While we can agree that Bali deserves all the hype it gets, there’s much more to see outside of Bali. Just 30 minutes away, one can find the beautiful island of Nusa Penida.
Nusa Penida is located southeast of Bali. It belongs to the Klungkung Regency district, along with Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Nusa Penida isn’t overly developed yet, which is its charm. It has little tourist infrastructure, but there are nice guesthouses and villas, seaside bars and restaurants where you can chill and drink, and of course amazing sights: cliff-side views, fine beaches, and snorkeling & dive spots.
Over the past years, there is an influx of tourists coming to Nusa Penida. A lot of these people are day trippers from Bali, off to see the Insta-famous Kelingking Beach.
Things to know before you go
Here are some of the things you need to know about Nusa Penida.
- Nusa Penida is easily accessible from Bali. There are different ports with passenger ferry bound for Nusa Penida.
- It can be visited on a day trip. If you want to fully explore the island, allot 2-3 days.
- There are limited ATMs in the island and hardly any establishments accept credit card. It’s best to bring enough cash with you.
How to Get Here
Getting to Nusa Penida is quite easy. There are different ports you can go to:
- Sanur Beach
- Padang Bai
Sanur Port to Nusa Penida
The easiest & most popular way to get to Nusa Penida is via Sanur Port. This was also our way to Nusa Penida. From our hotel in Ubud, we took a taxi to Sanur Port. We got tickets from Angel’s Billabong Fast Cruise.
There are 3 different ferry lines plying this route: Maruti Express, Angel’s Billabong Fast Cruise and Mola-Mola Express.
From Sanur Port, travel time to Nusa Penida is 30 minutes.
- Ferry ticket costs 150,000 IDR one-way (P500 / $10).
- Schedule starts at 7AM to 5PM
We recommend taking the first ferry trip at 7 or 7:30M to make the most of your time.
You can book your ferry tickets upon arrival in Sanur Port. You can also book via 12Go. It’s a bit more expensive but it will allow you to book in advance. As for us, the ferry tickets were included in the 2-day tour that we booked and we even got a small discount.
Reminder: Make sure to wear flip flops and shorts because you will have to wade into the water to get into the ferry.
How to Get Around
One important thing you should know is that the roads in Nusa Penida are in awful condition. It’s mostly rough roads with a lot of pot holes and some of them are very steep. Take this in mind when planning how you’re going to explore the island.
There is public transport but it’s limited. Taxis are hard to come by.
Here are your options on how to get around.
Once you get off at the port, you can easily rent a motorbike for the day. The cost is similar to Bali (Rp 75,000 IDR (P250 / $5).
- Make sure to top up your gas at the stations near the port since there are fewer stations further inland.
- Rent a motorbike only if you’re confident in driving.
By booking a tour
You can find different packaged tours to Nusa Penida, with a pre-arranged itinerary depending on how long you will stay. This includes private car transport (good up to 4 people).
- Our recommended tour service is by Linda Nyoman. He gave us a 2-day schedule and we’d customized it to add a snorkeling tour for an additional fee. Our tour included round-trip ferry tickets from Bali to Nusa Penida, private transport via van, snorkeling tour and lunch meals. The whole tour cost 1.2M IDR (P4400 / $90) for 2 people. Contact: email email@example.com.
- You can also book via Klook.
We recommend booking a tour as it’s easy and comfortable. If you’re in a group of people, it’s also cost efficient.
Where to Stay
There are homestays and bungalows in Nusa Penida. Prices are a little more expensive compared to Bali, but not much.
Here are some of the most recommended ones:
- La Roja Bungalows. One of the best resorts in Nusa Penida, with stylish rooms and a pool. Book via Agoda.
- Bintang Bungalow. Located near Crystal Bay, with stylish rooms and a pool. Book via Agoda.
- Bintang Penida Resort. A newly built resort, with stylish rooms and a pool. Book via Agoda.
We recommend booking in advance.
Where to Eat
It’s easy to find warungs in Nusa Penida where you can get reasonably priced local dishes and even smoothie bowls. There area also sea-front bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy a drink while watching the sunset.
Here are some restaurants you should check out:
- Amok Sunset Bar and Restaurant. Located in the west coast, this place is on the off-beaten path. Here you can enjoy drinks at a pool or dinner at a treehouse.
Our 2-day trip in Nusa Penida
We’re aware that most people only do a day trip to Nusa Penida. However, another blogger advised staying at least 2 days to see the Thousand Islands and Diamond Beach in particular.
