Nusa Penida was undoubtedly the most anticipated part of my trip and it didn’t disappoint. Where is it? It’s one of the three Nusa islands east of the main island, and many consider it the prettiest part of Bali. However, as the biggest and the least touristy Nusa Island, Nusa Penida isn’t the easiest to get around at all. In fact, if you, like us, aren’t a scooter driver or isn’t confident, it’s best not to navigate the rocky roads alone.
We had booked a private driver for our two (more like 1.5) days on Nusa Penida through MJ Travel Organizer and it had been one heck of a time saver as we were able to send our list of sights to see to the driver and get picked up immediately! Or you can also join a tour, but that’s less flexible! But first things first:
- 1 Boat to Nusa Penida
- 2 Getting around Nusa Penida
- 3 Nusa Penida Hotel
- 4 Nusa Penida Day 1 Itinerary:
- 5 Nusa Penida Day 2 itinerary
- 6 Other Sights on Nusa Penida
- 7 Nusa Penida day trip
*Our transport is hosted by MJ Travel Organizer, but as always all opinions are my own*
Boat to Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is about one hour to 45 minutes boat ride from Bali, and you can get a boat at either Sanur or a place further north. I’d recommend Sanur because most likely, you’d be based near there. Before we set off to Bali, I found several options online and the most prominent one was with Maruti Express from Sanur, with a quote of 38 USD each way.
Here is where we had received another incorrect information: our driver told us that we needed to arrive an hour early to board, and it’s untrue. The official office on the road leading to the beach where the ferry arrives is often closed, but you buy your tickets from the office right in front of the beach to the left of the road next to the ATM.
You’ll buy what is called an open trip – meaning you can return on any ferry you want, practically. The departure times are all listed on the ticket and it only costs ~29 USD (200,000 rupiahs) per person. We were then led further down the beach (left) at a little stand with benches to wait for the ferry to arrive. They aren’t often on time, so prepare yourself.
P.S. if you need the toilet, here is the only one. The condition is horrible but if you have just purchased a ticket, asks and you should be able to use it for free instead of 3,000 rupiahs.
Fast boat to Nusa Penida: what to expect
Interestingly, the ferry from Sanur all arrives on the beach in front of the rocky embankment, meaning that you have to drag your luggage down the big boulders. We received help from fellow passengers and from the beach, the staff will carry your luggage across the water aboard.
If the ferry is full, it’s less bumpy but doesn’t expect it to be too smooth! You then collect your shoes once you reach the other side and they often end up dredged, so wear flip flops if you can!
Toyapakeh Nusa Penida
The ferry arrives at the town of Toyapakeh on the northeastern tip of Nusa Penida. I would recommend organizing pick up because Bali is a place where tourists are easily ripped off and there is no meter taxi service on Nusa Penida. Alternatively, there are many homestays and small hotels in this town.
Getting around Nusa Penida
For those of you who want to rent a scooter, Brittany from LifeofBrit can answer your queries better. For us, it’s better to hire a driver and not worry about finding our way or navigating the rocky roads. Our driver did a good job of driving us around and hadn’t once gotten lost! He even accompanied us around the sights and look after our bags when we went swimming etc. We booked him through MJ Travel.
For reference, a 2 day trip like mine would cost 1 600 000 rupiahs (quote from October 2017) – which translates to about 120 USD. But a car can fit up to 4 people and even with the 3 of us it’s only 20 USD/day each.
Nusa Penida Hotel
I don’t normally put the hotel section up so high, but it’s an important matter to consider when you visit Nusa Penida, as the island isn’t very accessible so you need to pick somewhere near the main road to stay. Most of the sights are around the southeastern part of the island such as Crystal Bay, Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong, but options are more expensive near there unless you stay at somewhere more basic.
We ended up staying in the north part of the island 20 minutes from Toyapakeh along the main road at Singabu Bungalow, a new hotel, which is near to two quite nice restaurants and is very quaint. Each room is an individual villa with outdoor bathroom and a shared pool. The only problem is the bad soundproofing means we got woken up by barking dogs and screeching cocks.
If you don’t mind the slightly higher price tag and want to stay near Crystal Bay, Coco Resort is highly recommended. However, we had driven past it and it’s literally just by a road not near the beach, with nothing nearby, so that’s worth considering.
For those who want a spectacular view, we had considered the Somayan Bungalows on the eastern side of the island but it was booked out!
