The archipelago of Indonesia consists of over 17,000 islands. Some, yet completely undiscovered and uninhabited. Nusa Penida is an island off the coast of one of Indonesia’s more popular islands, Bali. The island has been steadily rising as a tourist destination over the last few years. I visited Nusa Penida as a day trip from Bali recently.
Here’s how to get to Nusa Penida from Bali and everything you need to know once you get there!
As I mentioned, Nusa Penida became famous as a tourist destination a few years ago. While this means that most places are still relatively untouched and the island is still not as developed as its big brother to the west, Bali.
How to get to and around Nusa Penida
Getting to Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is an easy day trip from Bali. It is a 45 minutes boat ride from Sanur harbor on the east side of Bali. There are several ferry companies to choose from with boats leaving 3-5 times a day between the two islands. Click here for the schedule and prices of the company I hired. Since I had already planned and booked ahead with a tour operator, everything was arranged for, including pick-up from my hotel in Ubud and drop-off at my villa in Seminyak.
One thing to note is that there is no jetty in Sanur. We had to walk thigh high into the ocean before boarding the boat.
- Travel light if you are staying in Penida for more than one day. There are porters who will carry your suitcase, but they have to carry the suitcase over their heads
- Try not to wear nice clothes as you will get wet. If you are wearing a long dress, it’s best to pack it separately and wear it once you get to Nusa Penida
- They ask you to put your shoes into a big bin before you board the boat. They will then dump the shoes out once you dock on each side. Keep your shoes with you if you can
Getting Around Nusa Penida
Your best bet is to hire a local driver and guide before you get there. Here is the company I used and they were really great!
Your other options are to hire a scooter, a car or a driver when you get off the boat. (There were plenty of drivers offering their services at the dock)
If you do end up hiring a scooter or car, beware that the roads are very narrow (barely enough for two cars to pass) and extremely bumpy. This is due to its natural limestone terrain (most roads have not been tarred yet). Furthermore the island is rugged and cliffy and we often times found ourselves at the edge of the road when two cars had to pass. Another thing to note is that it’s also extremely dusty, so prepare to be bathed in dust if you hire a scooter.
How long to stay
I did a day trip from Bali which is what most people do. Of course it would be great to stay for a day or two in order to really explore if you have the time. This way you can take it easy and have more time to relax. Since the island is still being developed it is best to book your accommodation in advance if you are going to stay overnight.
What to see
Most of the discovered and famous sites are either on the west or east. That is not to say that there is nothing to see elsewhere. These might still not be discovered, not as famous (which is great!) or harder to get to.
Here are the sites I visited during my Nusa Penida day trip.
Angel’s Billabong is a natural infinity swimming pool wedged between two big rocks and overlooking the ocean. You can swim here during low tide but is considered dangerous during high tide where waves come crashing in.
Nusa Penida has many beautiful rock formations all around the island. Broken Beach is perhaps the most famous and unique of them all. It is a circular rock formation with an arch opening (broken) which allows the ocean to come through.
Often referred to as T-Rex beach due to its T-Rex looking formation, you can hike down this unique rock to get to a beautiful white sand beach with turquoise blue waters.
It’s a pretty steep and uneven climb to the bottom so be careful when you are going down.
There is also a great viewpoint to the left of Kelingking Beach. You will have to reach this place by vehicle or it might be a bit of a walk.
Rumah Pohon Tree House
This is no ordinary tree house and provides for some of the best views on the island. Also, you can book this tree house and actually stay here. Can you imagine waking up and seeing this view from outside your window?
Here is the link if you want to book this place.
To get to Rumah Pohon Tree House you need to park on top and hike for about 10 minutes down some stairs.
Thousand Islands Viewpoint
This viewpoint is one of the most easterly points on the entire island and is absolutely breathtaking.
The path to get there is a bit steep and uneven so be careful (do you see a common theme here?)
Walk Along the Cliffs
We parked at Rumah Pohon Treehouse and hiked along the cliff edge to Diamond Beach. I highly recommend this as the views were stunning. Also, this was a very easy hike on relative flat terrain as opposed to most places where you have to hike up or down stairs.
According to my driver, this is the best and fastest way to get to Diamond Beach from Rumah Pohon Treehouse rather than driving.
When I was researching Diamond Beach in Iceland for my Iceland trip in May of this year, I came across this other Diamond Beach on the other side of the world and knew I had to visit this place too.
The huge diamond like rock formation that sits in the middle of the ocean gives Diamond beach it’s descriptive name. To get to the beach, you need to hike down stairs and it takes about 10-15 minutes. Watch the tide here before heading down.
Most tour companies offer either east or west packages. This means that you will only see sites on one of these sides. I wanted to see sites on both sides of the island and luckily the company I went with offered both but based on my research this service is hard to come by. Spreading yourself across the island also means that you have less time at each site so it’s not ideal if you want to take a dip in the water or go snorkeling/diving. I knew I didn’t want to do these so it worked out well for me.
Other sites to visit if you stay for more than a day trip
- Crystal beach – on the west side of Nusa Penida and is considered great for snorkeling and diving
- Banah cliff point – stunning viewpoint
- Tembeling beach and forest – natural rock pool
- Peguyanan waterfall – waterfall by the ocean
- Manta point – clear water for snorkeling and manta ray sightings
- Teletubbies hill – lush green rolling hills and great viewpoint
Clockwise or Counter-Clockwise?
We went counter-clockwise, first going to the west and then the east. It takes a long time to get to the the sites on the west (Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong etc) from the harbor. Whereas it only takes about 45 minutes to get from Diamond Beach to the harbor. Furthermore, the roads on the west side are not the best so if you are running late to catch the boat back to Bali, it’s going to be harder to speed through these bad roads. This is something to consider and it’s probably worth having a chat with your driver and deriving a plan for the day.
Nusa Penida is simply beautiful and was one of the highlights of my trip to Indonesia. However, nature is very unpredictable and what seems like a clear, calm environment can quickly turn into a danger zone within a matter of seconds. Some of these sites at Nusa Penida are not exempt from this unpredictability.
I and several other people to our utter dismay almost witnessed a drowning at Diamond Beach. Several people were out swimming in the ocean and all of a sudden we saw one person drifting away. Two people tried to go after him with a tube but they too were drifting out. It was horrifying to see this person drift further and further away from shore and you could tell he was getting tired. Perhaps it was this person’s luck or perhaps it was the collective prayers of the bystanders but suddenly a massive wave came by and pushed him closer to shore where he was somehow able to reach the life tube extended out to him.
My guide said he had never witnessed someone drown at Diamond Beach before but knew several people who had died at other sites around Nusa Penida. Subsequently, I did some research on my own and found that people had fallen victim at Angel’s Billabong, Kelingking Beach and Crystal Bay (including experienced divers)
Although my blog is about sharing my travel insights of places I have visited and colorful photographs, I would be failing if I didn’t share what I unfortunately witnessed at Diamond Beach. So if you do end up swimming at any of these places or sitting at the end of a cliff for that perfect instagram shot, please be careful and remember that nature can change within a matter of seconds with no warning whatsoever.
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