A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan, Bali

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan, Bali - Travel Lush

The first time I rode a motorbike I was terrified.  I was vacationing in Hawaii when my family peer pressured me into renting a scooter.  Though my family views me as both a laid-back hippie and an adventurous traveler, I am actually a pretty anxious person.  So I was petrified as I swerved my scooter onto the highway and wobbled along Oahu’s breathtakingly beautiful windward coast.  I was pretty sure I was going to die every time a car sped past me or a 40-mile-an-hour gust of wind threatened to knock me over.  I spent the day oscillating between feelings of sheer panic and utter joy, but by the end of it I was sold.

I am now a firm believer that renting a motorbike is the best way to explore a foreign city.  Ever since my trip to Oahu some of my most memorable travel experiences have been on a scooter – from coasting past emerald-green rice paddies in Pai, Thailand, to getting caught in a monsoonal rainstorm in Bohol, Philippines, to happening upon gorgeous secluded beaches in Langkawi, Malaysia.

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
Snapping a photo on the back of our motorbike in the Philippines.

There was no doubt in my mind that I would rent a scooter on Nusa Lembongan.  The small Balinese island is roughly 8 kilometers around and is the perfect size for exploring by motorbike.  Its hilly terrain and steep roads make it difficult to get around on foot.  And since there are no official taxis and relatively few cars, motorbikes are by far the most popular means of transport.

Despite the fact that I typically travel with my boyfriend, I always rent my own bike.  Maybe this is because I love the freedom that comes with riding on my own or perhaps it’s due to my need to be in control.  But given our tight budget and the small size of the island, it seemed like a waste to rent two bikes.  So I begrudgingly opted to share.  Aaron took the reins and I hopped on the back, raring to go.  But given the poor alignment of the rickety bike (it seemed to always want to veer dramatically to the right) and the fact that we rarely ride tandem, we got off to a shaky start.  We swerved down the road – braking abruptly and lurching forward each time we tried to avoid a pothole or made an effort not to run off the side of the road.  We looked like complete novices.  But after a few somewhat embarrassing minutes, we got the hang of it.

We ended up keeping our rickety old motorbike for the entirety of our stay on Lembongan.  And I’m so glad we did.  We had the best time just cruising around and happening upon stunning vistas, delicious restaurants, and unexpected adventures.

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan

Dream Beach – It’s a perfect white-sand beach with giant turquoise waves.  The strong currents make it pretty unsafe for swimming.  But for a fee you can use the infinity pool at Dream Beach Huts, which overlooks the beach.

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
Picture-perfect Dream Beach.

Devil’s Tears – Huge waves crash violently into the cliffs.  And, yes, you will get wet!  To get here from Dream Beach just turn right and follow the dirt pathway along the cliffs.  This is the perfect spot for sunset!

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
Fellow travelers get surprised by a sky-high splash after a giant wave smacks into the cliff at Devil’s Tears.

Sandy Bay (aka Sunset Beach) – Located down the road from Devil’s Tears is this small coral-filled beach.  The Beach Club resort occupies this land and is a popular restaurant for sunset beers.

Mushroom Bay – Most tourists stay around here.  There are a few restaurants and a decent swimming beach (that is if the boats aren’t docked in the bay).

Panorama Point – Located in between Mushroom Bay and Jungutbatu.  Pull off the road right across the road from Panorama Restaurant to snap a photo from this unreal viewpoint.

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
Just one of the many breathtaking views on Nusa Lembongan.

Jungutbatu – This is the main town on Lembongan.  Head here to catch a glimpse of authentic village life.  There’s plenty of traditional Balinese architecture to see and lots of delicious (and cheap) Indonesian food to eat.

Nusa Ceningan – Venture over the narrow, wooden suspension bridge.  (It might look sketchy, but it’s safe!)  Veer to your right and you’ll see rectangular crops of seaweed being harvested just off shore.  Follow the signs to Blue Lagoon for some cliff jumping action!

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
This rickety bridge connects Nusa Lembongan with Nusa Ceningan. Yes, we managed to cross it on a scooter! It’s so narrow, only one scooter can cross at a time.
A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
Seaweed is the island’s primary source of income. There are numerous crops located just off the shore in between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan.

Here are a few things you should know if you’re renting a motorbike on Lembongan:

Cost – I paid 70,000 rupiah (including a full tank of gas) per day for my scooter, but I’m sure you can do better if you haggle!

Where to rent – I rented mine from my hotel.  You can pretty much go to any hotel or restaurant and they’ll either rent you a scooter or point you in the right direction.  It’s that easy!

