Nusa Penida island in Bali is one of the best island destinations of Asia. A mecca for sun seekers and beach bums, this island made it to top of my Indonesian bucket list and HAD to be discovered.
During my three months in Indonesia, the rain gods played spoilt sport for the first two, making most outdoorsy adventure plans and hikes impossible to attempt. Plus Mount Ayung volcano was constantly blowing smokes, keeping tourism low and traveling sparse. With so much going on, my plan to explore Nusa Penida was put on the back burner.
Finally, during the last two weeks of my latest Indonesian escapade and after spending quality time in Lombok, I decided I simply had to tick off Nusa Penida from my bucket list before I head back to India. After all, visiting the nusa islands was my primary reason to visit Indonesia for the third time.
Surely you must’ve heard about these pristine set of Nusa islands (Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan) off the coast of Bali. They are still offbeat and not too commercial aka unexplored and hence sought after by travelers. Nusa Penida is the largest of these three islands.
So, if you are planning your epic getaway to one of the top islands from the lot and my favorite – Nusa Penida, here’s a complete travel guide to ensure you have the perfect trip. From Nusa penida hotels to things to do, attractions and underwater adventures – this guide covers it all.
Table of Content
- 1 10 Fun and Adventurous Things to do in Nusa Penida
- 1.1 Walk on T-Rex Back at KelingKing Beach
- 1.2 Swim in Natural Pool of Angels Billabong
- 1.3 Snorkel with Gentle Giants of the Sea – Manta Rays
- 1.4 Gawk at the Stunning Arch of Broken Beach
- 1.5 Mingle with the Locals
- 1.6 Enjoy a quiet beach day at Atuh beach
- 1.7 Try Mouth Watering Street Food at the Night Market
- 1.8 Climb down the Blue Stairway to Peguyangan Waterfall
- 1.9 Ride Around Nusa Penida on a Bike
- 1.10 Enjoy Live Music at Penida Colada
- 2 Nusa Penida Tour Options and Itinerary
- 3 Where to Stay in Nusa Penida for the Best Nusa Penida Hotels
- 4 Where to Eat in Nusa Penida
- 5 Nusa Penida Nightlife
- 6 Nusa Penida Travel Information
10 Fun and Adventurous Things to do in Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida has a lot to offer for a first time visitor. Here is my pick of top 10 things to do on Nusa Penida island and also a few things I missed.
Walk on T-Rex Back at KelingKing Beach
Kelingking, the popular secret point beach is one of the top attractions of Nusa Penida. This huge rock shaped as T-Rex makes your Instagram photos pop and if you decide to climb down the umpteen stairs to the actual beach, then a great workout as well. Nestled on the west coast of Nusa Penida, missing Kelingking is simply not an option.
Swim in Natural Pool of Angels Billabong
Angels Billbong is just a 15 min bike ride from Kelingking beach and can be covered on the same day. In fact I would recommend covering the entire west coast attractions on same day to avoid riding the potholed roads again. This crystal clear natural pool is perfect for early morning swimming or late noon selfies (I would prefer the former).
For more info on Angels Billabong, read my full post here.
Snorkel with Gentle Giants of the Sea – Manta Rays
One of the most sought after Nusa Penida things to do is taking a boat to Manta point for one of the best snorkel adventures of your life. Imagine being in the water with the amazing Manta rays? Its such an incredible feeling. Plus, your tour will have several bonus attractions like underwater Buddha temple and other epic snorkel spots.
Click here to read about my entire Nusa penida snorkeling story and and watch the video here –
Gawk at the Stunning Arch of Broken Beach
Broken beach aka Pasih uug is another point of interest in Nusa Penida which drives tourists and day visitors in hoards. This lovely arched cliff makes for unbeatable 360 degree views. With its close proximity (just 2 mins) from Angels billabong, both attractions can be easily combined in your Nusa penida day trip.
Click for full post on Broken Beach and photography tips to this popular Nusa Penida attraction.
Mingle with the Locals
Locals here in Nusa Penida, like everywhere else in Indonesia are extremely friendly. As I rode down to the south coast of the island which cuts through jungles and remote villages, all kids were waving at me and adults smiling. It shows Indonesian’s warm and welcoming attitude towards tourists. I stopped for coffee at a tiny warung en-route and was showered with smiles. In my broken bahasa Indonesia (local dialect), I tried to talk to the family and their two kids (in pic below), bought the kids some candy and set off on my adventures again.
