If you love sun and the beach, Nusa Penida Island in Bali will offer you everything you need, and a little more. I always had this paradise-like island in my bucket list for South East Asia, and I had to discover it the moment I landed in sunny Bali.
I stayed three happy months in Indonesia, but during the first two months the rainfall in the tropical island did not allow me to explore outdoors quite as I liked it. I had a lot of hikes, walks and outdoor exploring planned during these two months that I had to cancel. Also, the mighty Mount Agung volcano had become active and blowing quite a bit of smoke from the top which slowed down tourism for the otherwise bustling island with many tourists everywhere. With everything, I had to put my Nusa Penida plans in the back burner.
Finally, I managed to visit this dreamy location and compiled a complete travel guide so you will not miss any off the joy that the island has to offer. I included not only the general things to do around, but also the hidden attractions, adventures underwater and many more tips making it a fully comprehensive guide for you.
How To Get To Nusa Penida
If you decide to explore Bali island first and put the surrounding islands in the later part of itinerary, there are many ways that is easy for you to get to this island. Local ferries are the cheapest option you can take. There are ports in Padang Bay, Kusumba, Sanur and Benoa where you can take ferries. Sanur is the most popular place to get the boats since it has convenient times throughout the day which you can take a boat or a ferry. Arrive as early as possible to catch a local ferry with the best price.
If you are already in Nusa Lembongan and would like to explore Nusa Penida, simply charter a day trip boat to the island. Or you can take a public ferry that leaves Nusa Lembongan around 6:00am in the morning as well.
Lombok is usually one of the most popular places to start your time in Bali, and you can simply get to a few islands from there and leave the exploring of the main Bali island for later. If you are in Lombok, you can take your ferry from Padang Bay. However, there are no ferries from here to Nusa Penida in the afternoon or evenings, so unless you arrive early, you will need to pay over 500,000 IDR in order to hire a fisherman’s boat to get to the island.
Weather In Nusa Penida
As a tropical island, Nusa Penida is as hot as you can assume, but the surrounding sea makes the weather milder and more pleasant. Especially if you are coming from somewhere with a colder climate and not used to being under the sun a lot, it is recommended to bring a nice hat/cap to keep you in shade and also a lot of sunscreen with a high SPF count.
From mid-December to Mid-February is the rainy season in here, and you can expect quite a few heavy showers during the day and night. July, August, and September are usually the best months to visit Nusa Penida due to the relatively cooler but dry climate which allows you to enjoy the beaches and the outdoors without getting soaked in the rain or burnt by the harsh sun.
Restaurants And Cuisine
Nusa Penida has the same delicious range of Balinese food that you find in this part of the world, and you can find them for fairly low prices if you opt to go for a local warung. Warung Jungle and Warung Pondok are two of the most popular places in the island that you can go to. The restaurants are relatively more expensive, but if it is your first or the last day in this island, a little splurge on a nice restaurant overlooking the ocean will surely be a memorable treat that you can give yourself.
If you are a party person who likes to have a pint or two and dance the night away, there are many islands around Bali with a large party vibe. However, Nusa Penida is a relatively calm island when compared to Gili Islands or Kuta for an example. There is live music in some bars and restaurants, and you can find some good dance music in some places as well, but altogether it is more chilled out and peaceful in this island. Not much party-like. Full Moon Bunglows and Penida Colada are two bars that offer live music every evening. They do have nice cocktails and good music, but make sure you arrive early to grab a nice spot.
10 Things To Do In Nusa Penida
If you are a first time visitor to Nusa Penida, this stunning tropical island has lots of things to make you feel awed and keep you entertained. These are the top 10 things that I personally enjoyed the most during my stay in Nusa Penida. I will mention some of the experiences that I could not do, just so you won’t miss them like I did.
Snorkeling With The Manta Rays
If you love to explore the life under the sea, Bali and the surrounding islands such as Nusa Penida are popular for it. Nusa Penida is known for the Manta Rays that freely roam around the island, and you can add an extra level of fun to your snorkeling sessions by being able to hang out with these gentle giants of the sea. There is an ancient Buddhist temple underwater that will add extra value to your memory of snorkeling in the clear water in the ocean near Nusa Penida.
This slightly remote beach is ideal if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet surrounded by the clear blue waters and the glistening white sands. It is away from the bustling tourist attractions, but not too stranded that it will be difficult to find. I love heading there alone with a few snacks and drinks to fully immerse myself in my own thoughts and enjoy the serenity that is around me.
You can find some sun beds and even a few little shops that sell beer and soft drinks in the beach. There is a 10-15 minute of climbing down the stairs to the beach, but that would probably be the workout with the nicest view you’ve ever done.
Yes, this place really is as interesting as the name suggests. Angels Billabong is a natural pool of crystal clear water that you can dip in. This is another perfect capture for your Instagram, and feels almost spiritual when you swim in the clear waters.
If you made it to the Kalingking beach I mentioned above, it is only about a 15 minute bike ride from there in the West Coast itself. If you are in a hurry and want to make the best out of your time in Nusa Penida, you can simply cover all the attractions in the West Coast in one day without tiring yourself too much as well. The roads have a lot of potholes and really not too enjoyable to ride around, so even if you do have time, it is actually smarter to cover them all in one day.
