A 45-minute boat ride away from Sanur lies the exquisite island of Nusa Penida. It is the biggest of the trio of islands off the shore of Bali, the others being Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
Finding such an isolated, unexploited place that is so easily accessible is the most pleasant of surprises. Its beaches are absolutely breathtaking (truly prettier than anything we saw in Bali), its forests remain pristine and the villages authentic. There is no Western development. One wonders how it has managed to stay off the radar for so long.
Demons and evil spirits, particularly one disease-spreading being locally known as I Macaling, are to thank for Nusa Penida’s concealment. Even today, when a disaster like a flood occurs or an epidemic spreads, the Balinese point fingers at Nusa Penida. It was such a bad omen that in the 18th century, people were sending prisoners to be exiled on Nusa Penida. Locals would only go to the island on religious holidays requiring their participation.
However, Nusa Penida’s days of loneliness are long over now that Instagrammers have discovered its phenomenal beauty. On top of its spectacular views, it has spiritual and cultural importance as well as natural riches, both on land and underwater. It is a great place to see big marine species such as manta rays, whale sharks and mola molas. Most divers have the time of their life here. It has been making its way onto every Top Things To Do In Bali article, including our own.
Though it is still very far from being touristy, a flow of people to the island has definitely begun. We should also point out that there is a lack of touristic infrastructure on the island. It is not where you go for a luxurious holiday. Roads are bad, even terrible in some places, and accommodation and eating options are limited.
This is actually a good thing for the preservation of the island. Only those who can appreciate it for its ruggedness should be coming here. Unfortunately, it seems all that is going to change fast, as investors are chasing building lots around the island.
Things to do in Nusa Penida mostly revolve around its natural beauty. Let’s take a look:
How Many days In Nusa Penida
At least 2 days to see around + 1 day for diving. So 3 or 4 depending on how much time you have in Bali. Here is a great source to see how can plan your time: Bali Itinerary.
Top Things To Do In Nusa Penida
1. Broken Beach, Nusa Penida
Broken Beach is one of the world’s most scenic beaches. The photo is quite self-explanatory but briefly, the waves dug a cave in the cliff until one day the top of the cave collapsed and formed this epic hole. Unfortunately, there is no access to the beach below. You can only watch from above.
You might feel like exploring the beach at least with a drone. We must warn you that the hole is known to be a drone eater. One guy crashed his DJI Pro into the waters in front of our eyes and he burst into tears. Apparently, at some point down the hole, the signal gets lost and the wind gets strong, and RIP sweet drone.
Lastly, beware that the drive up to here is very challenging, especially with a scooter. The road gets worse and worse, at one point you are driving over holes and rocks. Make sure to invest in a good bike. If you aren’t an experienced driver, arrange transport. Most importantly, make sure you don’t drive in the dark.
2. Angels Billabong
After visiting Broken Beach, you can walk to another epic spot called Angels Billabong. They are 5 mins on foot away from each other. This nook in the coast of Nusa Penida gets filled with waves during high tide and makes up world’s coolest infinity pool. While the untamed waves of the ocean hit against the rocks, you are swimming in safety of the calm waters of this natural pool. So remember to pack in your bathing suits.
3. Kelinking Beach & T-Rex
Kelinking Beach is the most famous beach in Nusa Penida. It also offers the most spectacular view of the island but it is also the hardest one to access. The road to Kelinking is in terrible condition. So the same warnings we have for Broken Beach apply. Once you park, you need to walk down some very primitive stairs dug into the ridge of a very steep hill. It is slippery and can be dangerous if you are not careful. A lot of people were complaining but I actually loved the experience.
The walk down takes 15-20 minutes and the way up around 30 mins to 1 hour depending on your fitness level. There is no facility on the beach. If you have health problems it may be wiser to just enjoy the view from the top. Nusa Penida beaches are gorgeous to look at but they aren’t the best for swimming anyways.
4. Diamond Beach
The next 4 attractions; Diamond Beach, Thousand Island View Point, Rumah Pohon and Atuh Beaches, are conveniently located in one spot.
Diamond Beach is one of the fantastic beaches of Nusa Penida. I will let the photo speak for itself. There is a warung where you can buy fresh coconuts and snacks on top of the stairs. There is also a place on the beach where you can buy basic things but I would recommend taking care of things before heading down.
