Nusa Penida island is a small paradise off the East Coast of Bali. A little dot on the map that managed to remain hidden from the curious looks of civilisation for many decades. Exploring this pristine island is not easy and is time consuming. Narrow cliff paths of jagged rocks, through jungle, are often the only way to reach incredible white sandy beaches or breath taking cliff drops. Nevertheless, this limestone island is one of the most stunning places on our route through Indonesia.
Nusa Penida is the biggest and less touristy (for now) of the three Nusa Islands. While the two little ones of the trio – Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan – are all about white sand beaches and summer vibes, Nusa Penida’s jagged cliff lines are for adventurers only!
Adventure, stunning nature, rough terrain, off the beaten track, local life… Nusa Penida is definitely more our kind of island! We were blown away by the incredible places to see in Nusa Penida. So here’s a guide to Nusa Penida including what to see and how to visit this pristine paradise before it’s too late!!!
How long should I stay in Nusa Penida?
For ticking off all the amazing places to see in Nusa Penida you should spend at least 3 – 4 full days on the island. As it is only 30 minutes boat trip from Bali we recommend coming with a daypack (you can leave your luggage in Bali, read on for all the info) and hire a scooter when you arrive. However if you don’t have that much time to travel around Nusa Penida, a Nusa Penida day tour is a great option to at least catch a glimpse of this incredible place. For a private and flexible experience we recommend the Local Guides tour who coveres all the iconic spots with ease.
Things to see on a Nusa Penida Tour
During a Nusa Penida day tour, you can either explore the west or east coast of Penida Island. If you prefer to see both sides, it is better to do a 4-day Nusa Penida Trip.
The west coast of Nusa Penida has beautiful sights like Kelingking Beach – 100% sure the most spectacular place on Nusa Penida – Crystal Bay, Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. This side of the island is more popular since it is closer to the harbor and it is easy to visit on a day trip from Bali.
The east coast of Nusa Penida is more untouched, at least as beautiful and with fewer visitors. Here you will visit Atuh and Diamond Beach, Thousand Islands viewpoint and the underground temple Giri Putri.
Extra: Snorkeling at Manta Point in Nusa Penida
The Nusa Islands have some fantastic points to snorkel or dive with Manta Rays. Manta Point is the best spots and if you can, plan an extra day in Penida Island to snorkel with Manta Rays.
Loads of diving resorts are opening their doors. Some Bali visitors actually spend more time on the Nusa Islands than on Bali itself.
➳ Read all about: Things to see in Nusa Penida in 4 days
The dark side of Nusa Penida
Peaceful beaches, untouched wilderness and kind, sincere people. Nusa Penida guards a primeval image of Bali, but also of its own histories, myths and legends. Behind the walls of peace and calmness the island remains one dark secret: since ancient times Nusa Penida is believed to be the Black Magic island, inhabited by ghouls, demons and dark spirits. Yet, visiting the island we realized that the “curse” and isolation of Nusa Penida had actually become a blessing. The hearts of its inhabitants are full of kindness, they protect those treasures given to them by nature and their ancient traditions, they welcome you with big smiles and they do everything they can to help you having a good time!
➳ Find all: Hotels in Nusa Penida
How to get to Nusa Penida island
The easiest option is to hop on a speedboat from Sanur Beach (if you are in Ubud you can arrange a taxi + boat transfer). The companies are all located along the beach at the end of Jalan Hangtuah and have boats departing between 7 AM-10 AM and 2 PM-5 PM. They also have boats coming back in the morning and afternoon at around the same time. Remember: some companies, such as Maruti Express and Angel Billabong fast cruise, serve the port of Toyapakeh in Nusa Penida, others the port of Sampalan. Choose the right port of arrival!
More boats depart from Kusamba and Padang Bai in East Bali.
We hopped on a Mola Mola Express speedboat from Sanur to Sampalan Harbour (Price : 350.000 IDR return). Booking through our hotel in Nusa Penida we got a convenient deal including boat+car transfer. You can book your ticket online or directly at the counter up to 30 minutes before the boat’s departure (haggle the price). It may be better to book your trip one day in advance, especially in high season. Boats leave usually on time however, if there is a strong tide, boats often have to wait, if not cancel the ride! Call or send a message with WhatsApp to the company the day before to confirm the departure.
If departing from Sanur wear short pants as you board from the beach, in shallow water, sometimes in the middle of the waves. The boat staff will help you with your big pieces of luggage, but if you want to save yourself the hassle, book a storage service. We recommend Bali Store Luggage: they picked up our luggage at the pier and, when we returned to Bali, a driver was waiting for us with our luggage ready to drive us to our next hotel.
Good to know: every year on a different date is Nyepi Laut, Day of the Silent Ocean. During this day the population of the three Nusa Islands honor Dewa Baruna, ruler of the sea. Boats won’t run and swimming or diving won’t be allowed. Make sure to check this in advance.
Best Nusa Penida Tips
The island’s infrastructure is non-existing and to get from one place to another expect to be a lot of hours on your bike. A few sealed roads have been constructed. However, some of the most wonderful sites remain very difficult to reach and connected only by windy rocky paths crossing the jungle. The best way to minimize hours traveling on your bike is to pack ultra light and stay every night in a different accomodation close to the sites of interest. Leave your big bag in Bali and only come here with a small daypack. A trip to Nusa Penida is all about its natural beauty and the adventure.
➳ Find all: Hotels in Nusa Penida
Getting around Nusa Penida
RENTING A SCOOTER
The roads are bad yes, but improvements are coming rapidly! The roads towards Atuh Beach and Kelingking Beach are, for example, completely new and it is amazing to drive your motorbike along the winding coastal road or through the jungle inland. However, the road to Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach is still a disaster. With these places gaining so much popularity the road conditions on the island will soon be better but for now it is not recommended driving a motorbike in Nusa Penida if you don’t have a lot of driving experience (we mean it!). We rented a motorbike through our accommodation. The costs are a little bit higher than on Bali mainland. We got ours for 70,000 rupiahs per day.
HIRING A DRIVER
Or if you’re not comfortable renting a scooter you can barter with the local taxi drivers to take you around the islands for a day rate – should be no more than 600,000 IDR per day.
Where to sleep on Nusa Penida
Most of the accommodations in Nusa Penida are located in the west and in the north coasts. You can pick one accommodation for all the days and visit one part of the island each day or pack ultra light and stay every night in a different accomodation. Prices are a little higher compared to Bali because of the high demand. Book in advance!
Here’s a few amazing accomodation in Nusa Penida:
If you want a €15 discount on your hotel click here before you book!
Travel tip: buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need while travelling, especially if you are planning to rent a motorbike on an island like Nusa Penida. During our journey through Indonesia we used World Nomads as our travel insurance provider. It is designed for adventurous travellers and you can activate it at any time of your journey! What are you waiting for!!
➳ Read more: How to plan a trip to Indonesia
WiFi in Nusa Penida
Wifi and 3G connection isn’t always great on Nusa Penida, so don’t forget to download offline Google Maps to always find your way back to your accommodation. If you want to be sure to have roaming also on remote islands such as Nusa Penida you can rent Travelers Wifi, a small portable device that guarantees super fast and unlimited WiFi wherever you are.
Did you find our Guide to Nusa Penida useful?
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