If you’ve scrolled through Instagram looking at magical travel photos, you’ve probably seen a photo or two (or ten) from Nusa Penida. Just a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Bali, this island gifts travellers with absolutely unreal views! Dramatic cliffs, turquoise waters, white sand beaches, unique rock formations and magical natural springs make this island one of the latest, must-see destinations in Bali. Here’s the catch though: the roads can be really rough to drive on so many people opt for expensive tours. We chose to do it ourselves with a rented motorbike and it really allowed us to move at our own pace and get deeper into the island. This guide will give you everything you need to know on how to enjoy the beauty of Nusa Penida to its absolute fullest!
Top Things You Need to Know
- The roads on Nusa Penida are notoriously bad (think: broken, unkept, bumpy, or just completely gone), and are usually travelled by motorbike. We witnessed firsthand that they can be very dangerous. Make the decision to rent a motorbike and drive yourself, or take a day trip with a driver. If you are not VERY confident in your driving abilities, it might be easier to hire a driver or take a tour. This shouldn’t be the first place you rent a bike. We chose to share one bike and have Alex drive with Devon on the back. There were definitely a few roads and hills that tested us, but we did make it through the entire island without a fall. Motorbike rental is usually available near the main port or at almost every hostel or homestay and prices can vary but except to pay 75,000 IDR/day. The tanks on the bikes are about 2L, a litre of petrol costs between 10-20k IDR. The farther you are from the main towns the more expensive it gets! A tank of gas should last you about 4 hours, maybe a bit less if you’re going up and down a lot of hills!
- The South West side of the island is where the majority of the tourist attractions/sites are found. The North East has considerably fewer, but we found it very worth it to check these ones out as well. If you plan on staying multiple days to visit all the sights, then check out our itinerary for the easiest and most convenient way to get everywhere (separate post or just underneath?).
How To Get There
We arrived to Nusa Penida from the well known Gili Islands in Lombok, Indonesia. We left from the main island of Gili Trawnagan. We walked up and down the main street to find the best deal on ferries and found Golden Cruises company, which offered us tickets to Nusa Penida for 300,000 IDR (we were quoted between 300-450k). The prices do not vary a whole lot, but feel free to compare prices and times to find the one best suited for you. Our ferry boat was pretty nice, and the trip lasted about 2 hours 40 minutes, though it is quite wavy! The trip goes from Gili T, to Gili Air, then a quick stop in Padangbai, then finally Nusa Penida. From the larger boat, we were able to unload directly onto the beach in the main port town of Toyapakeh. We were immediately offered many motorbike taxis to hostels from multiple guys waiting on the beach. We hadn’t decided where we were staying so we ignored them and walked up the beach and into the streets. There are a few options for accommodation and food there (most are on the more expensive side), but in the end we decided to stay at a homestay we had previously researched. Walking down the street, there is no shortage of people offering you rides. We had big bags so we waited until a truck offered us a ride to our hostel and it cost 50,000 IDR. He did not know where he was going, so you may have to have your map out!
When we left Nusa Penida, we left from the same port but headed to Sanur on the main island of Bali. This ferry company was called DWI Manunggal and it took us just under one hour, but it was quite bumpy. Boats leave Nusa Penida at 7am, 9am, 2:30pm and 5pm (this may change depending on the season, so double check when you get there!). Watch for water getting in through the windows! We bought our tickets from Meri Homestay for 150,000 IDR.
From that port, we walked AWAY from all the people standing at the ferry spewing out ridiculous prices for a taxi to Kuta. We walked out about 4 or 5 minutes (lots of people will do the same) until we found a legitimate light blue taxi and asked for the metre price. The drive from the port to Kuta was 120,000 IDR.
Where to Stay
Hostels and hotels are a little scattered around the island. There are quite a few options and price points for where you’d like to stay, and it thoroughly depends on your itinerary (see below for sample itineraries!). We opted to stay in two different locations (for two nights and then one night) to better reach all of the awesome things we wanted to see and do.
