Bali has become a go-to for many tourists – thanks to its affordability, food scene, beach clubs and uncanny views. While you’re on a trip to this Indonesian destination, take a detour to Nusa Penida, one of the most exotic and naturally beautiful islands studded with white sand beaches and cliff-top viewpoints.
For first-times and folks returning to the majestic island, here’s your ultimate guide to Nusa Penida – how to get there, where to stay, and things to see.
Located in the southeastern Indonesia, Nusa Penida loosely translates to the Island of Priests in English. Though initially possessing a negative connotation as the island where prisoners, political opponents and black magic partitioners where sent to isolate, Nusa Penida dominates the tourist market today.
Part of a group of thirteen nearby islands including Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Penida has become popular thanks to its family-approved snorkelling and diving spots, romantic scenery, hiking trails, and a down-to-earth population.
Planning & accommodation
Away from commercialisation, life is slow here – so take the time to experience it. Though you can opt for a day trip to cover the eastern or the western side of the island, we highly recommend planning for a three-days and two nights stay to ensure you have enough time to explore the island and actually enjoy Nusa Penida.
When it comes to accommodation, hotels are your best bet here for a quality night sleep, with some only steps away from the beach. Swiss-Belhotel International’s MAUA Nusa Penida Bali comes up top offering room service, beautiful views and classy rooms. The Akusara Jungle Resort And Spa is also a gleaming choice for those with an eye for aesthetics.
There are also plenty of affordable picks like the quiet family owned and operated homestay, Arjuna Bungalow – perfect for solo travellers.
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How to get there
The easiest (and most affordable!) way to get to Nusa Penida is via a speedboat from the Sanur Port in Bali. Here, you’ll find multiple ferry operators offering daily sail tickets to Nusa Penida and other Nusa islands.
You can also look for your preferred timings and boat schedule online. A credible ferry like El Rey to safely bring you to the shores of Nusa Penida between 30 to 45minutes, depending on weather conditions. It’s good to avoid monsoon period travels due to choppy waters.
As there is no port at the destination, you’ll find yourself disembarking right in the water. Thus it is recommended to wear shorts, and removable shoes/slippers on the day of arrival.
Once you hop off the ferry, many taxi drivers will be coming your way to offer to bring you around the island – if you’re not going to be renting up a scooter or going on a tour, these drivers are an ideal pick to bring you around for your time in Nusa Penida at a relatively negotiable cost.
Places to see in The West Side
To begin the exploration, have a taste of paradise at Kelingking Beach. The famous hidden beach of Nusa Penida, this spot allows you to take-in the beauty of flora, crystal clear waters and a steep-hike. Only recently discovered in 2003, it’s pristine and home to a dinosaur looking island in the middle of nowhere.
Next stop, the Broken Beach (Pasih Uug) and Angels Billabong are absolutely picture-worthy with the former boasting an arched bridge over turquoise waters, whilst the later sports a naturally-formed infinity pool by the ocean. Complete your first day at Crystal Bay Beach enjoying the stunning sunset, swimming in the ocean or taking up a small snorkelling tour from the bay.
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Places to see in The East Side
The East side of the island is equally gorgeous, with spectacular beaches like Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach with plenty of water activities. The Rumah Pohon “Tree House” is also secret hidden spot that not many tourist take the time to visit, but the killer spot overlooking the rock formations and blue waters is not one to miss in our books.
On the other hand the Thousand Island Viewpoint also gives you movie-like views – especially with that special someone to kick off the romance. On the other hand, the Bukit Teletubbies Hill will give you nostalgic flashback with its green hill tops and sneak peaks of neighbouring islands.
Things to note
Something to note is that Nusa Penida is not as developed as say the mainland of Bali may be. It’s safe to say you’ll not be finding any specialising cafes and brunch restaurants here. Instead expect a low phone signal, easy-going trip with wind in your hair and sandy toes. If you’re looking to truly enjoy the trip without worry about the logistics, we suggest opting for tours that’ll take you around and also account for tons of water activities.
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This article was first published in City Nomads.