How to plan a trip to Nusa Penida, Indonesia

Nusa Penida has become one of the most desired destinations for travelers visiting Indonesia. Located close to Bali, the island is an excellent option to include in your itinerary in Indonesia. Here I’ll explain everything about Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan.

Only 30 minutes by boat from Bali, the Nusa Islands are the perfect destination to extend your journey through Indonesia. Nusa is calm and peaceful, very different from the crazy traffic of Bali, the islands are perfect for enjoy some sunny days.

Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida

About Nusa Penida

As I mentioned above, there are three islands: Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan. The most famous of these is Nusa Penida, which is the larger of the two other islands. However, Nusa Lembongan has the best structure to receive the tourists. Nusa Ceningan is practically an extension of Nusa Lembongan, connected to island by a bridge with easy access.

Nusa Penida has many unexplored areas and little infrastructure for visitors. Penida has high cliffs that plunge into the sea and hidden beaches. The most famous landscapes are in Nusa Penida. 

Despite being sister islands, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are completely different, I think that both islands complement each other, a perfect destination in Indonesia.

Worth a day trip?

The most common for those visiting Bali is to take the round day trip to Nusa Penida. And buying the tour is very easy, most of small tour agencies in Bali sells this tour. But you can buy the tour through the links below. It is more practical and cheaper.

The day trip is ideal for those who have little time in Bali. The tour includes the boat trip and the driver in Nusa Penida, so getting around is something you don’t have to worry about. But if you have time, the ideal is to stay at least 2 days in Nusa.

How to get there

The boats bound for Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan leave Sanur in Denpasar. Sanur isn’t exactly a pier and once you get there you’ll find a multitude of small travel agencies selling the round trip to Nusa.

The best way is to take a fast boat, the most recommended are Maruti Express and El Rey. Both are reliable and offer good service, on the other hand I don’t think the price is cheap, the trip costs US$ 36 round trip or US$ 20 one way. The crossing takes 30 to 40 minutes, depending on sea and wind conditions.

Schedules are few, in general each company makes 3 or 4 trips a day each way. Two departures in the morning and two departures in the afternoon. Boats do not cross the ocean at night.

Nusa Penida

The bags are placed on the roof of the boat, it’s important to put a lock on the suitcase for security reasons. If you know what I mean! =) Don’t leave anything fragile in your baggage, the guys are not very careful.

As I said above, Sanur is not a pier, it’s a beach. So, you’ll get your feet and legs wet to get on the boat. Consider this before choosing what to wear.

How to getting around in Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan

In Nusa Penida you’ll need a car or rent a motorbike/scooter to getting around. There is no public transport and the distances are long and the roads are very bad. Renting a motorcycle is the best way to explore the entire island with complete freedom. But be very careful with the bumpy roads. The rent of the motorbike costs around US$ 5 per day, make sure the motorbike is insured. 

Another option is to hire a driver to take you around the island, the price is negotiable, but it costs around US$ 40 per day. At the pier in Nusa you going to find a lot of drivers offering drive services, ask your hotel for an indication. That’s the best idea.

Nusa Lembongan is very small and you can getting around by walk, by bike or renting a motorbike, another good option. I rented a bike, which I particularly think is more interesting. Some hostels and hotels offer bikes for guests. In Nusa Lembongan it is not a good idea to rent a car.

Where to stay in Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan

In Nusa Penida I stayed at Penida Bambu Green, which is in the middle of the island. The hotel has bamboo bungalow inspired by the Torajas, typical houses of Sulawesi, also in Indonesia. Although Penida Bambu Green is not on the shore, but we have an incredible view of the Nusa Penida volcano.

Nusa Penida
Penida Bambu Green

The bungalows are very charming and comfortable, the hotel staff was super kind and helpful. They organize tours, transfers from the pier to the hotel and everything we need.

Nusa Penida
Penida Bambu Green

Another good option in the heart of the island is The Klumpu Villa, which is comfortable and right in the middle of nature.

