Bali Island Hopping: Sanur and Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan & Penida

* I was invited to stay at Puri Santrian Resort.

Bali - island of gods, tropical paradise or overflooded by tourism? Should we go or look for another destination, that was the question...

Nusa Penida © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

We had a few destinations in our minds when we started to think of our big vacatios in summer this year. Although Bali has lots of tourists, I think the trash problem does exist pretty much anywhere in the world. I read a few blog posts warning readers to refuse Bali and never go back again until the situation would be better. We decided to go there (I stayed there 2 months in 2015) and I wanted to see it with my own eyes, if the situation was really that bad.

 

Having said that, planning our trip through Bali wasn't that easy. On the one hand, I wanted to go back to the places I really enjoyed (like Uluwatu and Canggu), on the other hand I wanted to see a few new places. I would have loved to see less touristy places too (for example in the north or northwest or even in the middle of the country) but our aim was to always stay at one place for three nights minimum to have the time to enjoy the place. Our first stop was for 2 nights in Sanur. Sanur is quite close from the airport and as we arrived in the afternoon, we were happy to have a place which isn't too far away. 

Arriving in Bali

Once you arrive in Bali, you need to go through a section control where you need to fill out a piece of paper, stating that you do not bring anything into the country. Read it carefully and fill it out. At the airport, I got a SIM card with enough data. The staff will take out your SIM card and get your phone ready. They are super quick and reliable. 

 

Company's name: Pt. bali Prasarana Fortuna

8 GB for 250.000 IDR 

Sanur

Sanur is quite close from Denpasar airport (Ngurah Rai), and usually the ride would be around 30 minutes. We arrived in the afternoon and it was already rush hour. Therefore it took us around an hour until we reached our destination: Puri Santrian Resort Bali

(*if you book through this link, I will get a small commission and you help me to run my blog). 

 

We were invited to stay there for two nights. What a beautiful place this resort is! As soon as we hopped out of the cab, we had the feeling that this is the perfect resort to arrive and get into the vacation mood. The resort is only one minute walk away from the beach. At our check-in we were welcomed with a homemade drink and were brought to our beach club villa. I need to mention that the resort is huge and includes several different kinds of areas and pools. The Puri Santrian Resort offers a big variety of accommodations for all different kinds of needs (whether you come as a couple, with friends or as a family). If you prefer pictures over a lot of text, take a look at the photo diary of Puri Santrian

 

  • Premier Deluxe with its own infinity-edge swimming pool, sun deck and lounging pavilion for the exlusive use of Premier Deluxe guests.
  • Santrian Deluxe 
  • Santrian Club: (stunning gardens with private pool & jaccuzi for Santrian Club guests only) 
  • Bungalow (in traditional Balinese style, if you wish to have a home away from home) 
  • Superior ( perfect if you wish to be close to the water).

Our room

Our beach club villa (watch this video to get an impression of our room) had everything we were looking for. The view from the room was straight to the pool. When we entered the villa, we found a bowl of fresh fruits at the coffee table. The fresh fruits do get filled up every day. Next to it was a couch and the bed itself was quite big and perfect for a good night sleep after traveling many hours. The next room was a walk-in dressing area with a big wardrobe where we found an umbrella (useful for short, tropical showers like we experienced one the next morning on the way to their own yoga class). There's enough space to place your luggage so it wasn't in our way in the sleeping room. Then there's the sink too and a big mirror and in another room you find the toilet, bathtub and a shower. 

The Santrian Club is for adults only. Children under 12 years are not allowed. 

Yoga at Puri Santrian

The next morning we woke up early to get ready for the yoga class. Early? Talking about 6 AM! Super early on our first vacation day but it was so worth it! From Monday until Friday yoga classes are offered at 7 AM. A qualified instructor held the yoga class and while me and my partner stretched our tired bodies, we enjoyed the nature we were surrounded with.

No worries, if you have never tried yoga. It's perfect to start with something new in your vacation. It was a perfect class not only for beginners, but for mornings. In general I prefer gentle morning classes and more challenging classes later in the day. It's perfect I think starting your day with yoga, especially in your vacations when you do have more time than usually, is such a precious time. Also, I think practicing yoga together with your partner in the morning before you head to breakfast is always a good idea. On the one hand you do something for yourself, yet at the same time your partner will start his day similar like you and it's a great chance to set a positive tone into the day and start your day more mindful.

 

 

During my practice at some points I even had to hold back my laughter because I got so stiff during our journey. At some poses I had real struggles not fo fall back. Later at breakfast we talked about the yoga class and it was the best start ever. I like the feeling of practicing yoga and I can enjoy my breakfast even more afterwards. 