Walking Along T-Rex Back In KelingKing Beach
Nusa Penida is filled with many “Instagram-worthy” locations, and this is one of the best among them. Kelingking is one of the most visited attractions in Nusa Penida due to a uniquely shaped rock that is in one of its beaches. The hike goes up to a hill which you can see the T-Rex Back below you, and if you do not mind climbing down a good number of steps, you will get to the beach itself as well, away from too many tourists since not everybody opts for the trek down after taking the pictures of the T-Rex Back from the view point.
Biking Around Nusa Penida
A simple scooter bike is everybody’s favorite transport method in Indonesia. The roads aren’t the best but making your way around the Nusa Penida roads in a bike can actually be quite fun as well! The potholes may inconvenience you, but you can just choose to see the fun side of it and pretend you are in a real-life video game with the most stunning graphics around you! It is, however, important that you have experience driving a scooter before hand before you start tackling the roads of Nusa Penida.
The Broken Beach
I intently added this a little later on the list just so I can highlight a few other activities more, but the stunning arch of the Broken Beach is probably the most popular attraction in Nusa Penida. It’s also called Pasih Uuug. This little cliff that has a natural arch that goes artistically crossing the white sands of Nusa Penida beach brings tourists in hoards to this place every day. Yet another stunning capture for your Instagram, and you can easily cover this in the same visit to Angels Billabong since they are located very close to each other.
Indulge In Some Street Food
Nusa Penida has a night food market with some of the best food (street or otherwise) that I’ve ever had. These portable food stalls are setup every day filled with a wide range of local delicacies from all over Indonesia. If you like to stick with the familiar Nasi Goreng, you can still find a lot of different flavors and textures of it in the Nusa Penida night market.
Grab A Drink With The Locals
Just like the Balinese, the locals living in Nusa Penida are very friendly and fun-loving people, who are always up for a nice drink and a good time. If you are a traveler who loves not only to see the places you visit, but also love to experience the culture and the people around them, you should definitely stop by a village and have a chat/grab a drink with the locals. They are always warm and hospitable, and you are very likely to be greeted with a very delicious Nasi Kampur or Nasi Goreng if you visit them around the lunch time.
Sing Along At Penida Colada
When you are surrounded by the most picturesque environment, it is natural that you feel a desire to listen to some good music. You can head to Penida Colada in the evenings for some fun live music featuring some of the best bands in Indonesia. The memory of grabbing a nice cocktail, watching the sunset and ending my day listening to the surreal live music in Penida Colada will always be precious to me. If you are a singer yourself or would like to play and instrument, there are many open mics which you can unleash your inner Rockstar as well.
Nusa Penida Tour Options And Itinerary
Most of the exploring in Nusa Penida can be done alone with the help of some GPS and a rented bike. The online guided tour that I would personally suggest you would be swimming with the Manta Rays at Mantra point. This is also because you need to hire a boat with a guide in order to get there and cannot do it alone. Other than that, you can simply rent a bike for about $7 a day and visit all the attractions by yourself. You only need to pay for the gas and a few nominal fees for the parking.
If you are not comfortable with riding your own bike, however, there might a problem since the island is rather large and walking from one place to another is not an option. Therefore, you will have to rent car, or a guide with a bike that you can ride along with. This might cost you anywhere from $10-$40 a day depending on what you rent and also the attractions that you are planning to cover. Always bargain before you settle on a price since they normally tell you a price with a higher margin assuming that you will bargain.
My recommendation of the number of days to stay in Nusa Penida is at least 4 days in order to cover all the attractions without a rush. Here is a simple itinerary that I put together for 4 days in Nusa Penida with a day for you to relax and enjoy the stunning beaches of the island without rushing off to an attraction as well.
Day 1 – Exploring The West Coast
You need an entire day to fully explore the west coast of this island since there are 3 major attractions one after the another that you should not definitely miss. A trip to Nusa Penida is definitely not complete unless you see these 3 places which are truly worth a visit – Angels Billabong, Broken Beach and Kelingking. Start your day early and take your time slowly exploring these three locations throughout the day.
Day 2 – Exploring The East Coast
It is natural to assume that different beaches in one island may seem similar to each other, but Nusa Penida is one of those rare places where every single beach has its own different charm to offer you. In the 2nd day, you can drive to Atuh Beach on the east coast and then take a stroll down to Suwehan Beach near the Tangland Village which can feed your sense of adventure as well.
Day 3 – Waterfalls!
Of all the natural wonders that Bali and the surrounding islands has to offer you, waterfalls are probably among the very top. You can ride your motorcycle to Peguyangan waterfall which is in the South side of Nusa Penida, walk along the stunning blue bridge that will make for some beautiful pictures for your social media. You can also explore a secret temple that is near the waterfall as well.
Day 4 – The Manta Rays!
I hyped up about the amazing Manta Rays in the island so much, and that was truly because of my utterly enjoyable experience personally. I dedicate an entire day to snorkeling with Manta Rays in Nusa Penida to get the best out of this experience. Go to the Manta point in the morning and enjoy as an amazingly memorable day unfolds before you. If you manage to finish your snorkeling session by mid-day, you can take a quick hike up to the view point for some amazing views of the sea and the coast of Nusa Penida.