Nusa Lembongan vs. Gili Islands

Making the choice between Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands can be a puzzling task. Each of these mesmerizing Indonesian destinations offers unique flavors of history and culture, alluring landscapes, and unforgettable experiences. On one side is Nusa Lembongan, a tranquil haven with its own tales to tell, while on the other side, the Gili Islands radiate an enigmatic charm that draws travelers worldwide. Which will be your perfect holiday match?
Nusa Lembongan vs. Gili Islands

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Ready to dive deeper into what sets these two destinations apart? Unearth the captivating stories of Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands as we take a journey through their rich histories and cultures. Find out which destination resonates more with your travel aspirations, as each island reveals its unique identity. Go ahead, uncover these hidden gems of Indonesia!

History & Culture

Indonesia is a country layered with history, and both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands reflect this rich heritage in their own unique ways.

Nusa Lembongan, tucked away in the southeastern part of Bali, has a history steeped in the traditional seaweed farming industry. This cultural tradition permeates the island, shaping the lifestyle of the locals.

The island is known for its peace and tranquility, largely influenced by the Balinese Hindu culture, making it an enchanting destination that offers an insightful glimpse into the past. Here, you’ll find ancient customs alive and well, preserving a way of life that’s in harmony with nature.

Contrastingly, the Gili Islands, comprising Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, have a slightly different cultural backstory. They are part of Lombok and are influenced greatly by the Sasak culture.

Originally, they were uninhabited until fishermen from Sulawesi settled here in the 1970s. These islands have experienced a transformation over the years, but they still retain their unique identity. The local Sasak culture, fused with the influence of the Bugis seafarers who settled here, paints a vibrant cultural tapestry.

Comparing the two, it’s clear that both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands offer distinct historical and cultural experiences. Nusa Lembongan provides a serene escape, where time seems to slow down and tradition plays a significant role. The Gili Islands, on the other hand, represent a rich blend of cultures and history, offering a distinct and diverse experience to every traveler.

In conclusion, your choice between Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands might boil down to what kind of cultural and historical experience you seek. Do you yearn for the peace and tranquility of an island steeped in tradition and harmonious living? Or do you seek the vibrancy and diversity of a melting pot of cultures? Only you can decide your perfect island escape.

Attractions & Activities

Every journey brings with it the promise of discovery and excitement. Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands, with their diverse attractions and activities, ensure this promise is fulfilled.

Nusa Lembongan beckons with the thrill of exploration. How about visiting the famous Mangrove Forest? Here, you can take a traditional sampan ride through serene waterways, surrounded by lush, green foliage. It’s like stepping into a different world.

Additionally, Nusa Lembongan is a diver’s paradise. Crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life make for a spectacular underwater adventure. Sites like Crystal Bay and Manta Point offer encounters with manta rays, sea turtles, and a vibrant array of tropical fish.

Now, let’s turn our gaze to the Gili Islands. Here, the Turtle Sanctuary on Gili Meno is a must-visit. This conservation effort provides a safe haven for sea turtles and offers an opportunity to learn about these graceful creatures. For those with a penchant for adventure, cycling around Gili Trawangan is a unique way to explore the island. With no motor vehicles allowed, cycling is the perfect, eco-friendly way to discover hidden corners of the island at your own pace.

While both destinations offer a variety of attractions and activities, they cater to different kinds of experiences. Nusa Lembongan enchants with its stunning natural environments and underwater wonders, while the Gili Islands captivate with their commitment to conservation and a unique, eco-friendly way of exploration.

In conclusion, whether you’re seeking to immerse yourself in nature, embark on a cycling adventure, or dive deep into the ocean, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands cater to your adventurous spirit. But which island calls out to you more loudly? That’s something only your heart can answer!


When it comes to tropical islands, beaches are the star attractions. So, how do Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands stack up in this regard?

Nusa Lembongan is home to Dream Beach, a delightful 115-yard (or about 105 meters) stretch of sand, offering azure waters against a backdrop of limestone cliffs. Just a little north, there’s Mushroom Bay, a calm beach with fine, white sand that stretches approximately 328 yards (or around 300 meters). Both provide the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day in the sun.

