Nusa Penida, Bali – Travel Guide
We have been to Nusa Penida twice and cannot wait to go back! It is very easy to get from Bali, it has a quarter (probably even less) of the tourists Bali has and has some of the best beaches, viewpoints and natural formations. The locals there are extremely friendly; they are not yet used to seeing many tourists so they wave and smile at you as you go past them and they’re more than willing to help you with directions or give you tips without expecting anything in return.
We discovered it by seeing an instagram picture of Kelingking beach and immediately wanted to go. It was previously Bali’s best kept secret, but social media is drawing more and more attraction to this wonderful island (secret’s out already so we can talk about it). We suggest you go visit it ASAP before it becomes as touristy as Bali and loses its rustic feel.
We have also noticed that many day trip tours to Nusa Penida are being offered and we strongly suggest you avoid those and instead stay on the island a couple of days (3 days is the perfect length), rent a scooter, and see all the spectacular things this island has to offer. If you can, try to arrange for a scooter in advance with your AirBnB or hotel, as there is limited supply on the island. We paid about 5 USD per day to rent a scooter (moped) through our AirBnBs.
How to get there
Nusa Penida is just a 30-40 minute speedboat ride away from Bali. The most popular place to get the boat is from Sanur beach. Many different boat companies offer transport to Nusa Penida, some of which offer the sale of tickets online. There is also an option to get there from Kusamba Harbour.
Sanur – Nusa Penida
The first we went we choose to travel with Maruti Express as they seemed to have the best reputation according to online research. We booked the tickets online via www.balitrips.com, which were very good and responsive. The price is slightly higher than if you were book directly with Maruti Express but this includes a free transfer to and from the ferry (we got the transfer from Seminyak, which was about a 45 minute drive away) and one of their travel agents escorts you to the boat. This sounds pointless, however, when we got to Sanur beach we were very grateful for it as the entire place was a mess. There were tourists everywhere, no real order to anything and he helped us collect the tickets and skip the queue and be one of the first ones on the boat to get a good seat. The journey takes about 30 minutes and we paid USD 38 per person for a two-way ticket and transfer, through balitrips.com. If you buy a ticket on the day at the pier it seems to be about USD 25.
We have also used Mola Mola Express to go from Nusa Penida to Sanur, which felt exactly the same as the Maruti Express (in terms of safety and comfort). We booked our Mola Mola ticket on the day for our return to Sanur and it was slightly cheaper than Maruti Express. We didn’t use this service from Sanur to Nusa Penida however, so we cannot comment on how the process is when going in that direction.
Kusamba Harbour – Nusa Penida
We got a fast boat from Kusamba harbour, which north of Sanur, near Candidasa to Nusa Penida on our last trip. We hadn’t read about getting a boat from here online, however, our driver in Bali suggested it and it turned out be a much better option than the boat from Sanur (if you’re looking for a good driver in Bali please let us know as we always use the same driver – Ketut – who is extremely knowledgeable and patient). We were the only tourists there, it was not busy or chaotic at all, and it was much cheaper (about USD 7 per person one way). The journey time was the same as from Sanur. We took the Gangga Express boat and bought our tickets just 30 minutes before the departure time.
- Wear flip flops / shoes you don’t mind getting wet – when getting on the boat at Sanur you have to walk a couple meters in the water to reach the boat. Maruti Express puts all of our shoes into a large plastic box, which got completely soaked. We were wearing Nikes that day and they got drenched.
- Book in advance if travelling on weekends and public holidays as the boats fill up
- Travel via Kusamba harbour if you want to avoid the crowds
- Check which port you will arriving at/departing from in Nusa Penida as there are two ports
- Be prepared for delays – these boats often do not run on time!
- Try be one of the first ones on the boat if you want to get a decent seat as they get very full. We like the very front seats the best as you get more leg room
- The ride can be very bumpy! Please take this into consideration if you easily get seasick
What to do?
Kelingking Viewpoint & Beach
Kelingking viewpoint is the typical picture of Nusa Penida, with the T-Rex shaped valley in between two beaches (one which you can access with turquoise water and one that is not accessible with dark blue water). It is the most spectacular viewpoint we have ever seen! It must not be missed! You will be very impressed by the incredible natural beauty of this place!
The viewpoint is about a 30 minute scooter drive from the main harbour (where the boats arrive from Sanur). The road to Kelingking is pretty good, one of the best on Nusa Penida so there are no safety issues when driving there. If you get lost along the way you can ask locals for directions as everyone seems to know where this is. Once you arrive to the scooter parking, there were be an L-shaped branch where people take pictures. Go look at the coast behind this – we saw many mantas swimming in these waters! The water is so clear you see them perfectly from afar!
