Island hopping from Bali to the neighboring islands is a great way to explore the tropical beauty of Indonesia.
From Bali, a speedy boat ride can get you to the nearby islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan, as well as Lombok and the Gili Islands.
Explore even more magnificent nature, and have a more calm and relaxed experience than the mainland – it’s basically the perfect opportunity for a holiday within a holiday!
Here is everything you need to know about island hopping from Bali.
Why Go Island Hopping in Bali?
Bali is surrounded by many different islands, each with unique cultures, landscapes and activities. All much smaller than Bali, you can easily explore a lot more of these islands in a shorter amount of time.
From relaxing on the beach, to exploring vibrant underwater life and learning the cultural heritage of the region, heading off the mainland is a great way to enjoy even more of this paradise part of the world.
Gili Trawangan, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida and Lombok are a few of the most popular islands to visit, while lesser-known islands such as Ceningan and Pemuteran are equally as beautiful.
Each of these islands has something a little different to offer, from snorkelling and diving, to trekking and hiking. Although it is possible to visit a handful of these islands for a day trip, taking the time for an overnight stay will give you the chance to really immerse in the tropical magic.
Travelers who backpack around Bali love to take the time to visit each of the islands and take advantage of the reasonable prices. If you have the time, add some of these amazing islands to your Bali bucket list!
Where to Island Hopping from Bali?
The Gili Islands for partying, Nusa Penida for nature, Nusa Lembongan for diving, Lombok for surfing – check out these INCREDIBLE islands just a quick trip from Bali.
Island Hopping to Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan is one of the small tropical islands located off the coast of Lombok. Lined with stunning white sand beaches, buzzing beach bars and small, independent restaurants and cafes, it has all the right vibes of Bali without the crowds.
There aren’t any motor vehicles on the island, only horse-drawn carts and bicycles. When you get off at the dock you will be lured into taking a horse-drawn cart to your accommodation, but you will be contributing to the harsh conditions of the horses. Everything is easily walkable around the island, and although you may be a little hot, you will have a clear conscience.
Snorkeling and diving are popular activities, with the coral reefs right off the beach with plenty of colorful fish, turtles and marine life.
Gili T has the most lively nightlife of the Gili islands. Their bars party into the early morning, with a healthy flood of travelers from all over the world. There is even a special night food market for those drunken bites after a heavy night of partying.
To get over to the Gilis, you will have an option of the cheaper, local boat that will take you to Lombok, or the speedy fast boat that drops you right in the ocean off the shore of each of the Gili Islands. The length of your journey will depend on which harbour, weather conditions and type of boat you get. The crowds can get a little bit manic around the harbours, but once you are on the island, you will feel the full paradise effect!
Once on the island, getting around is super easy by bicycle. You can get around the whole island in less than an hour!
Where to Stay in Gili Trawangan:
Island Hopping to Gili Air and Meno
Gili Air and Gili Meno are 2 smaller islands located beside Gili Trawangan. Just as stunningly tropical and idyllic, the white sand beaches meet crystal clear waters with beach bars and restaurants encompassing the perimeter.
Gili Meno sits between Trawangan and Air. It is a little less often visited than its neighbors, but boasts all the same magnificent features like clean beaches, great restaurants, accommodations and amenities.
The middle child, Gili Air, is known for its chill vibe and amazing snorkeling. When the hectic parties of Gili T don’t suit, Gili Air offers something a little more calm and relaxed.
It’s super easy to get from one Gili to another, whether you hire a small boat or hop on a transfer. Visiting all 3 is super recommended for a fun filled, island hopping weekend in Bali. You can just stop by from Gili T for an afternoon of snorkeling and exploring.
Where to Stay in Gili Air and Meno:
Island Hopping to Lombok
Island hopping from Bali to Lombok is great for the adventurous travelers among us.
You can get over to Lombok by plane or boat, depending on your preference. Flying from Bali to Lombok only takes about 45 minutes, though you’ll want to account for the transit times in the airport. The ferry from Padang Bai is a 2 hour trip, with magnificent views and it much more of an experience.
Obviously, weather conditions will have an affect on your boating conditions. Be sure to check out the departure times and conditions before hopping aboard.
There are so many things to do and see when exploring Lombok. Bukit Merese is the place to go for incredible sunsets, white Selong Belanak Beach is epic for a day in the sun and enjoying the clean ocean waters.
Where to Stay in Lombok:
Island Hopping to Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is the closest neighbouring island to mainland Bali, and is only a speedy 45 minute boat ride away. You can hop on a boat from either Tanjung Benoa or Sanur, and it’ll cost you an easy USD$20.
People often refer to Nusa Penida as what Bali used to be – a simple, beautiful place with sprawling and landscapes and very few large buildings. You’ll find quaint local spots hidden among nature, as well as a few ultra-luxe resorts looking back over the mountain range of Bali.
