Photo: Just pop over the bridge.


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The smallest of a trio of craggy limestone islands that lie off Bali’s southeastern coast, Nusa Ceningan is wedged between increasingly popular Nusa Lembongan and considerably larger but sparsely populated Nusa Penida.

Nusa Ceningan is a favourite spot for surfers with a barrelling left hand break at Mahana Point. But the island is (thankfully) still underdeveloped and offers an uber-chilled vibe as well as several scenic spots with spectacular views, making this a worthy low-key alternative to its busy neighbour.

Sadly all washed up. Photo taken in or around Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Sadly all washed up. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Nusa Ceningan is connected to Nusa Lembongan via a narrow yellow suspension bridge for the use of motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians only. The bridge over the Ceningan Strait is known unimaginatively as the Yellow Bridge. This channel runs almost dry at low tide and was until recently given over to seaweed cultivation. The influx of tourism on Nusa Lembongan however has not only increased pollution in the strait to make the seaweed industry unviable, but has drawn the farmers to more lucrative employment. Very little seaweed remains today.

The southern channel separating Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida is the Toya Pakeh Strait. This is a roaring flow with swirling eddies and very fast currents that invite large pelagic species, creating an impressive underwater world for experienced divers. One dive company, Ceningan Divers, operates on Nusa Ceningan, while many more on Nusa Lembongan can organise trips to the various diving sites around these islands.

Surveying the scene at Mahana Point. Photo taken in or around Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Surveying the scene at Mahana Point. Photo: Sally Arnold

Nusa Ceningan’s main village sits on the low-lying coast facing Nusa Lembongan mostly north of the yellow bridge. From here, a paved road runs south until halfway around the island, when it turns into a rutted track to continue over the high cliffs alongside the eastern coast and returns to the village. Roads and tracks lead from this main artery to some spectacular coastal scenery.

Most of the island’s accommodation, bars and cafes can be found along the road as you turn south after crossing the bridge, continuing to the far western point. Cape Batu Melawang in the west is flanked by Mahana Point to its north, with the famous Mahana Point surf break known as Secrets off its coast, and the deep and dazzling Blue Lagoon to its south. Both spots are popular for the daredevil sport of cliff jumping, although in recent years this activity had been all but halted by authorities due to the fact that it’s incredibly dangerous. If the desire for the adrenalin rush is too great, note there are no medical facilities on Nusa Ceningan and make sure your travel insurance covers such tomfoolery.

Easy to explore. Photo taken in or around Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Easy to explore. Photo: Sally Arnold

Continuing in an anticlockwise direction around the coast, the next cove, Kuanji Bay, offers some adventurous fun with a (short) zipline over the abyss at the Driftwood bar, part of Ceningan Island Resort (85,000 rupiah). After a short thrill, soak in the clifftop infinity pool.

If sandy beaches are more your scene, pockets of sand can be found along the Ceningan Strait and down the cliff below Secret Point Huts. For something a little more special, head to Secret Beach at Pemalikan Bay. This beach can be accessed via Villa Trevally for a fee of 30,000 rupiah, or for free by continuing along the road a little and climbing down the cliffside track. This secluded bay has a decent golden arc of sand for a bit of sun worshipping, but the ocean can be wild. It’s mostly rocky but a narrow lagoon on the northern end of the beach is a safe strip to swim when the tides are right. We only saw two other people the day we visited, so for the moment the secret is pretty tight.

There are beaches scattered about. Photo taken in or around Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

There are beaches scattered about. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Don’t miss the chance to watch the sunset from Nusa Ceningan—it happens once a day and is free! (Unless of course you accompany it with a cocktail or three.) We like the vantage point from Jenny’s Place, but a number of coastal spots are equally enchanting.

There are no ATMs, banks nor money-changing facilities on Nusa Ceningan. Nor are there medical facilities. For all of these you will need to head to Nusa Lembongan or Bali.

Free but unreliable WiFi is offered at most accommodation and restaurants. Note that there is no fresh water on Nusa Ceningan, so expect a salty shower.

Be sure to catch a sunset. Photo taken in or around Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia by Stuart McDonald.

Be sure to catch a sunset. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Scooter and bicycle hire are more readily available in Nusa Lembongan, or ask at your accommodation.

Boats can be chartered between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. For travel to Bali, you’ll need to go back to Nusa Lembongan first.

Travelfish subscriber resources

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Nusa Ceningan.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda
 Read up on where to eat on Nusa Ceningan.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Nusa Ceningan.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Nusa Ceningan? Please read this.
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