Nusa Penida, Bali is a natural wonderland. A far-away tropical island…that really isn’t so far away. Relatively undeveloped and rugged, Penida Island is one of the three islands that make up the Nusa Islands. Situated in the Bali Sea between Bali and Lombok, Nusa Penida abounds with surreal seascapes and captivating charm. Tourists who want a glimpse of Penida Island’s untouched beauty can easily do so on an organized Nusa Penida day trip. Planning to tour Nusa Penida is as easy as choosing the day!
One Day Trip Nusa Penida
Bali day tours to Penida Island focus on the natural sights found along the gorgeous shore. The wind and sea have carved the limestone coastline rocks into breathtaking scenic landscapes. For us, a day trip to Nusa Penida was a must-do on our Bali trip. We had swooned over amazing pictures of Penida– and were intent on seeing the scenic landscapes with our own eyes. There was just no way we could visit Bali and not go on a Nusa Penida Island Tour.
Bali or Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida Trip
During our trip to Bali, we stayed on both mainland Bali (Canggu and Uluwatu) and the Nusa Islands (Lembongan and Ceningan). Because we were already going to be on the Nusa Islands, we booked our Nusa Penida one-day tour from Lembongan Island. However, the same Nusa Penida tour package departs from the Bali mainland.
Nusa Penida Transport
The Bali-to-Nusa Penida trip is a full-day affair, as the distance to the island – and the travel between sights – is time-consuming. We would have foregone the organized tour and planned what to see in Nusa Penida on our own, except for one thing: transportation on the island. A motorized vehicle – either a scooter or car – is necessary to explore Penida Island highlights.
We don’t drive in foreign countries, but even if we did, we would not have wanted to drive on Penida. The hilly terrain lends itself to steep, curving roads with blind corners…and the narrow, unpaved roads make operating a vehicle all the more difficult. Booking a tour with a driver took all the stress out of getting around Penida. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the lush scenery on the very bumpy ride.
Tour Nusa Penida: A Full-Day Itinerary
Penida tours include a full day of island exploration – and start early in the morning (really early if coming from Bali). Although tours can be tailored to specific sights, the most popular Nusa Penida day tour covers four sights on the west side of the island: Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach and Crystal Bay.
Boat to Nusa Penida
We left the details of how to get to Nusa Penida to our tour company. Since we were already on the islands, they arranged for a private boat from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida, which departed from Mangrove Point at 9:00am and took us to Toyapakeh Port.
If you book a Bali one day tour from the mainland, getting to Nusa Penida will be just as easy. The tour company will arrange for transport from your hotel to Sanur and they will also organize details for your boat from Sanur to Nusa Penida. The fast boat to Nusa Penida Toyapakeh Port takes about 30 minutes. The cost of the boat from Bali to Nusa Penida is included in the price of the tour.
Top Tip: Riding the ferry to Nusa Penida will most likely involve getting wet. Passengers board and disembark the boats from the beach and must walk into the water to get to the boat. We recommend wearing quick-drying shorts and shoes that are easy to take on and off. The journey by speed boat to Nusa Penida can also be rough depending on the swell; if you are prone to seasickness, we recommend using Sea Bands.
Nusa Penida Travel Guide
At the dock, we met our Nusa Penida guide, who doubled as our driver. He was waiting for us on shore when we departed the boat and showed us to his mid-sized, air-conditioned van (which looked like every other van waiting to pick up tourists). He quickly reviewed the tour itinerary and then we set off to discover Nusa Penida.
Although he didn’t offer much factual information about the sights, he knew all the best places to take us for the best photos and viewpoints. He stayed close by, but let us wander on our own, too. He happily took photos of us – even climbing into trees to get the best shot.
When our guide was driving, he focused completely on the road. Although he grew up on the island (we drove through his village during our tour!), the roads are not easy to navigate. During the ride we were jostled about in the backseat of the car as we stared out the windows at the passing scenes.
We soaked in the charm of the small villages as we slowly made our way from sight to sight. Men worked in terraced fields. Women carried baskets of fresh-cut crops on their heads as they walked along the roadside. Children played on bikes. Chickens and piglets raced around family farms. Although the coastal sights are the main reason to tour Nusa Penida, we were fascinated by what we saw inland, as well.
Nusa Penida, Bali Tour
Our tour included the absolute best places to visit in Nusa Penida. These are the sights we saw, in the order we visited them. You can use this link to book this Nusa Penida tour.