Breakfast

Breakfast is a big game changer at Puri Santrian! Needless to say, all of their staff do a fantastic job. Yet, one who impressed me a lot was the lady who was cooking eggs. She was responsible for a huge cooking station where she prepared all different kinds of eggs. Scrambled, sunny-side up, omelet, boiled eggs and pancakes. Next to it another person prepared waffles. Seriously, it was such a breakfast heaven. There are little Balinese cakes made out of rice and other delicious treats, a whole buffet filled with fruits, the bread selection was big too and there was simply so much, there's nothing you will miss. I was especially happy to see it was a breakfast heaven for Vegetarians too! 

In many hotels the only meal you get to see is the breakfast. Not at Puri Santrian. Here, the enjoyment never stops. They have two restaurants where you can eat throughout the day. As a guest you get 10% off from your dinner at the Mezzanin restaurant.  

 

One of the highlights of booking the Santrian Club is, that you don't only have the huge buffet breakfast included, but also you can enjoy afternoon tea including snacks and a fruit platter at the Beach club restaurant. 

 

 

We had the pleasure to join the Thursday night special dinner. It's a Balinese cultural dinner with more than 30 types of local foods. Dinner is in the garden and there is a stage where you can watch traditional Kedac dance.

The Puri Santrian Resort has a private beach.
The Puri Santrian Resort has a private beach.
Puri Santrian beach in Sanur © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

 

For us, Sanur and especially Puri Santrian was the perfect start into our vacation in Bali. Next time, I'd come back to this place. I would suggest though 2 or 3 days to fully arrive there. It takes quite some time to explore the resort as it's quite big. To give you an idea of the size, this resort has around 199 rooms and around 500 people work there. Puri Santrian has a beautiful white sand beach and it's the perfect place to unwind. Here, you don't have to worry about anything. If you feel lazy and you don't want to discover Sanur, no worries! 

Simply enjoy dinner at one of the hotel owned restaurants. Everything is taken care of and it's the perfect time to indulge and spoil yourself. The hotel also has its own spa, so make sure you treat yourself right (your in vacation!). Book yourself a treatment or get a massage at their spa. 

Here are a few more impressions. If you want to see more from Puri Santrian Resort, head over to the photo diary. 

Getting to Nusa Lembongan

We looked online for tickets from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan and found a ticket through Rocky Fast Cruise. I'd always book with them again. Apparently the pick-up and the transfer to the hotel is included into the ticket price. The driver brought us to the office where we got stickers which you put on your shirts. As soon as we were at the beach in Sanur, the staff stacked up all of the luggage and brought it on the boat. It's a speed boat that goes to the island and it can be a bit rough. That's the only bad news because everything else is great. I loved their service (you don't have to worry about your luggage, they do take good care of it and they carry it for you!)

 

Price: 300.000 IDR per person 

Nusa Lembongan

Our first idea was to stay on Nusa Penida as this is the biggest island. When we looked for accomodations though, we quickly realized that there's not that much and from what I read the roads are in a bad condition. Sometimes when I research about places I have never been, I find it especially hard to figure things out. Nusa Ceningan looked a bit too small for our needs, and therefore we decided for Lembongan. Concerning traveling there by boat, I think it was the smartest idea. We didn't want to stay at Mushroom Beach which is quite busy, so we looked for a more relaxed place and found our accommodation on Booking (Dini d'Nusa) By scooter it wasn't too far away from Dream beach. 

Quick review - Dini d'Nusa

  • welcome drink
  • perfect place if you want to avoid the crowds (having said that, you should know how to drive a scooter otherwise you're a bit stuck in this place or you always need a cab/ scooter driver). 
  • They rent scooter and helmets, very easy-going. 
  • breakfast is small but we just added a portion of pancake every day ;) 
  • pool is clean with a great view over the cliffs and over to Nusa Ceningan
  • perfectly clean, staff takes good care of everything 
  • lovely little cottages with an outdoor bathroom, a super comfortable bed - perfect stay!

In Nusa Lembongan we didn't go to the beach as the weather wasn't the best those days. Yet here I have a few recommendations on where to go for food and drinks: 

Food & Drinks

Nusa Lembongan, Bali © Melanie Klien @Mafambani
  • Ginger & Jamu (right at the beach, beautiful location and must be perfect for a coffee in the afternoon but it was bad service in the evening. We waited a long time and the staff was very slow. The food was good, but unfortunately the portions too small, so we had to go somewhere else to eat something small.

                 + organic cafe / they use alternative straws, no plastic! 

                 + fully Vegetarian 

                 Opening hours: MON-SUN 7:30 AM - 8:30 PM 

 

  • Ohana's is in my eyes a place you should experience. It's at the beachfront overlooking Shipwreckes surf break. Ohana means family and it's the perfect spot to have a good time. We spoiled ourselves with cocktails there and the lounges are perfect. Sunset is the time to be there, cocktails, beach, fire pit, a DJ... life couldn't be any better, I figured. During our stay they just built up their hotel too. So if you're looking for a boutique resort, I am sure this one will turn out perfectly. They start having guests from October 2018 on. 

