Is Nusa Dua worth visiting? That all depends on what you’re after from your trip to the Isle of the Gods. Nusa Dua, on the east coast of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, is arguably the most luxurious location in the whole region. Most of Nusa Dua – which confusingly means “two islands” – is given over to five-star hotels, high-end resorts, and private villas, where the rich and famous are known to come to relax.
As you’ve probably guessed, that all makes Nusa Dua a rather expensive destination, with prices that easily rival places like Bora Bora or Hawaii. But don’t let that put you off! Even just for a day trip, there’s oodles to see and do in this part of Bali, from cultural immersion to glassy surf swells, fantastic dining to white-sand bays.
Cue this guide. Here, we’ll introduce you to some of Nusa Dua’s top highlights, including those stunningly beautiful beaches, the enchanting Hindu temples, and the enthralling Devdan show. We’ll also take a moment to reveal the luxurious side of the area, with a look at the top-quality hotel resorts and deluxe villas that are on the menu for those with a few extra dollars to splash…
Perhaps the best beaches in all of Bali!
The thing about Bali is that the beaches aren’t really what you might expect of an island out in the midst of the Indian Ocean. Instead of the white sand and turquoise water of the the Maldives, the Isle of the Gods is more about long, black-tinged beaches that slope into a wavy sea from volcanic dunes and cliffs. Kuta and Seminyak are among the nicest on the south coast, along with some pretty darn breathtaking bays on the western Bukit. However, there’s one spot that really stands out: Nusa Dua.
But is Nusa Dua worth visiting for the beaches alone? There are a few sand stretches that we think make it so…
- Nusa Dua Beach – Although its real name is Jalan Pantai Mengiat, most tourists refer to this as simply Nusa Dua Beach. The sand here is almost entirely white, and the clear turquoise waters make it a picture-perfect scene. This is likely why the Grand Hyatt, Ayoda, and St. Regis hotels are all based at Nusa Dua Beach. Apart from a few private stretches, there’s no charge to use the beach, and you can rent beach chairs from a local village cooperative for 20,000 IDR per day (that’s less than $2). Nusa Dua Beach is protected by an offshore reef, meaning the waves break about a kilometer out and not on the sand itself. This is a win-win, because the calm, toddler-safe waters close to shore are great for swimming and snorkeling, while the reef break provides world-class waves for surfers and “SUP-ers” (more on that later!).
- Geger Beach (Pantai Geger) – Many argue that Pantai Mengiat takes the prize, but for us, Geger Beach is the best beach in Nusa Dua. It’s secluded and only accessible via a steep path, meaning many folk just pass on by. But if you persevere, the reward is a kilometer-long stretch of pristine white-gold sand and calm waters, with the ancient Geger Temple providing a stunning backdrop. Not only that, but right next to the temple is a tiny, partially hidden dirt footpath that takes you to one of Bali’s famous ‘no-name’ beaches. Many travel guides don’t mention this beach, so you’ll likely share it with very few people.
- Samuh Beach – Samuh Beach is very protected by out-at-ocean reefs and has some of the calmest waters on the island. It’s got white sand and a backing of sea-grape trees, with some excellent cocktail bars on the shorefront. Also, it’s wonderful for watching the sunrise!
The hotels – talk about luxurious!
Is Nusa Dua worth visiting for the hotels alone? 100% yes. This is the stomping ground of some of the most opulent and luxurious stays on the whole Isle of the Gods. They come with shimmering infinity pools, lush tropical gardens, and sprawling villa suites with private butlers. It’s no secret that Nusa Dua is the destination of choice for celebs and A-listers heading to this corner of Indo, and we can see why. Basically, it’s the place to be if you’re hunting for a honeymoon pampering sesh or a hotel you won’t forget in a hurry.
Some of the very best hotels in Nusa Dua include:
- The Apurva Kempinski Bali ($$$) – There’s some serious style to this opulent Kempinski hotel. Big villa suites are done out in rich marbles and natural hessian rugs, with sweeping panoramas and free-standing baths, while others spill out onto private infinity pools. It’s the five-star spot you’ve been waiting for.
- Holiday Inn Bali Beloa ($$) – It might be an IHG brand hotel (and to a certain extent you always know what to expect from a Holiday Inn), but this four-star resort brings a huge pool and premier suites with 180-degree views of the sea. Where this one really shines is with the kids. There’s a dedicated Kid’s Club program of entertainments, along with welcome packages. Oh, and everyone under 12 stays for free!