Road conditions – The roads on Nusa Lembongan are full of potholes and the roads on Nusa Ceningan are just plain awful.  I wouldn’t recommend riding a motorbike if you’re not at least a little experienced. For a beginner’s guide on riding a motorbike, read my complete guide here.

A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan - Travel Lush
The roads get pretty narrow and very rough on Nusa Lembongan.

Sharing the road – A lot of guidebooks say there are no cars on Lembongan.  This is not true.  The roads are very narrow (about 6-8 feet wide) and there are plenty of trucks that come barreling down them.

Map of the island – Good maps don’t really exist.  My best advice is don’t be afraid to get lost; sometimes this can lead to the best finds.  Plus, how lost can you get on such a tiny island?  People here are very friendly so you can always ask for directions.  But, just to help you get your bearings, here’s a map!

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Renting a scooter gave us the freedom to explore the island many times over, and we discovered new things every day.  Scooting around Nusa Lembongan was a blast!

If you’re really up for an adventure head over to neighboring Nusa Penida.  This island is a literal 10-minute boat ride away.  It’s absolutely stunning and way less touristy than Nusa Lembongan.  As an added bonus Nusa Penida is the perfect Balinese island to motorbike around!

Are you terrified of riding a motorbike, like I used to be?  Or do you enjoy riding motorbikes in other countries?  If so, what is your favorite place to explore on a scooter?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

39 thoughts on “A Guide to Motorbiking Nusa Lembongan, Bali

  1. You know, lately I’ve been having this urge to learn how to ride a scooter. Motorbikes scare me but i think a scooter may suit me better. I’ve been wanting to do the same thing when overseas but since I don’t have a licence for anything, it does limit me when i travel overseas sometimes. I would be missing out on all these wonderful beaches that you have put up, for example!! 🙂

    1. Riding a scooter is definitely the best! When I first learned to ride a scooter in Hawaii, I literally walked the bike from the rental place to the closest empty parking lot. I spent awhile just getting my bearings and getting comfortable breaking, accelerating and turning. It’s definitely important to get the hang of it before hitting the road. Or you can always just hop on the back of someone else’s scooter who already knows how to ride 😉

      1. Haha..I think I’ll be too scared if I’m sitting behind someone…I would prefer to be in control…haha..but I can maybe give it a try on my next trip overseas…thanks!! 🙂

        1. I definitely understand the need to be in control 🙂 It’s so hard to trust someone else to navigate the roads of a foreign country. However, once you let yourself relinquish control, it’s so amazing just to ride on the back of a bike. You don’t have to worry about driving; you just get to sit back and enjoy the scenery. That being said, I still prefer to drive my own scooter!!

  2. I am terrified of riding my own scooter, I love motorbikes and I’m often on them. But I just can’t bring myself to drive my own. I’m determined to try when I go back east next year though.

    1. I totally understand. I’d traveled for years without ever even considering riding a scooter. But once I did, it completely transformed the way I travel…so I highly recommend it! My best advice is to learn in a place where there are open roads that are in good condition. Learning to ride in Hawaii was terrifying since I was in a huge city with tons of traffic. The second time I rode a bike was in Pai, Thailand. That was the ideal place since it’s rural and there are barely any cars on the road. It was the best!

      1. I think the next place I’ll be where I will have a chance to scoot around is Koh Tao, Thailand, I’ll get myself on a good(ish) road and avoid hills whilst I learn 😉

  3. Awesome- I’m just catching up on all my blog reading and see you have a ton of posts about Nusa L. I’m going there in July so this is perfect timing! Right, going to settle down and read them all now 🙂

    1. You’re going to love it there! It’s such an amazing island. Are you going to any other places in Indonesia? Well, if you have any questions about Lembongan (or anything) feel free to ask! I was traveling around Indonesia for two months so I’ve got lots of information to share!!

  4. Don’t you just love the freedom? I really haven’t rented too many bikes, but we rent a lot of cars since it usually is less depending on how many of us are traveling together. But being able to stop when you want, go when you want, it makes all the difference!

