NUSA PENIDA ISLAND
Nusa Penida (approx. 25km SE of Bali’s coast), is by far the largest of the three Nusa islands (Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan). It has only in recent years seen an increase in tourism, which is strange considering all the natural wonders to be witnessed here! Let’s get you up to speed on what you need to know about visiting Penida before the rest of the world discovers this paradise in plain sight!
To get to Nusa Penida, there are public boats from Sanur or Padang Bai in East Bali.
If you are staying in South Bali, you will depart from Sanur. A ticket costs around 175 000 IDR one-way and 300 000 IDR return (return dates can be changed and its cheaper if you buy return).
We highly recommend staying on Nusa Penida for at least two days. This will give you enough time to zip around on your scooter and find all the gems this island has to offer. It is also possible to visit Nusa Penida on a day trip from Nusa Lembongan, but one day won’t give you enough time to see all the sights.
If staying on Nusa Lembongan, you can rent a private boat to take you to Nusa Penida -A 20min boat ride which can cost anything between 150 000- 300 000 IDR (depending on your bargaining skills).
Once you arrive in Toyopakeh ( the main port town in Nusa Penida), rent a scooter from the friendly locals along the main road (cost around 50, 000 IDR per day).
The main roads around the island are all in reasonably good condition (with the occasional pothole here and there). However, once you start venturing to find some of the sights, and secret spots of your own, the roads can become quite rough and stone-strewn (nothing anyone with some balance and scooter experience can’t handle). You can grab a map at the tourist office, however, these days most of the sights can be found on Google maps. There are also signs along the dirt roads that will point you in the right direction. IMPORTANT: be sure to have a full tank of fuel when venturing out into the hills!
THINGS TO DO
Derik Hill Viewpoint
This has to be one of our favorite viewpoints on Nusa Penida. We have visited there 3 times over the years, and each time we were the only people in sight. Located on the west side of the island, this spot gives you an incredible view of the majestic cliffs to the left and right. It’s not uncommon to spot Mantas gliding in the waters below. Just don’t stand too close to the edge as it’s a straight 250m drop off to the bottom!
A must-see on Nusa Penida, this T-rex shaped coastal cliffscape is a classic image of the awesome natural forces at work here. You may have seen this picture beginning to pop up on social media (as it is getting more popular), yet, no photo will compare to standing there in person. There is a gnarly footpath leading down to the seemingly perfect beach below. If you have time and energy -walk down, take a dip, and see things from a different angle.
This picture perfect beach is located on the far East tip of the island (1.5-hour drive from Toyapakeh). You will have to park your scooter, and depending on what route you take, you can end up on either cliff side of the beach. Again, you will be faced with your worst enemy –stairs. The beach is usually uncrowded and great for swim and relaxation. Beware of swimming to the arch, as currents can be very strong, and people have been swept out to sea here. You can also enjoy fresh coconuts on the beach for 2$.
Crystal Bay/ Beach
One of Nusa Penida’s more popular spots, Crystal Bay, is an arc of white-gray sand with surrounding rocky outcrops and jagged islets offshore. Despite the regular day trip -and dive boats that pull in here from Nusa Lembongan, this is quite a nice bay to visit. We particularly like this spot for its prime freedive conditions. The inside of the bay is somewhat sheltered from the strong currents, yet still receives a strong upwelling from the deep (cold but clear waters) during tide shifts This means that visibility is almost always good, which, combined with the black sands, makes up for a visually unique dive session! Mola Mola (sunfish) can also be spotted here.
No matter how many times we visit this iconic feature, we are always left staring in awe. The large sea cave has lost its roof over time and created a small lagoon type cove with water entering through the arch in the karst cliff. Looking down you can see a small beach (inaccessible by land) and often spot turtles and mantas on the other side. This is one of the most popular spots on Nusa Penida and can get crowded, try to get here early (or late). The Last 2km of road is bad, like really bad….
Only 200m away from Broken Beach, this natural infinity pool surrounded by razor-sharp volcanic rock makes for an ideal place to take a swim. It’s best to visit during low tide and be cautious when swimming as people have been swept over the edge. This spot can also get crowded, so it is best to visit here early.
Goa Giri Putri
This large limestone temple cave in Nusa Penida is located about 4km North of Suana village. Travellers are welcome and are expected to wear a sarong and sash (you can rent this on site for 5,000 rupiah). After climbing a set of stairs, a small donation (10, 000 rupiah) is requested before slipping into the tiny cave entrance. (Don’t worry) Once inside, the cave quickly expands and you find yourself walking down a 300m long tunnel with multiple praying areas. According to the locals, this cave has a great significance for people all over Bali. It can get quite busy in there during public holidays, and if you are lucky you might witness a ceremony.
Tembling forest is the last remnant of virgin rainforest left on Nusa Penida island. After a 15min drive on a narrow concrete road, you can park your bike and walk down the valley by foot. There are natural springs located at the bottom of this valley near the ocean. Most online guides fail to mention that there had been a recent landslide in the valley that has filled up the main spring. The smaller spring still exists and is located a little further down right by the ocean. It’s an ideal place to swim and cool down before starting your hike back up to your bike.
