Exploring Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida, a true gem of nature, is only a 45min boat ride away from Bali. If Bali is considered paradise, then Nusa Penida must be heaven. Home to absolutely stunning rock formations, beaches like those you only see in travel magazines, and stunning sea life such as manta rays and turtles, a visit Nusa Penida should most definitely be included in your Bali itinerary.
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How to get there
Nusa Penida is an island that can only be reached by boat. Every day, multiple fast boats leave from Sanur port to take you to heaven, the trip takes around 45 minutes.
You can book your boat online, or if you like to be more spontaneous, you can also buy your tickets directly at the port in Sanur (but arrive early as it gets busy!). Getting to Sanur is also easy – there are in fact three different ways. First, you book a boat ticket that includes transfer to the port. Second, you book a Grab to bring you to the port. Third, you drive yourself if you have a car or scooter.
Where to Stay
Exploring the island can be done best by dividing it into the East and West. If you have enough time, you could stay in the East first, and then move to the West. You can also stay somewhere in the middle of the island and explore from there.
The good news is that Nusa Penida is not so big – you can still get from the east to the west in about 1.5 hours by car. There is a range of accommodation available on the Island too.
1. Luxury and unique stays
2. Mid-range stays
3. Low-budget stays
If you are on a smaller budget, we recommend Agasta Villa. The owner is extremely nice and offers to drive you around the island for a very good price.
What to see
If you have enough time, we recommend visiting Nusa Penida for 3 days/2 nights. You could take the first boat at 8am on Day 1, and return at 4pm on Day 3 – that way you can really max out your time in Nusa Penida and take in all of the sights.
There are different ways to get around once in Nusa Penida. You can either rent a scooter or get a personal driver. A scooter will probably cost you around 70-80k IDR per day and a car around 450-550k IDR. Keep in mind that the car can fit more people than a scooter so if you’re a big group, a car might actually turn out to be cheaper (and more comfortable).
Insider tip: We recommend only getting a scooter if you’re an experienced driver, possess an international driver’s license and have adequate travel insurance. The roads are drivable but there are still parts that are gravel (Angel’s billabong road). There are also lots of curves and hills, so it can get quite exhausting, especially in the heat. On the other hand, it’s easier to explore areas off the beaten path and really get to know all corners of Nusa Penida when you drive a scooter. Scooters can be easily rented when you arrive at the port in Nusa Penida. Cars on the other hand are better booked beforehand.
If you decide to indeed stay for 3days/2nights, we put together a little itinerary for you – we hope you enjoy it. At the end of the article you’ll also find a section for those of you who’d like to do a Day-trip to the Island instead.
Day 1: The East
1. Gao Giri Putri Temple
Completely hidden from the outside world, Goa Giri Putri Temple is one of the most unique temples in Bali. After a small donation (20k – 100k IDR per person) and a quick purification ceremony, you will be allowed to enter.
The temple is actually located inside a cave and getting in can be quite tricky – the entrance is a small triangle in between rocks that’s barely big enough for an adult to crawl into. But once inside, you’ll be blown away by how massive the cave is. You can walk to the other end of the cave in about 15 minutes if you don’t take many detours to other areas of the cave.
At the end of the cave, you can take part in two small ceremonies – a Hindu and a Buddhist one. After the Hindu ceremony, you’ll receive the famous bracelet made out of black, white, and red cords which represent the three gods of the Trimurti. The Buddhist ceremony involves a priest guiding you through purification and a (very short) meditation session.
Don’t forget to give a small donation for the ceremonies as well – it will be greatly appreciated.
Insider tip: As with all temples in Bali, you are required to follow temple etiquette, such as covering your shoulders and wearing a sarong. If you’re a woman and are on your menstrual period, you will not be allowed to enter.
2. Atuh Beach
Atuh Beach and Diamond beach are right next to each other, so it is recommended to check out both while you’re in the area. Getting to either one can be quite tricky as you have to walk down a cliff which can be dangerous if you don’t take care. The steps are sometimes very big so it is not very suitable for small kids or people with knee problems.
Atuh beach is good for swimming as it is not as wavy, and the current is not that strong on this side of the beach. Once you’ve made your way down, you can refresh yourself with a fresh and cool coconut. The beach is beautiful, with crystal clear water and beautiful small rocks.
