Nusa Penida is one of those places you know will be booming from tourism in the next 5-10 years. For now, it’s still one of the best kept secrets in and around Bali and we can’t wait to share with you our experience and travel guide to this beautiful untouched island. If you haven’t heard of Nusa Penida, you’re guaranteed to have it on your bucket list after reading this, which is exactly what happened to us after heading about it!
Unlike the neighbouring islands of Bali, Nusa Lembongan, and the Gili Islands, Nusa Penida shouldn’t be visited purely as a beach destination. It offers so much more, including untouched nature, crazy high coastal cliffs and some of the most incredible rock formations we’ve seen. Nusa Penida is often described as Bali twenty or thirty years ago, and we highly recommend heading there as soon as you can before things change.
Getting To Nusa Penida:
There are a few ways you can get to Nusa Penida, either from Bali or Nusa Lembongan.
If you’re arriving from Bali there are two ports you can depart from, Sanur and Padang Bai the latter being the port for the cheap public ferry. If you decide to choose this option, you’ll need to check the departure time as the ferry departs at different times regularly.
There is a lot more choice departing from Sanur, including many companies offering fast boats taking 30 – 40 minutes to reach Nusa Penida. Because of this, boat times are fairly flexible but usually they depart in the morning between 7:00am-11am and afternoon between 2:00pm-4:30pm.
You can reach Sanur via BlueBird Taxi from Kuta/Bali International Airport for around 100K IDR (US$7-8). In addition, the fast boat ferries to Nusa Penida cost around 150K IDR (US$11) – 300K IDR (US$22) each way. Maruti Express is the cheapest fast boat with good legroom, and timely depatures.
Best Time To Visit Nusa Penida:
Nusa Penida generally has the same sort of climate as the south of Bali, but it’s a bit sunnier and dryer. That means, from April to October you’ll enjoy sunshine for most of the day, and between November and March there will be an occasional shower or thunderstorm. The temperatures are fairly consistent throughout the year and usually peak at just over 30 DEGREES C. After all, Nusa Penida is a great place to go at any time of the year, but for the best weather, try to visit during the summer of the northern hemisphere.
How Long Should You Go For?:
First things first, if you’ve read any other blogs saying that a day trip is possible…ITS NOT! Okay, it “might” be if you only want to visit a couple of sights, but you’ll be seriously missing out on some of the best parts of the island if you only go for the day.
We actually booked for only one night, but extended our stay to three nights when we realised it really wasn’t long enough – and still we didn’t get to see everything. While the island seems small on the map and one point of interest might only be a mile or so from the next, the reality is different: Due to the mountainous terrain and the bad road conditions, as well as the road network, it usually takes well over an hour to go from one place to the next even by car or bike. That really adds up, and seen as the last boat back to Bali leaves at 4:30pm, you’ll be checking your watch the entire day rather than enjoying the amazing scenery. The northern “flat” part is easily accessible, but all the great places are in the mountainous southern part with its impressive limestone cliffs.
Because of that, we suggest an absolute minimum of two nights, but preferably three nights. The longer the better, and even a week on Nusa Penida is not going to get you bored. Once you get to the island and start exploring, you’ll know why!
When you arrive at the ferry port in Nusa Penida, like most places in South East Asia, you’ll be bombarded with locals offering motorbike hire or transport around the island.
Prices for car transport on Nusa Penida have become fairly high, and even a five-minute ride to your hotel/guesthouse is likely going to cost you more than a full day rental scooter. That said, the roads are some of the worst we’ve seen in Asia, (pretty freaking bad!) so if you’re not that confident on a scooter it might be worthwhile hiring a driver for the day so you can relax and not have to worry about the road conditions ahead.
We rented a scooter straight from a guy at the pier, which worked out pretty well. We payed 60K IDR (US$4) per day plus around 30K IDR (US$2) for petrol, which is a really great price when you consider how much it costs for a day of private car hire around the island.
If you’re not renting a scooter, most hotels/guesthouses have free pick up and drop off to the ferry pier if you organise in advance, as well as organised tours.
