A place where every boy and man can climb a coconut tree, women are making virgin coconut oil outside the houses, stirring in big vats of coconut meat. Where kids are running and smiling on the little dirtroads. Chasing chickens and high-fiving us passing through. Electricity goes black without a worry. Where breathtaking landscapes arise as far as your eyes can see. Where rare birds are flying between the coconut trees and manta rays mermaid through the coastal corals. And food prepared with what is provided by the island soil.
There was this one tropical, mystical island, just a short boatride away from Bali, that we had on our bucketlist for years. Countless times we went for salty weekend getaways to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, but somehow the biggest brother of the 3 islands Nusa Penida we didn't explore yet.
We finally went for it last month! Together with 9 friends and we absolutely fell deeply in LOVE with this piece of paradise. The lush and rough nature, magical sceneries, hidden beaches, endless coconut tree fields, the friendliest smiling islanders, the simplicity and serenity... Where Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are perfect for the sunseeking travellers, Nusa Penida is definitely the one for the explorers and adventurers.
You've seen many pictures of our Nusa Penida trip on Instagram and now it's time to share all our tips with you in this mini travel guide for your journey to this dreamisland. Mass tourism didn't hit Nusa Penida yet, but we can only imagine it will within a few years or even less. So better enjoy it now when it's still paradise. We hope you'll travel with respect for the locals and come here to soak up the beauty and culture.
So, here we go, enjoy our curated mini Photo & Travel Guide Nusa Penida!
// How to get to Nusa Penida
We took the Maritu Express. A fastboat that departs from Sanur to Toyapakeh on Nusa Penida and takes only about 30 minutes directly to get there. You can choose between 8:30, 10am and 4pm. We took the 10am boat so we still had the whole day to enjoy! A return ticket costs about 550.000 IDR (about 35 euros) and was included free pickup from our home in Seminyak. There are cheaper fastboats but they will do a stop over at Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan and will take a lot longer. We booked online a few days before (because there aren't many boats to Nusa Penida, you have to secure your spot in time as full is full!) via this website Lembonganfastboats.com. Super easy! Because we we're with a big group of 9 we did check before if it was all ok, so you can always e-mail or call them to double check if your reservation got throug well.
// How to get around
When you arrive in the harbour of Toyapakeh you can rent motorbikes at the spot. This is absolutely the best way to get around the island! Cruising through the coconut tree fields and as it's quite a big island you need this to go on little exploring adventures. The roads are quite ok but can get super rocky at some points. For instance towards Angel Billabong... you need to be a good driver to get there haha! We took 1 bike per 2 persons. We took light luggage in backpacks with us which we could take on the bike easy to our hotel.
// Where to stay in Nusa Penida
What we love most of this island is that it isn't much developed yet for tourists. It's still very low key and simple and the a few cute looking bungalow islandstays are the best options there. We stayed at Bintang Bungalows - and because we we're with a big group of 9 we couldn't all stay there because it was fully booked. So we also booked extra rooms at Coco Resort just down the road of Bintang Bungalows. Both islandstays are perfect and we LOVED our stay at Bintang (nope, not sponsored! haha).
Both Bintangand Cocoare located close to Crystal Bay (10 minutes by motorbike) and the bungalows are very cute, clean and have aircon (yesss can't live without it). Big pool, comfy pool beds, tropical lush gardens and frangipangi trees and amazing, friendly, happy staff. Food was simple and local. Nasi Goreng for life! Don't expect any barista coffee like in Bali. Haha. We paid about 50 euros per room per night (we think Coco was a bit cheaper), including breakfast. We booked via booking.com but the staff at the Bintang told us to book directly next time because than they can make a good deal for you as ofcourse they need to pay alot of fee to booking.com if you book through it.
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// To eat
So, when you're on Nusa Penida, don't focus too much on the food. Like in Bali you'll have your spots on your list where you wanna eat, but in Nusa Penida, just go with the flow and step into cute looking local warungs and just have a look at the menu. You can always have a look in the kitchen to see what they're cooking, haha. It's actually very common to do this!
We LOVED dinner at Coco Resort, the Gado Gado and Coconut Curry we're heavenly! (If you don't know yet what Gado Gado is, you're missing out in life). Both restaurants at the resorts are open for the public. Nothing fancy, the restaurant, just easy and good food. So we ate here every night, haha.