Finally, one of the best activities to do at Nusa Penida is…
Swimming With Manta Rays
Note:The Manta Dive sites are all at Nusa Penida, yet are mostly reached via boat from Nusa Lembongan (neighboring island). The best times to spot mantas at Nusa Penida are from March to June, but with luck, they can be spotted all year round.
Freediving at Manta Point
There are two main spots on Nusa Penida where people can swim with Manta rays – Manta Bay and Manta Point.
Manta Bay is close to the island of Nusa Lembongan and Toyapakeh and thus is frequented by the day trip snorkeling boats. Manta Point is much further out and is mainly frequented by dive boats. Manta Point is a MUCH better manta experience. If you are out TO FIND MANTAS, be sure you jump on a boat that is going to Manta POINT, rather than Manta BAY – well worth the additional travel time. Although Manta Bay trips are fun and you may see Manta’s there, Manta Point can offer more uncrowded dives with more Mantas (all coming to visit the cleaning station).
It costs around 200-300,000 IDR to join on one of these snorkel boats. If you are a group of friends (4-5 people), it can be more fun to rent your own private boat as you have more freedom.
When we go to Manta Point to free dive with the Manta rays , we jump on the Legend Diving boat from Nusa Lembongan. It will cost you 300,000 IDR but they put in a free lunch too!
Where to Eat
The are many local warungs along the roadways of Nusa Penida, especially just outside of the small towns. Your hotels/ homestays are also bound to have a restaurant. Otherwise, you can always go search for some unique dining spot on the island. Penida Colada (15min drive North of Toyopakeh) is a nice place for food and sunset drinks and seafood, and there are various restaurants in that area as well.
Where to Stay
Nusa Penida has a healthy choice of accommodation spread out over various parts of the island. From small remote tree houses overlooking cliffs, to more luxurious comfortable rooms. There is something for all tastes and budgets.
If you haven’t already signed up for AirBNB, use this link below to get 25US$ off your first stay! It really is the best accommodation booking platform out there and the only one we really use! www.airbnb.com
Booking rating: ★★★★
Location rating: ★★★★★
Features: -Has big rooms available for large groups
-Has incredible views of Mount Agung and the ocean
-Has Pool and BBQ area
-Does not really have a good access road, most walk up from beach
– Hot shower and Wifi
– Close to Toyapakeh and thus transport to Nusa Lembongan or back to Bali
Memories: We stayed here once for a couple nights as we thought it would be a nice spot to watch the Majestic Mount Agung (volcano on Bali) during sunset. AND IT WAS! We bought some fresh fish from the local morning fishmarket in Toyopakeh (a short walk from the Villa), and after a long day of exploring, we had ourselves a self-made sunset BBQ by the pool with the volcano sunset in the background… What more could you ask for?!
Booking rating: ★★★★★
Location rating: ★★★★
Price: 50-100 USD (Breakfast included)
Features: -Good Wifi, pool, restaurant
-Close to Crystal Bay
-Nice Garden area
– Extremely comfortable bungalows
– Serene location in the palm tree jungle
* Note: This listing is not yet on AirBNB but is on www.booking.com <- use this link to sign up and receive 10% off your stay!
Booking rating: ★★★
Location rating: ★★★
Price: 35 USD (Breakfast included)
– Nice bungalow style beach accommodation
– 5 minutes walking to the beach
– Hot water
– Wifi in common areas
Booking rating: ★★★
Location rating: ★★★
– Nice bungalow accommodation with a great shared pool!
– Hot water
– Few minutes by scooter to crystal bay beach
– Breakfast included
Price: 45 USD
– BEST. VIEW. EVER.
– Extremely simple living ( people just stay here for the view not for the comfort)
– Very challenging road to access the hut
– No interent, duh.
– Not for the faint hearted! This is adventure accommodation at it’s finest!
There are also plenty of cheap guest houses in the port town of Toyapakeh in Nusa Penida, so if you are on a super budget, it might be worth just walking around the streets there and finding a suitable place to stay in the town.
Nusa Penida is an EPIC island to explore. Easy enough to get to, and big enough to get comfortably lost. Over the years we have suggested Penida to many fellow travelers, and only heard good things! We do recommend that you get there soon before the crowds start pouring in from Bali (sadly, it’s only a matter of time). One of our favorite things about this island is that its’ not yet been fully explored, and there’s bound to be more amazing hidden gems on her. You just have to stray from the path and go look!
Although now an up and coming destination, Nusa Penida is still FULL of hidden gems! The island is HUGE and there are so many spots just waiting to be discovered! We encourage you to get out there, deviate from the tourist trail ( and even our guide haha ) and find your own slice of Nusa Penida paradise!
Even we still have some x’s marked on our own maps waiting to be explored…..