It’s high time we wrote a guide on this destination, the highlight of our best-selling tour of all time – the beautiful and dramatic Nusa Penida
If you follow our Facebook and Instagram pages, you’ll probably know that we’re huge fans of posting about Nusa Penida. You’ve most likely already seen several posts of the famous scraggly T-rex shaped headland in Kelingking Beach, and the turquoise waters of Angel’s Billabong. And if those pictures are just the tip of the iceberg when it come to the beauty of Nusa Penida, then you can surely understand our obsession with this beautiful island, right?
Situated roughly 40km southeast of Bali, a trip to Nusa Penida (whether for the day or three) has become something of a pilgrimage site for travelers trying to recreate the journey through wild Bali of times gone by.
Whether you’re in it for the gorgeous scenery, amazing marine life, or hunting for something different, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts to veer off the beaten track. So to help you plan your trip, here’s our 2020 Guide to Nusa Penida in Bali.
Here’s what this Nusa Penida Guide includes:
- How to Get There
- How to Get Around
- What to Do
- Where to Stay
- Where to Eat
- What to Bring
1. How to Get to Nusa Penida
Since Nusa Penida is an island without its own airport, the only way to get there is via boat. If you’re coming from the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, the fastest way to get to Nusa Penida would be to go to Sanur Beach and take a speedboat to the island.
Another easier option would be to join a local tour from Bali for the day. Not only do they pick you up from your accommodations and take care of the logistics (meaning you don’t have to wait in line for your boat tickets and figure out the car or motorbike rental), they provide tour guides who can act as your photographers and bring you to their favorite warungs for local Indonesian food.
If you do decide to stay for more than a day (or go on your own), make your way to Sanur Beach. Once you get there, walk towards the ferries, where you’ll see people lining up for speedboat tickets. Most operators offer the same price (roughly IDR300,000 round trip), so just pick the time most convenient for you. Reliable tour operators include Yamuna Express, Maruti Express, Mola-Mola Express, and Angel’s Billabong Fast Boat.
Pro tip: Get there early (as in, 6:30am) as the lines can get long and you’ll be pushed back to a later departure time if the earlier time slots are filled up.
Sanur Beach is by far the most popular point to depart from when going to Nusa Penida, but others areas you can try are Tanjung Benoa – which is farther south, nearer Nusa Dua (take note that they only have ferries every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), and Padang Bai – which is up north, near Amed and Candidasa (these ferries don’t have set schedules though).
There are really only two ways to get around Nusa Penida: cars and motorbikes. Walking is an option for shorter distances but not if you want to cover a lot of ground.
You can rent motorbikes by the day for roughly upwards of IDR80,000 (though you may also need to buy gasoline, depending on your provider). Try bargaining for IDR60,000-70,000 a day if you’ll be using the motorbike for longer periods.
A word of caution for those of you who intend to rent motorbikes: The roads in Nusa Penida are rough and filled with holes. The terrain is also highly treacherous with many blind corners and steep inclines. We would recommend motorbikes for experienced motorists only, especially if you’re going off-road. Nusa Penida has been known to have many tragic motorbike-related accidents, and it’s always better to be safe.
Pro tip: Make sure to have a 4G local SIM card with you when getting around via motorbike. You can try using Google Maps, but signal in some areas can be spotty, so we recommend downloading an offline map of Nusa Penida to go back to for reference.
The other way to get around is by hiring a driver. This can cost roughly IDR400,000 for a whole day (negotiate with the driver on the number of hours or a set time before you pay) in an air-conditioned car that can fit up to four people. While this may be pretty steep compared to motorbikes, you are paying for comfort, safety, and the knowledge of your driver. You can even ask him/her for recommendations of what to see (and take your photos!).
You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to what to do in Nusa Penida. So many in fact, that you may need a day or more depending on what you’re interested in. If you’re after the beaches and marine life, head to Kelingking Beach, Crystal Bay, Atuh Beach, Diamond Beach, and Manta Point. If you’re in it for the scenery, check out Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong, Thousand Island Viewpoint, Nusa Penida Treehouse, and Teletubbies Hill.
Or you could plan your itinerary based on the direction you’ll be headed. You can explore West Nusa Penida on one day, and East Nusa Penida on another. If you’re just looking for a general list of what to do, see our recommended activities below:
– Take a photo by the picturesque rock outcrops of Kelingking Beach
– Marvel at the swirling waters at Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong
– Explore Tembeling Beach and Forest
– Go snorkeling at Crystal Bay
– Take in the view at the Thousand Island Viewpoint
– Scuba dive at Manta Point
– Strike a pose at the Nusa Penida Treehouse
– Relax on the shores of Atuh Beach
– Visit Seganing Waterfall and Peguyangan Waterfall
– Descend the Instagrammable steps of Diamond Beach
– Take a stroll through Teletubbies Hill
– Stop by the temples Pura Dalem Ped and Goa Giri Putri
– Watch the sunset from the cliffs (e.g. Banah Cliff Point or Saren Cliff Point)
If you’re expecting a limitless array of villas and housing options in Nusa Penida just like the other areas in Bali, you’d be in for quite a shock. Nusa Penida compared to Bali is under-developed with only a handful of accommodation options up north, nearer to popular attractions. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be camping outdoors either. Here’s a breakdown of some of Nusa Penida’s more popular sleeps:
Adiwana Warnakali – If you’re looking for peace and quiet but don’t want to give up luxurious amenities, then this place, perched atop a cliff, is the spot to be. They also have one of the best dive centers with experienced instructors who can get you started in no time.