- Meri Homestay – This clean and quiet hostel is located closer to the main port. It is close to the main tourist attractions of the island which can also be reached by a day trip. Each room had a private bathroom, AC, and a breakfast included brought to your room every morning (a choice between pancakes or eggs and toast with coffee, tea or juice). It cost 198,500/night. The owners were very friendly but sometimes they weren’t around for us to ask questions! They also offered a bike rental for 75k per day (although the bike we rented wasn’t very good and they did not provide helmets). Down the road there are a couple of small hostels and restaurants to eat at. You can book a room online here.
- Tropical Garden Inn – Located on the northeast side of the island, this hostel was clean, affordable and had an included breakfast of eggs and toast or pancakes with fruit, coffee, tea or juice. A room with a double bed and private bathroom cost 193,500 IDR. Unfortunately the mattresses were very thin and hard. The Inn is in a great location in relation to multiple local restaurants, and is on the main coastal road about a 45 min drive to Atuh Beach. You can book a room online here.
What To Do
- Kelingkling Viewpoint – This is probably one of the most popular and most photographed places on the island, this sight is still amazing to see in person. Sheer green and grey cliffs drop into the turquoise water in the shape of what people say is a dinosaur. And we have to agree! There are multiple viewpoints to get awesome photos and enjoy this natural wonder. It is very touristy here, with tons of people crowding around for photos. You can climb closer to the dinosaur cliffs and the people will thin out a little bit. The climb is decently steep but there are some makeshift railings and is doable in sandals. Cost: 5000 IDR/person, and 1000 IDR for parking a bike. Expect to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour if you are heading to the viewpoint. There are small warungs (restaurants) located near here, with easy meals like noodles and fried rice.
- Kelingkling Beach – A large sandy beach sits underneath the iconic cliffs, giving you an opportunity to get up close to that beautiful turquoise water. If you continue down the main path to the Kelingkling viewpoint, the path to the beach starts at a small offshoot to the right. However, fair warning, this climb down is very steep and can be quite dangerous. It is actually a full 400 metres down. The “railings” are made only from sticks and rope, the path is steep and rocky. It was so steep at points, it felt like rock climbing; we had to turn around and lower ourselves down carefully. As well, there are many people coming up and going down this narrow path, so you will have to wait for others to pass before continuing. There are also loose rocks that can fall and we actually met another traveler who was hit by one and was injured! The hike down was about 30 minutes and we were very sweaty and thirsty after. We did really love this beach, but it is hard work to get down there, so be careful! We did the hike in flip flops, but definitely would have benefited from hiking sandals or sturdier shoes. Once down there, you can lounge on the beach, enjoy the view and maybe go swimming. We say maybe because the waves are quite large and you will more than likely get knocked around a bit! There are one or two men selling beer, pop and water out of a cooler but it comes at a very steep price (A large water is normally under 5000 IDR and down there, it was 20,000 IDR!). Expect to spend at least 2 hours hiking down, chilling at the beach, and returning to the top. There is no extra charge for walking down to the beach.
- Broken Beach – Another iconic Nusa Penida sight, the waves have eroded away a massive hole in the cliffs making for an awesome archway towering over the water. You can walk all the way around and overtop of the archway, and there are multiple photo points. Again, it is quite touristy and you may have to wait in line for the right photo spot! There are little kiosks selling the usual snacks, water, and pop. We would definitely recommend checking this sight out. Expect to spend about 30 minutes here. It costs 5000 IDR/person, 1000 IDR for parking a bike.
- Angel’s Billabong – Keep walking past Broken Beach to find a small protected pool that fills with the waves, then becomes separate and calm as the tide recedes. We have seen photos of it before and were really intrigued by it, but in reality, we were a little surprised. Maybe in the right sunlight or right time of day it would seem cooler, but essentially it was just a little murky pool. There are ropes stopping tourists from going all the way down to the water, but we simply stepped over them to grab a picture. Other travellers have gone swimming there, but we opted not to. You don’t have to pay an extra fee if you’ve already paid to get to Broken Beach.
