I’ve said this many times before, but Nusa Penida might just be my favorite travel destination in Bali. I’ve written about it before, but in case you haven’t heard of it, Nusa Penida is an island located just off the southern coast of Bali. Although it’s only a short 30-minute boat ride from Sanur and a 10-minute ride from neighboring Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida is still impressively untouristy. It still boggles my mind that this little slice of paradise has managed to (largely) elude the tourist radar, because there are a ton of amazing things to do on Nusa Penida. Seriously.
Most travelers who do visit Nusa Penida do so on day trips to dive and snorkel the pristine coral reefs that fringe the island – but more often than not they never actually step foot on the island.
Those who do allot a few days to exploring the island will be rewarded in spades. There are quite a few breathtaking natural attractions scattered around Nusa Penida – think azure beaches, natural pools and hidden waterfalls.
Nusa Penida really is what I imagine Bali was like back in the ‘70s. If you’re up for a little adventure and down to stray from the Kuta-Seminyak-Ubud circuit of Bali, then I highly suggest a visit to Nusa Penida.
5 Amazing Things to do on Nusa Penida:
1. Spend a day at Atuh Beach
Thank god for Instagram because I would have had no clue this beach existed on Nusa Penida if I hadn’t seen it on Instagram. It might be a bumpy, and slightly treacherous, scooter ride to get there from the port town of Ped, but man is it worth all the effort.
The drive along the coast offers stunning views of the ocean, small villages and windy mountain roads. Because Atuh Beach is so isolated and difficult to reach, not many people go there. Even during the high season there were only six other tourists on the beach and a handful of Indonesian children playing in the water.
It’s necessary to traverse down a steep, crude path to reach the beach. Looking down from above, I was amazed to see a sliver of a white sand being lapped by picture-perfect turquoise water. And the stunning rock formation located right off shore was just icing on the cake. It was as close as I’ve come to my ‘The Beach’ moment. This is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s a great place to spend an entire day.
Traveler’s Tips: The roads leading from Ped to Atuh Beach are surprisingly well marked. The road does, however, get very rough, sandy and basically non-existent towards the end so be extra cautious when driving there. Once you get down to the beach, a man will ask for a Rp 5000 fee to enter. It’s possible to rent lounge chairs and buy coconuts, drinks and nasi goreng for just a few dollars from the few vendors on the beach. Tides are strange on Nusa Penida, so it’s best to know what the tides are going to be like when you visit Atuh Beach. At low tide the water pretty much disappears. So make sure you visit when the tide is on the higher side. Also, the beach bottom is rocky so tread lightly.
2. Explore Crystal Bay
Crystal Bay is a popular spot for tour boats shuttling tourists around on snorkeling and diving trips. Despite being a renowned spot for spotting sea life, there are still very few people here.
When I traveled here in the off-season (during March) I had the beach virtually all to myself. During my most recent trip, in the high-season in August, there was a smattering of tourists lounging on the beach and snorkeling off shore. Not too bad. Crystal Bay is a pretty special beach, and a great place to slap on a mask and fins and explore the sea life.
Traveler’s Tips: The roads to Crystal Bay are very well marked and relatively smooth from Ped. While drinks do appear to be served at a beach shack, it might be best to bring your own food if you plan on staying here all day.
3. Gawk at Broken Beach
Broken Beach is a stunning natural formation on the coast of Nusa Penida. Despite its name it’s not actually a beach. It’s a natural bridge that makes for an unreal setting. I set out to find Broken Beach during my fist visit to Nusa Penida – and I failed miserably. Nusa Penida is big and the roads are confusing. Getting lost is inevitable. During my recent visit it took me forever to find Broken Beach and for a while I thought it was a lost cause, yet again.
Luckily I eventually found it. I might have crashed my bike and then driven into a ditch (I was unscathed!) on the way, but it was worth it.
Traveler’s Tips: The drive to Broken Beach from Ped will likely take two hours. There are two roads pointing to Broken Beach. One is very steep and shouldn’t be attempted if you’re not super comfortable riding a scooter. The other is incredibly bumpy but at least it’s not a full-on death trap. If you’re lost, and you will get lost, then just keep asking locals the way to either Billabong or Broken Beach, they’ll help you find your way. There is an entrance fee of Rp 5000 (I think).
4. Enjoy the view at Billabong
Billabong is the stuff Instagram dreams are made of. It’s basically a little lagoon, set in the middle of the black and craggy volcanic rock. It’s located on a cliff right down the path from Broken Beach (see above). Nusa Penida’s massive waves crash into the cliff and splash water into the lagoon. It is possible to swim in the lagoon (something that’s super popular with the selfie crowd) but be warned that people have been swept out to sea by the powerful waves.
Traveler’s tips: Billabong is literally right down the pathway from Broken Beach, maybe a two-minute walk.
