I’ve been dreaming about visiting Nusa Penida island for a long time. Nusa Penida is a small paradise off the coast of East Bali. It’s found next to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan and is known for its rugged coastline, picturesque beaches, and jaw dropping cliffs. Only a 40 minute boat ride from Bali, a lot of Penida island can be explored on a 2 day Nusa Penida trip.
Day trips to Nusa Penida are very popular. But if you have enough time, I would highly recommend spending at least two days here. Nusa Penida is the largest of the three Nusa islands and there is so much to explore.
Surprisingly, it’s also one of the less-visited of the Nusa islands. It’s still relatively underdeveloped – but that is starting to change with tourism on the rise. You won’t find snazzy cafes, trendy bars, or chic beach clubs here, but you will find some of the most photogenic spots and breathtaking views in all of Bali.
In this guide I will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Nusa Penida. How to get there, best sights to visit, how to get around the island, where to stay, and lots more.
2-day Nusa Penida Trip
There are two main sides of the island to explore on a Nusa Penida tour; The East and the West.
Road conditions on the island aren’t good, which means that you aren’t able to explore both sides in a day. Unfortunately, if you’re on a day trip, you will have to choose which side to visit since you won’t have enough time to get from one side to the other and back to the port for the last boat out.
The East coast of the island includes beautiful sights like Diamond beach, the Thousand island viewpoint, and the famous Nusa Penida treehouse – Rumah Pohon. West Nusa Penida boasts the most famous Penida attraction – Kelingking Beach. You will also find Broken beach, Angel Billabong, Crystal Bay on the west side.
We wanted to explore as much of the island as possible, so we decided to put together a 2 day Nusa Penida itinerary. We took the first ferry out at 7:30 AM from Sanur harbour. After a 35 minute boat ride we arrived and started exploring immediately.
We explored the East coast on our first day, and the West side on day two – before catching the last boat back to Bali mainland.
We managed to see all of the “main attractions”, but definitely could have done with an extra day. If time allows it, you may want to extend your Nusa Penida trip to three days.
Best Places to Visit on a Nusa Penida Trip: East Coast
The sights in East Nusa Penida are situated quite near to each other. It will take you awhile to get to the East side, but once there all main attractions are close by. If you want to see the East coast on a day tour, I would suggest making a list of the top “must-see” places for yourself before your Nusa Penida trip.
1. Diamond Beach
Diamond beach is one of the most “instagrammed” beaches in Bali. You’ve probably seen it pop up on your social media feeds multiple times. It’s an exquisite white sand beach surrounded by cliffs that look like diamonds.
Caution: Getting onto the beach isn’t as easy as it may look. It’s only recently become open to the public, so there’s only a small part of the stairs that have been properly built. You will also have to make you way over some rocky stairs and at one point use a rope to help you down. Getting back up is even trickier. You need a lot of energy and be sure to stay hydrated.
It’s definitely not an easy trek, but it’s absolutely worth the views. The beach is one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever seen. The sea is cold and rough though, so it’s not ideal for swimming. There’s also a Bali swing going out over the ocean here. I already had my Bali Swing experience in Ubud, so I didn’t do this one. The scenery is breathtaking though so it’s the perfect spot to get your epic Bali swing photo.
Since it’s such a popular attraction, you should aim to get to Diamond beach as early as possible. I advise starting your island tour here. It’s not a great spot to visit in the evening because the tide comes up and most of the beach disappears.
2. Atuh Beach
Atuh beach is on the other side of Diamond Beach – the two share a car park. Getting down onto the beach is also quite a trek so we viewed it from above. Tired and out of breath after hiking back up from Diamond Beach, we weren’t up for another “big trek.”
Diamond Beach is a lot more beautiful, so if you do want to walk down onto one of the beaches – save your energy for Diamond Beach.
3. Thousand Island viewpoint
The Thousand Island viewpoint is just a short drive from Diamond beach. You can see the “Instafamous” treehouse from Diamond beach. Here you will find incredible views of the cliffs and rock formations along the coast of Nusa Penida. But, you’re going to have to work for those views.
There’s a steep trail that leads from the carpark down to the first viewpoint. It will take you about 5 to 10 minutes to reach the main viewpoint – the famous treehouse. There are also several other viewpoints along the trail. There’s a breathtaking view of Diamond beach and many other limestone formations in the ocean.
