A tropical paradise island just 30 minutes from Bali, Nusa Penida should be on everyone’s bucket list. You can see most of the sights in just a few days, or take a little longer and explore the parts of the island that tourists don’t usually go to. In this travel guide I’m going to let you in on all of the essential information you need to know for your visit to Nusa Penida.
How to get to Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is a 30 minute boat ride from Bali, with boats departing from Sanur on the east of the island. There are many different choices of company to go with but on our most recent trip we went with Dwi Manunggal Tickets are IDR150k each way and there were around 25-30 people on the boat – with life jackets for all of us.
We booked our seats in advance by calling the number on the above website. You can also buy a ticket at the pier from one of the many booking offices. Locals pay IDR100k and the tourist price is IDR150k so don’t let anyone charge you more than that. If you do buy at the pier it is possible to haggle and get the price down to around IDR120k.
After you get off the boat on Penida walk off the beach, turn right into the parking lot and there will be a booking office on your left. If you need to contact your accommodation or book somewhere to stay this place has wifi and the password is written on the desk at the back. They’re pretty sound about letting people connect.
There are two options to seeing Nusa Penida island: a guided tour or a DIY tour. If you’re comfortable riding a scooter I would definitely recommend the DIY tour as it’s not only the cheapest way to see the island, but the drives here are spectacular and you would be missing out by taking a car.
I run a Nusa Penida one-day tour which takes you from Bali to see the best sights on Nusa Penida. Click here to check out my tour and book in!
Renting a scooter
If you decide to rent a scooter you can rent one at the pier when you arrive. Prices are around IDR70k per day, and make sure you insist on a helmet. Petrol costs IDR10K per litre and is available as you drive around (keep an eye out for glass bottles of blue liquid outside shops and restaurants). Always fill your tank because some of the sights here are quite remote and you don’t want to be stuck.
You won’t have much phone reception while you’re on Penida, especially when you’re driving around, so make sure you either download offline maps or star each location you want to visit on Google Maps. That way you can easily route yourself while you’re driving (for this reason I recommend having one bike with two people on it so that one person can navigate).
What To Do On Nusa Penida
Where to stay
There’s a variety of accommodation on Penida depending on your budget, but the trickiest part for me was finding the right area to stay in. I wanted to find somewhere that was close to restaurants and bars, conveniently located to all of the things we wanted to see, and also had a real island feel about it – I wanted feel as far from the hectic madness of Bali as possible!
In the end we picked Tandjung Cottages and it was absolutely perfect! It’s just a few minutes drive to the pier and lots of great restaurants, and on one of the main roads through Penida which made it easier to get around the island. Each wooden hut is en suite with hot showers, air conditioning, comfortable beds and free breakfast served to your balcony each morning. We paid £28 per night, which is a little above our usual budget but it was worth it.
Some other popular places to stay are:
Nuansa Penida Hostel (£11 per night) – One of the best reviewed accommodations on the island and with dorm rooms and private huts. Great location for sightseeing and close to the pier, bars and restaurants.
Kabeh Jati Garden Villa (£22 per night) – 12 minute walk from the beach, on the east coast of Penida, these unique wooden huts are great value for money and get awesome reviews.
Atuh Forest Cottage (£24 per night) – Secluded, romantic huts close to Atuh Beach. Stay here if you have a scooter and are looking for a romantic escape.
Coco Resort (£60 per night) – Traditional bungalows with a restaurant, large pool and well located close to Crystal Bay.
Semabu Hills (£80 per night)- A luxury hotel near the pier with a stunning pool and restaurant that looks out over incredible views. This is one for a treat.
There are a lot of great looking guesthouses and huts close to Atuh Beach and Kelingking beach – the top two places to see on Penida. However these are both pretty remote spots so I wouldn’t recommend staying here unless A: you are driving a scooter and B: you are happy to be isolated and not have much to do in the evenings.
Where to eat & drink
As you drive around the island you’ll pass many small restaurants offering traditional Indonesian food for super cheap prices. I would definitely recommend stopping at these for lunch! All local food is made fresh, so if you have allergies or food preferences you can ask for alterations. I wouldn’t avoid these out of fear of food poisoning as the only place we were ill after food on the island was the only western place we went to!
- Warung Jungle is a popular spot in the evenings for tired backpackers to fill their stomachs after a day of riding around the island. Their red snapper is highly recommended and they cook their omelettes in coconut oil which tastes devine! They serve beer and wine if you’d like to have a couple of drinks, and we were able to walk here from our accommodation.
- Penida Colada is one of the top rated places on the island and very popular for cocktails and western food. Two of our group came down with food poisoning after eating here (from the fish and the vegetable curry) so I would be wary about eating here.
Dishes to try
Try Mie Goreng (Fried noodles with an egg), Nasi Goreng (Fried rice with an egg), Soto Ayam (Sour chicken soup), Cap Cay (Stir fried vegetables), or Gado Gado (steamed vegetables with an egg, tempeh and satay sauce).
Other things to note
The roads are terrible
I know you’ll read this on every Penida blog but the roads are REALLY bad in parts of the island. Be very careful if you are driving around in some areas. The main road that runs from the pier on the west of the island to Atuh beach in the east is fine, apart from some potholes in places, and the views along this particular road are spectacular. Even if you are nervous about driving, this route will be fine. I highly recommend riding it as the sun is going down, it’s the most insane view!
The roads going to Broken Beach and Kelingking beach are the worst of the lot. We spoke to many people who turned around rather than drive down them – but if you’re slow and careful they’re ok. The routes to Tembaling forest and Banah Cliff point are rocky in parts and quite steep, so take care when driving these too.
There are only 2 or 3 ATMs on the island
The number changes depending on who we asked, we found 2 ATMs. These frequently run out of cash so make sure you have enough money before you leave Bali. We actually ran out of cash and Tandjung Cottage let us pay our bill by PayPal. If you do run out of money, chat to your accommodation and see if they have alternative ways to pay.
Be careful when booking tours
If you decide to do a snorkelling trip be very careful about who you book with. We found that tour operators will tell you anything to get your money. We had a few places we specifically wanted to go to and were told they would be on our 3-4 hour tour. However we didn’t go to any of these places and the tour only lasted a couple of hours. Do a little research and pick a good company to go with. Don’t take offers from people you meet that offer you tours.
Bring a first aid kit
Like anywhere in South East Asia, food poisoning can happen even in the best restaurants. Bring a first aid kit with you stocked with rehydrating salts, charcoal tablets and other medications that might help.
That’s everything you should need for your trip to Penida! If you have anything to add then let people know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!