There is a path to go down to the beach from the viewpoint, however, it is not the easiest walk down (or back up), taking about 30-45 mins each way. The road can be slippery, require climbing and there are many points where there is no rail or barrier protecting you from the edge of the cliff. We didn’t know how difficult / unsafe this walk would be and we did it in flip flops, with many bags, and no water – we really would advise you to do the opposite 🙂
If you’re feeling brave enough to walk down the cliff to the beach you will be rewarded with a beautiful white sand beach, hardly anyone there (there were about 5 other people down there when we went in the middle of the day on a weekend). The water is a wonderful turquoise colour! And the walk down gives you truly breathtaking views! However, the waves at this beach can be very high and often merge from two sides to form a large triangle-shaped wave!! You will need to be very careful if swimming here as there will be no one around to help if you if you get caught in the waves!
There is a cute little temple near the viewpoint with several resident monkeys. This temple looks gorgeous just before sunset when it catches an orange hue against the backdrop of the ocean!
- Wear sports shoes if you want to go the beach as it can get quite steep, slippery and unstable. We did this hike in flip flops and struggled a lot more than our friends wearing sneakers
- Pack light – you don’t to be walking down the cliff with many bags, making you even more unstable
- Bring water and sunscreen if you intend to go the beach as the walking down & up is very tiring and there is nothing once you get to the beach (and not much shade either)
- Swim with caution as the waves are big!
In our opinion, this beach has the best balance in terms of lack of crowds, ease of access and beauty. It is not crowded; when we went during peak season there were maybe 8 other people, the road to get there is long but it is in a decent condition and there is no challenging hike to get to the beach. The beach itself is extremely beautiful; the sand is white, there are many corals and there is a stunning rock formation in the middle of the water – a pointy rock with a hole in the middle.
We got lost whilst getting here and ended up arriving through a road where we were the only ones. There was a gorgeous viewpoint where we parked our scooters and then we found a hidden path that leads you to the beach. We were the only ones coming down this way and we got to avoid the entrance fee that’s charged if you go down the stairs on the side of the beach.
The walk down took less than 10 minutes, and wasn’t very challenging. However, it did get quite slippery at times and there were a lot of rocks, so if you travel this way we recommend wearing sports shoes. Once you arrive at the beach there are about 20 sunbeds with parasols. We sat at the ones near the side we came down (opposite side to the stairs) and were not charged for this so long as we ordered a drink from the vendor. They sell soft drinks, water, coconuts and beers for a couple of dollars.
- It’s possible to lie on lounge chairs if buy coconuts/drinks for just a few dollars from the few vendors on the beach
- There are two entrances to the beach, one with the big set of stairs where you need to pay and the other on the opposite side, which is more of hike through the bushes but has no entrance fee!
- Be cautious as there sometimes are rocks / coral on the seafloor and sudden waves can push you onto them
This is a typical example of Nusa Penida’s natural wonders. It is a natural pool sitting in between large volcanic rock and on the cliff edge of the ocean.
The water here is a greenish colour and the floor is lined with seaweed. It is possible to swim here. At certain spots the water is shallow, but right in the middle of the pool the water is very deep and you can swim around without touching the seaweed. Waves from the ocean come sometimes come crashing into the side of the cliff, making water splash into the natural pool.
Getting here is a bit of a mission if you’re on your scooter as the road is in a very bad condition and it is far from the center. You have to drive very slowly and carefully to avoid falling over. Guillermo is an excellent driver so luckily we got through unscathed but everyone else we drove past had some sort of injury or another.
There is a restaurant (warnung) just before you arrive, which was reasonably priced and had decent food (local). We had Gado Gado here and it was quite nice. Local people were also performing a blessing ceremony when we there so we had the pleasure of being able to observe that.
- Avoid coming here at midday as it can get very busy from all the day trip tours. It is best to come early morning or in the evening. There’s nothing worse than sitting in this beautiful pool with 20 other people and being all crammed together!
- The road to reach this is very damaged – it has dirt, sand, gravel and many holes. Do not attempt to ride your scooter here if you are not an experienced driver. We saw many people who has cuts and injuries from falling over on the scooter (nearly everyone we drove past).
- Be careful when swimming in the pool as people have been swept out to sea when big waves crash in, and deaths have been reported here. Do not attempt to swim during high tide
- There are not many places to keep your valuables/clothes here, you will need to find a little spot on the rock above the pool. Just keep an eye on your stuff
- The rocks around the pool are sharp (almost spikey), so wear shoes that are easy to remove at last minute when you are just about to enter the water
- Broken beach is just 2 minutes walk further from this – just continue to walk away from the parking and you will find it
Despite its name, this is not a beach. Instead, it is a naturally formed bridge between a big round pool and the ocean. The water comes in through the bridge and little waves are formed in the round pool – it is an incredibly beautiful thing to see. You can walk all the way around the pool and enjoy this view from every angle. This site is not to be missed!