Enjoy a quiet beach day at Atuh beach
Atuh beach was my favorite beach in Nusa Penida. Absolutely fantastic clear blue waters, white sands, a bit remote (but not stranded) with sun beds and warungs selling everything from local/western food to beer, softdrinks and coconut water. What else do you need? The only challenge is the short 10-15 mins climb down an array of stairs but – totally worth it!
Read full post here – Atuh beach, the Untouched Paradise of Nusa Penida
Try Mouth Watering Street Food at the Night Market
Some of the BEST food I tried in Nusa Penida was that in the night food market. Everyday they have small portable food stalls selling all sorts of local delicacies from the popular Nasi Goreng to the lesser known Martabaks.
Needless to say, I headed straight for the Martabak (stuffed , friend flat bread) stalls twice during my 5 night stay on the island and absolutely loved them.
Climb down the Blue Stairway to Peguyangan Waterfall
Okay quite honestly this was the most daunting adventure in Nusa Penida for me, personally.
Just looking at those long winding, never ending blue stairway to the lovely attraction of Peguyangan, made me dizzy. I probably made it half way down before I decided to go back up but as a solo traveler who is prone to misadventures, I decided it wasn’t wise to push my luck. With no tourists around and all the horror stories going around the island during my stay (of accidents and deaths), I believe it was a logical decision to make (especially since I missed booking my travel insurance for my entire three month trip – eek).
Anyways, the views just from above were totally worth driving all the way for. Though, if you are with a friend or ina group (or atleast see people around) just go down and see the actual attraction too 🙂
Ride Around Nusa Penida on a Bike
This is both one of the riskiest and most fun ride of my life.
The horrible potholed roads to the Broken beach and Angels billabong prepared me for exploring rest of the island with ease. Once I conquered those broken paths, every other road simply seemed like a piece of cake. However, if you haven’t ever driven a bike or scootie before, I would highly recommend NOT to drive on the island at all.
This is perhaps the worst place to learn how to ride or for beginners. You are better off hiring someone you can pillion behind or make a friend in your hostel and be ultra sweet so you can tag along 😉 Another option is to rent a car for your full day Nusa Penida trip.
Enjoy Live Music at Penida Colada
This was my daily evening ritual – head to Penida colada for happy hours as I watched the sunset over 1+1 cocktails and later enjoy the fantastic live music. Hands down, one of the best bands I have ever heard and the boys are fun and always engaging the audience. If you like to sing or play an instrument, go play your hearts out and be a rockstar for a night.
Other things to do in Nusa Penida which I haven’t personally explored would be visiting the umpteen Hindu temples and viewpoints this island has scattered everywhere. Be it the unique cave temple of Goa Giri putri or the car temple of Pura Paluang, Nusa Penida has something to satiate your spiritual cravings too. I also missed the lovely crystal bay which is one of the top Nusa Penida attractions, so would recommend a quick visit if you can squeeze in into your itinerary.
Nusa Penida Tour Options and Itinerary
The only guided Nusa Penida tour I would suggest taking is to see Manta rays at Manta point because you simply cannot hire a boat and do it yourself. Apart from that, you can pretty much ride around the island on your bike and visit all Nusa Penida attractions on your own, just paying the nominal parking fee and gas.
If, however, you are not confident riding a bike, I would highly recommend renting a car or taking a tour guide you can pillion with on the bike. Rates range from $10 – $40 a day based on your requirements, number of people and tour options.
Basically, I would suggest minimum four days stay on Nusa Penida if you would like to cover all top spots. Here are some tour options if you want to follow my Nusa Penida itinerary. Though, I kept a free day in between to simply relax , which you can too if you have time –
Day 1 West Coast – Your Nusa Penida day trip would be incomplete if you skip the popular spots on the west coast of this island. These three attractions are simply un-missable – Angels Billabong, Broken Beach and Kelingking. Start your day early as roads are bad and navigating is hard.
Day 2 East Coast – Next day, you can explore the lovely Atuh beach on the east coast. If you have more time you can go further to Suwehan beach as well.
Day 3 Waterfalls in South – On my third day exploring Nusa Penida island, I head off alone to explore the south part of this pretty destination. Peguyangan waterfall along with the sacred temple is the highlight of the south.
Day 4 – Snorkeling with Manta Rays – I kept my last day free to snorkel with these gentle giants. This was one of my main reasons of choose Nusa Penida (over the other two islands, though its easy to take a day trip from Nusa Lembongan to Manta point as well). My experience was totally worth it and I would highly recommend this to kick start your day. You get free by early noon so you can club it with a short hike to a viewpoint as well.
