Getting to the Nusa Islands

Getting to the Nusas

Although the Nusa Islands can seem like a world away from Bali, it is relatively quick and easy to get there from the mainland. All of the transportation is easily arranged by Ceningan Resort staff so you can just sit back and enjoy the journey! Learn how to make the trip out to our beautiful island home in 4 easy steps from one of our own divers!

After our recent stay on Nusa Ceningan, I can attest that the quick trip from mainland Bali is well worth the quick and easy commute. Our reservations about transporting, our unnecessarily cumbersome and copious amounts of luggage were put at ease by the process. In addition, all of the transfers were generously coordinated by our host at Ceningan Resort, all we had to do was show up! Here’s how it worked:

The Marlin Lembongan Fast Cruises beach stall

The major port of departure on Bali’s east coast is the town of Sanur, where both people and goods are shipped out to the adjacent islands. Although distances between various points of interest in and around Denpasar seem small, it can take longer than expected to get from point A to point B due to traffic. We were staying in Jimbaran and our morning commute to Sanur took around 30 minutes. The driver picked us up from our accommodation around 8:30 am and we had the shuttle to ourselves, which was appreciated since we had a TON of bags with us, all fitting nicely in the back. We chatted with our driver Komang Gede who is from Nusa Ceningan, about the island and our journey ahead. Upon arrival, he helped us lug our many bags down a short walk to the Marlin Lembongan Fast Cruises stall for registration

Amanda saying goodbye to our driver, Komang Gede

We left our bags near the walkway where they were soon picked up by the staff and taken away to be loaded onto the boat. Meanwhile, we were greeted by the customer service team and checked in. We completed a form outlining our information and trip details before receiving a sticker. Oddly, the sticker was for the people rather than the luggage, and was delicately placed on the chest of whomever wished in each party.

Dan donning his ‘luggage tag’ identification

Once our check in was complete (10 mins later) we had a seat under the shaded waiting area until boarding commenced. We had already eaten breakfast and brought water along, but for anyone that was looking to kill some time or grab a bite, there were endless options along the walkway to pick up some food or entertainment before departure.


Getting loaded onto the boat in Sanur

Around 10:00 am we were all told to head to the boat for boarding. Most of the time the boat was located a very short distance from the stall, but with the tide being particularly low that morning, we made a short trek down the walkway to a slightly further departure point. We were thankful the crew had already taken our bags which made the walk a much more pleasant experience. As we prepared to transition from the beach into the shallows, there was a crate put out to collect our footwear.

Staff collecting footwear on the beach

Once we placed our sandals inside, we walked into the shallow water (no higher than my knees) to hop on board. The boat was well cared for with comfy seating both inside and along the back of the boat. We sat along the back to enjoy the fresh sea breeze and views, although an indoor seat would be a great way to sit with your group and watch the action along the way.

Open view on the back of the boat

was a bit unsure about the boat’s capacity to carry the many passengers that kept filing in, but the size of vessel was deceiving as everyone had a plenty of space to themselves. Our trip was very smooth and quick, although I have been told that when the rainy season descends, the swell becomes much larger and the ride can be a bit more rocky. If in doubt, I would recommend taking some seasickness pills if you are prone to that. The trip felt faster than I expected, it was just over 30 minutes from mainland to Mushroom Bay.


Unloading at Mushroom Bay, Lembongan

Being at the back of the boat made disembarking hassle free and gave us a chance to enjoy the lovely view of the bay. The water is a wonderful aquamarine and the short walk through the shallows to the beach was wonderfully refreshing. We collected our sandals and walked up to the seawall to wait for the bags to arrive. We had some time to take some photos and relax while the remaining passengers filed off. I was amazed by the strength and precision with which the crew shuttled our belongings from the boat up to the road. Not only were they careful to keep everything dry, but the whole boat was unloaded in a matter of 15 minutes!

Marlin staff working efficiently to bring luggage up to the road

You could definitely tell they knew what they were doing. Once we retrieved all of our belongings, we followed the crowd down a short road to a covered waiting area. A truck would arrive with a covered box outfitted as bench seating in the back and would unload their guests. Once unloaded, the Marlin staff would come forward and retrieve guests for certain destinations from their list. The staff would then take the luggage and find spaces under the benches or on top of the canopy for everyone’s belongings before we loaded ourselves onto the seats. We had room for 10 people in the back, 5 on each bench and one or two spots in the cab.