                + Use of "I am no plastic" straws

                + Complimentary truck pick-up and drop-off available 

                Opening hours: 7 AM - 11:30 PM / Happy Hour: 3 - 5:30 PM 

 

  • Sandy Bay Beach Club: we liked this place so much that we went two times. This beach club is located on the southwest coast at the Sunset Beach. The location is big, the service is exceptional and the food is delicious! There are enough options for Vegetarians and Vegans. I had the stuffed pepper and the Veggie burger with sweet potato fries, Martin went for black rice with big prawns and the other time for a tuna steak. It's right next to the beach and it's a quite romantic place to have dinner and a great place at the same time to have fun and hang out with friends. I can especially recommend Saturdays as they have a DJ there who plays nice music and many got into dancing. Don't miss out their cocktails! 

                  + free truck transport to and from your hotel 

                  + Use of "I am no plastic" straws 

                  Opening hours: 8 AM - 11 PM 

Nusa Ceningan

With a scooter the island is quite easy to discover. Be careful though as some streets are quite rough and we saw a couple who fell from their bike, another with a little kid on the bike had an accident before. I think I don't need to mention this, but PLEASE wear a helmet! It's the least you can do. The streets and the traffic is unpredictable.

 

To get from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Ceningan, you get to cross the yellow bridge. After the bridge collapsed in 2016, it was named 'The Bridge of Love'. From there we turned left and came to the following stops:

                                            Dreampoint / Twilight huts 

 

It's a nice place to stop and enjoy the view. Don't miss the swing. We also had a drink and Nasi Goreng (fried rice). Twilight huts is a cute place to stay with a small pool and laying chairs with an extraordinary view over the ocean. 

                                                     Blue Lagoon 

 

It's another must stop on Nusa Ceningan. We left our scooter at the parking lot and started to walk around. Here you can take some amazing shots. The color of the water is something else. For the brave ones out there, there's a Blue Lagoon Cliff Jump. 

                                                 Mahana point 

 

From Blue Lagoon it's just a short walk or drive away to Mahana point. It's a fun restaurant built into the cliffs and perfect to watch surfers. The highlight of this restaurant is the possibility to jump into the water. There's a 10 m and a 5 m jump and you have to be pretty brave to do it (not like me!) If you want to jump, make sure you don't come in the afternoon when the tide is low. Want to read all about Mahana Point cliff jump? Read more here by Wanderers and Warriors. 

Mahana point, Nusa Ceningan © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

If you want to go cliff jumping in Nusa Ceningan, be safe and ask locals before you jump. The day we visited Nusa Ceningan there wasn't enough water in the afternoon and some guys who we met were not allowed to jump from Mahana point. 

                                                       Next Level Cafe

 

As a nice ending to our day trip, we went to Next Level Cafe. They serve great coffee and also have some nice breakfast and dining options. It's easy to find as it has a blue roof top and it's next to the water. When you come from the yellow bridge, it's on the right side. 

Nusa Penida

From Nusa Lembongan (at the yellow bridge again) you can take a boat to Nusa Penida. Make sure to ask when the last boat is leaving, so you won't miss it. Arriving in Nusa Penida, there are enough scooters and you can rent one for 80.000 IDR. As the reception is bad, I used my offline map (map.me) to get along the island. If you ask, you'll also get an actual map (which we got additionally, just in case!) Initially we thought about visiting 2-3 places. The island is big though and the streets are sometimes in such a bad shape, it was ambitious from my side to think we could see so many things. 

Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

We started off with Kelingking Beach and drove all the way there. While many just stop there to take a picture, we wanted to hike all the way down. If you plan to do the same, be careful. The hike is quite okay but the more you reach the end, the tougher it gets. I can highly recommend you to wear sneakers and not flip flops. The hike is worth it at the end you are rewarded with a dream beach! Be careful though, it's too dangerous to go for a swim. There are a few vendors who sell coconuts and cold drinks. We brought our own granola bars and enjoyed our time there and we took a few pictures. 

On the way up I fixed my shirt on my backpack and hiked up in my shorts and my bikini top. The climb wasn't that exhausting but combined with the heat, it was draining. 

Nusa Penida © Melanie Klien @Mafambani

As we didn't have that much time left anymore, we decided to visit Crystal Bay Beach. 

As this blog post would get way too long, hop over soon to the second one where I will show you our next stops of our Bali trip and my personal recommendations. In case you want to see more pictures, hop over to the photo diary of Puri Santrian in Sanur. I hope you enjoyed our Bali trip details.