5. Cool off at Temeling’s natural pools
I visited Temeling during the dry season (in April) and the waterfall was pretty much non-existent, but the natural pools were beautiful, cold and refreshing. And the setting could not have been more amazing. Bless Nusa Penida for being so tourist-free because the best part was, I had the place all to myself. Well there were monkeys there, so technically I did have company.
Temeling is surrounded by limestone cliffs and a lush jungle canopy. There are a couple of crystal clear swimming holes overlooking this stunning cove and the sound of waves crashing against the craggy rocks. It’s kind of like being in a lost world.
Traveler’s Tips: There are separate pools for men and women. And ladies, you’re not allowed to enter if you’re menstruating. The road getting here is steep and can get very slippery after it rains. Drive safely and slowly. Do not attempt to drive all the way down the road because it gets really steep toward the end.
There are so many other things to do on Nusa Penida, including diving and snorkeling excursions, seeking out hidden waterfalls, hiking to temples and spotting manta rays right off shore. The things I listed in this post are just the things I personally did during my two trips to the island.
Getting to Nusa Penida: We took a ferry from the main pier in Sanur. There aren’t as many daily boats that go to Nusa Penida as go to Nusa Lembongan, so it’s best to arrange a ferry one day before you leave. We took Maruti Express. It should cost 150,000 each way, although you will be charged 250,000 if you want a hotel pickup. For a more detailed guide on how to get to Nusa Penida from around Bali, check out this post.
Where to stay on Nusa Penida: We stayed at the Ring Sameton Inn and paid around $35 USD for a double room through Agoda.com. Because there are very few hotels on Nusa Penida, lodging tends to be pricier than in other parts of Indonesia. This place was a steal for $35. The rooms were enormous and clean, the grounds were beautiful and tranquil, there was a huge pool, great restaurant and 5-star service. I can honestly say that I highly recommend it.
Renting a motorbike on Nusa Penida: We arranged one scooter through our hotel for 50,000 rupiah (a great deal for Nusa Penida). If you’re renting a scooter through Ring Sameton Inn, make sure to arrange your motorbike rental ahead of time because they have a limited supply. To get a second scooter we had to inquire at the pier. It was easy but we were charged a bit more, 80,000 rupiah. If you don’t have too much luggage it’s better to rent a motorbike from the pier rather than overpaying for a hotel transfer or paying someone to drive you to your hotel. We were quoted a whopping 200,000 rupiah just to get a ride to our hotel.
Driving on Nusa Penida: Note that the island is big and you will need to either hire a driver or rent a motorbike to get around. The roads can get really bad – think dirt, gravel, sand – so this is not a good place for inexperienced drivers. I crashed my bike twice during my recent trip, my boyfriend crashed during our first trip, Chantae from Chantae Was Here crashed during her visit… basically no one I know hasn’t had at least a minor accident on Nusa Penida. So be extra careful riding around the island. If you want some tips on how to motorbike safely, check out this post.
Getting to Nusa Lembongan from Nusa Penida: There are lots of public boats running from Nusa Penida to Nusa Lembongan all day long. Simply go to the public pier and ask for a “public boat” to Nusa Lembongan. If you’re the only person on the boat, you’re getting a private boat and it’s going to cost you. The price should be 50,000 rupiah for a spot on a small public boat.
Now let’s move on to Nusa Lembongan our second top pick
8 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON NUSA LEMBONGAN
Nusa Lembongan has slowly grown as a tourist destination thanks to its good surf and chill-beach vibes. I had only heard about the crazy cliff jumping on nearby Nusa Ceningan but there was also so many awesome things to do on Nusa Lembongan.
How to get to Nusa Lembongan
We booked with Sri Rejeki Expressand the tickets cost $35 USD return including pickup and drop-off from Canggu (or so we thought). The boat trip only takes twenty-five minutes but from pickup to arrival on Lembongan it might take 3-4 hours when you include waiting times. The service was fine until we arrived back to Sanur Beach from Lembongan.Our shoes, which were collected in a big basket were literally dumped out in a huge pile in the muddy sand. Our bags were also thrown onto the muddy sand without any second thoughts. To top it off I was told all three of us had to be dropped at the one location despite staying at different hotels. It didn’t ruin our trip by any means but hard to give Sri Rejeki a glowing review after the old dump of the gear!
Another alternative is to jump on board an epic day cruise from Bali. These day cruises often include all meals, drinks and snorkeling gear and activities for when you arrive to Lembongan. If you are based in Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud or Canggu and looking to enjoy Lembongan for a day trip this is your best bet for an epic day out. The number one rated tour is with the Bali Lembongan Beach Club Day Tour. They pick you up from your hotel in the morning from Bali and drop you off later that night. Everything is taken care of all day and you get to enjoy the snorkeling and sights of Lembongan from the luxury boat!