Awesome Things To See & Do On Nusa Penida:
Kelingking (T’Rex) & Kelingking Beach
If there is one thing you must see in Nusa Penida it is Kelingking Beach, any pictures you will see before you visit will not do it justice. It’s simply mind-blowing. If you’re wanting the perfect Instagram shot and an incredible viewpoint, then don’t be afraid to climb down to the half way point. This is without a doubt our favourite place on Nusa Penida, no matter how many times we visit, it still leaves us speechless.
If you’re wanting to hike all the way down to Kelingking Beach, please come prepared, as it’s a very difficult, dangerous walk (or climb) and not for the faint hearted. Wear sturdy footwear and bring plenty of water. Once you reach the beach you won’t be disappointed, the water colour and white sand is incredible! The way back up though is very challenging.
Cost: 5K IDR parking (US$0.35)
Broken Beach & Angels Billabong
These two are very close to each other and share the same parking area. First of all, you’ll have to drive down a pretty bad and long road until you get there. If you go in the early afternoon, all the day tour cars are going to come the opposite way which can be very annoying. If you’re on one scooter with two people, the passenger should be prepared to walk up or down a few hills.
Once there, you’ll soon realise it was worth the effort. Following the stairs down from the parking lot, Angels Billabong is the first sight. It’s a rock pool right on the edge of the ocean, which looks especially beautiful during a day with clear skies. You can go for a swim in it, but be very careful near the edge if the tide is high. If you’d like a photo with nobody else in, come before 10am or after 3pm.
Keep walking down the path for another five minutes and you’ll get to the amazing Broken Beach. It’s not really a beach, but more of a rocky cliff edge which you can walk along. It’s certainly worth exploring the edge on a little walk around it. From one side you can see the rock arch, from another angle you’ll see the sandy beach down by the water, and so on.
Cost: 5K IDR parking (US$0.35)
Crystal Bay is the most popular swimming beach on Nusa Penida and also the closest/easiest to get to from the ferry pier. Unlike other areas of the island, this is the perfect place to go snorkelling, relax under a palm tree and work on that very important tan.
Compared to other attractions, Crystal Bay is on the crowded side as most tours will stop here. Despite this, we still enjoyed the beach and if you have time we highly recommend taking a quick snorkel to witness the marine life. Going in the morning or evening will ensure that no day tours will be at Crystal Bay while you’re there.
Cost: 2K IDR parking (US$0.15).
On the south-eastern side of Nusa Penida is the lesser known Atuh Beach. Many day tours and hire cars don’t travel out to this area as it’s more than 1.5 hours each way from the ferry pier or most other attractions.
There is one parking area just north of Atuh Beach and one parking area just south of Atuh Beach. The roads to both of them involve fairly steep grades but are not too bad when compared to other places like Angels Billabong/Broken Beach. The parking spot to the north is free of charge (but not as well signposted and far from thousand islands and the treehouse, see below), the parking lot on the southern end costs a bit of money but offers better views and a more convenient location which is the one we chose.
You can wander around the cliff edge to different viewpoints for a bit, and then walk down the stairs to the beach. It’s okay for swimming but not great due to the many rocks and coral in the sea. Relaxing on the beach is made easy and convenient, with chairs and loungers for rent and cold drinks or snacks for sale.
Cost: 25K IDR parking and entrance for 2 people (US$2).
Thousand Island (Pulau Seribu) Viewpoint
The Thousand Island Viewpoint is not far from the famous Atuh Beach and it is a good idea to combine these two spots into one day! This location is sometimes referred to as Pulau Seribu and sometimes as the Thousand Island Viewpoint, so do not get confused as it is the same place.
To get to the first viewpoint you need to climb down a very steep stairway for about 5 minutes. Once you reach the first viewpoint you’ll see why this is one of the best kept secrets on the island, we were mind blown when we saw just how incredible the scenery was.
Before the second viewpoint is the Instagram famous Tree House (which we will talk about next), once you’ve taken your pictures head up the hill and to the top of the lookout and you’ll be rewarded with more incredible views of paradise!
Cost: 20K IDR entrance for 2 people (US$2). Although we managed to get in for free as the fee collector was asleep!
Nusa Penida Treehouse (Rumah Pohon)
Made famous due to Instagram, the Rumah Pohon is becoming a huge tourist destination for those wanting the perfect shot in a stereotypical treehouse with incredible views. Perched up on the clifftop at thousand island view-point, it is an stunning sight to see even if you’re not there for the gram!