Other eat tips:
// To explore & see
We had 3 days, 2 nights for our island explorations. We left from Bali Friday morning early and took the last boat back on Sunday. So we had 3 full days to fully soak up the Nusa Penida vibes. We noted down what we loved exploring most & what we did day by day. And some other tips below if you're staying longer or shorter!
The incredibly impressive landscape that you must've seen on Instagram or Pinterest. From the top of the cliff you'll have a clean view on the Indian Ocean and coastal cliffscape that will take your breath away. It made us feel so blessed to be alive, and also so tiny! Haha.
You can hike down the trails on the back of the cliff towards the beach on the bottom. A hike we would've loved to take! But when we we're there, it was too slippery to walk down as it had rained a few days before. And this is not a place where you can take that risk! Bring good walking shoes and don't walk down there on flipflops. And if you take a picture on the cliff like us, please be carefull too!
Broken Beach & Angel's Billabong
After we visited Kelingking we drove further towards Broken Beach and Angel's Billabong. About an hour drive, and pretty rough! One bike almost didn't make it haha. It's a dirtroad with a lot of stones and holes. But hey, aren't we here to explore and push boundries? Yes! Broken Beach or 'Pasir Uug' is the first to catch the eye. After a little walk you'll get to Angel's Billabong, a nature infinity pool only to reach if you're up to climb down the sharp vulcanic rocks (bring sandals to climb down!). You can only go in a low tide or when medium tide goes into low tide. As waves can suddenly crash into the pool and drags the ones in out at sea... Yep, please be super carefull and only go in when safe (and absolutely do not go to the edge for a photo, we heard many accidents happened here). But hey, it was a lot of fun! Haha.
Crystal Bay is popular for it's snorkling and diving trips. From now and than, you could bump into a gigantic Mola Mola, also known as the sunfish. We loved it to hangout, soak up the sun and sip on fresh coconuts that they took out of the coconut trees, climbing in with their bare feet. True islandlife! On the left you can do a little hike to a viewing point that overlooks the bay. Wearing Gypsea Swimwear Wearing Paulina Katarina Wearing Gooseberry Seaside Wearing Triangl Wearing Sea You Swim
Atuh Beach is a magical white sand beach on the East side of the island, surrounded by cliffs and rock formations. It's quite a drive from Crystal Bay, but it's an amazing trip. Drive 2 hours through local villages, high fiving happy kids, dodging dogs and holes in the road along the North side of the island untill you reach Atuh Beach. Ask the locals for directions to the beach once arrived.
Nusa Penida Turtle Sanctuary
Stumbled upon this little gem by accident! While cruising around we found this Turtle Sanctuary, where they rescue little turtle eggs and get the little turtles ready to release in the wild when big enough and safe from poachers and other animals. Absolutely adorable to see the little turtles! Could look at them all day long!
You might've already seen our Manta snorkling adventures in our Nusa Lembongan vlog. Where we did a snorkling trip to these waters by the south of Nusa Penida. The Manta Rays are huge and incredible! But we do wanna note this is a quite adventurous trip, as the waves can get rough at some point and you do need to have insights in the current. If you're no water hero, we'd recommend to save your meetings with the Manta's for another time. You can book a snorkling trip at any beach, at your stay or when you're on Nusa Lembongan you can book it with The Lembongan Traveler.
Cruise around the island & Soak up the culture and smiles
Take time to fully enjoy the island! Stop at local warungs, get lost between the coconut trees and see where roads take you. This is the ultimate exploring island to travel off the beaten path. Have unexpected meetings with the beautiful people of Nusa Penida and embrace the magic of the island.
// Our 3 days Nusa Penida Travel Itenerary
Nusa Penida Day 1
Nusa Penida Day 2
Nusa Penida Day 3
What to do in 1 day on Nusa Penida?
If you only have a day time to visit Nusa Penida, when you're at Nusa Lembongan. Absolutely go for it! Because it's quite big, choose only 1 activity and 1 beach to relax or book a daytour with for instance Penida Tours. We would absolutely recommend to visit Kelingking Beach early in the morning (before most tourists arrive), Crystal Bay and Manta Point.
So... long travel guide short: Nusa Penida is perfect to get your island exploration mode on. We’d say 3 nights minimum is a must to fully discover and soak up the beauty of the island and also good enough to squeeze in some time to relax at the beach or the pool!
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Hope you loved our tips! Have you been to Nusa Penida too? We’d love to hear your Nusa Penida travel experiences and recommendations in the comments.
-x- Pris & Eve
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