A perfect island in Indonesia, located only one hour from Bali, is considered a little piece of heaven – and for good reason. Here, there are white sandy beaches along dramatic cliff sides, and hills to drive your scooter on in the peaceful forests. It’s a happy place, full of good memories. If you have the chance, skip Bali and come to Nusa Penida instead.
The island of Nusa Penida is only a short 45 minute fast ferry from the coast of Bali (Sanur port – beach landing). Or a three hour long excursion on the slow ferry from Padang Bai (north-east of Ubud and Gianyar). I think both options are good and the value seems about equal to me.
If taking the slow ferry, you can carry your own motorcycle onto the boat and use it on the island. Otherwise you will have to pay an extra 30,000 or so per day (average price of scooter on Nusa is 70,000 IDR ~ $7 USD per day, vs. Canggu & Ubud at 40,000 IDR) for a bike once you get there. It might tend to average out because the cost of putting the bike on the ferry adds money and then having to drive it over from another area increases your risk of getting pulled over by the Bali Police.
If you take the slow ferry, you’ll land in the Sampalan harbor. From there, it is a quick walk to many guest houses, including our recommended favorite, Pondok Kana (See below).
A side note: the roads are very rough – meaning it goes from asphalt to gravel quickly, potholes everywhere, large rocks in the way, it’s easy to skid out. So if you are not “advanced” with your moped driving skills, then you might consider getting a private driver (they call it “renting” a car). It’s worth considering because at least you’ll have a taxi to shuttle you to all the spots during the day, air-conditioning, less chance of getting injured on the road. Plus you can split the costs over four people instead of just two.
Where to stay?
I stayed at two places, however the best was Pondok Kana. The owner and his family were very accomodating and it was cheaper and better service than the hostels on the island. That said, the hostels might be a good place to meet new people. If you are taking the fast boat, then you also have the option to stay in Toyapakeh, which is on the west side of the island. However, this isn’t as good because you’re not near the street food area. Pondok Kana, as recommended before was close to the market and late night street food.
Your Travel Guide to Nusa Penida, Bali – Indonesia:
You might want to make Diamond Beach your first stop in Nusa Penida.
It’s one of the most beautiful spots on the island and can’t be missed. It’s about a 45 minute drive on a scooter, so plan on spending the whole day on this side of the island. When you arrive, you’ll pay an entrance and you’ll walk down a set of stairs that lead to a pristine beach. There’s a rope swing near where the coconut tree is pictured and that is a good spot for photos. But also, looking down at the water, you can tell if the waves are big or not. Then the next spot would be to go down the mountain on the left side to Atuh beach.
Right next door to Diamond Beach, but much calmer. It has many different lounge areas, full of beach chairs and bean bags to rest on on the beach. The walk down is similarly steep to Diamond Beach, so you’ll have to make sure you can walk back up. But this beach is very relaxing and the water is good to jump into, especially on a high tide.
The famous T-rex shaped rock and dramatic stair case is part of a visit to Kelingking beach. It’s so picturesque here, that you’ll be taking thousands of photos at the top. But it’s also full of tourists that bus here for the day, but you can avoid it by walking down the path for 10 minutes. Bring plenty of water on the hike down to the beach, which takes 30 minutes and is very steep. You can body surf the waves at the bottom, if it is not too rough (but be mindful that there’s no “lifeguard” here and should you get into trouble, it’s awfully far from the hospital). It’s worth it to spend a whole day here.
On the south side of the island, there is Temeling “waterfall”. It’s more of a few spouts from the mountain and a shrine, but it is a good climb down the mountain and is a good way to cool down from the hot Indonesian sun at the bottom. Plus, there’s a nice cave at the bottom to explore, with a few salt water pools from the ocean. Make sure to bring a sarong or wrapping cloth to cover your legs and shoulders for both men and women when you get there, otherwise expect to pay a small amount to rent a skirt.
Not truly a waterfall, but a spring, Peguyangan has a few crystal clear fresh water pools, located right next to the beach. It’s both calming and relaxing. I would suggest trying to find shells on the beach, if the waves are calm, and also seeing the amount of trash that washes up onto shore. You’ll fully see the extent of plastic pollution – a problem that plagues not just Indonesia, but the world.
An almost hidden beach, Suwehan suffered a recent landslide that removed some of the stairs that led to the beach. It’s still possible to hike down, as someone recreated some stairs in the fallen rocks. But it definitely doesn’t feel as safe as walking on something built into the ground. This means an almost deserted white sand beach for you to enjoy by yourself.
On the drive to and from Suwehan Beach, you’ll pass by a small hill – not to be confused with the Teletubbie Hills. It’s a small, isolated hill with a few trees to set up a picnic. It’s easier to see the trail when driving back up the hill after Suwehan Beach. Otherwise on the drive down, you’ll likely pass the narrow mark in the bushes that leads to the one-minute trail.
Broken Beach, Manta Ray Point, Angel’s Billabong
Not really a beach, Broken Beach is a small inlet cove that features a rock archway and beautiful coral reefs from above. It’s right next to Manta Ray Point, where you can see the mantas gently swimming by, while you’re standing on the cliffside. Angel’s Billabong is a restaurant that hosts a great view for an amazing sunset. It’s probably not worth visiting unless you have many days on the island. This road is the roughest on the island – although somehow there is a ton of tourist traffic passing through.
Sunsets & Coffee
Like most places in Bali, sunsets are amazing – full of color and different patterns and textures. Everyday would be a challenge to find the best spot for sunset. Some days were were out exploring and caught the sunrise on the drive back, other days we saw it from the main port of Nusa Penida. Either way, you’ll likely want to complete your day with sunsets and a bit of coffee.
If you have time, then swim with the Manta Rays on a snorkeling tour. It’s about 14 USD for a half day tour that goes to 4 different spots. I think this is the one thing that I regret not doing on the island.
Well, I hope this guide helps you with your planning of Nusa Penida. If you’re in Bali, make sure to stop over for as long as possible. I think you’ll find it great.