with Rocky Boats. They will pick you up from your hotel or Villa in Bali and take you to Sanur Jetty and the beach to take the boat. Book to go to Nusa Penida, Lombok and the Gili islands and depart from the same beach in Sanur.
Make sure you are wearing shorts and flip flops, you do get wet wading out to the boats as you can see from the photo below. However, don’t worry about your luggage, I had a lot of luggage (as always!) and the Crew carry all the suitcases. There did not seem to be a restriction on the amount of bags. Very well organised, life jackets and a safe operation. The boat ride takes about 30 minutes.
Nusa Lembongan Island
“Nusa Lembongan is like Bali 20 years ago” I was told. Well, I visited Bali over 20 years ago and I can tell you that it really has not changed that much! Southern Bali was horrendous 20 years ago with crowds and pollution. Head North, East or West of Ubud and see the really Bali, the Bali of 20 years ago. Here is my blog with some ideas and itineraries for you:
Anyway, back to Nusa Lembongan. I was there in March 2019, a quiet time of year. I stayed in a gorgeous Villa with staff set on the hill looking down to the sea. My husband booked this for me on Airbnb at the very last minute. I know, a large villa might seem extravagant for 1 person, but it is no more expensive than a hotel. Actually considerably cheaper than some of the ridiculously expensive Bali hotels and a million times nicer and more luxurious. I enjoyed my peaceful haven away from the busy beach. The days were spent taking out a boat for snorkelling and exploring trips.
The snorkelling is not that great, but the gorgeous views of the island from sea are fabulous.
BEWARE: I booked a Snorkel boat to myself only to turn up and find a boat load of other people too!
Is Nusa Lembongan Unspoilt? To be honest, I was expecting it to be much less touristy. Jungutbatu Beach is the place to find a Dive boat with a big selection of boats lined up on the beach. Little booking offices are everywhere. The island is popular with surfers. There is a line of beach bars with music blaring and boutique hotels. However, for an authentic ‘real Bali’ experience you cannot beat Northern Bali.
Can you take a day trip to the islands?
Yes, it is only a 30 minute ferry ride. However, it is lovely to stay for a day or two and explore. Or maybe catch a Ferry from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida and explore both islands.
If you decide to stay, there is a great choice from hotels, boutique hotels to guest houses and super luxe villas. Check out Airbnb for some amazing villas. Hire a Scooter or Quad bike to get around the island. There are no cars!
What about the weather in March?
The weather was absolutely perfect for my stay in Bali during March. I stayed on the island for 4 days and experienced a short evening shower on one day. However for Nyepi it poured with rain for the entire day! The rest of my trip was in Bali and the weather was really good, a couple of short showers but continual sunshine for the rest of the time.
What is Nyepi?
Nusa Lembongan was especially quiet because I arrived a couple of days before Nyepi. Do you know about Nyepi? It is a religious festival ‘A day of silence’ in Bali. Nyepi is commemorated every Isakawarsa according to the Balinese Calendar. This year it is on 25 to 26 March 2020. Nyepi is a public holiday in Indonesia, a day of silence, fasting and meditation. The whole of Bali and the islands completely stop functioning for 24 hours! No one is allowed to leave home, flights and boats stop. Driving is forbidden. Even the electricity is turned off!
The night before Nyepi are the Ogah Ogah parades. Every town and village in Bali has an Ogah Ogah parade. My lovely housekeeper at the villa invited me to accompany the family to see this spectacle. It was great fun and not to be missed if you are in Bali.
I mention Nyepi, because I am heading back to Bali and decided to wait until after Nyepi! However I did not realise that the date changes every year, so make sure you check the dates for Nyepi before you book a trip.
Happy travels to Bali and the islands.