- Melia Bali ($$$) – Another five-star resort with handsome Balinese villa stays in a lush tropical garden. One of the best beaches in the region is just beyond the palm trees and there’s a stunning central swimming pool.
Surfing (and other water sports)
Nusa Dua enjoys a place a little to the east of the main surf meccas of the Bukit Peninsula. That helps to keep the crowds down and the luxury vibes rolling. However, you’re never too far from a world-class break in these parts. A 40-minute drive to the west will bring you to lovely Bingin Beach, where a left-hand reef break is known as a reliable barrel. Or you could keep going a little and hit up Uluwatu, a series of pounding point-break reef lefts that are among the finest in the world, let alone the Isle of the Gods.
However, Nusa Dua also has its own range of breaks. Being out on the east coast of the island, they mainly work in the rainy season with the SE and NE swells. The best of them is just to the north of Nusa itself, at a place called Sanur Reef. Beware, though, that’s a mega right reef break that’s really only for the total pros. Alternatively, stick to the main Nusa Dua Beach. It’s got a deep reef and a right-hand that works well between October and April. There’s also Geger Temple to the south, with bending point waves rolling into the middle of the bay.
And that’s not it. There are countless other water sports on the menu here. Consider:
- SUP – A great way to explore the tropical coastline north and south of Nusa, SUP boarding is chilled and means getting great views of the reefs from above.
- Flyboarding – Invented in 2011, this high-octane water sports lets you fly over the Nusa Dua bays. Pretty awesome. There’s a flyboard operator in nearby Tanjung Benoa.
- Sea kayaking – You’ll probably be able to rent sea kayaks from your hotel. They’re fun and faster that SUPs, and offer a good way of gliding over the reefs around Nusa Dua and Geger Beach.
The food – Is Nusa Dua worth visiting for the grub alone?
Even if you’re just on a day trip to Nusa Dua, we urge you to visit at least one of the area’s many award-winning restaurants. They’re often rated among the very best on the island. You’ll find a lot of the best places to eat are at the hotels and resorts, where crafted fusion food, celeb chef cooking, and degustation are often the name of the game. Check out:
- Cut Catch Cucina Restaurant (Sofitel Hotel) – Cut Catch Cucina is an award-winning restaurant that’s part of the Sofitel resort. It has an Italian theme, and the thin-sliced prosciutto, pan-roasted barramundi, and prawn salad are all standouts. Drop in on Sundays for their trademark ‘Magnifique Brunch’, where gorgeous fruit platters meet plenty of bubbly. There’s even an ice-cream stand and a popcorn machine!
- Ikan Restaurant & Bar (The Westin) – Fragrant and fantastic East-West fusion dishes in the form of peanut satay and BBQ pulled pork rarely disappoint at this beachside bistro and grill.
- Pala Restaurant & Rooftop Bar (The Kempinski) – A lesson in all things fine dining, Pala is a rooftop dining spot with a difference. There are dishes that pull in tastes of Bali – think soy-sloshed noodles with egg. But there are also BBQ langoustines and lobster. Be sure to follow the dress code (no short-sleeves and bikinis, folks!).
The Devdan Show is a must
The Nusa Dua Devedan show isn’t your run-of-the-mill cultural event. Described as “magnificent, alluring, and daring,” this 90-minute, Broadway-quality festival of dance and music is sure to have you totally immersed in the age-old traditions of Indonesia.
The show is performance theatre at its best. Utilizing a full stage, theater lighting, lasers, and a killer musical score, the plot revolves around two young children who get bored with their tour of Bali and decide to go exploring.
That’s the cue for an experienced cast of acrobats, aerialists, singers, and dancers to take to the stage, and the quality is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Set under the stars on Nusa Dua Beach, the show is fast-moving, beautifully choreographed, and skillfully performed. Don’t miss it! Do book in advance!
For a visit to Nusa Penida
Nusa Dua is perfectly located on the eastern and southern side of Bali for launching a day trip out to the idyllic isle of Nusa Penida. Speedboats leave for that one from the harbor of Sanur, which is just a stone’s throw to the north of the big hotel resorts (a transfer to the jetties takes in the region of 30 minutes, but could be a little more in traffic).
What awaits on the other side of the 50-minute ferry crossing is surely one of the most breathtaking islands in the region. It lurches from the sparkling Bali Sea with sheer cliffs that top out with clusters of jungles. Some of the time, it looks more Zante than Southeast Asia. You’ll spend days hiking to soaring lookouts as the waves pound the rocks below, searching out mystical Hindu shrines, and lazing on beaches that are way remoter than in Nusa Dua proper.