- Crystal Bay/Beach – A beautiful beach with swimming an an epic rock formation that is basically an archway that the waves crash through at different tides. It’s perfect for unreal sunsets! There are a few beach huts serving local food and cheap Bintang beers to enjoy as the sky turns purple and pink. We spent about 1.5 hours there, watching the sunset, having some drinks and also watching all the people take couple photos in front of the sunset! Visiting and parking at the beach is free!
Banah Cliff Point – A nice view of the massive dramatic cliffs that characterize the island. Yet another rock formation off the point, with a hole through it. There is a small pathway to get to the view point, and you will have to go through some pretty dense bushes. It is important to note that getting to this view point was absolutely terrible. The roads were completely broken and rough. We had to park and walk about 500 metres to the viewpoint because it was that bad. There is a “sunset view” sign, but that is not the main view point where you can see the rock formation. We spent about 30 minutes there after the turn off the main road. It is free though.
Tembeling “Natural” Springs – Natural is in quotations because it probably was a natural spring but now they’ve definitely altered it. Legend has it that these cool, turquoise waters were stumbled upon by a pregnant woman chasing her cow through the forest. Tembeling is the Balinese word for pregnant. There are two little pools right next to the ocean and one pool around three quarters of the way down to the bottom. We recommend swimming in the bottom pools. This is because the significance of the separate pools may have once been to divide men and women, but it is unclear in our research as to if that still applies. We wanted to remain respectful, and only got in the bottom pool where local kids of both genders were playing in the water. At the bottom pool you also get to see massive waves crashing up on the beach next to you! To get to these pools, there is a very narrow, unpaved road to with steep drop offs that can be driven on by scooters. This was probably the most ridiculous path we drove on. Only do this drive if you are very confident in your driving skills. On the way back up there were points where our bike couldn’t carry both of us because it was too steep, so Devon had to jump off and then catch up on the next flat. There are options to have a local drive your bike down for you with you on the back! There is no fee to go to the springs.
Manta Point – Another view point with sweeping cliff views, similar to Banah Cliff Point. You can choose one or the other if you’re pressed for time. We only spent about 20 minutes there. No entry to get to the viewpoint.
Guyangan Falls (aka Peguyangan Falls; there were signs that said both) – Not for the faint of heart. Sitting at the bottom of the cliff side, this outdoor temple is essentially nestled in a gentle waterfall. It is a place for cleansing/cleaning your body and spirit. However, as it sits at the bottom of the cliffs, you must walk down a very long set of stairs built into the cliff side. Sometimes, you’re walking above nothing but a very long drop to the crashing waves below. As you get further down, the stairs change from sturdy metal to not so sturdy wooden stairs. You can see why someone afraid of heights may want to opt out of this destination. The climb down is about 25 minutes. At the bottom, you can walk in ankle deep water as you admire this unique temple. And on the other side, there are three tiny pools built right into the cliffs that you can swim in! How often do you get to swim in a magical cave pool in a waterfall temple?! It was truly a unique experience. Entry is 5000 IDR/person and it is mandatory for both men and women to wear sarongs. They have some that you can rent for 5000 IDR.
Poa Gutri Cave Temple – This temple is less talked about because it does not provide all of the “instagram” views that many tourists crave when coming to Nusa Penida, but it is JUST as cool! Climb for 5 minutes up the stone steps, greet the friendly locals at the top, and descend through a tiny crawl space before arriving in a massive cavern in the rock. The cave temple was way bigger than we expected and we were truly astounded. We spent about 45 minutes there. It is mandatory to wear a sarong, but they are available for rent in the parking area across the road. There are signs so you cannot miss it! Entry is 20,000 IDR and an additional 10,000 IDR if you need a sarong.