Groups being organized at the shuttle pick up point

I am always amazed by the skills that drivers exhibit in Bali, fitting down roads that look like one-way lanes past motorbikes, pedestrians and even other vehicles. The ride was fun, similar to an adventure off-road ride we had been part of in Mexico a few years before. It was a short drive that gave us a chance to see a section of Nusa Lembongan before continuing our journey to Nusa Ceningan.


Arrival greetings on Nusa Ceningan

After our short ride, we arrived at our last checkpoint, unloading ourselves and our gear from the truck. Two Ceningan Resort staff, Komang and Made were waiting for us and helped to bring our gear over to their bikes. I was quite skeptical that we could fit four people, and 6 bags onto two scooters, but the staff expertly balanced everything for the short ride.

Our finely balanced transport arrangement

It was exciting to cross over the famous yellow bridge and enjoy the views of the channel below. The resort was not far from the bridge, but enough to give a secluded, peaceful atmosphere. We parked the bikes and made the short walk to the Mangrove restaurant beyond. The grounds were a lush green and the channel was surprisingly close and accessible. We could see the many mangrove roots sticking up from the muddy bottom, and found out that if the tide had not been so low, a boat would have picked us up from the bridge and carried us to the private jetty. I was happy to take the bikes, passing the many shops and restaurants along the way though.

Our first experience crossing the Yellow Bridge to Nusa Ceningan

We were soon seated at the Phoenix Bar and given welcome drinks of watermelon, lime and pineapple juices with fresh mint infused throughout. It was not only delicious, but very much welcome on the hot, sunny afternoon. We were introduced to one of the bartenders, Wayan, who took us through a welcome orientation for the resort. He explained the layout of the site including the restaurant, lounge, bar, bungalows and washrooms. We were also informed of safety protocols regarding earthquakes which was appreciated since we had no prior experience. The billing options were explained, and we were thankful there was an option to have an ongoing tab for food and drinks, rather than paying multiple bills throughout. We were also given a map of the island and Wayan explained the many attractions in the area.

Enjoying a cool refreshing welcome drink at the Phoenix Bar

There was also some great information about safety precautions such as water hazards and accessibility to certain sites from a local perspective that was much appreciated! Since Wayan was from Nusa Penida he even provided us with background on that island and the many activities on offer. Restaurant and bar times including last calls for each, and what was offered for breakfast as part of our stay. It was great to hear about some of the eco-friendly aspects of the resort including the use of stainless steel straws and the abolishment of plastic and other single use items. There is also water refill stations on site to make sure we have access to clean freshwater by using our reusable water bottles

Getting a full debriefing from the team

We were then shown to our bungalow and had a chance to relax and recharge after an exciting morning! All in all, the process was smooth and didn’t end up eating into our vacation time as I had worried it would.

Scheduling and Costs

The cost is very reasonable, at 300,000 IRP one way, or 550,000 IRP return per person and we were able to pay the resort directly so all of our bills were conveniently tracked in one spot. Not only did that include the fast boat transport, but also the pick-up on Bali mainland and Nusa Lembongan.

There are several options for transfers each day through Marlin Lembongan Fast Cruises so you can cater it to your plans:

Sanur – Lembongan : 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Lembongan – Sanur : 8:30 am, 11:30 am, 3:00 pm

If you have a different schedule or wanted to explore different companies, there are over a dozen that make trips to and from Bali.

Getting to the Gilis from the Nusas

Many travellers opt to do a joint trip from Bali to the Nusas then on to the Gilis or the reverse starting in Lombok. There are fast boat operators that go between the islands and a quick google search will provide a listing of options for you to browse. Ceningan Resort tends to use Eka Jaya Fast Boat for guests hoping to make the journey north to the Gilis and the trip takes approximately 4 hours by boat.

If you are staying somewhere on the Nusa Islands, be sure to check with your accommodation staff first to see if that can be arranged for you, it definitely makes the journey easier!

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