Guess what! This past weekend, I went to Bali… again. This isn’t my first trip here, so when we decided to go back again I was itching to find a different side of Bali. I want to see beautiful nature, crystal clear beach and to be away from the horde of tourists. I found that side of Bali on a small island called Nusa Penida.
Nusa Penida is a relatively undeveloped island south-east of mainland Bali. You won’t find all the snazzy beach clubs, organic cafes or trendy restaurants that has become synonymous to Bali here. However, it does house some of the most photogenic sights in Bali.
If you only have a day, a day trip from Bali is very doable! You can get to Nusa Penida via a speedboat from Sanur in the morning and come back in the afternoon. But if you want to see all of Nusa Penida and really enjoy your stay, you probably need 2-3 days on the island.
Should I go by myself or book a Nusa Penida tour? Total cost breakdown for a day trip to Nusa Penida
If you want to save some money and DIY the trip without a tour (like we did), here is the breakdown of costs:
|Taxi to Sanur||Rp 75,000 / car one way, depending on where you live|
|Ferry Ticket to Nusa Penida||Rp 300,000 / person|
|Transportation in Nusa Penida||Rp 75,000 / bike or,|
Rp 550,000 / car
|Snorkeling Rental||Rp 50,000 / person|
|Lunch||Rp 35,000 / person|
|Water||Rp 25,000 / person|
|Taxi back to hotel||Rp 75,000 / car one way, depending on where you live|
The main cost differentiator is your mode of transportation on Nusa Penida. If you are okay with renting a motorbike and driving on your own, I estimate it to cost about Rp 490,000 – 540,000 (US$34 – 37) per person to visit the island for a day trip. But if you aren’t comfortable on a motorbike, then you would have to rent a car and the cost would go up to Rp 650,000 – 760,000 (US$45 – $54) per person depending on how many people are in your group… which isn’t that much less than going with a tour.
If you want to go with a Nusa Penida tour, I recommend booking the following:
West Nusa Penida Day Tour (most popular) – This is the Nusa Penida tour you should book on your first time to Nusa Penida. It will take you to most of the spots I mentioned below (Kelinking Beach, Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong, and Crystal Bay), in a car. The tour costs Rp 740,000 – 825,000 (US$51 – $57) per person depending on your pick up point. PS: You can add snorkeling as an optional activity!
East Nusa Penida Tour (less tourist) – This tour takes you further inland to Nusa Penida, to areas like Atuh Beach and Rumah Pohon Tree House. You might want to check this out if you’re looking for areas with less tourist. The tour costs Rp 692,000 – 768,000 (US$48-54) per person depending on your pick up point.
Nusa Penida Snorkeling Trip – If snorkeling is more your thing, Nusa Penida does house some of the best reefs and clearest water in Bali. It costs US$65 per person but you can use GIRLEATWORLD for 5% off!
What to bring to Nusa Penida
- All the things you need to combat that strong sun in Bali – A hat, Sunscreen (at least SPF50!), and Sunglasses. If you are biking, wear a thin layer with sleeves that can be removed.
- A thin cotton scarf/sarong wrap – I love this because they are versatile! you can wear it around your neck and shoulder to protect yourself from the sun, but can also double up as something to sit on while you are at the beach.
- Sufficient Cash – there are hardly any ATM or places that take credit card here, so you need enough to last the entire time you’re on the island.
- Bathing Suit – once you see how clear the water is in this part of the world, you’d want to jump in. Trust me.
- Suitable Footwear – You need good walking shoes for the treks, but you’d probably want to wear flip-flops while at the beach. So bring both if you can!
- 4G Local SIM Card – If you don’t already have one, it’s always a good idea to have 4G SIM Card while in Bali. Coverage was pretty good in Nusa Penida too! Although it got a bit spotty as you go inland, I was still able to navigate using Google Maps and the local data. Order a 4G SIM Card online here and pick it up in Bali.
How to get to Nusa Penida
The easiest option is to hop on a speedboat from Sanur Beach. There are three operators that do speedboat transfers from Sanur Beach to Nusa Penida and back: Maruti Express, Angel’s Billabong Fast Cruise and Mola-Mola Express. It doesn’t matter which one you go with as long as the timing suits you.
Most operators have a speedboat going out from Sanur to Nusa Penida at limited timings in the morning and a few in the afternoon: 7 AM – 10 AM and 2 PM – 5 PM. They also have boats coming back in the morning and afternoon at around the same time. If you are doing a day trip, I recommend going to the island as early as you can, so try to catch the 7 or 7:30 AM boat!
Booking Speedboat Tickets
You can book boat tickets online, but it requires at least one day in advance. If you decided to wing it (which is what we did), all you have to do is show up to Sanur Beach early in the morning and buy tickets directly from the operators. I recommend being there 30 minutes before boat departure time to ensure enough time to get tickets.
Here’s the exact spot where you can find the speedboat ticket office on Google Maps. They are these open-air huts that lined up the Sanur Beach slightly to the north of it – you can see the marker for Maruti express, Mola-mola express, etc on google maps.