Rumah Pohon Treehouse/Thousand Islands View Point – You’ve probably seen magical photos of a treehouse overlooking a beautiful beach and crazy rock formations/cliffs. No, there are not actually one thousand islands, but the view is truly beautiful! No one stays in that treehouse anymore, so it is essentially just for a photo op overlooking Atuh Beach. You do have to climb down steps for about 5 minutes to reach the treehouse and viewpoint and back up to leave, so be prepared. We spent just under 30 minutes there. Entry was 10,000 IDR.
- Atuh Beach (aka Diamond Beach) – A beautiful white sand beach surrounded by cliffs, and speckled with cool rock formations, this destination is well worth the drive to the far side of the island. The stairs are built into the rock face and are fun to walk down. Watch out for tons of people stopping for photos on these almost iconic stairs. The waves are very large at the beach but we had fun wading in the shallows and cooling down. There is one shop down at the bottom if you need water or would like a beer, but it can be expensive. You’re better off packing a few drinks and some snacks if you want to spend your day down there. It’s a sweaty climb back up but the beach was worth it! Entry is 10,000 IDR per person.
Where to Eat
- Warung Jun – Run by the same owners as Meri Homestay it was great to have a cheap place to eat right around the corner. Meals were about 25,000 IDR, 33k IDR for a large Bintang and 10k IDR for water.
- Salt and Pepper – Also close Meri Homestay, this restaurant had some great meals at reasonable prices, and also had ice cream! It’s about a 10 min walk from the homestay.
- Papillas – This is a pricier spot on the main north coast road, we got stuck here when we were driving back to our hostel when it started to rain. We decided to splurge on some 50-80k IDR wood fired pizza and it did not disappoint. The restaurant is also air conditioned.
- Warung Batan Sabo – A slightly cheaper spot just east of the main group of restaurants near Tropical Garden Inn. Great meals and appetizers, slightly cheaper drinks.
- Warung Makan Made – We think this is where we ate/had a few drinks one night, it’s among the main group of restaurants. Lots of people around and lots of meals and drinks to choose from!
In order to reach all the destinations we wanted, we opted for a 3 day, 3 night itinerary. The first two nights are spent on the west side of the island, near the majority of sights. Your third night will be at a hostel closer to the northeast part of the island in order to make it to the farther destinations. We spent a long time creating this schedule to make the most of this island! The destinations are strategically grouped together to minimize the amount of travelling you’re doing every day! We rented a bike from our homestay for 75,000 IDR per day for all three days in order to transport ourselves around the island at our own pace. Here is our ideal 3 day itinerary!
Arrival on the island in the late afternoon and stay at your first homestay. Check out Meri Homestay for an affordable, clean and friendly stay.
- Kelingkling Viewpoint and Beach – 1-3 hours. After climbing all the way down to the beach and back, we opted to stop at one of the “warungs” or local restaurants at the top for lunch. This may have been a little pricer than other locations on the island, but if you opt to see Kelingkling beach, it may take you your whole morning.
- Broken Beach – 30 minutes
- Angel’s Billabong – 30 minutes
- Crystal Bay Beach for Sunset – Grab some drinks from the small beach shops and settle in for an absolutely unreal sunset!
- Merri Homestay: Spend your second night at the same hostel as your first.
- Pack a small backpack with the necessities for the next 2 days and an overnight. Leave your larger bags at your homestay and bring your small pack on your back.
- Banah Cliff Point – under 30 minutes
- Tembeling Natural Springs – 2 -3 hours
- Manta Point – under 30 minutes
- Guyangan falls – 1.5 – 2 hours
- Stay your third night on the north east side island at Tropical Garden Inn or one of your choosing in the area.
- Pack up your day pack again and take it all with you to your destinations. So you can return to the west side of the island after today’s activities.
- Poa Gutri Cave Temple – 45 minutes – 1 hour
- Rumah Pohon Treehouse/Thousand Islands Viewpoint – 30-45 minutes
- Atuh Beach (aka Diamond Beach) – 1 – 2 hours
- Head back to the west side of the island for a late lunch. Return to your first hostel, pick up your big bags, and get a taxi to the pier to catch a late afternoon ferry off the island to your next destination!