Nusa Penida Island
2 Day Guide to Nusa Penida
Dates Visited: December 2018
Nusa Penida is an island off the southeast coast of Bali that is relatively underdeveloped compared to the mainland. Though this underdeveloped side gives Penida its charm, it presents some challenges with its lack of infrastructure. We will go how to get to Nusa Penida, the best ways to get around the island, the best beaches, and where to stay.
There are three neighboring islands considered part of the main island of Bali. These three are Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, and Nusa Penida which is the largest of the three.
The three 'Nusa' islands are relatively underdeveloped and do not have great tourism infrastructure which is nice if you're looking to get off the beaten path in Bali.
How to get to Nusa Penida
Since Nusa Penida is an island too small for an airport, arriving by boat is the only option. However, there are a number of ports to leave from. The quickest and cheapest option is leaving out of Sanur, Bali which is roughly a 45 minute fast boat ride. Costs of fast boat tickets vary, however, we were able to get round trip tickets for 300,000 IDR/person (~$21 USD) out of Sanur.
Locals pay a bit less for fast boat tickets, but it's still worth negotiating the tourist price to get yourself a better deal. For example, the public boat office lists one way tickets from Sanur to Nusa Penida at 200,000 IDR/person and round trip tickets at 400,000 IDR/person. We saved roughly 100,000 IDR/person ($7 USD) on our tickets so we consider that a win.
Buying a fast boat ticket is easy enough since there are tons of ticketing agencies around the fast boat terminal. However, figuring out how to get your boarding pass upon your departure can be a bit hectic. We bought tickets through an agency that didn't have the name of the fast boat company on it. When we arrived to the terminal, it was a little chaotic figuring out which boat we were supposed to board since the ticket agency we went to was closed when our boat was supposed to leave.
Luckly, a local helped us by calling the number on our 'tickets' and got us our boarding passed all squared away. We ended up riding on Idola Express which was quite comfortable since we got seats on the second floor. When you board the fast boat leaving Sanur be sure to take off your shoes because you'll need to walk into the water to get on the boat!
Best ways to get around
Compared to Bali, Nusa Penida is quite small and underdeveloped. The main roads on the island are decent enough, but you won't be able to get to the best spots like Kelingking Beach using them. The secondary roads are narrow and rife with potholes or just totally unpaved making walking nearly impossible. This leaves either hiring a private driver (horribly expensive) or renting a scooter and driving yourself.
We decided on the latter and rented a scooter for a one day/one night. We got a quote from a private driver from the fast boat terminal to Atuh Beach for roughly 250,000 IDR/one way (~$18 USD). Renting a scooter for 24 hours was 70,000 IDR ($5 USD) so it was a no brainer for us.
The scooter came with 2 helmets and less than half tank of petrol. We ended up buying 3 liters of fuel for 30,000 IDR (~$2 USD) which was more than enough to drive us all the way around the island. Though renting a scooter is cheap, you need to be extremely careful because of the road conditions and other reckless drivers. We had a few near misses so if you've never driven a scooter, we highly recommend practicing before renting one here.
Top 3 Beaches
The 3 most popular beaches on Nusa Penida are Kelingking Beach, Diamond Beach, and Atuh Beach. Diamond and Atuh beaches are located on the east side of the island and are walking distance from each other. However, Kelingking is on the west side of Penida and about an hour drive from Atuh and Diamond.
You might have seen these beaches on instagram which has made them pretty popular. Thus, we recommend going either early in the day (shortly after sunrise) or late in the day (shortly before sunset) if you want to get photos without many people in them.
However, if you don't mind a few people taking pictures, the beaches themselves really aren't that crowded since they require a hike down. Most people just take pictures from the tops of the overlooking cliffs.
1. Kelingking Beach
Located on the western part of the island, Kelingking is roughly an hour drive from Diamond Beach and a 45 minute drive from the fast boat terminal. There is a small fee to pay for using the parking lot, however we heard if you drive past to the end of the road and loop back there isn't anybody checking 😉
If you want to walk all the way down to the beach it takes about 30-40 minutes on a steep/rocky path. We highly recommend wearing a pair of shoes if you do the hike!