The Gili Islands, meanwhile, offer an equally compelling selection of beaches. Gili Meno Beach, with its white sandy coastline stretching approximately 0.6 miles (or roughly 1 kilometer), invites you to bask in the island’s peaceful ambiance.

Over at Gili Trawangan, you’ll find the sun-drenched Sunset Beach, spanning about 0.4 miles (or nearly 0.6 kilometers), where you can witness breathtaking sunsets painting the sky in a myriad of colors.

Comparing the two, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands offer a diverse range of beach experiences. Nusa Lembongan has smaller, more intimate beaches, perfect for a serene day by the water. The Gili Islands boast longer stretches of sand, with Gili Trawangan offering the unforgettable spectacle of stunning sunsets.

So, when the day comes to a close, whether you’re lounging on Dream Beach or soaking in the views at Sunset Beach, it’s clear both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands offer picture-perfect beach moments. Now, it’s up to you to decide where you’d like to leave your footprints in the sand.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

The culinary scene and nightlife in a destination can be the flavorful icing on the cake of your vacation. Both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands serve up their own unique styles of dining, drinking, and after-dark entertainment.

For the foodies, Nusa Lembongan has a plethora of restaurants serving local Balinese dishes and fresh seafood. Places like The Deck Cafe & Bar offer stunning views along with a variety of tasty dishes. For those with a sweet tooth, there are also local dessert stalls where you can try out traditional treats like klepon, sweet rice balls filled with palm sugar.

Drinking in Nusa Lembongan has its unique charm. There are several beachfront bars where you can enjoy a cool Bintang, the local beer, while soaking in a mesmerizing sunset. Cozy setups like the Sandy Bay Beach Club serve up craft cocktails that add a dash of tropical flavor to your evening.

As for nightlife, Nusa Lembongan is a quieter destination. However, you can still enjoy some live music at venues like Hai Bar & Grill, where you can unwind to the tunes of a local band.

Over at the Gili Islands, you’ll find a different culinary vibe. Restaurants here serve a fusion of Indonesian and international cuisine. For instance, Scallywags Seafood Bar & Grill is a popular spot for fresh seafood barbecue.

Drinking scenes in the Gili Islands are lively and vibrant. With beach bars like Horizontal Lounge on Gili Trawangan, you can sip on a tropical cocktail while grooving to beachside tunes.

And when it comes to nightlife, Gili Trawangan is the hotspot. It’s known for its lively night parties, with establishments like Tir Na Nog and Sama Sama Reggae Bar playing energetic music till late into the night.

Both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands offer contrasting experiences. If you prefer a more tranquil dining atmosphere and laid-back nightlife, Nusa Lembongan is your ideal fit. If an energetic nightlife, along with a vibrant food and drink scene, is your thing, then the Gili Islands are calling. It’s time to answer that call!


Shopping can be a fun and integral part of any vacation. But what can you expect from Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands?

In Nusa Lembongan, you’ll find a number of small stores selling local crafts, clothes, and jewelry. Shops like Bali Eco Deli sell eco-friendly products, promoting sustainable tourism. It’s a great place to buy unique souvenirs that are both environmentally friendly and support local communities.

Contrarily, the Gili Islands offer a wider variety of shopping experiences. Along the main strip of Gili Trawangan, you’ll find stores selling a range of items, from clothes and accessories to local artwork.

One standout is Buku Bookshop, where you can buy or exchange books in various languages. Also, there are numerous stalls selling handmade jewelry, traditional sarongs, and other local crafts.

In essence, Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands offer different shopping experiences. Nusa Lembongan is your go-to for eco-friendly items and local crafts. The Gili Islands, with their wider variety of stores and items, can fulfill your shopping cravings on a larger scale. So, ready to find that perfect souvenir to remember your amazing island adventure by?


