Sure, everyone knows that Seminyak, Nusa Dua and Sanur draw in the crowds, but if the crowds are starting to tire, head to Bali’s sister islands just off the coast of Sanur. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan are all awash in natural beauty, untouched beaches and lush forests.
Nusa Lembongan is just a short boat ride from Sanur, but it offers a completely different vibe than the resorts of south Bali. Here you can still find affordable beach huts on the sand, peaceful beaches and bays with few people in sight, cheap and cheerful restaurants and fantastic surfing and diving. Nusa Lembongan is also a major seaweed production centre, so it is common to see farmers planting, harvesting and drying seaweed in the ocean and along the main beach.
If you want to get an idea of what Bali was like before mass tourism hit, head to Nusa Penida. Few travellers make it this way, meaning you can explore the many white sand beaches, limestone cliffs, translucent waters teeming with marine life, traditional villages and mystical temples without seeing another foreign face. Nusa Penida is a sacred spot for many Balinese, so it is not uncommon to see large groups of Balinese making pilgrimages here and taking part in important ceremonies at the Hindu and Buddhist shrines in the cave temple of Gua Karang Sari and the impressive Pura Dalem Penataran Ped temple.
Nature lovers won’t want to miss a trip to the tiny island of Nusa Ceningan, which can be reached via a suspension bridge from Nusa Lembongan. Here you can walk along scenic coastal trails and winding paths that make their way up the side of hills for fantastic views of the ocean and the neighbouring islands. Visitors who would like to learn more about the traditional ways of life on Nusa Ceningan can join the eco-friendly tours offered by JED, the Village Ecotourism Network.
Where to Stay
The pretty little island of Nusa Lembongan is just a short boat ride from Sanur Harbour, but it seems like a world away once you get there, especially once you settle into the luxurious beachfront hideaway of Villa Voyage. Designed by internationally acclaimed fashion maven Farah Khan, this five-bedroom villa sits directly on the curved beach of Sandy Bay and boasts natural materials like coconut wood floors, alang-alang thatched roofs, and bamboo lattices. The pool looks out over the ocean, as do the breezy bedrooms, which are embellished with vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunks and billowy Esprite Nomade canvas tents over the beds.