As said above, we booked a package which includes a 2-day tour in Nusa Penida. The original itinerary includes the best tourist spots in Nusa Penida including Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong and Crystal Beach. We asked to include a snorkeling tour, since I wanted to see the Underwater Buddha Temple.
From the port, our local guide fetched us in a van and we immediately started the tour.
The snorkeling tour includes four stops: Manta Point, Gamat Bay, Underwater Buddha Temple and GT Point.
We started the tour early in the morning, at about 9AM. Kat wasn’t feeling well, so I was the only one who signed up. I joined a group of tourists from Thailand whom I befriended.
Our first stop was Manta Point, which is a swimming ground for manta rays. The area was crowded with tourists so it was easy to bump into someone in the water.
I only saw one manta ray and felt sorry for it. I think that maybe it only wanted to swim in peace, since it tried to escape from everyone taking photos.
Manta Point was in the news for a while for waste problem, after a viral video of a diver swimming in garbage. I did see a few plastic cups floating in the water but otherwise the area was clean, so it’s probably that a clean-up was done after the story.
Next was Gamat Bay. This is filled with beautiful corals and fishes, so it’s perfect for snorkeling. Also, the water was clear. There was a particular area with strong currents that could easily pull a person away, so I had to be careful. Compared to Manta Point, there were only few tourists here so it was easy to appreciate the aquatic life underneath.
Our third stop is the one I was most excited about – the Underwater Buddha Temple.This is a recent underwater art exhibit, made up of a 2.5-meter tall Buddha statue surrounded by smaller statues. There is also a huge steel chair in the middle where you can sit and take photos.
Our boatman dropped us off in the site and said he’d waited on the other side. I thought this was easy. To my surprise, after jumping in the water, the current immediately dragged me away. I passed by a long rope which I held onto. I tried going against the current but I wasn’t moving forward. I saw the underwater temple fleetingly — I was struggling to keep afloat. I tried to go closer to the statue but my swimming prowess apparently wasn’t enough.
I grabbed onto another rope and pulled myself to another boat. From there, I went back to the water and let the current take me to the other side where our boat guide was waiting.
Our final stop for the snorkeling tour was the GT Point. GT stands for Giant Trevely, which is a type of big fish. Initially, I thought that it refers to Giant Tuna. The water here was too cold — I was shivering so I immediately went back to the boat. I didn’t see much, though I saw big fishes from afar.
Kelingking Beach and other beaches
Kelingking Beach is the most popular tourist spot in Nusa Penida. It’s a beach cove surrounded by a dinosaur-shaped cliff, which is why it’s also called T-Rex Island. The beach below has fine white sand and turquoise water. It may seem gentle from above, but the currents along the shore are strong and can knock you off your feet even if you’re just knee-deep in the water. Every year, a few people get swept away.
It takes about 30 minutes to get down to the beach, and the climb back up is no joke as well. The path is narrow, with bamboo posts as handrails.
We decided to stay at the viewpoint above. It was heavy with day trippers, but the view was wonderful and it’s easy to take good pictures.
Next are Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong. These two spots are only walking distance from each other. From the parking area, I followed the pathway for several minutes before getting to Angel’s Billabong. Kat still wasn’t feeling well, so she stayed behind.
Angel’s Billabong is a natural tidal pool surrounded by rock cliffs.
Further ahead is the Broken Beach. It’s an arched tunnel over the ocean, which allows the water to flow into a pool.
Broken Beach was nice, but there wasn’t anything much to do except swim in the tidal pool and take pictures. I didn’t see any beach in the Broken Beach so I’m curious why the call it that. I wish Kat were with me, but I didn’t think she’d like the long walk.
Our last stop for the day was Crystal Bay. Compared the the beaches we’d seen for today, this is the most commercial one. Crystal Beach is a long stretch of beach filled with people lying in lounge chairs and beanie bags under huge umbrellas. There is an islet nearby, but it looks like it requires a long swim or a small boat at the least.
I saw a set of broken stairs on the left part of the beach area and went there. The route was almost covered with bushes and there was nobody else going this way. It’s like Mary and the Secret Garden. The stairs dwindled down to an empty beach. There was a couple walking along the shore but no one else was there. It was quiet. I sat down and wondered why there weren’t many people here. Perhaps it’s too far for some people to hike.
After the whole-day tour, our driver dropped us off in a bungalow where we’d booked for a night. A fan room with an outdoor bathroom with open ceiling, some potted plants and grass beside the shower. We appreciate the hospitality of the caretaker who welcomed us. Our place is walking distance from a minimart and a few eateries. I pampered Kat and bought her food.