The accommodation you choose can greatly influence your holiday experience. In Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands, you’ll find a wide range of options to suit your taste and budget.

Nusa Lembongan has a variety of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious villas. If you’re after a taste of luxury, places like Batu Karang Lembongan Resort & Day Spa offer stunning views and top-notch amenities.

For those seeking budget-friendly options, cozy guesthouses like Lembongan Cliff Villas provide a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

On the other hand, the Gili Islands offer a mix of upscale resorts, boutique hotels, and budget homestays. For a lavish stay, you might consider Hotel Ombak Sunset, famous for its stunning views of the sunset. If you’re traveling on a budget, homestays like Gili La Boheme offer affordable, comfortable stays.

In a nutshell, whether you’re after the luxury of a high-end resort, the charm of a boutique hotel, or the simplicity of a budget guesthouse, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands have you covered. Your perfect island accommodation is waiting for you!

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

When it comes to traveling with the little ones, family-friendliness is a key factor. So how do Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands stack up?

In Nusa Lembongan, children can have a blast exploring the Seaweed Farms. Here, they can learn about seaweed cultivation, an integral part of local life. There’s also the Lembongan Island Marine Park, where kids can enjoy the splash park and swimming pools.

Over at the Gili Islands, Gili Meno Bird Park is a hit with kids, home to a variety of exotic birds. The island also offers horse cart rides, a fun way for families to get around and explore.

In terms of family-friendly accommodation, both destinations offer resorts and hotels equipped with family rooms and kid-friendly amenities. Some even offer babysitting services for those rare occasions when you might need a little adult time.

In summary, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands provide plenty of family-friendly activities and accommodation. Whether you’re exploring a seaweed farm or visiting a bird park, these island destinations ensure fun for the whole family!

Getting There & Getting Around

One of the key aspects of any vacation is the journey itself. So how do you get to Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands, and how easy is it to explore these destinations once you’re there?

To reach Nusa Lembongan, you’ll take a fast boat from Sanur in Bali. The journey typically takes around 30 minutes (approximately 20 miles or 32 kilometers). Once on the island, you can get around on foot, by bicycle, or by renting a scooter. The island is small enough to explore without needing a car.

In contrast, to reach the Gili Islands, you’ll also need to take a boat, this time from Padang Bai in Bali. The journey lasts about 1.5 to 2 hours, covering around 44 miles (or roughly 70 kilometers). On the Gili Islands, motorized vehicles are not allowed. This means getting around on foot, by bicycle, or taking a horse-cart ride.

To sum it up, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands are easily accessible by boat from Bali. However, once you’re there, the mode of transportation varies. Nusa Lembongan offers the option of scooters, while the Gili Islands offer a unique, motor-free experience. Whichever you choose, getting there and around is all part of the adventure!


Weather can make or break your vacation. Let’s take a look at what you can expect in terms of climate when visiting Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands.

Nusa Lembongan enjoys a tropical climate with consistent temperatures throughout the year. The average temperature is usually around 82°F (28°C). The dry season runs from May to September, making it an ideal time for outdoor activities. The wet season is from October to April, but even then, rain showers are usually brief and followed by sunshine.

Over at the Gili Islands, the weather is also tropical. Average temperatures hover around 86°F (30°C). The dry season coincides with Nusa Lembongan, from May to September. The wet season is from November to April. But, just like in Nusa Lembongan, the rain doesn’t last all day.

To sum up, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands enjoy warm, tropical climates. The best time to visit both destinations is during the dry season. However, even during the wet season, you’re likely to experience plenty of sunshine.


Safety is always a top concern when traveling. Let’s see how Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands fare in this regard.

Nusa Lembongan is considered safe for tourists. The locals are friendly and crime is relatively low. That said, it’s always important to keep an eye on your belongings, particularly when on the beach.

Similarly, the Gili Islands are generally safe. However, there have been instances of petty theft, so it’s wise to secure your valuables. In terms of health safety, it’s worth noting that there are no hospitals on the Gili Islands, but there are clinics for minor ailments.