4. Rumah Pohon Treehouse
Once you’re finished admiring the beautiful views of clear blue water and limestone cliffs along the trail, you will reach the famous Nusa Penida treehouse. There are actually two little treehouses, and they’re available to rent on Airbnb.
The sunrise from the balcony is said to be unbeatable. The treehouses are empty during the day, so you’re able to get those famous photos. But you will probably have to queue because everyone wants a photo here. I also discovered that you now have to pay to get a “treehouse” photo. It cost 50,000 IDR and you get three minutes to do all your poses.
It’s all a little ridiculous, I know. But I wanted the photo so I did it!
5. Teletubbie Hills
Most Nusa Penida tours will add the Teletubbie hills to the itinerary. It’s the least exciting attraction, and I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way for this one. Sure, if you have time on your hands, you can make a quick stop here, but it’s really not anything too spectacular.
Teletubbie Hills is best best known for its lush green rolling hills and cool view points that overlook the island. You can see the hills from afar while making your way around to the attractions.
Best Places to Visit on a Nusa Penida Trip: West Coast
West Nusa Penida can easily be explored on a day trip. But you will need to start early to really make the most of it. The Nusa Penida roads are notoriously rough, so it can still take quite a bit of time to get from one sight to the next.
1. Kelingking Beach
Kelingking beach is the most famous attraction on Nusa Penida. Ironically, it’s also known as Kelingking secret point beach. I recommend visiting here between 7 AM to 9 AM. The first tourists begin arriving for their Nusa Penida tour at around 9 AM. It’s a good idea to start your day at Kelingking beach and move onto the next attractions from here. We only arrived here after 9 AM and it was super busy – and difficult to get photos.
Also known as the “dinosaur cliff” because of its T-Rex shape, the scenery here is incredible. No photo that I’ve seen does this place justice. Many tourists are even lucky enough to see manta rays swimming just off the shore here. Although we weren’t so lucky.
Getting to the Kelingking viewpoint is quite easy. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot to the cliff lookout. But walking down to the beach is a bit of a challenge. We didn’t do it due to time restrictions – it will take you about an hour to get down onto the beach. The sea current here is very strong and it’s not recommended for swimming.
You will need to queue to get that infamous photo. But if you walk down the path for about 5 minutes, you will find fewer tourists and other photo spots.
2. Angel’s Billabong
A 30 minute drive from Kelingking beach, you will find Angel’s Billabong. This spot is a beautiful rock formation that looks like a natural pool. It opens straight into the ocean and in the past some tourists would swim here – although it wasn’t recommended.
The current is quite strong so you may be knocked over by the waves and into the rocks. In the interest of safety, it’s not worth taking any chances – there have been a few fatal incidents here. When we visited the area was closed off, with a big sign in front of the stairs that lead into the water. So although tourists used to swim here in the past (even though it was advised against), it doesn’t seem like you can anymore.
Angel’s Billabong is the natural pool that is lodged between two cliffs. The edge of the pool is also a cliff’s edge. This is why many people call it an infinity pool – it’s nature’s version of the infinity pools found in luxury hotels.
There is a parking fee here of 10,000 IDR.
3. Broken Beach
Virtually right next to Angel’s Billabong, you will find Broken beach – the two share a car park. Broken beach is a natural arch that leads out into the ocean. The water is crystal clear and the views are phenomenal.
An arched tunnel in the cliffs – allowing the ocean to flow into a pool – broken beach is the viewpoint on the other side of Angel’s Billabong. It’s just a 2 minute walk down the trail.
There are a few local cafes selling water, corn, and a few other goodies in the area.
4. Crystal Bay
Located close to the harbour, Crystal Bay is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring. It’s also the best place to end your Nusa Penida trip since it’s only a short drive to the harbour – where you will board the boat to make the trip back to the mainland.
Crystal Bay is a beautiful area surrounded by palm trees, a sandy beach, and crystal blue water. All Nusa Penida tours end year, so it does get quite busy late in the afternoon.
If you want to get nice photos at this spot (with no people in), you will need to come early in the morning. It’s definitely one of the less aesthetically pleasing attractions in Nusa Penida. But it’s a wonderful place to sit down on the beach, while sipping on a fresh coconut and taking in the beautiful surroundings.
How To Get To Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is becoming increasingly popular, and there are now three ways to get there on your own.