The tickets both cost the same whether you book online or not, but there is a difference of price depending on your nationality. Local / Indonesians pay Rp 200,000 for a roundtrip (US$14) while foreigners pay Rp 300,000 for a roundtrip (US$21). I know that doesn’t sound fair, but I don’t recommend lying about your nationality because they do check and enforce the ticket price difference. And to be honest, in the grand scheme of things the difference is not THAT big.
We rocked up to Sanur slightly after 7 and chose Angel’s Billabong Fast Boat since they have the closest available departure time at 7:30 AM. When we booked our ticket, they asked what time we would like to come back to Sanur. We chose the latest available time which was 4:30 PM, and I was advised to be back 30 minutes before the departure time to check in and ensure a spot on the boat going back to Sanur – REMEMBER THIS, because it’s important! I’ll elaborate more on it later.
Getting on the boat to Nusa Penida
Once you get your tickets, they’ll hand you a lanyard. Just wait nearby on the beach until they let you know that the boat has arrived. You then board the boat, which you have to do by wading through a shallow bit of water – it’s best to wear flip-flops or other shoes that can be easily removed. Also, take note to not trip on the boat ropes – they alternate between being slack and taut as the waves come pulling at the boat.
The speedboat seats layout were not the best. They really packed in the seats to maximize the number of passengers so there was barely any legroom between each row of seats. I’m only 160cm and I could barely fit in – my boyfriend, on the other hand, had to basically fold his legs in to be able to sit. Thankfully the ride only lasted about 30 minutes and we arrived on the island in no time!
How to get around Nusa Penida
By Rental Motorbike – You can rent a motorbike right off the harbor, fuss-free. We got a bike literally within minutes of getting off the boat! Renting a bike costs you Rp 75,000 (US$5.25) a day, the same cost as Bali mainland. You might also have to top up gas which is going to be very minimal, about Rp 10,000 – 20,000. I recommend topping up your fuel while you are still close to the harbor. I didn’t see many petrol sellers as we get deeper into the island. However, if you decide to rent a bike, you have to be comfortable and confident with riding the motorbike since parts of the road leading up to Kelingking Beach and Angel’s Billabong is very broken and bumpy.
Google Maps – we relied heavily on Google Maps for direction. Just make sure to save the Nusa Penida island map offline, because we did lose reception in certain areas. Order a 4G SIM Card online here and pick it up in Bali.
By Rental Car – The other option is to get a car rental for Rp 550,000 (US$38.50), which comes with a driver and can fit 4-5 people. The road would still be bumpy though, so don’t expect a comfortable ride… but at least you’ll be in an air-conditioned car?
What to do in Nusa Penida
Once you are on the island, its time to explore! I recommend heading straight to Kelingking Beach since that’s the most famous spot and it’s easier to work your way back later.
Here is a list of things to see in Nusa Penida:
1. Kelingking Beach
After getting our bike, we immediately drove down to the southwest part of the island to find Kelingking Beach, a crowd’s favorite. From the harbor, it takes about an hour by bike to get to this beach thanks to the partially broken road.
Kelingking Beach is relatively new, only “discovered” in 2003 by a few tourist divers who reached the beach by boat. Nowadays, Kelingking Beach is probably the most Instagrammed spot on Nusa Penida… and I’m sure you can see why from this photo.
A little trivia – Kelingking means “pinky” in Indonesian, as in your little finger! I’m not sure why it’s called that, because it looks more like a T-rex to me.
That secluded azure beach at the bottom? You can descend down to it provided you ignore the warning sign at the start of the path, which tells you not to go to the beach as the path is very broken and they will not be held liable in case of an accident.
So yes, you can go down to the beach, but the path will be very narrow, half broken and extremely steep on some parts. My boyfriend and I decided to go down anyway, both in sandals, because we’re crazy like that.
Well… it turns out lots of people are also crazy like us, but most of them stop at the halfway point before going back up after taking the famous Kelingking Beach photo, like this one I took below.
Not many people actually made it down to the beach itself, probably because you can already see how dangerous the path gets. You only have these thin railing made of tree branches to hold on to, and as you get lower, the path gets more and more steep with more sharp rocks.
My boyfriend and I got to the halfway point and we thought: “Well, we’re already here, we might as well go the entire way”. So down to the beach we go, wearing sandals but I reckon we’d be way more comfortable wearing proper shoes. It turns out as you get lower, not only the path gets more and more steep and sharp, it also gets more broken. It also gets so steep that you’re practically scaling a vertical rock wall while being cautious not to grab onto any broken railing.
After about 30 minutes of descending, we finally made it to the beach! Initially, there were less than 10 people on the beach when we got there at 11 AM but more people arrived when we left an hour later. The beach was super secluded, so we were able to have ample space to ourselves. We sat around under one of the trees and took a dip in the cool clear blue water.
But it wasn’t very clean – there were lots of trash and debris both on the beach and floating on the water, which kinda ruined the experience. Most of these seem to be debris from other parts of the island and brought here by the ocean current. I wonder if it ever gets cleaned?
