Planning a trip to the island of Nusa Penida or thinking of visiting on a day trip from Bali? Read on for a complete guide to this beautiful island including the best attractions and things to do, where to eat, where to stay in Nusa Penida and other tips.
-Written by Claire from Claires Footsteps–
Intro – why visit Nusa Penida?
- Intro – why visit Nusa Penida?
- How to get to Nusa Penida
- How to get around Nusa Penida
- Things to do on Nusa Penida
- Where to eat on Nusa Penida
- Where to stay on Nusa Penida
- Tips for visiting Nusa Penida
Bali is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. There’s a vibrant Hindu culture, plenty of gorgeous beaches with spectacular sunsets, volcanoes to hike up and rice terraces to photograph. With an almost endless list of activities and adventures to add to your Bali itinerary, you’ll never get bored on this island.
But one thing Bali is is touristy. The Indonesian island is amazing, but it’s also jam packed with holidaymakers – making it sometimes a lot more difficult to find authenticity on the island. I love Bali, but after a month on the island, I needed a break.
That’s why I headed over to Nusa Penida. I’d heard stories of a magical island, untouched by mass tourism and where the natural beauty of this part of Indonesia is still prevalent. And let me tell you – the rumours are true. If you want to experience an authentic part of Bali, Nusa Penida is the place to go.
How to get to Nusa Penida
The only way to get to Nusa Penida is by boat, from Bali’s mainland or from Nusa Lembongan. From the mainland, travelling to Sanur and taking a public boat is probably the best option; it will cost you around 40,000 each way. There are also boats from Padang Bai, costing around the same price. If you miss the ferry, you can also take a private boat, which cost considerably more; at least 100,000 for the trip.
Public boats from Nusa Lembongan depart at 6 am every day, and smaller private boats run throughout the day. They coast around 50,000 rupiah.
How to get around Nusa Penida
There’s only two ways to get around Nusa Penida – renting out a motorbike or hiring a driver. Hiring a bike is the cheaper option, with fares around 70,000 rupiah for a day. However, it’s also without a doubt the riskier way to see Nusa Penida! The road conditions are worse here than Bali (although it is a lot less busy), so I’d recommend only hiring your own vehicle if you have experience biking. And don’t forget to wear a helmet! I was hit by a truck on neighbouring Nusa Lembongan – I’m not sure how but I was absolutely fine, but let that be your warning about the road conditions on the Nusa islands.
Hiring your own driver can cost anywhere between 200,000 rupiah – 500,000 rupiah for a day. Split between a few of you, this is a fairly budget-friendly way to see the island. Most taxi drivers will happily do a day tour – there’s lots of drivers waiting at the port, so just chat to them and see what they can offer!
Things to do on Nusa Penida
One of the most spectacular viewpoints in all of Bali, Angels Billabong is a natural infinity pool sheltered by cliff faces. The water is all different shades of blue, and it makes for a refreshing dip when it’s low tide. Make sure you don’t swim at high tide or get too close to the edge, however!
Located very close to Angles Billabong, Broken Beach is a great photography spot. Named after the fact that it is an archway wrapping around the bay, the beach is incredibly picturesque and offers some great sunbathing and swimming spots.
A beautiful beach with palm trees that seem to touch the sky and world-class snorkeling, Crystal Bay is a lovely spot to kick back and sunbathe for a few hours, or check out the coral life off shore – you only have to swim a few metres out to see tropical fish and exotic coral.
Beautiful Kelingkling Beach definitely has a ‘Lost’ air to it, and it is nothing like the busy beaches you’ll see on mainland Bali. First, the viewpoint of the rocky outcrop is spectacular, and many people come to Kelingkling for that alone. But it’s worth the hike down the steep, uneven stairs (just take your time, they’re a hazard to say the least!) because so few people actually do it. Once at the bottom, you’re graced with a show-stoppingly scenic beach with clear water, palm trees and golden sands and pretty much no other people.
Did you know Nusa Penida is one of the best dive sites in Bali? Not only does it have amazing coral, but it is home to so many manta rays there is an area actually called ‘Manta Bay’. You’ll need to go on a diving or snorkel tour to see these majestic creatures, but you’ll be absolutely taken aback by them.
Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave
Once you’ve seen all the astounding natural beauty of Nusa Penida, this cave is well worth a visit. It is one of the best cultural attractions on the island, and is home to shrines and a sacred cave. Resembling a Chinese temple, it is a fantastic spot to both pray and appreciate Hindu spirituality.
The tidal Atuh Beach is a fantastic spot to visit; especially at high tide. Also a great place for sunrise as the sun reflects over the water, Atuh Beach is a popular photography spot. For those who like to chill out and swim in the sea, paradise-like Atuh Beach is perfect.
A hidden gem on Nusa Penida, Tegeling Waterfall is located inland. To reach there, you’ll have to park and take a short walk through the rainforest. The walk is very pleasant, with birdsong and tropical flora, and the waterfall is spectacular. Often, you’ll have it all to yourself.
Where to eat on Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is certainly lacking any big and glamourous restaurants, but that’s why I loved it. Local warungs line the main streets, and all serve up typical Indonesian fare – Nasi Goreng, Mie Goreng, Gado Gado… Indonesian food is cheap and delicious. If you’re vegetarian, it’s easy to get fried rice or noodles with just vegetables, and gado gado is a vegan dish made with peanut.
Where to stay on Nusa Penida
Again, there aren’t any 5* all inclusive resorts on Nusa Penida; but what there is is cute homestays and guesthouses at bargain prices. My all-time favourite is Dragonfly Homestay. It’s ran by the sweetest couple and the rooms are lovely; each is self-contained and has an outside bathroom (that is fenced in and private!). A delicious breakfast is included in the stay.
Tips for visiting Nusa Penida
- It takes a long time to get around this island; the attractions listed above will probably take you three days to complete. As mentioned before the roads are rough, and it’s impossible to go at great speeds. The beautiful scenery makes up for it though!
- This is a tropical undeveloped island, so you’ll be sharing it with quite a few mosquitoes. Malaria risk is very low, but dengue is a possibility – so make sure you bring some high quality DEET.
- Book your accommodation in advance. Although the island is not touristy, there aren’t many places to stay, and they could sell out.
- There is a lot less English here than on mainland Bali, so come prepared to practice your Indonesian!
Claire is a travel blogger and freelance writer who posts about her overland adventures and eco-travel ideas at Claires Footsteps. She has drove around the whole of Australia, and is currently living in Mexico, contemplating her next adventure – which could take place anywhere in the world!
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