Nusa Penida is a small island located southeast of Bali. It’s a gorgeous holiday destination as well as a popular day outing for those staying on Bali. If you can spare a few days on your holiday and stay on the island, it’s worth it. Penida has so much to offer like natural freshwater springs and unique rock infinity pools. Not to mention some of the most desirable beaches Bali has to offer!
We were wildly surprised by how different Penida is to other parts of Bali! For one, the terrain is arid and covered in hills with narrow roads winding all around them. The island is less developed, and many of the tourist destinations are especially hard to reach. We loved our time on this island, but it may not appeal to everyone.
Here are a few things to consider before visiting this unique paradise island.
1. Traveling to Nusa Penida
There are many ports from mainland Bali to Nusa Penida. The public ferries depart from Sanur Ferry Port and run daily from 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 3 pm and 5 pm.
We recommend travelling by fast boat; it’s reliable and the quickest option. It takes around 30-40 minutes and costs 150,000 IDR one way or 300,000 IDR return.
2. Getting Around The Island
Once the boat drops you off (usually at Toyah Pakeh Harbour), there are scooter rental shops all around. The current price of a scooter is generally 70,000 IDR for 24 hours.
Getting around the island is not easy. With excursions and tourist attractions spread out, it takes quite a bit of time to get to them. Even with a scooter (which is the faster mode of transport on the island), we still found it difficult to see more than one sight per day. Expect your journey to take even longer if you’re travelling by taxi or private car hire.
3. Nusa Penida Roads
Most of Penida’s roads have been re-tarred, and some in the process of being fixed while we were there. From what we’ve seen, Penida is becoming more accessible and a popular tourist destination. Deluxe bungalows, villas, and trending restaurants are in the pipelines.
I’m sure most roads will be in good shape by the time you’re planning your trip. BUT having said that there’s still something to be said about them. These three words come to mind: STEEP, NARROW, AND WINDING. Most of the roads are single lane, making it near impossible for two cars to pass one another, and bikes are often pushed to the curb to accommodate bigger cars. Traffic jams are a common occurrence, and lack of long stretching sections brings the average travel speed down to about 25km/hr.
Only experienced scooter drivers should consider riding on the unkept roads (with adequate back breaks). The condition of the streets seems to get worse as you approach the touristic hot spots. Expect to see potholes, loose gravel and even dirt roads at times.
4. It’s Not a Stroll In The Park
Besides the travel to the destination of interest, many of the beaches and water features are down a couple of hundred staircases, so you’ll need to be in good shape and expect some hiking and borderline ‘rock climbing’ to get to them. We did notice that the harder the area was to get to, the higher the reward. Bringing us to the next point.
5. Length Of Stay
There are many tour companies that run Nusa Penida tours from all over Bali, although we can personally recommend @balinusapenidatour.
The tour included fast ferries to and from Nusa Penida, a private car + driver and lunch. The guys were great and took us to all the main spots on Nusa Penida Island without the stress of organising a thing.
They charge around 800,000 IDR per person for a day trip, although tours and prices can be arranged depending on where you want to visit
Stay on Penida for a minimum of 3 days and avoid day trip packages. We spent a full eight days on Penida and got to explore it from one end to the other. The best time to reach any tourist attraction on the island is in the morning before noon. After such time the day visitors arrive, and soon the area you’re in is flooded with Instagrammers, droners, and happy snappers. Not to mention how hot the island gets at midday with a minimal breeze and shady spots.
6. Where To Stay
Our advice would be to locate your points of interest on a map and stay in villas nearby. These are some of the best attractions on Nusa Penida. If you’re avid explorers like us, you might consider staying where we did, in the middle of the island up in the hills. Our accommodation was ideal and provided breakfast every morning. It was great not being too far from most of the destinations on the island.
7. The Island Is Fairly Under-Developed
Nusa Penida is a lot less developed than mainland Bali or the other two neighboring islands, with WiFi being extremely slow and intermittent (if available at all). There is barely any cellphone signal! It’s best practice to download an offline version of Nusa Penida on google maps and expect to have a social media light experience and a well-deserved break from online-work.
8. Bring Cash
ATMs are few and far between, and card swipes are not a given at restaurants. Most tourist destinations request a small donation or fee for visiting them (usually around 5,000Rp/person), so cash is an absolute must for Nusa Penida.