The 5 Best Small Islands near Bali

Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan | © Aussie Assault / Flickr
Edira Putri

Picturesque hidden beaches, flourishing endemic wildlife and brand new experiences – these small islands are so much more than just miniatures of Bali.

Bali needs no introduction; you may already know your way to the main temples and beaches by now. Just when you thought it’s maybe time to move along to other destinations, you came across the hype about the surrounding small islands near the mainland. Offering pristine natural magnetism and daring adventures, these small islands near Bali are worth every extra mile you travel to reach them.

1. Nusa Penida

Natural Feature

Kelingking Beach on Nusa Penida
© Galjan / Shutterstock

This small island is best represented by the glorious Kelingking Beach viewpoint. Over the years, photos of this majestic T-Rex shaped slope hugging the blissful bay below have become ubiquitous with Nusa Penida, courtesy of avid travellers bewitched by its natural beauty. But that’s not all there is: the island is also home to exquisite cave temples and even more coastal beauty – hidden lagoons, beaches, diving spots and more. Nusa Penida is the largest of the three Nusa Islands on the southeast of Bali. With the unspoiled nature and a lot of uncharted territory, Culture Trip believes the best destinations haven’t even been discovered yet.

2. Nusa Lembongan

Forest, Natural Feature

Restaurant overlooking Mushroom Bay, Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia
© Ian Trower / Alamy Stock Photo
Nusa Lembongan is a bite-sized tropical heaven. A convenient day trip should be enough to get the best out of this small island: surf at Playgrounds point, explore the mangrove forest before snorkeling in the adjacent coast, and beach-hop to your heart’s content. Aside from the exciting adventures, Nusa Lembongan is the place to go if you want peace and quiet near (but away) from Bali – no hawkers, no traffic, just scenic beaches and ocean breeze.

3. Nusa Ceningan

Natural Feature

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© Aussie Assault / Flickr
Nusa Ceningan can be accessed by foot from neighboring Lembongan via the iconic yellow bridge, which is a popular landmark in itself. Despite its tiny size, Nusa Ceningan boasts some of the archipelago’s most daring adventures, including the infamous cliff-jumping spot with a direct drop into the deep blue sea 13m (62ft) below. Aside from its huge appeal to thrill-seekers, the island welcomes anyone who loves cliff-top ocean views and white sand beaches. A dip below the surface will present you exquisite coral gardens and mystical sunken stupas.

4. Menjangan Island

Park

A fire coral colony surrounded by small fish, off Menjangan Island, Bali
© Matthew Oldfield Underwater Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Far away from what one may expect on the cover of a postcard from Bali, Menjangan is a wildlife paradise like nowhere else in the archipelago. This unexploited island is part of the West Bali National Park, accessible only from the park’s main pier. From there, glorious Javan deer stroll the pristine beaches and Bali Starling sing from deep in the jungle. Divers in particular love this small island for its coral-covered walls and sunken shipwrecks, all enjoyed with great visibility and relatively calm waters.

5. Gili Trawangan

Natural Feature

Beautiful beach at Gili Trawangan, or simply Gili T, is the largest of the three Gili Islands off Lombok. The island is one of the diving paradise.
© Zheng Hui Ng / Alamy
Once a renowned backpacking destination, this island has perfected its flair in catering to every taste, party animals to zen-seekers alike. Aided by its sister islands Gili Meno and Gili Air, this slice of tropical paradise offers more than anyone would ever expect from such small islands, boasting Instagram-famous ocean swings, thriving marine biodiversity and more. Gili Trawangan is known for its versatility in accommodating both peace and quiet and loud and wild in one place – the vibe is whatever you want it to be.

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