See why Kelingking Beach makes the Top 10
From the parking lot, it's about a 10 minute walk to the top of the cliff where you can see the views pictured above. Upon arrival if you need to use the bathroom or grab a drink then don't worry. There are tons of cafés and food/drink stands along the way from the parking lot to the trailhead.
2. Diamond Beach
If you decide to travel from the fast boat terminal, it's about a 45 minute drive to Diamond Beach. However, if you're coming from Kelingking Beach then expect it to be roughly an hour. As we mentioned, the roads on Nusa Penida are pretty dodgy so the driving time to each beach depends on your confidence level driving a scooter. But you're on island time so there's really no rush, be safe!
If you want to get some pictures at Diamond Beach without any people in them we would recommend getting there between 5:30-6:30AM. This way you can enjoy a beautiful sun rise and you'll have the place to yourself. By the time we hiked back up around 7:00AM, there was already a line of people at the top of the stairs taking their pictures. Fortunately, not everybody makes the trek down to the beach so that part is still relatively empty.
Pro Tip - the swing in the picture isn't free to ride on, but we didn't know at the time since there was nobody there to collect a fee. Perhaps another benefit of getting there early 😉
3. Atuh Beach
Atuh Beach is walking distance from Diamond Beach making it easy to hit both in the same morning/afternoon. From the top of the same cliff you can walk down to either beach, but they are located on opposite sides. We arrived at Atuh beach around sunset; and our host made us a fire and a delicious home cooked dinner.
Atuh beach at sunset was very peaceful since there was almost nobody there. In the morning, we woke up at sunrise to get another beautiful view of Atuh. Then we headed over to Diamond Beach and had the place to ourselves for a short while.
Where to stay on Penida
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you get discounts for your first bookings on either of these sites.
Double Bed: $20+ USD
Amenities: Private Bungalow, Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Balinese/English, 10 minute walk from the beach
During our trip to Nusa Penida we ended up staying near Atuh Beach in a homestay bungalow we found on Booking.com. If you're looking to stay walking distance from Diamond Beach and want to beat the early morning crowds, you have only two lodging options. The first, and what we'd recommend, is an authentic homestay experience at the Atuh Beach Garden Bungalow mentioned below. The second being this treehouse that overlooks Diamond Beach.
We didn't book through the site but instead contacted the host of Atuh Beach Garden Bungalow, Made, and paid in cash for a total of 333,000 IDR (~$23 USD) which included dinner, breakfast, and lodging. It ended up working out better for both parties this way. You can contact him via WhatsApp at +62 818-0561-8354
Dorms: $4.72+ USD
Amenities: Free Wifi, 24 Hr Reception/Security, Restaurant, Parking
Dorms: $15.86 USD
Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast, Parking, Tour/Travel Desk, 24 Hr Security
Dorms: $8.00+ USD
Private Room: $17.49+ USD
Amenities: Free wifi, Breakfast Offered (25,000 IDR/person - $1.50 USD), Parking, 24 Hr Reception
Our host, Made, already had a bonfire ready to go for us when we arrived and even made us a delicious dinner on the beach. After dinner he took us on his motorbike through the coconut tree garden to his bungalow. Made has two bungalows that he rents out, one with a double bed for 2 people and one with a single bed.
We asked him what he does when people rent out both bungalows and he told us he just camps on the beach. He has tent that can also be rented if you're keen to sleep on the beach for only 70,000 IDR (~$5 USD). In the morning he had some fresh coconuts ready for us along with coffee and a proper egg breakfast.
All the food was cooked in Made's homemade coconut oil, which was absolutely delicious. He showed us how to tell when a coconut is ripe enough to eat/drink and when it's best to use it for oil. Made was so kind and caring that we’re already planning a trip back, but this time around, we’re keen to camp on the beach!