They were actually building the path down the mountain to the treehouse when we went for future tourism purposes. The best part about this treehouse is that it is actually a guesthouse and you can rent it out for pretty cheap considering how popular this spot has become and how insane the view is. Although it must get quite annoying when you have people hanging out by your house every few minutes!
Cost: Included when you pay for thousand island viewpoint.
Suwehan Beach is an even less visited destination, about half an hour north of Atuh Beach. You can either reach it in about half an hour from Atuh Beach, or along a very steep road from further south which winds down the cliffs and is rather unsuitable for cars.
From the parking area, you just follow the concrete path and stairs until you get to the beach, which should take no more than 10 minutes on the way down. It’s not far, but very exhausting on the way back up thanks to the stairs with huge steps. The views from the stairs are great already, and once you’re down on the beach, make your way over to the other side to see the “pinnacle” in the water. Be very careful here, as the waves during high tide can cover the entire beach right up to the cliffs, and little rocks and branches frequently fall off the cliffs as well.
We were actually attacked by a group of vicious monkeys on our way back up! They wouldn’t let us pass until we picked up a big stick and shouted at them! So beware!
If you’re visiting Nusa Penida for a few days don’t miss Banah Cliffs, it’s an epic viewpoint with stunning coastal views from high above. When we visited, we didn’t pass another tourist or even see any in the area, mainly because it’s not one of the main attractions to see whilst on the island. There are two viewpoints at Banah Cliffs, one involves a very short walk and one is right next to the parking lot. The highlight at Banah Cliffs is the arch out in the ocean, which is a small rock arch that sits out in the crystal-clear water. But the general views down onto the cliffs is just as stunning. It’s a great spot for sunset, but be aware you’d have to make your way back in the dark. The roads are actually decent apart from the last mile or so.
Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit this attraction on the South-East cliffs of Nusa Penida, however we know it is a hike where you can’t be afraid of heights. Famous for it’s bright blue staircase starting on the cliff top and winding all the way down to the coast. The hike is a 150-meter iron blue stairs, which takes you to the bottom of the cliff and shows you the most scenic areas.
Cost: 5K IDR parking (US$0.35)
Snorkel/Dive with Manta Rays
Nusa Penida isn’t just a hikers and nature lovers paradise but also a divers paradise, especially if you’re wanting to witness graceful mantarays. We’ve already dived with mantas in Komodo Island so we thought we’d give it a miss and explore on land. However, if you haven’t this is one of the best places to see these gentle giants! There are some famous Manta Ray points around the island. Ask a local where you should go snorkel/dive.
Where To Stay:
Nusa Penida is still a developing tourist destination and as of April 2018, there is only one fairly luxurious hotel on the island, which is actually where we stayed, because it is such good value for money. It’s called the Semabu Hills Hotel and has modern rooms and suites, great food and drinks, and above all, absolutely amazing views of Bali’s highest volcano, Mount Agung, from every room, the restaurant and bar, and the infinity pool. You can stay here for roughly US$70 per night including breakfast and free WiFi. It’s only a short ride from the ferry pier and not far from Crystal Bay either both providing free transfers.
Apart from that, there are numerous mid-class bungalow-style hotels on Nusa Penida, usually ranging between US$15 and 50 per night. These are decent options if you’re not wanting to spend too much money. We can recommend the Coco Resort for example, which features nice rooms and is conveniently located near Crystal Bay.
We have not heard of any good hostels on the island, but that is probably going to change in the near future.
This is a simple quote that sums it up pretty well: “If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel.” It’s really that simple. You may be thinking, nothing ever happens to me, I’ll be fine. Please don’t take the risk. Accidents happen all the time which may not always be your fault.
The price you’ll pay for insurance is a hell of a lot less than a hospital bill or the purchase of a new laptop/camera that was stolen.
We always travel without insurance, and quite frankly we’d feel nervous and anxious if we didn’t. The insurance provider we always use is World Nomads.
Read our review on why you need travel insurance with a more in-depth explanation about why we use this awesome company!
Have you been to Nusa Penida? Or planning on going? Let us know! And always if you have any questions just post it in the comments below! 🙂
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