But if you are looking for a hotel with a sea view, a great tip is the Petak Cottage which has an excellent value for money. And not to miss, I recommend the Adiwana Warnakali Resort, which has an incredible view of Bali right up to the volcano on the horizon.

Find here more hotels in Nusa Penida

In Nusa Lembongan I stayed at Lembongan Island Beach Villas, it was the most expensive hotel I stayed in Indonesia, however it was worth every penny. I paid US$ 120 per night in a bungalow with a private pool. YES! A private swimming pool! 

And Lembongan Island Beach Villas has a beautiful view of Bali with a huge volcano in the background.

Nusa Penida
Lembongan Island Beach Villas

A fantastic option on a budget is the Paus Putih Hotel. A beautiful hotel and comfortable, in an excellent location. However, if you want to save a little more and still stay comfy, I recommend the Bay Shore Huts, rate starting at US$ 40 USD

Take a look at more hotels in Nusa Lembongan

The best things to do in Nusa Penida

Basically, beaches! Nusa Penida has some beautiful beaches and unique corners in Indonesia. Start at Atuh Beach, one of the most famous beaches in Penida. Then go straight to Kelinking Beach, which is certainly Nusa’s most famous landscape. It’s that beach with a rock formation that looks like the head of a dinosaur. For this reason the beach is called T-Rex Beach, of course!

Nusa Penida
Kelinking Beach

We have the best view from the top of the hill, close to the parking lot. But it’s nice to go down the stairs to the beach below.

Then, go straight to the to Broken Beach, which is 10km away from Kelinking Beach. The place was a cave that over time the sea waves hitting on the rocks caused the collapse and the cave became a big crater.

Nusa Penida
Broken Beach

Despite being a beach, there’s no way to dive into the water – at least it is not recommended – as the sea invades the crater with great force, but the view is something incredible.

Right on the corner of Broken Beach you can find the Angel’s Billabong, a beautiful natural swimming pool and here you can dive there!

Nusa Penida
An incredible place
Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida

On the opposite side of the island and facing Nusa Lembongan is calm Crystal Bay, ideal for swimming. In general, this is the first beach that most people stop when they arrive in Nusa Penida, as it’s close to the point where the boats arrive. On the other hand, I prefer to go straight to the most beautiful beaches before and I prefer to leave this one for a lazy evening.

The best things to do in Nusa Lembongan e Nusa Ceningan

Guess what? More beaches! My favorite is Jungut Batu Beach. There are several bars on around the ocean, ideal for eating and drinking at any time of the day. The hotel I stayed it was very close to this place.

Nusa Penida
Jungut Batu Beach

Dream Beach is a very small and famous beach in Nusa, it is surrounded by hotels, but it’s not a private beach and therefore, it is never crowded. 

Nusa Penida
Nusa Ceningan

It’s a cool idea to visit Nusa Ceningan, as well. The island is separated from Nusa Lembongan by a yellow bridge, looks like a tiny version of Golden Gate. And Nusa Ceningan has beautiful natural swimming pools practically empty. 

Some tips

  • I recommend setting up your itinerary in the islands starting at Nusa Penida following Nusa Lembongan. Stay at least 2 days on each island, it’s worth it. The crossing between both islands is done by boats and takes around 15 minutes. If you don’t have 4 nights, I recommend 2 nights in Nusa Penida and 1 night in Nusa Lembongan.
  • Always negotiate everything and give preference to the guides and drivers recommended by the hotels. In Indonesia, scams are common, unfortunately.
  • Beware of the rough seas, especially in Nusa Penida and never enter the water in these conditions. Serious accidents are quite common.
  • In Penida, when you go out to explore the island, bring water and something to eat, you will not find restaurants along the island.

Travel insurance

It is very important to have a good travel insurance to visit Indonesia, especially areas of wild nature such as Nusa Penida. I recommend World Nomads travel insurance, which is easy to buy and flexible for all types of travelers.

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