Unique to both destinations is the sea conditions. Currents can be strong, so be cautious when swimming, snorkeling, or diving.

In conclusion, both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands are generally safe for travelers. As with any destination, stay aware of your surroundings, secure your belongings, and heed local advice, particularly when it comes to water activities.


Knowing the cost of your vacation can help you plan better. Let’s compare the expenses you can expect in Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands.

In Nusa Lembongan, you can expect to pay around 50,000 IDR (about $3.50) for a local meal, while a night in a budget guesthouse can cost about 200,000 IDR (approximately $14). Local transportation, like scooter rentals, cost about 70,000 IDR (around $5) per day.

The Gili Islands are a bit more expensive. A local meal might cost you about 60,000 IDR (roughly $4), and a night in a budget guesthouse about 250,000 IDR (around $18). Bicycle rentals, the primary mode of transport here, are about 50,000 IDR ($3.50) per day.

In summary, while both Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands are affordable by Western standards, Nusa Lembongan is slightly cheaper. However, both destinations offer value for money, and the difference in cost should not be a deal-breaker when choosing between the two.

Which Is Better – Nusa Lembongan or Gili Islands?

Choosing between Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands can feel like a tough decision. After delving deep into the facets that make up each destination, we can draw some conclusions that might help you decide.

From a historical and cultural perspective, Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands both offer rich cultural experiences. Nusa Lembongan, with its Hindu roots, has a unique charm, while the Gili Islands provide a blend of cultures. If your interest leans more toward cultural immersion, both destinations cater to that.

In terms of attractions and activities, Nusa Lembongan is known for its surfing, diving, and natural landmarks, while the Gili Islands are all about diving, snorkeling, and horse-drawn cart rides. Both are well-suited to outdoor enthusiasts but offer distinct experiences.

When it comes to beaches, both destinations boast beautiful coastlines. Nusa Lembongan’s beaches are known for their dramatic cliffs and surf, while the Gili Islands’ beaches have calm waters, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. If you’re a surfer, Nusa Lembongan might be your choice, but if you’re after a tranquil beach experience, the Gili Islands might be for you.

For food, drinks, and nightlife, Nusa Lembongan offers a quieter scene with a range of fresh seafood options. In contrast, the Gili Islands are known for their lively nightlife and varied food choices. Those seeking a peaceful, relaxing vacation might lean towards Nusa Lembongan, while partygoers might prefer the Gili Islands.

When it comes to shopping, Nusa Lembongan has plenty of unique handicrafts and traditional products, while the Gili Islands have a wider variety of shops selling everything from clothes to jewelry. If variety is what you’re after, you might find the Gili Islands more appealing.

Considering accommodation, both destinations offer a range of options, from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts. Nusa Lembongan might be slightly cheaper, but the Gili Islands offer more diverse options.

Family-friendliness is a crucial factor. Both destinations offer activities suitable for children, but the Gili Islands, with their car-free environment and gentle beaches, could be a safer choice for families.

Transportation is straightforward in both places. Nusa Lembongan is compact enough for walking or cycling, while the Gili Islands are car-free, with bicycles and horse-drawn carts being the primary means of transport. Your preference here would depend on your mobility and comfort levels.

Weather-wise, both destinations share similar tropical climates, but the best time to visit is during the dry season, from May to September. However, the rainy season can also be enjoyable as showers are often brief, followed by sunshine.

Safety-wise, both destinations are generally safe, with low crime rates. However, it’s always recommended to exercise caution, particularly when swimming or engaging in water sports due to potentially strong currents.

Lastly, the cost of living is generally cheaper in Nusa Lembongan, making it more suitable for budget travelers. However, the Gili Islands also offer great value for money and shouldn’t be dismissed if you can stretch your budget slightly.

In conclusion, choosing between Nusa Lembongan and the Gili Islands boils down to your preferences. Both offer beautiful beaches, engaging activities, and rich cultural experiences. So, consider your preferences, budget, and interests, and you’re sure to make the right choice!