Stop #1: Angel’s Billabong Nusa Penida
Angel’s Billabong Bali is one of the top things to see on Nusa Penida – and it was stop #1 on our Nusa Penida trip. Angel Billabong is a natural sight; a long and slender tidal pool nestled between two giant volcanic boulders. The shallow pool is filled with translucent seawater as waves crash against the rocky cliff. Seaweed grows in the bottom of the tidal pool, which makes the teal water glow green.
Tourists visiting Angel’s Billabong clamor around the inland end of the tidal pool for the perfect shot. However, once we snapped our photo, we climbed to the cliff and found a place to watch the enormous waves crashing against the rocks. Just off shore, playful dolphins swam in the sea, making a stop at Angel’s Billabong even more memorable. When the sea is calm and the tide is low (of which it was neither during our trip), visitors are allowed to swim at Angel’s Billabong. However, tourists do so at their own risk, as sneaky waves can quickly pull swimmers out to sea.
Stop #2: Broken Beach Nusa Penida
Our guide led us along a dusty path from Angel Billabong to the next sight: Broken Beach Bali. Although inaccessible due to steep cliffs, the crater beach at Broken Beach itself is very much intact. The name, Broken Beach, refers to the gaping hole in the rock wall that stands between the beach and the sea. Formed over time, the limestone rock eroded under the deluge of crashing waves, leaving only a natural arch bridge connecting the land at the top of the cliff. Like steady breath, waves from the sea flow rhythmically through the ‘broken’ rock, every swell refilling the hallowed beach with luminous turquoise water.
When we approached Broken Beach, we veered to the left, taking in the best view of the rock formation and beach (and taking heaps of photos, too!). We moved clockwise around the crater, but before crossing over the natural arch bridge, we diverted to the craggy coastline. To the south, we watched wave after wave smash against the cliffs, sending spray high into the air. We finally crossed the rock bridge, completed the loop and then made our way back to the car, getting one more glimpse at Angel’s Billabong on the way.
Stop #3 Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida
The third stop on our trip to Nusa Penida was the famous Kelingking Beach. The iconic beach is a Nusa Penida must-see (and the sight that most prompted us to take the Penida Island day trip!). Kelingking translates to pinkie – as in, pinkie finger…and that’s exactly what the slender, slightly curved, peninsula looks like. It also looks somewhat similar to the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, which has earned it the nickname T-Rex. Whatever you call it, there is no denying that the mountainous peninsula is an astonishing sight.
There are numerous vantage points along the clifftop overlooking Kelingking Beach (none of which have railings!). We ventured to the right and continued walking until we found an unoccupied clearing with fantastic views of the peninsula. The contrasting, vibrant colors – the bright green foliage, the deep blue cerulean sea, the cream-colored sandy beach – created a postcard-perfect scene.
A wobbly built bamboo staircase enables tourists to climb down to the beach from the cliff’s edge. We passed on the frightful experience, but heard the trek down takes about 40 minutes…and the hike back up takes about an hour. For us, the epic shoreline is best viewed from above and we spent plenty of time taking in the scene from multiple viewpoints.
Nusa Penida Manta Rays
Giant manta rays are frequent visitors in the clear waters surrounding Penida Island. The aptly named Manta Point Bali and Manta Bay – both found along the southwestern shore – are well-known coves where the manta rays can be spotted, but the rays can also be spotted from the shore. Snorkel tours frequent the coves to give tourists a chance to swim with the gentle sea creatures, but you don’t need to be in the water to see them.
While standing on Paluang Cliff for yet another amazing viewpoint of Kelingking, we witnessed five graceful manta rays swim into the bay below. We watched in awe as the animals elegantly swam through the glassy water. With a 10-foot span, we could clearly see the manta rays move in choreographed patterns in the shallow cove.
Lunch at Kelingking
Before leaving the cliff above Kelingking, we sat down in one of the restaurants near the edge for a quick lunch of traditional Nasi Goreng. The lunch was included in the price of our tour, but we could have opted for a tour without lunch. The extra charge for the tour with lunch was exactly the cost for a meal (based on menu prices). In hindsight, we would have chosen the tour without lunch and had the ability to choose our own restaurant at Kelingking (some of which had much better views than our included restaurant).
Stop #4 Nusa Penida Beach – Crystal Bay
The final stop on our Penida Island tour was Crystal Bay, a popular Nusa Penida beach for swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. The deep bay faces northwest with views of nearby Nusa Ceningan. A single rock island, Pulau Batumejinong, which is occupied by a temple, sits in the middle of Crystal Bay.
We had more than an hour to spend on Crystal Bay to put our feet in the sand or swim in the sea. Due to our misunderstanding about beach time being included in the tour, we were unprepared (as in without swimsuits) to get in the water. Instead, we walked the length of the beach from right to left, where we found a staircase leading up the hill. We exerted some energy climbing the steps in the heat of the day, but found a ‘secret’ bay at the end of the trail.