1. By Speedboat from Sanur Beach
2. By Speedboat from Tanjong Benoa
3. By Public Ferry from Padang Bai
We were staying in Canggu, and our best option was a speedboat from Sanur beach. This is the easiest and most popular option in most cases.
It’s worth noting that there’s no pier at Nusa Penida. You will be transported by a small motor boat onto the shore. You may also need to walk through the water when boarding the boat from Sanur Harbour – so wear suitable shoes.
I read this prior to our trip which is why we decided to do our Nusa Penida trip while staying in Canggu. We booked accommodation in Canggu for two weeks and booked a night on Penida island during this time. This way we could leave all our big suitcases back in Canggu and just take a small bag with to the island.
The boat staff will help you with your luggage, so don’t worry if you’re travelling with big bags.
Speedboat from Sanur Beach
You can either take a Grab, taxi, motorbike, or tour company to get to Sanur Harbour. Once you arrive you will find three operators doing transfers to Nusa Penida and back. These are; Maruti Express, Angel’s Billabong Fast Cruise and Mola-Mola Express. They all offer the same thing so you can choose whichever one suits your schedule.
Most speed boats run on a Nusa Penida travel schedule that runs from 7 Am – 10 AM and 2 PM – 5 PM. It’s best to go as early as possible to optimize the time spent on the island. There are also boats coming back to the mainland at about the same time.
You are able to book boat tickets online, but you can also easily buy them directly at the harbour on the day of travel. The fast boat ticket price is 300,000 for a roundtrip for foreigners.
Speedboat from Tanjong Benoa
This option is only available on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s closer to Nusa Dua and a bit cheaper than the trip from Sanur harbour. There’s only one boat per day, so in many cases this option won’t work. But if it’s suits your schedule, it may be a better choice. It doesn’t seem to be as busy and the boats seem to be in a bit better condition.
Public Ferry from Padang Bai
This isn’t a very popular option for tourists, but it is worth mentioning. The ticket price is only 30,000 IDR – if you’re on a tight budget, it could be a great option. However, there’s no set schedule and very little information available online. It leaves whenever there are enough passengers on board.
Getting Around on your Nusa Penida Trip
Nusa Penida is definitely not a small island. One of the first decisions to make is how to get around. There are two main ways to explore; renting a motorbike or hiring a car with a driver.
Prior to our Nusa Penida trip most articles I read stated how bad the roads on the island were and advised against hiring a motorbike – unless you’re very experienced and comfortable on a bike.
That said, we absolutely knew that renting a motorbike was not on the cards for us. We are not confident on a scooter even in normal conditions, and weren’t going to take any chances in Penida.
The average price for renting a car with a driver seems to be about 600,000 IDR. Our accommodation offered this service. But as soon as you arrive on the island, you will find many drivers offering their services at the port.
Good To Know Before Your Nusa Penida Trip
- Each year on a different day is “Day of the silent ocean”. On this day boats don’t run. Make sure to check this in advance on Google.
- Many of the restaurants are located on the northern side of the island. In other parts of the island there isn’t a lot of choice, but there are a few local warungs to grab some traditional Indonesian food.
- Everything I read prior to our trip stated that you should try to get to the attractions as early in the morning as possible. Most articles say before 9 AM – to miss the crowds. While this is obviously the best option, don’t worry too much if you arrive later. You will still be able to get incredible photos – you just may need to queue. The only attraction that I would highly recommend getting to early is Kelingking beach. We arrive after 11 AM and it was far too busy.
Where To Stay On Nusa Penida
Most of the accommodation in Nusa Penida is located in the West and the North. But tourism is increasing drastically on the island, and with this increase, new accommodation is popping up everywhere. From budget stays to luxury rooms, you can find something to suit your budget.
You don’t need to worry too much about location because you likely want to explore both sides of the island anyway. You can get from one side of the island to the other in about an hour.
We found a cute little guesthouse on the East side. It had a beautiful seaview and the pool looked out onto the ocean. It’s called Manta Cottages and rooms here are very well priced.
Peter and I book almost all of our accommodations through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £33 off your first home booking, and £12 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
Indonesia Visa Requirements
If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia and need help with visa information, I would suggest checking out iVisa.com. The visa process can be very time-consuming, not to mention confusing, and iVisa strive to make the whole process simpler for travellers. They will take care of all the nitty gritty details and let you know exactly what you need.
Just follow my iVisa application link and you can do a quick check to see what is required and proceed with an application if necessary.
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