- This is a 2 minute walk from Angel’s Billabong (read the tips above about the road to each this area)
- Make sure you walk over the natural bridge to the edge of the cliff as we saw many mantas there. The water is crystal clear as you can see them swimming around from afar
We went here for the sunset and it was spectacular, with cotton candy skies in different shades of pink. The road just before the beach is lined with tall palm trees, making a perfect photo opportunity.
This is not somewhere we wanted to go during the day it is one of the most crowded areas on Nusa Penida, as it is easily accessible (no broken road, no need to hike) and many people on day trips from Bali go there. The fact that there are boats in the sea also puts us off, as it spoils the natural beauty of the place. We have heard that it is a good place to snorkel though.
- Be prepared for more crowds during the daytime and boats in the water
- Come here to watch the sunset – most of the crowds will have left by then and it is extremely beautiful
Despite the name, this is not actually a waterfall. We came here expecting to see a waterfall, when actually it is a steep blue staircase down the cliff to a small temple near the water and a natural pool of water just above the shore, which receives splashes on sea-water when the waves are high.
The best parts of this area were the views from the walk down, as well as seeing all the local kids having fun in the natural pool .. waiting to get splashed by the ocean waves. Guillermo and some of our friends went to join them, which they seemed to love! They were practising their english and asking for pictures the entire time!
The drive here was quite long and we got lost several times. There are some sign posts as you get closer to the falls but as there are hardly any tourists here (we were the only ones when we went) it is not as easy to find as some other places.
- Do not come here if you have an extreme fear of heights – you are often walking down very steep (almost vertical) stairs with gaps in between where you can see the cliff edge / straight down to the ocean
- Bring water as you will be walking up and down hundreds of stairs
- Bring swimwear as you want to try swimming in the natural pool
Temeling natural pool
We had read about this online and it was described as these beautiful natural pools in the middle of the rainforest. We had even seen pictures of people lying in these big pools surrounded by tropical trees. It sounded like a dream. We had a difficult time finding this place and the drive was pretty tricky. It was a tiny little path in the forest, sometimes are the edge of a cliff, often slippery with a very steep ending!! When we finally got to the end of the path there was a cute little temple facing the ocean.
We were the only ones here and followed the stairs down to the what we thought would be the natural pools. However, no such pools could be found. We came across a tiny little pool, or more of a pond, which looked nothing like the pictures we had seen. So we carried on down the path until we eventually arrived at a beach. To the right of this beach was a little path under a sort of cave which lead to another beach. This beach was covered in stones, many of which had been stacked on top of one another to form little statues. We decided to build our own one too!! It was quite a special sight to see, but was impossible to swim here due to all the rocks and the strong waves.
We ventured back out the “cave” to the other beach, which also had too many rocks and waves to swim in. We couldn’t find the natural pools anywhere and we were the only tourists here. We eventually bumped into some locals who explained that the side of the the mountain had recently collapsed and completely filled and covered the natural pool. Although we were disappointed to not see the pools, it was still a unique experience!
- There is no natural pool here anymore – it has been filled. If you come here, only come for to see the beach (you cannot swim there due to the rocks)
- The road is steep, narrow and can get very slippery when wet. Drive safely and slowly.
- Do not attempt to drive all the way down the road if you are not an experienced driver – it gets very steep toward the end.
Where to stay?
We chose to stay in AirBnbs on Nusa Penida as they’re affordable, we like the privacy, and the people working there often have good tips / cook great meals.
Our favourite AirBnb was Mark’s House. We truly recommend this place! It is situation at the top of a hill, where you are surrounded by nature and get an awesome view! You get the entire house to yourself, which can sleep 6 people comfortably. Mark has scooters that you can rent, as well as transfers to and from the port.
The part we really loved was the cook that comes to make your meals in the evening (she can come for every meal if you want). She cooked us wonderful local food (and was very accomodating to our veggie options). There are hardly any restaurants in Nusa Penida, and they’re all Warung (casual local dining) if there are, and the bad road conditions makes driving at night risky, so having an AirBnB where an excellent cook comes make you dinner was really excellent. We paid about 55 USD per night and less than 10 USD per person for the meal (which was huge, we almost couldn’t finish it).
If you end up staying here, making sure you go visit the little temple they have just a few meters away from the main road. It is gorgeous and we were lucky enough to meet some extremely friendly local people who showed us how they prepared their offerings for a religious ceremony.