Nusa Penida Day 1 Itinerary:
Arrived at Toyapakeh at noon
Our ferry was slower due to loading cargos, so we arrived nearer to noon than 11. Luckily, our driver was already waiting so we quickly got on the way to our hotel. After dumping our suitcases and getting changed, we were quickly on our way to lunch!
Lunch at Warung Makan Boga Segara
We ate lunch at Warung Makan Boga Segara at our driver’s recommendation. It’s at the northeastern part of Nusa Penida and offers a spectacular view of the coastline with bamboo seating huts. Their menu was simple and the prices relatively cheap – about 35,000 rupiah for Nasi Goreng (chicken fried rice).
However – it’s worth noting that while most restaurants in Bali gives drivers who bring them customers a free meal, they had charged the driver’s meal at tourist price and added it to our bill without informing us. If my sister hadn’t had requested the receipt for finance purposes, we wouldn’t have known. Our driver was confused as well, so for that alone, I am really disappointed in this place.
P.S. we had asked and the locals can get Nasi Goreng at around 8,000 rupiahs on the mainland. Just sayin’.
After lunch, we headed to the most eastern point of interest on our list: Atuh Beach. While there is no entrance fee to this beach, you do have to pay 10,000 rupiahs for parking per car.
To get down to the beach, there is a concrete path that gives you a spectacular view of an inaccessible beach on the other side of the peninsula before descending into a steep staircase.
To be honest, Atuh Beach looks much better from above and the swimability of it is pretty much zero due to the rockiness and the big waves. However, the view from the top and the beach adjacent to it are not to be missed:
Time spent: ~30 minutes but budget more time for getting in
I saw the photo of this place and immediately put it on my to-visit list, but the truth was that when we got off at the entrance, I had completely forgotten about which one this was. Interestingly, the Peguyangan is also known as the Gyuangan Temple, and the waterfall itself is at the very, very end of it all.
Again, we had to pay for the parking, but this time only for 5,000 rupiahs. However, because it is a temple, we had to wrap a sarong around our legs and neither my sister nor Tanya. The good news is you can rent one for 5,000 rupiahs.
The path down is not for the faint of heart or those with a fear of height because these blue metal staircases have huge gaps between each step and the drop is pretty steep. The handle is also overrun with ants, and we had to maneuver over cables at certain places.
The temple itself is not very inspiring on arrival, though the waterfall that trickles over the cliff edge is and makes for an excellent drone shot.
Since I had forgotten which one this is, it was by chance that we actually headed to the back where the little waterfall it with its mini infinity pool. It just so happens that the group before us were leaving so we could enjoy it ourselves.
Note: while the pool is beautiful, if there are a lot of people it would likely end up being cramped and dangerous!
We didn’t stay for sunset due to the staircase, and we headed out and back while we could still see.
Time spent: ~1 hour or so, depending on how long you want to be at the waterfall
Dinner at Cocoleaf Resto
We stayed close to our hotel and headed opposite the road for dinner. The service, despite being slow, was good, and the food not bad either. We had Nasi Goreng (again) with a drink each which comes to about 42,000 rupiah per person.
Nusa Penida Day 2 itinerary
While a lot of people start the day early at 7 or 7:30, we decided that we would start at 8. The driver, however, was 10 minutes late, but we were on our way soon enough. On this day, we visited the more popular sights:
Tembeling Beach and Forest
I’ve seen photos of the natural pool online and really wanted to go, however, it’s important to mention that a landslide in July 2017 had covered it. The beach and forest is still there, however, if those are the focal point of your visit. We were disappointed and a little annoyed that our driver didn’t mention it until we got there.
If you are driving there in a car, you have to stop about 2.5km from the trail and either rent a scooter there or walk.
Since we were there early, we rented two scooters and someone came over and drove us down in two motorcycles (our driver drove the other one). The path was extremely bumpy and I definitely felt like I was going to fall off at any moment. My sis claimed that it was the most exciting part…
After that, it was some steep stairs down to the forest. It was a fairly gloomy morning, but that gave it a different kind of charm. However, without the pool, I wouldn’t have come to visit voluntarily.
In the end, they charged us 100,000 rupiahs for the driver and the two scooter, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that they overcharged – so definitely negotiate before you head on unlike us. We were too shocked by having to go motorcycle to say anything and that didn’t work out in our favour!
Time spent: 1 hour or so, due to getting in and out but we didn’t stay long down there
If you have googled Nusa Penida, you are likely to have seen a photo of the Kelingking Beach with its headland and pristine beach. Needless to say, there were many people there but it doesn’t affect the shot. Why? Because the path down is broken!