Some of the highlights of Nusa Penida include:
- Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave – An incredible worshipping spot carved into a cave high on a mountain. Wear a sarong and prepare for a moving experience.
- Kelingking Beach – A contender for the most Instagram-worthy beach in the whole of the Bali Sea, Kelingking is tucked under a sculpted headland with high cliffs and frothing waves.
- Toyapakeh – Snorkeling reefs to rival El Nido in the Philippines await here, with brain corals and sponges and strange trumpet fish. Just beware of the currents.
Day trips around Bali
The great thing about Nusa Dua being a hub for loads of the best hotels is that it’s also a hub for tour operators that run trips around the Isle of the Gods. You should find it a cinch to find an outfitter offering everything from volcano hiking to art workshops. Of course, that’s not ideal for the traveler who likes to go it alone and plan for themselves, but it’s a doozy for those who simply like to pay their money and strap in for the ride.
There’s a whole load of options on the menu. Some things will require a hefty transfer and mean being away from the hotel for a few days or more. Other day trips from Nusa Dua really are just day trips, leaving in the morning, getting back by evening. Here are some of our favourite excursion options:
- Uluwatu (day trip) – Spend a day in one of the world’s surfing meccas. The waves are super challenging, left-hand reefs, but it’s a joy just to watch them rip it up from the lookout bars above.
- The Gili Isles (3-4 days) – Take a few days to enjoy the tropical vibes of the Gilis. These have white-sand beaches and palm plantations. The liveliest is Gili T, but we prefer the R&R offered on Gili Meno.
- Ubud (day trip or longer) – Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali. Set up in the jungles to the north of Nusa Dua, it’s got workshops and coffee stores and some of the most beautiful rice terraces around.
- Mount Agung (multi-day) – The famous sunrise trek on Mount Agung takes you to one of the highest points on Bali to watch the light appear above Lombok over the strait. It’s a fantastic experience but the hike is hard, plus volcanic activity on the mountain means trips can be called off at any time.
So, is Nusa Dua worth visiting?
Nusa Dua is a secluded area of Bali that’s centered around the resorts, with everything you might ever want readily available. Said resorts are pretty darn awesome, too – we’re talking huge infinity pools and spa facilities, fine-dining eateries and big villas done in the Balinese style. They’re probably the best on the whole island.
As such, there’s no need for you to ever leave your resort or hotel. That might be a problem for some travelers who’re craving a more backpacker experience in Bali. Why? Nusa Dua isn’t really the real Bali. For that, you need to visit places like Ubud, Uluwatu or Canggu, where you can soak up the sights and sounds of authentic Balinese culture and rub shoulders with the resident digital nomads.
Still, Nusa Dua can hardly be beaten if all you’re after is a bout of pure R&R, some sunbathing, reliable surf, and one seriously fantastic hotel. It’s also close to the airport and within reach of some of the most beautiful beaches on the whole island!
Is Nusa Dua touristy?
Nusa Dua is a very upmarket part of Bali and mainly given over to high-end resorts and hotels. Although Nusa Dua’s beaches attract many tourists from other parts of Bali, there’s not much else to see or do unless you’re a guest at one of the hotels. So, yes, there are tourists, but no, it’s not a typical ‘touristy’ area.
Is Nusa Dua expensive?
Nusa Dua is the most expensive part of Bali due to the upmarket resorts and five-star hotels that dominate the area. Most of the facilities in Nusa Dua are of exceptionally high quality, but you’ll pay a premium. Better places for those on a budget include nearby surf beaches like Bingin or Uluwatu.
How do you get to Nusa Dua?
Nusa Dua is 25 kilometers from Bali’s Denpasar airport, which is only a 20-minute drive away. A taxi there will set you back around 150,000 IPR (just over $10), but all the hotels and resorts offer free shuttles, so you may not need to pay anything. Another option is the cheap and cheerful Bemo Bus, which costs whatever the driver feels like charging on the day (five dollars for tourists, fifty cents for locals).
Is Nusa Dua worth visiting for the beaches?
Is Nusa Dua worth visiting for the beaches alone? Most certainly. Some of the very best beaches in Bali await here. Nusa Dua Beach itself is gorgeous, but you’ll also find Geger Beach and Samuh, not to mention the reef-fringed surf spots of the western Bukit Peninsula just 30 minutes’ drive away.