Deciding how to get to Nusa Lembongan is just a matter of choosing between speed and price. Thankfully, the island has no bridge or airport to threaten serenity. There isn't even a pier; you'll have to at least get your feet wet!
Some of the fast speedboat options cut the 90-minute journey to less than 30 minutes, but you’ll have to pay for the horsepower. A majority of boats leave from Sanur in Bali and cross the Badung Strait to Nusa Lembongan. It’s best to do so when conditions are calm.
Pretty well all of the boat transfer options involve passengers wading to the boat at Bali and then ashore at Nusa Lembongan. Although boat staff will gladly lend a hand, and take care of your luggage, you’ll need enough mobility to wade in knee-deep water (sometimes thigh deep in choppy conditions) and climb a step or two onto the boat. If this is a problem, try to opt for a smaller speedboat that can back closer onto the beach.
During inclement weather in the monsoon season, sea conditions between the islands can become unpleasantly choppy. If you’re prone to sea sickness, expect the worse or consider postponing your visit to Nusa Lembongan. Plan to get a little wet—or potentially even knocked down—by waves while getting on and off of the boat. Take precautions with your wallet, passport, and phone.
Boats From Bali to Nusa Lembongan
Although there are sometimes boats departing from Padangbai in East Bali, the most convenient way to get to Nusa Lembongan is from Sanur Beach. Tickets usually include pickup at your hotel in Bali and drop off at your hotel in Nusa Lembongan. You can make bookings directly at the travel offices or through your hotel reception desk.
Most boats to Nusa Lembongan arrive on the beach at Jungut Batu, the most developed part of the island. A handful of smaller companies operate speedboats that arrive in Mushroom Bay, a small bay on the southwestern corner of the island.
The Perama Boat
Most budget-conscious travelers with an extra hour to spare opt for the Perama boat; it’s a good default. Service includes hotel pickup and drop off. The sizable ferry leaves Sanur at 10:30 a.m. and takes around 90 minutes to cross the strait over to Nusa Lembongan.
Find the Perama office in Kuta on the southern end of Jalan Legian, an easy walk from Jalan Poppies I. If already in Sanur, look for the Perama counter on Jalan Hang Tuah just a short walk from where the boats depart on the beach.
Scoot Cruise is a popular fast-boat service that runs between Bali, Nusa Lembongan, and Lombok. The speedboats take 40 minutes and cost around US $30 (more than double the Perama boat) one way. You’ll find their office on Jalan Hang Tuah across the street from the Sanur Paradise Plaza Hotel, a short walk from the beach.
Numerous other companies with varying costs and safety procedures run speedboats to Nusa Lembongan. Pretty well all of them depart from the beach in Sanur at different times throughout morning and afternoon. Even if you’ve missed one of the regularly scheduled boat services for the day, you’ll have several options for a ride. Getting to Nusa Lembongan on any given day is easy enough.
Tips for Getting to Nusa Lembongan
- Most packaged tickets will take you to the door of your hotel or guesthouse on Nusa Lembongan. If you don’t have a room reserved yet, at least have an idea of which beach or area to tell the driver.
- Internet and mobile data access aren’t completely reliable on Nusa Lembongan. You’re better off booking or doing research while in Bali. The same applies for the ATM on the island—get enough cash from the machines in Bali.
- You will most likely get a little wet while getting on and off of the boats! Smaller speedboats can pull onto the sand closer to the beach. If the sea if choppy, you could get wet up to your pockets. Waterproof money, phones, and valuables beforehand. Don’t get your passport wet! A damaged passport can be refused at border crossings.
- Your luggage will be carried and loaded onto the boats by porters. Prep bags for some light abuse and a potential splashing. Crushproof fragile items in case your bag ends up at the bottom of the pile.
- Many companies collect shoes at the beach then give them back afterward. This is to keep as much sand out of the boat as possible. You’ll have to wade ashore barefooted, but thankfully the sand is soft.
Getting to Your Hotel
Once on Nusa Lembongan, luggage will be offloaded from the boat and shoes returned. Passengers are then pooled into truck taxis (sort of like Indonesia’s famous bemos but different) with bench seats. Some hotels and guesthouses could be out of range or down roads too narrow to be accessible. You’ll be dropped as close as possible to your accommodation then expected to walk the rest of the way.
If for whatever reason drop-off service wasn’t included in your ticket (e.g., you made your own way to the island), you’ll have to flag down transportation. A virtual fleet of taxi trucks circulates the island, especially between popular areas. Prices to different bays are relatively fixed, although you may be able to negotiate a little.
From Lombok to Nusa Lembongan
Scoot Cruises and Ocean Star Express operate high-speed boats from Lombok (Senggigi) and Gili Trawangan (the largest of the Gili Islands).
Another option is Ocean Star Express. In good weather, their speedboat takes less than two hours to reach Nusa Lembongan from Lombok. Ask in a travel office or at your hotel for bookings.
To and From Nusa Penida
Nusa Lembongan’s bigger, quieter neighbor, Nusa Penida, is just a short hop away. Public boats leave from Jungut Batu on the west coast or sometimes from near the big yellow suspension bridge that connects Nusa Ceningan.
The boats go when filled to capacity and often appear to be loaded way beyond safe capacity. During busy times, other boats may be chartered for tourists. You may find yourself sitting on a box of veggies or stack of rice bags.
Getting Back to Bali
If you didn’t buy an open-ended return ticket before coming to Nusa Lembongan, you can simply approach any of the tour/boat companies along Jungut Batu on the west coast of the island.
Booking a boat ticket back will only get you to Sanur Beach on Bali. Once there, you can walk the short distance to the Perama counter on Jalan Hang Tuah (the main road to the beach in Sanur) to find a van or minibus to Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Amed, other parts of the island. Alternatively, use Uber, Grab (a local rideshare service), or negotiate with one of the waiting drivers.
Note: Rather than give an honest, fixed price, some of these boat companies will inflate the return fare. Check in a couple of places for the best deal or ask for a discount. Try asking bisa kurang? (sounds like: “bee-sah koo-rong”) with a smile.