The must-see spots on the island include:
- Atuh Beach – surrounded by towering cliffs and crystal-clear waters, making it a favorite place for sunbathing, swimming, and exploring.
- Angel’s Billabong – a natural infinity pool where you can take a dip in the warm waters. Be careful when you are here because big dangerous waves might come unexpectedly. It’s important to always be vigilant and not get caught in the current.
- Kelingking Beach – home to an amazing viewpoint that overlooks the entire island. The picturesque view of the turquoise waters and lush greenery will take your breath away. For those looking for a more adrenaline-filled experience, you can go diving or snorkeling in the clear waters, or explore the nearby caves and coves.
When travelling to Nusa Penida be ready for winding roads and crazy drop offs. You won’t want to take your first scooter driving lesson here! It’s super easy to hire a driver – don’t take the risk!
Where to Stay in Nusa Penida:
Island Hopping to Nusa Lembongan
You can island hop from Bali to Nusa Lembongan by a 30 minute ferry. A small island beside Nusa Penida, it is an idyllic spot for a lazy weekend in the sun, on perfect white sands and soaking up the chilled vibes.
There is so much to do on the small island including diving, snorkeling, surfing and fishing! If you fancy visiting some of Nusa Lembongan’s incredible natural beauties, make sure to go to Dream Beach, Devil’s Tears and Mushroom Bay.
Where to Stay in Nusa Lembongan:
Island Hopping to Nusa Ceningan
Nusa Ceningan is connected to Nusa Lembongan by the iconic yellow bridge. As with all the islands, the only way to get to Nusa Ceningan from Bali is by taking a ferry from Sanur or Padang Bai. Once on the island, you can easily rent a motorbike to get around and explore.
Snorkeling and swimming are some of the best things to do on the island, with beautiful white sand beaches and calm waters surrounding the coastline. The towering cliffs make an incredible backdrop for your Insta-pics, it’s truly a tropical paradise.
The currents around Nusa Ceningan can be quite strong. Only confident swimmers should consider getting in the water, and stay within the outlined areas for safety.
You’ll want to make sure to pack some comfortable shoes for exploring Nusa Ceningan, there is so much walking and exploring to be done!
Where to Stay in Nusa Ceningan:
Island Hopping to Menjangan Island
The government protected coral reefs of Menjangan Island draw in the most avid of divers and snorkelers. As part of the West Bali National Park, there is a specialised effort to ensure the area remains as healthy and natural as possible.
To get to Menjangan Island you will go through Labuhan Lalang, a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Bali. From the shore you will hop on a boat to take you across to the isolated island. The boat ride is a bit long, but the incredible views you get of Bali make it worth while.
On the island, you will be amazed by the variety of wildlife. It is home to monkeys, wild pigs, and even peacocks!
It’s the coral reefs that people come to visit for. They are truly beautiful with loads of marine life. Even novice divers in Bali can explore the nearby shipwrecks as the currents are easy to navigate.
Where to Stay in Menjangan Island:
Island Hopping to Gili Putih
Gili Putih is one of the lesser visited islands around Bali.
It is a picturesque paradise with white sands, clear waters and beautiful landscapes.
As with all of the islands, you can dive into the water and see some of the stunning fish and marine life that live on the reefs.
Gili Putih is an idyllic destination for an escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. With its beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and stunning sunsets, it’s a real paradise on earth.
Where to Stay in Gili Putih:
Travel Tips for Island Hopping from Bali
Island hopping from Bali is a great way to explore multiple islands in a short space of time. You can do it spur of the moment, or plan weeks in advance.
- Research in advance – researching which islands you want to go to, how to get there and what to do when you get there will make your island hopping journey seamless. With so much info available on the internet (Balipedia ;)) you can plan your whole trip, down to your transport before heading off!
- Choose the right transport – Depending on the islands you plan to visit, there are a number of transport options available. You may choose to take a ferry, charter a boat or take a plane. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to consider your budget, time constraints and the distance between the islands when making your decision.
- Pack light – Island hopping can involve a lot of moving around, so it’s important to pack light. Choose a backpack or suitcase that is easy to transport and that you can easily carry on and off boats and planes. Consider bringing versatile pieces of clothing that can be layered, as the weather can be unpredictable.
- Take the time to explore – Island hopping can be a busy experience, but make sure you take the time to explore the islands you visit. Stop and take in the views, try the local cuisine and take part in activities to help you make the most of your experience.
Exploring the mainland of Bali is a wild adventure, and once you add in island hopping you are in for an incredible time!
From the famous party Gilis, to the scenic Nusas and protected Menjangan Island, island hopping around Bali will be like hopping from one paradise to another. Each lined with phenomenal white sand beaches and clear waters, divers and snorkelers will be living the dream.
When you are heading to Bali, don’t forget to make some time to head to all the stunning surrounding islands.
Featured image: Gili Air