About halfway down the rope and makeshift staircase is destroyed by a landslide. Though we did see a few people on the beach, it didn’t look safe and most stayed on the cliff level. From the carpark, it’s an almost horizontal walk to the cliff side of the famous beach.
There are two viewpoints from which to take photos:
- All the way towards the top end of the cliff in front of a taped-off bamboo platform. The ground soil so be careful when sitting down
- The classic shot is further down the path where the concrete staircase ends by the cliff. There is a section of rock between the rope fence where people can seat and take photos. You might have to queue for this one.
Time spent: 30 minutes or so if you don’t take long!
The natural infinity pool is one of the coolest sights on the list, however, the reality is that it isn’t that big and gets quite crowded. The good news is that it is very close to the carpark, which costs 10,000 rupiah but you can visit two sights in one go!
To get down there, you will have to step on very prickly rocks and sit down to reach the water. Many who didn’t want to swim or get too wet stay close to the right cliff side (but not too close!) for a photo a photo at the end.
If you are keen to swim, there is a deeper channel on the left and it’s really nice, but slippery and prickly at the same time with the rock and moss. You might have to wait around if you want to get the perfect photo, it would take a little while.
Time spent: 30 minutes to an hour depending on how long you want to stay
About 500m further along the coast from Angel’s Billabong is the beautiful Broken Beach. Then name is derived from the arch that broke the perfect cove turning it into a beach. The water was unbelievably blue and it’s pretty! They even built a raised platform for people to take photos from. You can walk around the entire thing but the view isn’t particularly different from the other end. But you can also see another beach from the other side.
Lunch at Warung NG (en route)
By the time we finish with the above attractions, it was actually about 2pm. Warung NG was on the roadside along the way to Crystal Bay, and a surprisingly cute joint. They have good WiFi for those who want to stay connected. The fried rice was good and so was the watermelon juice. And the cost is only 32,000 rupiah per person!
Crystal bay Nusa Penida
We finally made it to Crystal Bay around 3ish. Despite it being early, we thought this would be a good place to chill after two long days and wait for the sunset. There are a lot of conflicting reviews on Crystal Bay, and admittedly it isn’t altogether very pretty, but it’s still a lovely beach and one that has great snorkeling.
The common price quoted for a sun umbrella was 50,000 rupiah, but we didn’t end up getting one because the umbrella vendor gave us an earful when we tried to negotiate (after all, it was only a few hours before sunset).
So we headed to the far side of the beach under shade and chilled out. The clouds came in just before sunset but the pink and orange were still spectacular!
Time spent: 3 hours or so!
Dinner at Bistro ArtRolling
We decided to try the restaurant next to the hotel, which turned out to be western style. Their pizza was surprisingly good but the service even slower than the other one. They ran out of a lot of items on their menu, too, but overall for the price point, it was good at 60,000 rupiahs each.
Other Sights on Nusa Penida
We had visited most of the sights we wanted to see, but there are a lot of other places you can see in Nusa Penida, too. The main regret was not having time to go snorkeling, but it would have taken too much time.
Manta Point Nusa Penida
Flickr Creative Commons/ Daniel Kwok
The manta point is where you are supposed to see many mantas and to get there, I think you’d need to book a boat or a trip from Toyapakeh and it’s about 20 minute’s ride away. Most of the coastal paths are a one-way trip up and down, so it’s important to remember that going from one to another isn’t a straightforward affair, and going to the Manta Point on land means you’ll end up on cliff point.
Saren Cliff Point
I don’t remember what’s special about this… haha, but it’s on the list!
Banah Cliff Point
We chose to skip this over because an arch shape island in the sea wasn’t a huge point of interest to us. However, we met a couple from Hong Kong who loved the sunset they watched there.
It is similar to the Peguyangan Waterfall, but less dramatic and not as difficult to get to on foot. However, this one is still not easy to reach by road which is why we ended up having to give it up.
A series of round hills in the middle of Nusa Penida, we actually drove past it but we were too tired to stop and only catch a glimpse of them on the way past. They are cute, but nothing spectacular and I wouldn’t go out of the way to see them!
Nusa Penida day trip
You can visit Nusa Penida on a day trip, but as you can see there are a lot of places to see. If you really just want to do a day trip, there are plenty of company that offers it online. I hadn’t personally go with any of them, so I can’t recommend. Commonly, the top points to visit are the places we did on the second day but without the Tembeling forest and beach.
You can also do a day trip from the other two Nusa islands.