A Backpacker’s guide to Sanur Harbor: boats to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Pendia and Gili T (Tips, tricks and more!)

Sanur is a harbor city in Bali: 16km and 25min away from the Ngurah Rai International Airport.

If you want to get to the Nusas (Lembongan and Penida) or the Gilis, this is the harbor from where boats leave. If you have a online booking leaving from Sanur Harbor, this is the place for you. Or, you can also buy a ticket at the harbour.

So, fair warning, when I say “harbor”, I mean the boat quite literally leaves from the beach (as shown in the picture below).

The boat that took us to Nusa Lembongan


So get ready to be a little soaked or completely drenched (depending on the tide)! 🙂 Wear clothes you don’t mind getting soaked, appropriate footwear: they make you remove your shoes and keep it in a separate bin for more grip on the boat, and make sure your backpack and belongings are waterproof.

On that note, please put your phone and electronics away, at least for the departure and arrival, and get ready for a bumpy ride!

The ride to Nusa Lemongan 

Now, before you blame this on the boats and their quality, the splashy ride is actually the case because of the ABSOLUTELY CRAZY waves that hit the shore of Sanur (and most Balinese shores), especially in monsoon season. The waves and tides are also deeply impacted by the earthquakes of the many volcanic peaks on the island of Bali, most commonly Mt. Agung.

In my opinion, the people who operate the boats are the most experienced and/or risk-taking individuals to be riding in those waves. Bali is commonly known for its big, giant waves, and while that are very successful with the surfers, turbulent water mean a turbulent ride.

Now, my experiences might be very different than yours, all depending on the tide and time of day and year. I visited the Nusas in Summer of 2018, when the waves were the highest they had been in years. There were multiple earthquakes while I was there, hence causing the great waves on the sea. But this might not be the case when you go, and your ride over the water could be quite alright. But, never bad to be prepared 🙂

Anyhow, whenever you plan to go to Bali, be sure to check the news on the waves, especially if you are a faint of heart, when it comes to the sea.

The truth on Sanur Harbor and how to have a safe and pleasant journey:

Now, something about these harbors: there will be A LOT of salespeople trying to sell you their boat tickets. They might be giving you a deal or not, But for a lack of better word, you will be ‘followed’ around  by multiple salespeople if you don’t have a ticket yet.

Getting to Sanur Harbor

The city of Sanur is accessible by taxis: take a GoJek or a Grab, which is like Uber. My friends and I took this option as this was the cheapest.

However, unfortunately, little did we know our taxi driver was also a salesperson, and took us to ‘his guy’ at the Sanur Harbor. He made us pay extra for the parking and made us believe that the Hotel Parking was the only way to the harbor and wasn’t accessible through a normal road (looking back, seems very stupid to agreeing to that).

Boat fares to the Nusas/ Gilis

This section is mostly for budget travels, and backpackers. (I got your back guys!)

After we paid the parking for our driver, he took us to his ‘contact’ who then tried to sell us boat tickets.

Now, #1 rule in Bali, DO NOT BUY anything  before shopping around!

We had a few local friends in Bali, we did our research beforehand, and talked to a lot of people in our hostel on which boat they took the Nusas. And while you might get a good deal online, and you might even get a good deal from the salespeople if you negotiate, unfortunately chances are you will be screwed over in some way…  (sorry guys, that’s what happens when you go in such a touristy place but don’t worry there are good people on this very beautiful island, read one!)

THE SAFEST OPTION is to go the Public boat service, as they have pre-listed prices, which means you won’t get duped. When we talked to our hostel reception in Kuta, they strongly suggested this option, and so did the other friends we talked to.

Be aware and be prepared:

Now, I’m sorry to go on a little pessimistic tone here, but its important to know the good and the bad, and most importantly, be prepared! So, while my friend Mark and I were walking through the Sanur Harbor, we were repeatedly told that there was no such place as a Public Boat service. And since the only people around were the salespeople of other boat services and other vendors, we were in sort of a prejudiced situation.

Anyhow, we persevered on and insisted that our local friends, our local host, and most practically, Google was right. We walked about a mile from where we were dropped off, but we found the place!

Here is the address as per google: there is also a picture of what it looks like below

Speedboat/Public boat: Jl. Sanur Beach Street Walk, Sanur Kaja, Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

The public boat service, Sanur Habour wit set prices and schedules

Leave me a message if you have any questions or need some advise/tips to plan your trip. Also, comment to let me know if you visited too, and had a similar or different experience!

Have a safe and pleasant trip guys!