5. Tree House (Rumah Pohon)
Imagine a humble little tree house built where the earth ends. That’s what it feels like here. There are 3 of them on a steep cliff watching the ocean on the east side of Nusa Penida. They are much more in demand than most hotels. Indeed it gets booked out months in advance. You can try to book it here. The good news is, you don’t have to stay there to visit and take photos. It is near Diamond Beach if you feel like stopping by.
6. Atuh Beach
Diamond Beach, the tree house and Atuh Beach are very close to each other and make a good day-trip together. Atuh Beach has more facilities then Diamond Beach. You can rent beach beds and eat at the warungs.
7. Thousand Island (Pulau Seribu)
Pulau Seribu means Thousand Island in Balinese but as you can see there aren’t that many of them. It is pretty much the same view that you see from the tree house. There is a viewpoint and a shrine at the tip of the cliff. To help you get oriented, the first small beach you see in the photo is a no-name beach, the second one is Diamond Beach and the one after that is Atuh Beach but it is left outside the frame here.
8. Crystal Bay
Crystal Bay is where people go if they want to hang out on an easily accessible beach, it is also a good snorkeling spot. There are a bunch of warungs, little shacks where they sell food and basic amenities, on the beach so it is hassle-free in every sense. If you don’t like isolated places, Crystal Bay is the liveliest beach around. You can also rent bean bags or sun beds. The warungs also rent snorkeling equipment if you feel like trying.
9. Palm Road
Just as you are approaching Crystal Bay, you pass through a road with tall palm trees on both sides. You can stop for a quick photo.
10. Manta View Point
Manta rays go to cleaning stations where they go to let the other fish eat off their parasites. They have few cleaning stations around Nusa Penida which make here one of the world’s best locations to see these amazing creatures. Since manta rays are huge, sometimes up to 8 meters wide, you don’t even need to get wet to see them. You can just sit at Manta View Point, which is on top a cliff, and watch them swim around.
11. Diving Or Snorkeling With The Manta Rays
Watching the mantas from the viewpoint is very nice but seeing them up close is a thrilling experience. They are huge but gentle creatures. They will just circulate around you gracefully. We suggest you give a chance to this once in a lifetime experience.
If you have a scuba-diving license there are plenty of dive centers on the island. They get booked 1 or 2 days in advance. So make sure to contact them as soon as you get on the island or write them before you get here. Whatsapp is frequently used in Bali to make such an arrangement. If you don’t have a license don’t worry, dive centers also do discovery dives. They also take snorkelers on their dive trips.
The manta rays are around all year but your best chance of seeing them is from March to June. Most schools take divers to Manta Point to see them. Sometimes the visibility isn’t great. Unfortunately, the waste dumped in the ocean circulates around the world and some of it may wash up on shores of Nusa Penida, too.
The currents can be strong in some spots, so let your dive master know beforehand if it’s been a while since you last drove or you don’t feel comfortable.
12. Diving With The Mola Molas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=ELuUmRqf7cE If you are in Nusa Penida sometime between June to October another impressive creature you can see here is the Mola Mola, more commonly known as the sunfish. They can be up to 3 meters and weight 1 ton! For the mola molas, you need to be an advanced diver as they inhabit the deep waters. If you have just open water certification but enough dives, they can fix a one to one dive with an instructor.
Even if you are in Nusa Penida out of season, we would still recommend diving or snorkeling here. Indonesia is situated in an area which considered be the Amazon of the seas. There are so much color and so much fish that you will never regret snorkeling or diving here. If you are really lucky you can even see whale sharks!
Where to snorkel in Nusa Penida
You don’t need to take a boat to go to great snorkeling spot. You can simply drive to a beach and get in the water. Toyah Pokah, Mangrove Point, The Wall, Gamut Bay and Crystal Bay are all kaleidoscopic spots.
I should also warn you that although the aquatic life is fantastic, the waves can take away from the fun of snorkeling.
Which Dive Center
We went with Sanctum Dive and we were very happy but I suggest you also do your own research before deciding.
13. Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave
As we talked briefly mentioned in the introduction, locals associate Nusa Penida with demons and black magic. Ironically this makes Penida an important place of worship because maintaining the balance between the good and the evil is an important principle according to Agama Hinduism.