After about an hour of sitting around the beach, we left. The climb back up was very difficult for me. If you go back up at noon, the entire path gets full sun with barely any shade… and you know how harsh the sun gets in Bali. Thanks to the steepness of the climb and being battered by the hot direct sun, I nearly passed out on the way up. Also because of this, I got a headache which lasted the entire day. If it’s raining I wouldn’t even think about going down!
So in short, I’m not sure if I can recommend going down to the beach. Yes, it’s secluded and beautiful but I’ve also seen other similar beaches with more things to do. And that climb back up was not really worth it.
We spent some time recovering at one of the warungs near the carpark area, replenishing all that fluid we lost while climbing back up. We had a coconut and a large water bottle and still did not need to pee! That’s how dehydrated we were.
2. Angel’s Billabong & Broken Beach
These two spots are right next to each other, so you can visit them at the same time
Angel’s Billabong is a beautiful natural rock pool. A word of caution: please be VERY careful while visiting Angel’s Billabong and listen to local’s warning if they tell you not to get inside. Even if you aren’t planning to get in the water, the wave can get really massive here. There have been some fatal accidents where people got swept away and died, so don’t take this lightly!
Broken Beach is famous as the viewpoint for an arched tunnel in the cliffs, allowing the ocean to flow into a pool, which is Angel’s Billabong.
3. Snorkeling at Crystal Bay or Gamat Bay
After the treacherous hike up from Kelingking Beach, I told my boyfriend that I want to just take it easy and swim at the beach. We started looking at our options – Crystal Bay or Gamat Bay.
This is when I had a light bulb moment and realized that we’ve actually BEEN to Nusa Penida two years ago, but we took a boat from Sanur and was on the boat the entire time since we were there for diving. One of the dive spots at that time was called Crystal Bay and I remember having the best snorkeling of my life there during a surface interval.
So we got on our bike and went to Crystal Bay. Once there, the sun has gotten so strong that the sand actually hurts to walk on because it’s boiling hot. We immediately camped out under one of the vacant parasols and I rented a mask and pair of fins (Rp 50,000 – about US$3.50) and just jumped straight into the cool water.
What makes Crystal Bay so special is that the corals are very healthy and they are literally just meters away from the beach. I saw various fish – unicorn fish, trumpet fish, rainbow fish and a triggerfish which I quickly swam away from – just to name a few. There were also schools of small fishes among the colorful corals. It’s honestly as good as diving without the hassle of carrying heavy equipment!
I did not get a chance to go to Gamat Bay, but I heard this is also a good option for snorkeling! You can also check out Manta Point for a chance to swim with Manta Rays. I came here for diving before and we saw a few mantas.
If snorkeling is your thing, I highly suggest booking this Nusa Penida Snorkeling Trip, which will take you to all the great snorkeling spots in Nusa Penida. You can use GIRLEATWORLD for 5% off!
4. Attu Beach
This beach is on the other side of the island from the harbor, so it takes a bit of effort to reach. It would have taken us 2 hours on the road one way, so we had to skip this time. But it looks amazing!
5. Rumah Pohon Tree House
This is actually a simple accommodation, but it has become famous as photo spots as well. I wouldn’t recommend coming here if you aren’t staying though… it could get annoying for those who booked the accommodation. You can stay at Tree House for about $40 a night – book them here.
6. Do some Scuba diving
I would only recommend this if you aren’t doing a day
The famous diving points in Nusa Penida is Manta Point and Crystal Bay. They are the same spots I mentioned under snorkeling above, but yes they are famous diving sites too!
It’s almost a guarantee that you will see Manta Rays at Manta Point, but it’s also a very crowded spot. If you make it down here, PLEASE do not touch or approach the Manta Rays! They are delicate beings and may run away if you do so, and you will ruin the experience for everyone. Aside from seeing Manta Rays though, the diving site isn’t particularly beautiful and the visibility tends to be better elsewhere
Crystal Bay is famous as the possible spot to see Mola-mola, aka the giant Ocean sunfish that are so round and flat that it resembles a plate. But don’t hold your breath on seeing Mola-mola, they are a bit hard to spot. I’ve been to Nusa Penida twice for diving and haven’t had my luck yet.
Leaving Nusa Penida
After Crystal Bay, we did not have time to do anything else. It was already 3:50 PM we had to rush back to the harbor to make it on time for our 4:30 PM boat.
Remember how I’ve mentioned above that I recommend to be at the harbor 30 minutes before departure time and check in at the ticket office. Here is why.
Leaving the island was kinda chaotic. As it turns out a lot of people were doing the same thing as us (booking the last boat out), and the boat was overbooked. After a 10-minute delay and crowding around the harbor not knowing what’s going on, they started calling us by name one-by-one in the order of check-in. If you get in and secure a seat, then you get to leave the island on that boat. If not, you have to wait for the second boat to come and pick up the leftover people. And that’s why it’s important to come early and check in!
Okay! That’s all for Nusa Penida. If you found this useful, please leave a comment below. I love reading your comments 🙂
Are you looking for more places to visit during your stay in Bali? Be sure to check my complete Bali Guide. This post contains everything I know about Bali – which areas to stay, what food to eat and what to do in Bali.