    1. I most definitely love the freedom! I’m really not a fan of organized tours. I really just enjoy seeing the sites on my own, and having your own transportation makes all the difference. It’s funny…I’m totally scared of driving a car in other countries! I’ve actually never done it. Most people are scared of riding a motorbike and I’m scared of driving a car for some strange reason…

  5. Um, of course I don’t mind! Thanks Jess!! I love reading your blog too. I had plans to travel to Colombia, but I had to put them on hold. So now I’m living vicariously through your AMAZING blog. I’m so hoping to get there ASAP 🙂

  6. Just got back from Bali, but didn’t have time to Nusa Lembongan on this trip… it looks gorgeous! And sounds like I would have felt slightly more comfortable renting a bike there. Did you rent one in the rest of Bali? Crazy driving (although tame compared to when we were in Jakarta!). 🙂

    1. The driving in Jakarta is crazy, right? It was so difficult to even cross the street! And, yeah, the driving throughout Bali was pretty nuts. I was mainly in Kuta and I didn’t even dare to rent a bike there. Lembongan is definitely a different world than mainland Bali, and it’s not intimidating to drive there AT ALL. Where did you go on Bali? Did you rent a bike there?

      1. Oh yeah, Jakarta was almost scary. Especially coming straight from the US, where we have all these rules and regulations and, you know, lanes. I think we would have been OK (maybe) renting in Bali, but we never did. We went to Pemuteran, Tabanan and Ubud. I had a teensy accident where I left some of my toes in Thailand, and it has me hesitant. haha – and Thailand was much more mild than Bali!

        1. Yeah, being a pedestrian on Bali was scary enough…let alone driving a motorbike! Lembongan was a breeze compared to mainland Bali. What?! You left some of your toes in Thailand? What happened?

  7. You are so right! I love exploring different places by scooter. It is easier to stop and enjoy the scenery!! And I have to agree – I love driving myself – there is something about being a passenger that takes a little away from the experience.

    1. Definitely! I love being able to stop whenever I want to take pictures or to just take in the scenery. And, of course, I just love to drive myself. There is something very freeing about it 🙂

  8. Well I am very terrified of driving in any city or foreign country, other than my city I’ve in for most of my life (no highways here!) and Ottawa, Ontario… (and I always avoided the highway if possible)…. but I realize that having the ability to drive in another country is such freedom! Especially a scooter, vespa, etc…. it will get me to those countryside places that you can reach at a slower pace than a car, but a faster pace than walking…. So, I think this will be one of my fears to get over during my year off, and go ahead and rent a vehicle, whatever sort, and just do it! I’ll try in the smaller towns/villages, islands. And will probably just stick to that. But… I also don’t know how to drive a standard, so I this will be something else i’ll need to learn!

    How much was your motorbike rental? Did you sign up for insurance, or was that include by using a credit card, or did you pay cash? Do you need an international driver’s license?

    TB

    1. I’m equally as terrified of driving in other countries! I have never rented a car in a foreign country, but getting comfortable on a scooter is one of those things that transformed the way I travel. I was so scared but I’m so glad I learned. My best advice is to learn in a place that has decent roads and is in the countryside. Learning to ride in Honolulu was kind of scary. The second time I rode a motorbike was in Pai, Thailand. In my opinion that was the perfect place to really get my bearings and get comfortable because there was a lot of wide open space. I don’t know how to ride a standard either! I have to learn too, but for now I just go with automatic scooters. FYI, Bali traffic is really bad and it’s probably not the place to learn. I didn’t have the guts to rent a scooter on mainland Bali because it seemed too dangerous. While Lembongan doesn’t have a lot of traffic, the roads aren’t very good and there are lots of twists and turns. I wouldn’t choose it as the place to learn to ride. But if you’ve ridden a couple times before you should be fine.

      In SE Asia scooters are pretty cheap – like $5-$15 per day (I always pay cash). I never buy insurance and I’ve never had any problems. I’ve been to seven countries in SE Asia and no one has every asked for an international license. But if you’re planning on renting a car or scooter in Europe that might not be the case. Hope this helps!

  9. travel by bike is very pleasant indeed. provides a unique and exciting sensation. especially when visiting locations difficult to reach and in groups. This may commonly called “touring”. I really liked this activity. gives sensation itself. and of course a lot of things that are sometimes interesting to enjoy. nice share.

    1. I think part of the reason I like motorbiking in other countries so much is because I can go where I want, when I want. I’m really not a fan or organized tours and really like to travel independently. And, I agree with you that the sensation of riding around on a motorbike is half the fun 🙂

    1. I don’t have an international license. But technically you do need an one in Indonesia. If you can get one, do bring it. You’d never be bothered by police in Lembongan. On the mainland, tourists do get pulled over. I haven’t been yet but I hear you’ll need to pay a 50,000 rupiah fine (about $4 US) if you don’t have an international license. Bikes generally rent for 40,000-90,000 a day. And you won’t need to put down a security deposit.

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