Belonging to the Nusa trio, Nusa Penida is the largest, and most commonly visited of the three islands, southeast of Bali. It is home to the famous ‘T-Rex Head’ and is a popular destination for Instagram lovers, thanks to its beautiful cliff edges and beaches (which I have to admit, are pretty great).
When arriving from Bali, be aware of overpriced boats and do your research beforehand. You shouldn’t be paying any more than 150,000IDR (£8/9) from Sanur as the journey will only take half an hour or so. If arriving from Nusa Lembongan, be sure to head to The Yellow Bridge and get on a public boat across to Nusa Penida for 50,000IDR(£2/3). It’s easy, cheap and you’re providing the locals directly with money rather than giving out to a larger company.
My one main piece of advice would be to avoid going on a single day-trip from Bali unless you’re super tight on time, as the experience will be rushed and mostly uncomfortable (not to mention expensive), something which I will explain ultimately. My time in Nusa Penida lasted two full days, which was perfect.
Things to note before visiting:
Cash – Upon arrival at our homestay our amazing hosts offered to drive us to an ATM as we didn’t have cash to pay for our stay. Again, we know I’m dramatic but this actually led to a wild goose chase of six individual ATM’s and it took approximately two hours on the back of a young girls motorbike to be able to get any cash. Safe to say I drew out millions (literally) to be secure for the rest of our time on the island.
Transport: After reading multiple reviews and blogs, I thought we were prepared for the ‘bad roads’ that are spoken of on Nusa Penida however, I’m pretty sure people are sugar coating it. On our first day, we decided to rent a moped, which is not ideal unless you’re extremely comfortable on one. Despite riding all through Bali, we struggled on this insanely bumpy island. The roads on the West of the island are super damaged if you wish to visit any of viewpoints. As our friends have said “Broken Beach, Broken Roads.” Equally, you decide to hire a car for the day, or are on a day-trip, your time in the car will also be somewhat uncomfortable. Prepare to be squeezing your muscles more than you do at the gym and to be clutching your seatbelt!
Accommodation – It’s likely you’ll be busy exploring for most of the hours of the day so find a comfortable and friendly place to stay. I’d recommend:
Budget: Kira Homestay (£15 per night for a double room)
This was our choice for the two nights. The staff were amazing, the room comfortable and breakfast was bought to us on our balcony in the morning, which was a treat.
Bit more Boujee: Ogix Cliff Paradise (£40 per night for a double room)
These cliff face villas reside on the East of Nusa Penida and are the perfect location for those looking for something a bit calmer.
Without further ado, these are my personal highlights to visit...
1. Diamond Beach
So listen up. Before you organise any tour or want to visit Nusa Penida – put Diamond Beach at the top of your list. Located on the East side of the island, Diamond beach usually only attracts those staying on Nusa Penida as it is too far for the day tours to stretch. The colour of the water is like nothing I could have ever imagined and the cliff faces are so beautiful as if risen purely to create a beach scene from a high budget romance movie.
Quiet and peaceful, this beach cannot be missed. The walk down is not easy, like most beaches on Nusa Penida, so be sure to bring your trainers.
2. Atuh Beach
On the opposite side of diamond beach lies Atuh beach which even though less picturesque from above, is the perfect location to grab a snack or drink on the beach and maybe even have a swim. The walk is equally as tiring as Diamond Beach so consider that before visiting both.
3. Tembeling Forest
Another tranquil location that doesn’t appear on any day tours is the Tembeling forest and waterfall/natural springs. This is a less popular waterfall that we were intrigued to explore. After being offered a moped taxi down, we opted to walk the forty odd minutes down and it was truly worth it. What awaits you at the bottom of this hike is a serene beach, beautiful local built rock piles and a natural pool with spring water to cool down in. We were lucky enough to only have to share this experience with around eight or ten other people making it much more intimate and special. This off-the-beaten-track location is one that I highly recommend.
4. Kelingking Beach
Now, it’s time to talk about THAT famous Instagram shot. Before arriving in Nusa Penida, I was amongst those keen to get my picture with the obscure rock formation that makes up Kelingking Beach. Honestly, my mood changed significantly after arriving, due to the size of the crowds. I truly believe that the beauty of a view or experience depends on the atmosphere immediately on arrival. The rock formation is bad-ass, I can’t deny that but I can say that over 30 people queuing down the rock face for a photograph isn’t the nicest experience. In total, hundreds of people were gathered at a time we were advised to be ‘quieter.’ Nonetheless, the view was stunning.
If you can spare the time, then definitely make the journey down to the beach itself. It can take up to an hour to get down but the struggle allows the end result to be more desirable (and peaceful.) If it seems important to you to come on a day tour from Bali just for a 15 minute stop at this view point, try to remain open-minded and prepare to have to share your experience with many others. If you have even more time and enjoy a more reticent adventure, do try and head over to the East of the island as well (I don't know if I've mentioned it but I quite like it over there...)
5. Angels Billabong/Broken Beach
These two spots can be visited simultaneously and how long you spend there can depend on the weather. Angels Billabong is a natural rock pool risen up from the ocean. The waves can be inconsistent and dangerous with the wind and current so DO NOT try and go swimming if you are advised against it The waves when we visited were aggressive and high, so just standing on the rock faces felt a little treacherous.
Broken beach, located around from Angels Billabong is a collapsed cave that now forms an archway wrapping around the bay to allow water to flow in and out from the ocean. It’s pretty big and can be explored from all corners as you walk across the arch but don’t be deceived by the name, as this is not a beach that could be accessed and can only be viewed from above.
Angels Billabong and Broken Beach were somewhat similar to The Devils’ Tear and Blue Lagoon over on Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan (post blog) but are a little more crowded.
Each three of the Nusa Islands holds it’s own beauty so a visit to them all individually allows a variation of hiking, snorkeling, swimming, beaching, eating, drinking, relaxing and nearly dying on unpaved roads. Go, explore and marvel The Nusa Islands as an extended stay from mainland Bali; you won’t regret it!
Read about Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan: Here
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Any questions or advice, drop me a message :)