Snorkeling Nusa Penida
Getting to most Nusa Penida snorkeling sites requires a boat. However, that isn’t true at Crystal Bay where visitors can swim with the fish from Crystal Bay Beach. As snorkeling is one of the top Nusa Penida things to do, we were kicking ourselves pretty hard for not only going on our Nusa Penida day trip without swimsuits, but also without our snorkel gear. We highly recommend bringing both on your tour – and, if you don’t have snorkel gear, there are several beachfront shops that rent masks, snorkels and fins.
Nusa Penida to Lembongan (or Bali)
By the end of the day, we had ticked off everything we wanted to see on our Nusa Penida to-do list! We arrived back to Toyapakeh Port a little before 4:00pm and only waited a short time for our return boat from Nusa Penida to Lembongan. Day trippers traveling from Nusa Penida to Bali mainland will return via fast boat. The Nusa Penida to Sanur boat trip will be arranged by the tour company and is included in the price of the tour.
Nusa Penida Day Trip Options
Although the tour we took – to Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach, Kelingking and Crystal Bay – is the most popular way to tour Nusa Penida, there are other day trips to the Nusa Islands.
Snorkel Day Trip to Penida and Nusa Lembongan Island
Bali tourists who want to spend a day snorkeling can join a Nusa Lembongan, Bali Day Trip. The trip includes transport to/from your Bali mainland hotel, a roundtrip fast boat to/from Nusa Lembongan, 3 snorkel spots and lunch on the beach. Book it now!
2-Day Tour: Lembongan and Penida (Including Snorkeling!)
Deciding between Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan? Visit both on this two-day trip! The tour includes snorkeling at three reefs, touring the mangroves with a Nusa Lembongan guide, use of a scooter for further exploration and a full-day tour of Nusa Penida. Transportation from your mainland Bali hotel and accommodations on Lembongan are also included. Find out more!
More Nusa Penida Attractions
There are more things to do in Nusa Penida than can fit in one day! The sights we saw filled our entire day, but visitors on private tours can request to see other island sights. Here are the top things to see that can be included on a day trip to Nusa Penida:
- Peguyangan Waterfall – A waterfall and natural pool overlooking the sea, which is accessed by a steep staircase.
- Car Temple (Pura Paluang) – A temple with two replica cars at part of the shrine.
- Banah Cliff Point – Dramatic cliff views of offshore islands.
- Atuh Beach – A sandy beach with eroding rock formations.
- Thousand Island Viewpoint or King Five (Pulau Seribu or Raja Lima) – A panoramic viewpoint of the sea and karsts.
- Goa Giri Putri Temple – A cave temple accessed through an opening in the rock.
- Pura Puncak Mundi – A temple that sits at the islands highest point, 520 meters above sea level.
- Tembeling Forest – A jungle with treks to two natural pools.
Nusa Penida Diving:
The magnificent manta rays, colorful reef and other marine-life make Nusa Penida one of the best places in Bali to go diving. There are Nusa Penida diving day trips that can be booked from mainland Bali. To dive Nusa Penida, you need to be certified and many companies offer PADI certification.
DIY Nusa Penida Day Trip
It is possible to create your own self-guided Penida tour, but we didn’t think it was worth the hassle. We could have saved a little money by taking the public boat from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida (departure from the Yellow Bridge). Upon arrival, we would then have had to either rent a scooter – which we do NOT recommend, especially after seeing how difficult navigating was for our skilled driver! – or negotiate a price for a local driver. It is possible, but we didn’t find value in a DIY option.
Map of Nusa Penida
Use this link for an online version of our Nusa Penida map.
What You Will Need to Tour Nusa Penida
- We think travel insurance is essential in Bali! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
- Don’t forget the necessities for your day trip to Nusa Penida! You will need a swimsuit, high SPF sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and a refillable water bottle. Bring snorkel gear, too, if you have it!
- A camera is practically required for this day trip! We highly recommend using an actual camera (not just your phone) to capture the beauty of Nusa Penida. We use a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- For epic underwater pics and videos, make sure to pack a GoPro (or similar – less-expensive – waterproof action camera).
Your Complete Guide To The Nusa Islands!
We want to know: Do you want to tour Nusa Penida? Have you been on a Nusa Penida day trip? Ask your questions or give your best tips and advice in the comments below!
Plan Your Visit To Bali Here!
Like what you’re reading? Join the journey!
Subscribe to JetSetting Fools and get new blog posts and our quarterly newsletter direct to your inbox:
Pin it! See all of our travel pins on our JetSetting Fools Pinterest Board.