This collection of the best islands around Bali should be among your top picks if you’re planning an island hop or two. Those looking forward to experiencing the underwater wonders that lie beneath the waves around Bali may already have the remote Menjangan Island on the island’s northwest national park, or the three Gilis which are within a 2.5 hours’ fast boat transfer from Bali, on their radar.
These destinations offer you great tropical island getaways, each with their own sets of appeals. Bali’s northern coasts are known for their calm seas, with thriving coral gardens and great visibility almost all year round, while off the south-eastern shore lies the popular Nusa islands, a closely knit group of three with Lembongan as its most popular, home to beachfront villas, some great surf spots and other marine activities. Check out these 7 best islands around Bali for a different kind of island holiday, beyond the Bali ‘mainland’.
- Quad or Buggy Driving Adventure & Tubing Excursion
- Royal Mengwi Temple, Monkey Forest & Tanah Lot Excursion
- Bali Hai Sunset Dinner Cruise
- Devdan Show: Treasure of the Archipelago at Bali Nusa Dua Theatre
- Lembongan Island Leisure Day Trip
- Elephant Safari Park & Elephant Ride with Spa
- Highlights Of Bali Full-Day Tour
- Sunset Kecak Dance at Uluwatu & Barbecue Seafood Dinner
- Seawalker, Fly Fish Adventure & Underwater Tandem Scooter Ride
- 2-Day Lombok Island Tour
Interested in this tour? Book it here.
This is the first of the Gili Islands that you’ll approach from Bali. Trawangan is also the most popular in the group three, offering well established facilities and infrastructure, together with a larger collection of hotels, dining and nightlife spots. You will also find most of the marine water sport activities here, with the most number of dive shops found here, with boats that take you out around the waters on PADI courses or tours. You can find its finer collection of resorts on the quieter ‘sunset beach’ on its southeast.
Boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island, Tanjung Benoa and Padangbai.
What’s good about Gili Trawangan:
- Great combination of dining and nightlife
- Most activities available of the three Gilis
- The Gili with the largest collection of hotels
Lembongan is the most popular of the three Nusa islands, reachable within only a 45-minute fast boat-ride southeast from Sanur or Benoa Harbour on the Bali mainland. The island is the most popular among travellers seeking a quick castaway experience, with no less than three of the island’s main cruise operators providing day cruises with fun marine pontoons around its waters. Lembongan also offers some good diving, snorkelling and even surfing, with three of its surf breaks just a paddle out from its sandy western shore.
Boats departs from Sanur and Tanjung Benoa.
What’s good about Nusa Lembongan:
- Most popular among the three Nusa islands
- Great variety of beachfront and surf hotels
- Combination of offshore and overland attractions Read More...
Gili Air can roughly be considered the smaller sister of Gili Trawangan, with a good selection of hotels, as well as restaurants, bars and dive shops, particularly along its main south-eastern coast near the boat docks. Meanwhile, its quieter northern beaches are great for the truer ‘escapists’, with sparsely located resorts, some offering luxury stays. In all, Gili Air serves as a great alternative to Trawangan, and it is often the last and concluding one on island hopping adventures to all the three Gilis.
Boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island, Tanjung Benoa and Padangbai, with island hop transfers between Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno.
What’s good about Gili Air:
- Smaller twin of Gili Trawangan and second most popular among the Gilis
- Many dive shops around
- Great variety of budget to luxury stays
This island is the most quiet and laidback of all the three Gilis - basically it’s the opposite of its two other sister islands. Meno suits best for honeymooners and couples looking for total privacy and absolute rest and relaxation. The common partying crowds avoid Meno altogether, as there aren’t any nightlife scenes here due to its local village administration upholding a ban on any late night partying here. If you’re into a more culturally filled stay, with a slow paced island village life right out of your bungalow style room, then this is the place for you.
Boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island, Tanjung Benoa and Padangbai, with transfers between the two other Gilis.
What’s good about Gili Meno:
- Most quiet of three Gilis
- No nightlife and partying – great for a true island escape!
- Uncrowded and pristine white sand beaches with clear waters
This exotic island is part of the West Bali National Park, which you can cross over to by motorised boat from the national park’s main port of Labuhan Lalang. Overland attractions include a savannah that is home to the rare Javan rusa deer, locally known as ‘menjangan’, hence its name. Surrounding the island is its calm waters home to coral gardens that are the main attraction for divers and snorkelers. What most love here is the visibility, which is excellent year round. A boat ride around its north-eastern shore will treat you to the impressive sight of the Segara Giri Dharma Kencana Temple.
Boats depart from the main pier at Labuhan Lalang, part of the West Bali National Park.
What’s good about Nusa Menjangan:
- Remote and secluded, on the north-westernmost point of the island
- World-class diving and snorkelling; great year-round visibility
- Unique overland attractions: deer habitat and temples
Ceningan is easiest to travel to from Lembongan – you can go by foot, crossing via a scenic yellow causeway bridge over the very narrow strait that runs through the two islands. Therefore, it is usually a combined visit for those enjoying a stay on Lembongan. Ceningan has its fair amount of attractions, including an underwater garden featuring sunken temples and statues, which you can enjoy by underwater scooter rides. Overland, it offers sweeping seascapes dotted with traditional fishing boats and seaweed farms, and there’s also mangrove forests with turtle nesting beaches around its perimeter.
Boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island and Tanjung Benoa to Nusa Lembongan, then Ceningan can be accessed via a connecting bridge.
What’s good about Nusa Ceningan:
- Beautiful seascapes with seaweed farms and fishing boats
- Easy overland access from neighbouring Nusa Lembongan via its landmark ‘yellow bridge’
- Underwater gardens and marine activities
Nusa Penida is the largest in the group of three Nusa islands that lie within a half-hour transfer by motorboat southeast of the Bali mainland. Overland, it is quite arid, with only a few accommodation available. The island is also home to the successful breeding program of the endemic Bali Starling. There are several mysterious temples scattered all over Nusa Penida, the likes of Goa Giri Putri and Pura Paluang Temple. Nevertheless, most know Nusa Penida as a diving haven, where you can witness some of the world’s rarest pelagic species, ranging from manta rays, the mysterious oceanic sunfish (sometimes referred to as ‘mola-mola’) and occasional whale sharks as well.
Boats mostly depart from the Padangbai seaport in East Bali.
What’s good about Nusa Penida:
- Least explored but gaining popularity for its untouched sceneries
- New home of the endemic Bali Starling
- Unique temples and natural attractions