We ended our first day in Nusa Penida with hot noodles and curry.
Nusa Penida – Day 2
Diamond Beach and Thousand Islands
We left early from our bungalow near the port area, but it was still a long drive to our first stop for the day: Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach. The weather was great and there were blue skies.
Atuh Beach is on the left side, while Diamond Beach is on the right.
When we arrived, Atuh Beach was on low tide and it didn’t seem inviting, so we didn’t go down to the beach.
Instead, we explored the cliff overlooking Diamond Beach, an isolated beach cove surrounded by cliffs. During our visit, the stairs going down wasn’t finished yet, so we stayed atop the cliff (Update 2019: the stairs is now fully done, so you can get to the Diamond Beach). The view here was great and it was a breath of fresh air.
We walked up to the small house on top of the cliff. We took pictures of the islets near Diamond Beach and the stone arc near Atuh Beach. The surrounding ocean was clear, we could see the seagrass.
A few minutes away from Atuh Beach are the neighboring viewpoints called the Tree House (locally known as Rumah Pohon) and Thousand Islands.
From the parking area, you will need to walk and climb stairs to reach these viewpoints. It was exhausting, so it was good that we brought a bottle of water. We stayed in Thousand Island, which is named because of the several islands that can be seen from this spot. We counted 5 islands and Atuh Beach. Kat said this is her favorite place. We skipped climbing down to the treehouse because we were already spent from walking.
After recovering from the walk, we went back and told our driver we were good to go.
Teletubbies Hill and Temple
Our next stop is the Teletubbies Hill. Kat thought this is where the children show was filmed, but we learned that it was only a resemblance. The hills have a distinct round shape, similar to the Chocolate Hills in Bohol.
To me, it seemed like a good place to lie down or enjoy a picnic. It also likes like somewhere you can play or fly a kite.
We also stopped by the Goa Giri Putri Temple. The temple is located inside a giant cave, with a narrow opening that serves as entrance.
We crawled into the narrow space and found ourselves inside a huge cavern, with sparse lights on selected corners. I wish we’d brought a flashlight to see better, as it could be very dark. A pathway leads to the main function hall where locals pray.
The cave was our last stop on our 2 days tour in Nusa Penida.
We had lunch in a nice sea-side restaurant and and then took a short stop in a black-sand beach we passed by. We didn’t stay long because it was hot and there wasn’t much shade in the area. We took pictures and then our tour guide finally dropped us off in the port.
Nusa Penida offers very different attractions from the usual scenery in Bali. We had a good time here.
2 Days Itinerary in Nusa Penida
In summary, here is our 2 days itinerary in Nusa Penida. Basically it covers the West Tour and East Tour.
Day 1 – Nusa Penida West Tour
- Snorkeling (Manta Bay, Gamat Point, Buddha’s Underwater Temple, GT Point)
- Kelingking Beach
- Angel Billabong
- Broken Beach
- Crystal Beach
Day 2 – Nusa Penida East Tour
- Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach
- Thousand Islands and Tree House
- Teletubbies Hill
- Goa Giri Putri Temple
If you’re going to stay longer, you may also visit the off-beaten spots in Nusa Penida. Here are the attractions you can visit in a day:
- Peguyanan Waterfall
- Tembeling Natural Pool
- Tembeling Beach
- Banah Cliff Point
If you’re into diving, you might want to stay a little longer in the island. There are several dive spots accessible in Nusa Penida such as Liberty Wreck, which is one of the best dive sites worldwide.
Reminders and Tips
Here are important tips when traveling to Nusa Penida.
- As said above, rent a scooter only if you know what you’re doing. Currently, the road conditions in Nusa Penida aren’t ideal, with unpaved roads and pot holes. It’s easy to rent a scooter without a license or passport, but it’s still best to bring an International Driver’s License or a temporary driver’s license, which you can get on an office in Denpasar, Bali.
- Get a pre-booked tour. Pre-booked tours are cheaper compared to tours offered on the spot.
- The destinations in Nusa Penida are further than they appear in Google Maps. Most attractions are an hour apart.
- Expect busy crowds in the West Tour. Nusa Penida used to be deserted a few years back, but now it’s heavy with tourists on a day trip to see Kelingking Beach. If you want a quieter trip, do the East Tour instead. Or better yet, stay overnight to cover both areas.
- Bring protection from the sun. Similar to Bali, the weather in Nusa Penida is usually hot and humid. Bring sunblock, sunglasses, hat and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.
And that concludes our Travel Guide to Nusa Penida! Do you have any questions or suggestions? Let us know in the comment section below!
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