Where to stay on Nusa Lembongan
We stayed at Swara Homestay 2, which set us back $10 a night for a private room with a bathroom. It was incredibly basic but we weren’t there to enjoy a fancy room so it worked for us. It was a great base for our adventures as we got stuck into all of the things to do on Nusa Lembongan. Along the beachfront, there are plenty of fancy resorts if you have the cash to splash but you can get a private room with everything you need for under $20 a night with no problems.
The second time I stayed on Nusa Lembongan was with my Nusa Islands Blogger Workshop. It was an upgrade from Swara Homestay 2! We stayed at the fancy Tamarind Resort, which was an insane property. It was a paradise hideaway with an awesome restaurant, gym, several infinity pools and sunset views. If you are looking for an epic place to stay on Lembongan I would definitely recommend the Tamarind Resort!
8 Awesome things to do on Nusa Lembongan
A very dreamy beach indeed. A hotel with an infinity pool and a restaurant overlooking this cute little cove of white sand and crystal clear water. We had a great time swimming in the decent shore break waves at this beach. A perfect spot to hang out for the day with good access to food, drinks, pools.
2. Devil’s Tears
Exploring Devil’s Tears is the best thing to do on Nusa Lembongan in my opinion. The outcrop sucks the water in before it explodes out with a boom, creating the tears of the devil. Not only does it make the devil cry but the spray also creates a rainbow on many occasions. Devil’s Tears may get a little touristy but it’s one of my favorite things to do on Nusa Lembongan.
That wasn’t the only magic that we witnessed while at this popular location. A local guide started clapping at a steady pace. At first, I thought he was cheering on the ocean. I could no longer hold back my curiosity and went and asked the old man why he was clapping the ocean. And he told he wasn’t cheering the ocean but he was, in fact, calling the turtle to appear. We laughed and joined him. He left and we stopped clapping but magically ten minutes later I spotted a turtle. Coincidence or not you tell me?
After enjoying the tears from the devil we headed around the corner to check out what we could find. More outcrops being smashed by water and some incredible tide pools. We knew we had to come back for sunset when we found the tide pools.
3. Sandy Bay
We explored even further around the corner and found Sandy Bay, another secluded beach.
4. Jungut Batu Beach
This beach is the main strip and the longest beach on Nusa Lembongan. All of the wooden tour boats and fishing vessels moor here. There is a surf break out quite a far way if you are keen to hit the swell. Almost every night we would come to Jungut Batu for the sunset and one of the nights was an absolute gem. The sky filled with electric orange and vibrant yellows.
We also followed this beach all the way down to the mangroves on a long exploratory walk. We came across everything from old wooden boats to volleyball courts to packs of stray dogs. The beauty of walking along this beach is that Mt Agung is always looming in the background. The volcano last erupted in 1963 but it is still an imposing feature in the distance. Sunset here is a must when considering things to do on Nusa Lembongan!
5. Mushroom Bay
Mushroom Bay was an awesome spot to grab a bite, hang out in a relaxed atmosphere and even rent a SUP board. It had a great family/calm atmosphere to the entire bay with a range of restaurants along the strip. We managed to find a $4 Margherita pizza from a fancy restaurant overlooking the bay. Win!
6. Mangrove Forest
We thought about doing the Mangrove tour but had done a few in the past so we opted to just drone over it haha! Maybe I will just stay in my hotel room and fly the drone to all the places in the future… It did look pretty interesting from the sky and we could visit a little of the forest when we caught the boat from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida.
7. Devil’s Tears Cliff Jump
Devil’s Tears is a popular sunset spot and tourist spot in general on Nusa Lembongan. We always hang out here for sunset as the tide pools have insane reflections. However, the last time we hit Devil’s Tears the swell wasn’t too crazy and we sent a few jumps. It’s only about 3-4 meters where we jumped but a ton of fun. The waves here smash into the cliffs so don’t mess around here on a day of a big swell.
8. Dream Beach Cliff Jump
When facing out to the ocean from the shore the right-hand side of the bay has a long rocky coastline stretching several hundred meters. If you wander out 2/3 of the way along the coast you will find a bit of a clearing. On a calm day, you can see the water is quite deep here. We climbed down and did a depth check and found a few deep spots. Once I had given it the all-clear as being safe. Things change underwater daily. Reef shifts, rocks move. Make sure you always do your own checks and don’t blindly follow what you read online.
There was a nice jump about 5-meters high with Dream Beach perfectly in the background. The scramble out wasn’t the safest exit ever with waves crashing into the rocks. You will need to wear shoes or reef shoes to help you climb out as the rocks are quite sharp. Other than the rocks and the necessary depth check it’s quite a fun cliff jump spot and will never be crowded… probably ever. It’s definitely one of the most epic things to do on Nusa Lembongan!