Pura Go Giri, also known as the cave temple, is the most important temple on the island. You go down about 100 stairs to find a small mouse hole sort of opening on a wall of rock. That is the entrance to the massive cave temple. 🙂 You get blessed with holy water by a priest and get a sarong before you enter. You are expected to make a donation of 10,000 IDR. Women who are menstrating are not allowed int the temple.
14. Peguyangan Waterfall & Seganing Falls
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E971CEECSck If you have seen the waterfalls of the Munduk or Bedugul region, as a waterfall alone Peguyangan might not be so impressive. The blue stairs that descent to the waterfall is more interesting than the waterfall itself. At least its location is nice. It falls from a cliff into the sea. On the side of the cliff there is a tiny pool you dip in.
The other waterfall is Seganing but of all the things to do in Nusa Penida, it really is at the bottom of the list. I would rather put my time into seeing everything on our Top Things To Do In Bali list.
15. Amok Sun Set Bar
Each sun set in an occasion to celebrate in Bali and sun set bars are the place to be. Up and coming Nusa Penida caught on the trend very fast. Amok is Nusa Penida’s first sunset bar. It is not as happening as Finns or Potato Head but it is fun in chill Nusa Penida kind of way. It is also a good place eat.
Best Eats In Nusa Penida
Breakfast At Penida Espresso
It is nothing like the stylish cafes of Bali but it served the breakfast food in Nusa Penida. We liked it so much that we skipped our included hotel breakfast to eat there. Their smoothie bowls are excellent.
Dinner At Ba’Bar
After eating at many of the top recommended fish restaurants and leaving disappointed, we decide to follow our instinct instead of TripAdvisor. As we passed in front of it we noticed that Ba’Bar was packed every night, so we thought we could give it a try. The food turned out to be so much better then we expected. They make French/ Italian food but their seafood was also better then the seafood places.
Accommodation In Nusa Penida
We’ve compiled a list of the best hotels (not-to-mention, famous tree house!) that Nusa Penida has to offer visitors on every budget. The beautiful, lush island, with its stunning sea vistas has a wealth of options for all types of traveller, from entripid backpackers to those seeking a romantic getaway. Where To Stay In Nusa Penida
Map Of Nusa Penida
In order to open the map on GoogleMaps, click on here
[column size=one_half position=first]1. Nusa Lembongan Island 2. Ceningan island 3. Amok Sunset 4. Crystal Bay Beach 5. Broken Beach 6. Angel’s Billabong 7. T-Rex Bay 8. Kelingking Beach 9. Cliff View 10. Seganing Waterfall 11. Peguyangan Waterfall 12. Thousand Islands[/column][column size=one_half position=last]13. Diamond Beach 14. Atuh Beach 15. Goa Giri Putri 16. Rumah Pohon 17. Ocean Terrace Suite And Spa Luxury 18. Swan Beach Inn 19. Petak Cottage 20. Penida Espresso 21. Sanctum Dive Center 22. Ba’Bar 23. Penida Bambu Green Villas [/column]
How To Get To Nusa Penida
– The 3 ports on mainland Bali from where boats operate to Nusa Penida from are Sanur, Kusamba, and Padang Bai.
– Sanur is the most convenient one for most tourist because it is near tourist centers and there are frequent departures. It makes sense to sleep in Sanur the night before to catch the first boat to Penida. Also this way you can go to the port at night to buy your tickets to guarantee yourself a spot on the boat.
– We recommend staying at Umah Bagus in Sanur which is cheap and conveniently located across the port. The owner will help you reserve the tickets and at the local price too! Just contact her after booking a room.
– You can also get to Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongan which is its neighboring island.
For boat times & ticket and information on how to get around once you are in Nusa Penida you can read How To Get To Nusa Penida.
Now let’s look at the best things to do in Nusa Penida.
Getting Around In Nusa Penida
– Warning: In Nusa Penida roads are in bad condition. While the main roads are alright but the main roads will only halfway to the places you will want to go. After the main road, you will find yourself in an offroad driving experience. Certain roads are not for scooter rookies. So we made sure to give you information about road conditions for your journeys below.
– You can rent a scooter for around 70,000 IDR per day. A car with a driver costs around 500,000 IDR per day.