Where to Stay in Nusa Penida for the Best Nusa Penida Hotels
The two most popular Nusa Penida accommodation options for backpackers and solo travelers are these lovely hostels – Full Moon Bungalows and Nusa Garden Bungalow. If you are traveling alone to the island, like I did, I would highly recommend staying in one of these hostels (in a private or dorm) to meet other travelers easily.
I was extremely lucky to make a friend on my very first night (Actually within 10 mins) of stepping into my dorm room at Full Moon Bungalows. Plus you can enjoy live music in evenings here which is excellent for making new friends and getting intel on tours (that’s how I found the cheapest and best boat guide for my Manta ray tour). Full moon is also centrally located and its important to be close to food, restaurants, nightlife and night market in this quiet island. Practically everything shuts down by 2300 hrs.
So after making friends, I decided I didn’t want to stay in a dorm. For the same low rate of a dorm bed, I found a lovely guest house just 2 mins from Full Moon, called – Yuda homestay. If you drive around a bit you can find private rooms for less than 150,000 IDR ($11) but I was extremely happy with my simple guest house at Yuda in this price point.
If you want to go a tad fancier and want a swimming pool, then try the highly rated Bintang bungalow for a mid-range stay option.
Where to Eat in Nusa Penida
With plenty of local warungs, beach shacks serving scrumptious sea food and chilled beer as well as healthy eating options with live music at Penida Colada, there is no dearth of choices for foodies. Warung jungle and Warung pondok are highly rated options on the island but I much preferred the night market for cost effective and delicious local street food.
For coffee, Papila’s coffee house would be my top choice. Then there are quite a few wood fire pizzerias sprinkled around the island as well. So there is always plenty of grub going around. Try eating with the locals sometime as they love BBQ’ing fish and having guests over.
Nusa Penida Nightlife
Nusa Penida is a quiet island and nightlife is more or less restricted to its handful of live music spots. If you are coming from neighboring islands of Bali, Gili trawangan or Kuta lombok, you will find nightlife in Nusa Penida to be pretty much – non- existent!
There are two bars offering live music every evening from 1900 hrs – Full moon bungalows and Penida colada. The band at Penida Colada is pretty amazing and they sometimes play in other bars/ dive centers on the island as well. Its a good idea to go to Colada early (during happy hour/sunset) and follow the band as that is pretty much the only thing to do in Nusa Penida at night to stay entertained.
Nusa Penida Travel Information
Here’s some important Nusa penida travel information to help plan your trip to the island.
Nusa Penida Weather
Nusa Penida is relatively drier than the island of the Gods (Bali) and hence way hotter. During my 3 months in and around Bali, I felt Nusa Penida was the only spot that almost gave me a heatstroke. I even heard of a girl who had to be airlifted from Kelingking beach due to a heatstroke – eeks.
So if you are planning to visit Nusa Penida, be sure to carry clothes that breathe, hat/cap, ample sun screen and well, be prepared to get sun burnt, still!
Nusa Penida weather is mostly hot and dry but from Mid-Dec to Mid-feb it sees quite a few showers. Hence, its best to travel after that.
Best months to visit Nusa Penida are said to be July, August and September as they are relatively cooler. However, right after the monsoons would surely be “greener”.
Nusa Penida Map
How to reach Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida from Bali
If you wish to go to Nusa Penida from Bali you have a choice of harbors. You can take a ferry from either Padang bai, Kusamba, Sanur or Benoa. However, I would highly recommend taking the boat to and from Sanur for convenience and choice of timings. Arrive harbor as early in the morning as you can to avoid hiring a fisherman boat like I had to.
Nusa Penida from Lombok
This was my choice of route as I was chilling in Kuta Lombok for few weeks prior to visiting Nusa Penida. I had to take my ferry back to Padang bai (I had booked a round trip from Bali before so this worked out well). Little did I know there was no ferry to Nusa Penida in afternoon or evening from Padang Bai. Obviously there was a lot of wrong information online and at the ferry office. So, I ended up paying 500,000 IDR ($36) to charter a fisherman boat to reach Nusa Penida just around sunset.
They can charge upto double that amount so you have to really haggle for a good deal. Although, I must admit I totally enjoyed the experience as I admired a rainbow on my left, setting sun on my right and Mt Agung behind me. Stunning scenery which I enjoyed on my own – worth it!
Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongan
You can take a charted day trip boat from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida or simply a public ferry around 0600 hrs at the harbor. I haven’t taken this route so cannot confirm/deny the information or timings.
Finally if you are still on the sidelines about visiting Nusa Penida – don’t think – GO NOW!