Insider tip: You can rent an umbrella with two daybeds for 50k IDR if you want to escape the sun for some time.
3. Diamond Beach
From the top of the cliff, you’ll see one of the most stunning beaches in Bali – Diamond beach. It’s truly a postcard view.
Walking down the steps to get to Diamond beach is more exhausting than getting down to Atuh beach but it is just as worth it. At the bottom, you will also find a big swing that you can try for a fee.
If you want to get all the way to the actual beach, be prepared to take the last few steps on simple rocks as the stairs stop at some point. There’s a rope that helps you on the way down.
Diamond beach is not recommended for swimming because there are strong currents with many rocks as well as coral in the waves. There is still a great view from the top though, for those who don’t want to make the descent down (we won’t lie, it was scary at some points of this descent… not for the faint-hearted!).
4. Thousand Islands viewpoint
This is just a quick stop at a viewpoint that is overlooking Diamond Beach and the many stone formations in the ocean. It’s a beautiful place to take some nice photos.
5. Rumah Pohon Treehouse
Yes, it’s an actual treehouse that you can book for a few nights as well (although it is not a glamorous stay, that’s for sure!). It’s mostly used as a nice photo spot – but please be respectful of any guests that might be staying here during your visit.
Insider tip: Since the sun sets in the West, we suggest having dinner at Greenkubu Penida when you are in this area.
Day 2: The West
1. Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach
Just as with Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach, Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach are next to each other.
Angel’s Billabong is a natural infinity pool with beautiful colours – let us tell you, it’s truly breathtaking! BUT, let us also save you from the epic fail that we ran into: You will only see the nice colours of the natural infinity pool during the dry season (April-October) and low tide.
Insider tip: Do NOT go into the pool during high tide or when the waves appear to be strong! It is extremely dangerous as the waves can sweep you out of the pool, and it’s almost impossible to come back from that. So please be careful and also tell anyone who’s attempting to go into the pool during these conditions. Also, be careful when it’s low tide – you’ll never know what nature is up to.
2. Broken Beach
Once you’ve explored Angel’s Billabong it’s time to keep on walking and make your way over to Broken Beach. Broken Beach is beautiful as it almost has a natural bridge connecting the two sides of the cliff. Yes, you can walk over the “bridge”.
Insider tip: Don’t be misled by the name – Broken Beach is not actually a beach that you can go to and relax at. The beach is not accessible; you can only see it from the top of the cliff. However, it is still amazingly beautiful and if you’re lucky you can even spot some manta rays.
3. Kelingking Beach
The famous T-Rex shaped rock formation is not to be missed on your trip to Nusa Penida. We recommend arriving either in the early morning (7-9 am) or come here for sunset to avoid the crowds. We were here for sunset, and we’ve gotta tell you: It was amazing!
There are different viewpoints at Kelingking. You can find the most famous one when you start walking down the stairs of the T-Rex shaped rock formation.
Insider tip: We have two insider tips for this one. First, watch out for monkeys. They will not hesitate to take your food (especially your ice cream) if you don’t keep your distance. Also, watch out for your glasses and phones. But don’t worry too much, if you don’t come too close accidentally, just avoid direct eye contact with them you should be fine. There are more monkeys at the second viewpoint mentioned earlier than at the first viewpoint. Secondly, we do not recommend walking all the way down to the beach when you’re at the first viewpoint. The last bit of the walk down is quite dangerous. Plus, the further you go down the steps, the worse the view gets.
4. Crystal Bay
If you still want to relax on a beach, we recommend going to Crystal Bay instead. It’s perfect for sunbathing, snorkelling and relaxing.
You can find lots of locals here that offer to take you out on their boat to snorkel with manta rays for a fee. You can also rent an umbrella with daybeds at this beach – perfect if you want to escape the sun for a bit.
Insider tip: On the way to Crystal Bay, there is a beautiful palm road – don’t forget to take pictures there.
Day 3: The lesser known Nusa Penida Spots
1. Banah Cliff point
This is one of the most amazing viewpoints along the South/West coastline. Fortunately, it’s not as popular as Kelingking Beach but equally impressive. When you arrive, you’ll find a little sign pointing to the right for the panoramic view and sunset point and to the left for Banah Cliff. Both sides are beautiful and worth it.
