These tropical islands around Bali should be among your top picks if you’re planning an island-hop or 2. Those looking forward to experiencing the underwater wonders that lie beneath the waves around Bali may already have the remote Menjangan Island or the 3 Gili Islands 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 Nusa islands. Check out these islands around Bali for a different kind of island vacation.

  • 1

    Gili Trawangan

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 105 km

    Gili Trawangan

    Gili Trawangan is often the first of the Gili Islands that you’ll approach from Bali. It's also the most popular out of the 3, offering well-established facilities and infrastructure, together with a large collection of hotels, dining and nightlife spots.

    You'll also find most of the marine water sport activities here. There are plenty of dive shops on Gili Trawangan, with boats that take you out around the waters on PADI courses or tours. You can find Gili Trawangan's finer collection of resorts on the quieter ‘sunset beach’ on the south-eastern end.

    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 3 Gilis

      - The Gili with the largest collection of hotels

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  • 2

    Nusa Lembongan

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 31 km

    Nusa Lembongan

    Lembongan is the most popular of the 3 Nusa islands, reachable within a 45-minute fast boat-ride southeast from Sanur or Benoa Harbour on mainland Bali. The island is the most popular among travelers seeking a quick castaway experience, with no less than 3 of the island’s main cruise operators providing day trips with fun marine pontoons around its waters.

    Nusa Lembongan also offers some good diving, snorkeling and even surfing, with 3 of its surf breaks just a paddle out from its sandy western shore.

    Boats depart from Sanur and Tanjung Benoa.

    What’s good about Nusa Lembongan:

      - Most popular among the 3 Nusa islands

      - Great variety of beachfront and surf hotels

      - Combination of offshore and overland attractions


    photo by Dion Hinchcliffe (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

  • 3

    Gili Air

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 110 km

    Gili Air

    Gili Air can be considered the younger 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. Its quieter northern beaches are great for true ‘escapists’, with sparsely located resorts, some offering luxury stays. Gili Air serves as an excellent alternate to Trawangan, and it is often the last and concluding one on island-hopping adventures to all 3 Gili Islands.

    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:

      - The smaller twin of Gili Trawangan
      - Many dive shops around
      - Great variety of budget to luxury stays

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  • 4

    Gili Meno

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 107 km

    Gili Meno

    This island is the quietest and most laidback of all the 3 Gilis – basically, it’s the total opposite of its 2 sister islands. Meno best suits honeymooners and couples looking for total privacy and absolute relaxation. The common partying crowds avoid Meno altogether, as its local village administration bans late-night partying. If you want a slow-paced island life right out of your bungalow-style room, Gili Meno is the place for you.

    Boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island, Tanjung Benoa and Padangbai, with transfers between the 2 other Gilis.

    What’s good about Gili Meno:

      - The quietest Gili Island

      - No nightlife and partying – great for a true island escape!

      - Uncrowded and pristine white sand beaches with clear waters

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  • 5

    Nusa Menjangan Island

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 101 km

    Nusa Menjangan Island
    • Adventure
    • Photo

    Menjangan Island is part of the West Bali National Park, which you can cross over to by motorized boat from the national park’s main port of Labuhan Lalang. Overland attractions include a savannah that is home to the rare Javan deer, locally known as menjangan.

    The island is surrounded by calm waters, where divers and snorkelers can find coral gardens. Water visibility 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

      - World-class diving and snorkeling with great year-round visibility

      - Unique overland attractions like deer habitat and temples

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  • 6

    Nusa Ceningan

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 32 km

    Nusa Ceningan

    Nusa Ceningan is easiest to travel to from Lembongan – you can travel on foot by crossing a scenic yellow causeway bridge. It spans over a very narrow strait running through the 2 islands. The island is usually a combined visit for those enjoying a stay on Nusa Lembongan. 

    Ceningan has its fair amount of attractions, including an underwater garden with sunken temples and statues, which you can visit by scuba diving or underwater scooter rides. Overland, Nusa Ceningan offers sweeping seascapes dotted with traditional fishing boats and seaweed farms, and there are also mangrove forests with turtle nesting beaches around its perimeter.

    Boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island and Tanjung Benoa to Nusa Lembongan. From there, you can get to Nusa Ceningan via a connecting bridge.

    What’s good about Nusa Ceningan:

      - Beautiful seascapes with seaweed farms and fishing boats

      - Easy overland access from neighboring Nusa Lembongan via its landmark ‘yellow bridge’

      - Underwater gardens and marine activities

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  • 7

    Nusa Penida

    Distance from Kuta/Bali Airport: 38 km

    Nusa Penida

    Nusa Penida is the largest of 3 Nusa islands that lie within a 30-minute transfer by motorboat southeast of the Bali mainland. Overland, it is quite arid, with only a few accommodations available. The island has a successful breeding program of the endemic Bali Starling.

    There are several mysterious temples scattered all over Nusa Penida, including Goa Giri Putri and Pura Paluang Temple. Most know Nusa Penida as a diving haven, where you can witness some of the world’s rarest pelagic species, including manta rays and ocean sunfish, as well as the occasional whale sharks.

    Boats mostly depart from the Padangbai seaport in East Bali.

    What’s good about Nusa Penida:

      - Popular for its untouched sceneries

      - Home of the endemic Bali Starling

      - Unique temples and natural attractions

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Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveler