Bali as a vacation spot has everything that makes it an ideal holiday destination. Whether you like beaches, or adventure activities, nature or a nice shopping trip, Bali has it all. Nusa Penida is an island southeast just off mainland Bali. Chances are, if you’re booking a trip to Bali, you will hear about Nusa Penida islands.
Nusa Penida is the biggest of the three islands including Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. Each of the three islands are drop dead gorgeous. We chose to spend a night and 2 full days on Nusa Penida island mainly because there were more things to do and see here.
How Many Days Should You Spend In Nusa Penida?
Ideally, you should do a one night minimum stay in Nusa Penida. That way you can cover both east and west of Nusa Penida islands. Both east and west have different sets of beaches that are incomparable.
Getting a minimum of one night stay also gives you the chance to experience sunrise and sunset on the island. There are beautiful viewpoints where you experience this and you really shouldn’t miss it.
A lot of folks I know also do a day trip to Nusa Penida. There are a lot of day trip packages available easily. The only disadvantage according to me here is everything is a bit rushed up. To give you an idea, if you’re planning a day trip and back from Nusa Penida, here’s what your schedule will be like:
- Leave the port at 7AM.
- Reach the islands by 8:30 AM. Travel time to reach popular spots is about 1.5-2 hour drive.
- Last ship back is around 4:30-5PM for which you need to start from your destination around 3 PM.
So if you see, you only get about 5 odd hours on the island which is hardly anything especially if you want to soak in the beauty. I highly recommend staying back a night and doing things at your own pace.
How To Get To Nusa Penida?
There are couple of ways to reach the islands. I personally found this app called Klook to be extremely helpful in doing any of the transport and logistical bookings. They are quite reliable in Bali, and we didn’t face any problems with them whatsoever.
So, in case you go ahead with the app, you’ll easily find options giving you transportation availability from different mainland areas in Bali. A big advantage of booking through Klook is that they help you with picking your luggage from Sanur port to the boat.
I’m telling you, dragging your luggage in wet sands is a PAIN! If you’re not strong enough, chances are you won’t be able to drag it around much, and there is a significant walk to be done on the beach. We had two full suitcase + hand bags as we were staying a night in Nusa Penida. Since our plan was last minute, we couldn’t get local help. It was a proper workout trying to put the stuff on the boat, not to mention my luggage was soaking wet!
If in case you still wish to do your own bookings here’s how to get to Nusa Penida.
- Get a pick up done from your destination to Sanur.
- You can get a drop to Sanur from any of the popular spots like Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu etc.
- From Sanur a lot of mid-size boats do all day trips to Nusa Penida.
- You can either pre-book the boat tickets from any travel agent in Bali or even buy the tickets at Sanur itself.
The only problem you might face if you book the tickets at the last minute is the waiting time for your boat. You might not get the boat right away. In Bali, usually the temperatures are crazy hot during day time especially on islands. So you ideally should be in the first few boats out.
Transportation to and fro the islands is not that expensive. Typically it would cost you anywhere between INR 800-1500 per person per ride. That sometimes can include pick up from your hotel as well from Bali.
Day trip to Nusa Penida and back to the main island can cost anywhere between INR 2500 to INR 4000 per person. This would include pick up drop to the hotel, boat ride to the island as well as local transportation. It also includes snorkelling activity if you choose to visit West Nusa Penida.
What To Expect At Nusa Penida?
Just After Landing At The Islands
The first thing you’ll notice when you land is a lot of dust around. The island is seeing heavy construction ever since it has picked up the tourist storm. Truth be told, it’s not a pretty sight, the landing part. But the main beauty of the island is quite a distance inside. So don’t judge the place too soon.
You’ll also see a lot of locals trying to get your business for day trip transportation. In case you haven’t booked a private car beforehand, you need to start negotiating prices here. The islands can only be covered by hiring a private car, or touring it with a group in mini-vans.
The Island Routes and Road Condition
The island routes are not all that well made, and given all the construction around, it isn’t the best place to hire a bike. The terrain is quite a rough bumpy ride, and you might not enjoy the experience all that much. It’s better if you leave the driving to the locals.
My husband has a mild case of motion sickness. At one point, he just popped a pill and went to sleep halfway through the ride. There are one or two stretches where the road is simply non-existent. You have to have your seat belt on to avoid jumping up and down the seat.
Local Transport Here
We planned our Nusa Penida trip quite last minute. So we couldn’t pre-book a private car to take us around. It got me quite worried as I didn’t know how to go about any place after landing on the island. Luckily, finding a decent air-conditioned cab is not an issue here.
The only thing you need to do is negotiate well. We heard quotes like IDR 900,000 for the whole day which included one of east or west part of the island. After some pushing around, the final full day cab price came down to IDR 450,000 which is approx INR 2300.
If you find a cab and a genuine driver under IDR 600,000 you should be fine. The cab drivers are pretty safe and reliable. There is no scare of leaving behind belongings with them. We left our heavy camera equipments in the car for the most part, and we were ok. Just make sure to carry your cash and cards. The important things.
Toilet Situation On The Island
I won’t lie. Toilet situation is a bit tricky on the island. I don’t think there were many places you could use the toilet. Kelingking beach had a few cafes and small restaurants. There were one off toilets available there. I don’t remember seeing a toilet anywhere else :-\
So if you are doing a day trip, here’s what I would suggest. The minute you get down from your boat, use the common restroom before taking the local transport to see the islands.
The other thing you need to know is if you take a walk down to the beach, you won’t find any restrooms anywhere. Most of the pristine clear beaches like Atuh beach, Diamond beach and Kelingking beach are quite a walk up and down. It can take you anywhere from 45 mins to upto 1.5 hours one way. So be prepared beforehand.
Sightseeing Nusa Penida Island
Once you’re out of the car and you reach a spot, the locations are gorgeous. It simply is out of this world. No matter the condition on the main island, the ocean view and the beaches, they are amazing. In fact, Diamond beach was honestly one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. The minute you walk the road and suddenly the view of the beach opens up, my heart just skipped a beat.
Your car will simply drop you at one point. Usually the beach is quite a walking distance away. To really enjoy the whole experience, every spot on the island will take away a few hours. So in all you can probably do three to four spots maximum.
The only good thing is whether you do east or west, all the popular spots are pretty close to each other. Once your car is parked, it’s upto you how much you really wish to explore the island.
List of Must Visit Places In Nusa Penida
East Nusa Penida
West Nusa Penida
- Kelingking Beach – Gorgeous views
- Crystal Beach – For Snorkelling
- Broken Beach
- Angels Billabong
Activities On The Island
The main activity that you must not miss while here is snorkelling. There are a couple of places where you can do this. Usually, you can opt for a package deal which will include snorkelling in Gamat Bay, Manta Bay, Crystal Bay and couple of more places. You can choose any two or three places.
Manta Bay for instance is known for swimming and snorkelling with Manta rays. Manta Bay waters is quite rough. But it’s the best one. If you are not water afraid and have prior snorkelling experience, you really should go for this.
If you’re not too comfortable then the locals also suggest going for Crystal and Gamat Bay. These are calm waters and more for family and beginners in snorkelling.
Besides this, the island has gorgeous beaches where you can simply chill out. Some of them are swimmable, some aren’t. There are also Bali swings and other nests you can click photos in.
Food On The Island:
Nusa Penida is not Bali when it comes to it’s food offering. You’ll only find restaurants and little cafes and shops near popular tourist spots. The only other place you’ll find food is at your hotel.
Food in general is ok. Nothing too fancy. You might not find a lot of options, variety in terms of what to eat. But for a day or two, you’ll easily be able to manage. If not anything else, every restaurant has Mie Goreng and Nasi Goreng on their menu.
Stay in Nusa Penida:
There are lots of options in hotel and stay in Nusa Penida. Depending upon your budget, you can choose to stay at a fancy hotel vs. a nice budget cottage stay. The prices are not that expensive. But do not expect a five star treatment here. It’s still quite basic in comparison to what mainland Bali has to offer.
We Stayed At Puri Yalus Bungalows – Is It The Best Location To Stay?
Overall Cost Of Touring The Island:
Things are relatively well priced on the island. In fact, we found locals charging less for water, ice-cream, chips here than in Bali. Everything is negotiable including activity charges.
For instance, snorkelling in Crystal and Gamat Bay with a private boat and a snorkelling guide help cost us IDR 800,000 ~ INR 4,000 for two of us. It included snorkelling gear and approximately two hours in the water.
Food cost is bare minimum. Everything on the menu is under IDR 100,000 i.e. INR 500 per main dish.
Few other things you might want to know:
- The island is pretty small. East to west is barely 30kms. However, since the roads are bad, everything takes time. Even if you see two sightseeing spots close by on google maps, the route to reach the place might take hours.
- In one day, you can either do East or you could do west. There is no way you can cover both.
- Temperature on the island is really hot, and you have to be prepared to walk and climb a considerable bit (sometimes upto an hour plus) to get to those instagrammable spots.
- There is not much activity post sunset. It is a relatively isolated island which gets pretty dark and quiet. So be prepared to laze around at your hotel stay. It’s all about relaxed evenings and slow paced life here.
- You should carry your own sunblock, beach essentials, and key medical supplies. You won’t be able to shop anything here.