Semabu Hills Hotel & Villas – Superior service, high quality amenities, and professional staff are the combo that make this place heaven on earth. Their suites with the ocean views are not to be missed!
Ocean Terrace Suite and Spa Luxury – One of the top picks in Nusa Penida for luxe accommodations, this place is small and quiet with a whole host of amazing amenities including a luxurious bathroom and bedroom, swimming pools, delicious food, and more.
Coco Resort Penida – Fancy a stay in something more traditional? The ‘lumbung’ design of this place features unique Balinese architecture. They also have a spa, lounge bar,restaurant and grill that serves amazing fresh seafood.
La Roja Bungalows – The mix of modern and rustic interiors as well as the large swimming pool in the center make this Instagrammable-friendly place a crowd favorite.
Kompyang Cottage – Guests love this place for its nice and clean amenities, friendly staff, great service, and relaxing swimming pool. They also have garden and pool views, free bikes, and spacious rooms.
Penida Bambu Green – Villas made out of bamboo from top to bottom, a view of Mt. Agung, an infinity pool, and free Wifi – what’s not to love in this secluded group of villas?
Ananta Bungalow – If you plan on making Crystal Bay your main HQ, then staying in Ananta Bungalow, which is just an 8 minute walk from the beach, is a smart choice. They have clean air-conditioned rooms, free Wifi, and more.
Nuansa Penida Hostel – It’s not Nusa Penida Hostel, it’s Nuansa Penida Hostel. Don’t make the mistake of Googling the wrong name, or you’ll be on Google for hours! This resort-like, family-owned hostel offers free breakfast, has a pool area, and a pretty laid-back vibe.
Rumah Pohon Treehouse – The famous Nusa Penida Treehouse (yes, the same one you see on Instagram) is actually available for sleeping in overnight. The views are undoubtedly amazing, and amenities are fine for an overnight or two.
Kubu Indah Guesthouse – If you’re looking for someplace central, you’d be hard pressed to find another place that beats this location. Just 20 minutes from Kelingking Beach, Banah Cliffs, and Tembeling, their rooms are also nice and clean with standard amenities.
Nusa Garden Bungalow – If you don’t care much for comfort in the way of air-conditioning and other amenities, and are after saving a few bucks, then this pretty standard bungalow is a pretty good steal.
Since Nusa Penida is sparsely populated compared to other areas in Bali such as Ubud and Canggu, don’t expect to find your typical Instagrammable cafes by the roadside. You’re more likely to find rustic warungs serving homey Indonesian food such as mie goreng, gado gado, and satay.
If you’re looking for recommendations, here are a few:
Penida Colada Beach Bar – For beach views, refreshing cocktails with a twist, and friendly staff, Penida Colada is a must. They also have a lot of vegan and gluten free options too.
Ogix Warung – This warung overlooks the ocean, and if you’re lucky, you might get a chance to see manta rays and fish too. They’ve also got both Indonesian and Western options, all yummy and reasonably cheap.
Penida Kekinian – If you’re looking for a place with vegan options, then you’ll love this little roadside hut. They’ve got vegan burgers, wraps, smoothie bowls, and more.
Vegan Soul Kitchen – Here’s another vegan gem that serves best-sellers like chocolate waffles, satay tempeh, and jackfruit curry. It’s situated off the main road, and hidden behind a jungle of green… but don’t give up because the food is worth it!
The Gallery Nusa Penida – Vegan home cooked goodness made with locally sourced ingredients. Expect quite a rustic setup, but don’t let that fool you, because they’ve got some of the best food on the island.
Penida Espresso – If you’ve got a craving for some morning brew, a hearty smoothie bowl, or refreshing shakes, Penida Espresso should be up on your list of places to visit. They’ve also got a food menu that’s worth trying.
Cash: Don’t expect to find many (if any) ATMs or establishments that accept credit cards here. Bring enough rupiahs with you for your whole trip (and a little bit more for emergencies).
Proper footwear: This includes flip-flops or reef shoes for the beach and hiking or sports shoes to get around. If you plan on hiking down to Kelingking Beach, a sturdy pair of shoes is a must as the trail is steep and slippery. When we were last there, our guide told us someone fell off the cliff trying to get the perfect selfie…
Sun protection: Sunblock, sunscreen, shades, sunglasses, hats, visors, umbrellas, scarves – whatever you think will protect you from the sun best. Because it gets really hot!
Water bottle: You’re going to be out in the sun a lot, so hydrate when you can. And instead of buying bottled water, help reduce the carbon footprint by bringing your own water bottle.
Adaptor: Type C (two round pins), and while you’re at it, a power bank would be great as well.
Snorkeling gear: Nusa Penida is a haven for those looking to enjoy marine life. If you’re particular about bringing your own gear, then bring fins and masks. If not, you can always rent some (around IDR50,000) for the day. A water-proof phone case is also not a bad idea, especially if you plan on taking photos at the beach.
First aid kit: Nusa Penida’s healthcare system is very basic at best, and you may find it difficult to find a hospital with good facilities. Having a first aid kit with some basic things needed to treat cuts, wounds, and even a bad stomach is always a good idea.
Are you ready to plan your trip to Nusa Penida yet? Do you have any more questions for us? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll do our best to get back to you!