The largest of the Nusa Islands and only a short boat ride from Sanur in Bali, Nusa Penida is quickly becoming a tourist hot spot, and for good reason.
Rugged terrain and turquoise waters, Nusa Penida is both unique and beautiful. It hasn’t quite caught up with its growing tourism which just adds to the experience as you feel like you are on an adventure the whole time.
This island isn’t for the faint hearted and if you want to get the full experience you need to be prepared for bad roads and steep and difficult climbs down to the beaches. We jokingly dubbed this ‘Death Island’ before we came as everything we researched warned us of those exact things. Looking back it really wasn’t that bad if you are prepared and are up for an adventure. I actually love these sorts of activities, but if you’re afraid of heights then I can see why it wouldn’t be a fun place for you.
With some of the most beautiful cliff views and the bluest water, I highly recommend making the journey.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED?
Nusa Penida is often marketed as a day trip from Bali but after being there myself I would strongly suggest spending a few days if you can. I don’t think you can really get a feel for the island in a day and when you add travel time in to it as well it just doesn’t make too much sense to me. All the day trippers are herded around like sheep to the same 3 sites – Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach & Angels Billabong. For this reason these 3 sites were probably my least favourite as they were over crowded. Don’t get me wrong, they are the most popular for a reason – they are absolutely spectacular, but they were the only places on the island I felt were ‘tourist attractions’. Spending a few days on Penida gives you the flexibility to beat the crowds and visit the many other wonders of this island. We had 3 days here and were never short of things to do.
HOW TO GET THERE
Boats leave from Sanur Harbour in Bali. We booked our ticket for the fast boat through our accommodation for RP 270,000 one way ($27 AUD) which included the transfer from our hotel. If you book return you can get cheaper pricing. The trip takes approximately 30-40 mins.
We travelled from Sanur – Nusa Lembongan – Nusa Penida – Sanur.
I have heard that they will wait until a boat is filled until they leave. On our way to Lembongan from Sanur we waited roughly an hour over the scheduled departure time for our boat to leave. From Peninda back to Sanur we boarded the 2:30PM boat and left exactly on time (it was fully booked). Some of our friends ended up waiting 2 hours to return back to Bali from Penida. I believe going in with the expectation you might be waiting sets you up not to be overly frustrated if you are set behind schedule.
From Nusa Lembongan
Boats leave from the yellow bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. We booked our tickets at the yellow bridge for RP 50,000 ($5 AUD). The ticket booth we went to is on the left hand side if you are looking at the bridge from the Lembongan side. We booked about an hour prior and they arranged pick up from our accommodation. The boat ride only took 10-15 minutes and as our boat was full we left within 10 mins of arriving at the yellow bridge.
HOW TO GET AROUND
The easiest way to get around is by scooter and you can rent them for roughly RP 70,000 ($7 AUD) per day. If you are a novice scooter driver I would be careful as there are some challenging roads on Penida. The roads are quickly improving and there is one main road now that connects most of the island, but as soon as you are off that road it becomes very bumpy. We were told by a local that there is hope with the new election that they will put money into improving the roads. I can only expect in the coming years that more roads on Penida will be improved for the growing tourism on the island (things are changing rapidly as only a couple of years ago when my best friend visited there wasn’t even fresh water to shower in, let alone hot water).
You won’t struggle to find petrol – many places sell petrol on the side of the main road. We tend to go to places that have the pump as we find this lasts longer and it is cheaper than when you buy from the bottle.
The alternative is to hire a driver. This is definitely the more costly option, but if you aren’t confident on a scooter this is what I would recommend. We hired a driver through our accommodation for RP 600,000 for 6 hours or RP 800,000 for 8 hours, this worked out to RP 100,000 ($10AUD) per hour between the four of us.
We arranged the driver for our day visiting Kelingking Beach, Angels Billabong & Broken Beach. We had heard these were the worst roads and after our friends grazed themselves coming off their scooter we didn’t want to risk it. We were extremely happy with this decision as it was incredibly busy. These are the sites that all the day trippers visit, so everyone was dodging each other on the narrow roads. Everywhere else we drove to we were on the roads by ourselves which meant we weren’t being rushed and we had full control over which spots we chose to ride on. In saying that, there were a lot of people driving their scooters to these sites, but we did see a couple of people fall off (no one is going fast but the steep, bumpy roads and pot holes cause people to lose their balance).
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay in the middle of the island in an Airbnb. We paid roughly RP 154,000 ($154 AUD) per night which worked out to RP 390,000 ($39 AUD) per person per night.
Most people stay along the coast, but as all the sites we wanted to see were on opposite ends of the island we chose to go with a different experience. With our airbnb you could opt to have a local cook come and make you breakfast and/or dinner for a small price. We were out early every day so didn’t go with the breakfast but had dinner here on 2 of the nights we stayed. The food was amazing and was a great way to try some local food that were different to the standard you get in the warungs (local Indonesian family run restaurants) and allowed us to feel relaxed after our days climbing up and down the sites.
We found this fantastic value for money and a very unique experience.
There are options to stay all over the island so jump onto booking.com and take a look.
WHERE TO BUY A SIM CARD
We always buy our sim cards from Denpasar (Bali) Airport when we arrive. You have to walk past it as you walk towards the exit (after customs).
It is now regulation that all sim cards are registered in Indonesia. Even though it is much more expensive, the airport is both the most convenient and seems to be the most reliable as some places won’t register your sim and it will be deactivated after 24 hours or so. I have read online that you are required to give passport details but we have never had to do this at the airport.
The WIFI in Nusa Penida wasn’t fantastic so having a sim card with data was a huge benefit. The popular sites on Penida are all spread out so not having access to google maps would have been hard work.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
We came across this when searching for somewhere close to our Airbnb. It had a beautiful local vibe with delicious food. We came back again it was that good!
With a quaint, laidback vibe Penida Colada had some of the best cocktails of our entire trip through the Nusa Islands and some great western food as well. I came here on a recommendation from a friend and the owner even messaged me to thank me for coming. How sweet is that?
In summary, our Nusa Penida trip was one to remember and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Look out for my next blog on things to do in Nusa Penida.