Insider tip: Again, we have two insider tips for you. First, when taking pictures, please don’t go too close to the edge – there is no safety barrier to prevent you from falling down the cliff. Secondly, don’t spend too much time here as Tembeling beach and forest, as well as Peguyangan Waterfall, will take you some more time to explore.
2. Tembeling Beach and Forest
Looking for a little secret hideaway? Tembeling Beach and forest is the place to be.
On the way down to the beach, you will first pass through the forest. An oasis in the middle of Nusa Penida – it feels like you’re in the middle of a rainforest! Absolutely magical. Once you’ve explored that area you can continue your way down the steps to get to the natural pools which are perfect to relax in and cool off a bit.
The crystal-clear water has a stunning blue tone to it which is in beautiful contrast to the surrounding brown cliffs. The last stop on your secret hideaway is Tembeling beach. It’s great for relaxing, but if you want to swim, we suggest staying at the natural pools as the current can get quite strong here.
Insider tip: Head right at the bottom of the natural pools to find a hidden cave. If you walk through the cave, you will reach a Secret Beach. It’s definitely worth it! Good to know: Tembeling beach and forest can only be reached with a scooter and even that’s tricky. Locals will warn you and recommend walking down. We think that it would be safest to walk or ask one of the locals to drive you down for a fee as they are quite experienced on this track.
3. Peguyangan Waterfall
If you want to get in a quick workout before heading back to Bali, you’ve come to the right place. The iconic blue stairway leads to a sacred water temple and waterfall and will take you about 20 minutes to go down but 30 minutes to go up. The blue stairway is located along the coastal cliffs and is truly something you can’t find anywhere else in Bali.
Once you get to the bottom of the stairs, you can shower underneath the main spout which is used for water blessings by the locals (among three other smaller spouts). Please be respectful as this is a sacred temple for the locals – it’s best to ask one of the locals if you may try the water blessing.
Insider tip: This is not the best place to visit during the rainy season as the steps will get quite slippery.
5. Extra: Snorkeling or Diving with Manta Rays
Nusa Penida is known for its many Manta Rays – huge, harmless creatures that are just stunning to watch and to swim with. There are tons of diving and snorkeling tours offered on Nusa Penida island, but we recommend checking out Warnakali Dive Center. They are extremely reliable and take your safety seriously and will give you the best experience diving or snorkeling with manta rays.
Insider tip: When to book this activity on your Nusa Penida trip? We recommend snorkeling or diving with Manta Rays either on day 3 instead of visiting the lesser-known spots of Nusa Penida or on day 2 by skipping crystal bay. If you don’t want to skip anything, we suggest adding an extra day to your Nusa Penida trip.
Day Trip to Nusa Penida
If you don’t have much time and only want to check out Nusa Penida on a quick day trip, we’ve got you covered as well. Catch the first boat at 8am and return with the last boat at 4pm. That will give you plenty of time to explore either the west or the east of Nusa Penida.
If you’re really up for it, you could theoretically explore both sites too, but it will be very stressful, and you won’t have much time to really enjoy and soak in the beauty of the different places.
Insider tip: It’s better to book a guided tour so that you have your driver ready and waiting and don’t waste anytime
Where to eat
Let’s get to the most important part – where can you fill your belly. All jokes aside, Nusa Penida has some amazing places to eat, from cheap warungs to cute cafes and fancy restaurants with infinity pools. We always recommend trying some local warungs. You can find them everywhere, especially close to the main attractions like Kelingking Beach or Broken Beach.
When you’re close to the east part of the island, you can check out Amok sunset or Greenkubu Penida. Both places have pools and are great for catching the sunset. And as a cherry on top: They are not too expensive either. Penida Colado and Coco Penida are very cute cafes with a view of Mount Agung and their food is extremely delicious. The Chill Penida is in the Northern part of the island where you can grab a bite and relax after visiting Goa Giri temple.
We hope that you now have all the info and insider tips you’ll need for an unforgettable trip to Nusa Penida. Nusa Penida has so much to offer and is truly unlike anything else. We hope you can visit heaven on Earth soon!
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