Bali: Nusa Penida Guide, what to expect, and how to plan your own day trip

My recent trip to Nusa Penida was rather unplanned. We originally arranged for 4 days 3 nights family trip to Bali, with the intent to just stay around Seminyak area, and maybe do one day excursion by car.

In the end, we managed to include a day trip to Nusa Penida. Fortunately, our Airbnb Superhost was very resourceful and honest (I can say), to help us arrange everything. If it is wasn’t for her, we would probably have burned a hole in our wallet, having not done any research prior to the trip.

Kelingking beach, Nusa Penida jermpins
Kelingking beach, Nusa Penida

Getting there

From Bali, you need to take a boat from Sanur beach, and the boat ride is about 45 minutes to Nusa Penida.

Noticed I didn’t mention jetty or harbour, because there is none!

The boat will approach the beach (as near as it can), and you will have to tread the waters (which was almost knee height) and then climb onboard.

CAUTION: Expect to get wet. The step to climb onboard can be quite high, but the boat staff can assist you. You want to also be alert of the boat rocking motion with the waves when you are climbing onboard.

On our return to Sanur beach in the evening, it was low tide, and the boat couldn’t get too close to shore; so we had to disembarked farther from shore, and the water level was waist high ! We brought mum along, and later realised it was quite a challenge for her.

The boat fare is 200k rupiah (13 USD) one way, which is also the official fare for public boat service. Tickets get sold out very fast early in the morning. However, there are many private boat operators to choose from on Sanur beach. We went with a private boat operator (Angel Billabong) and paid the same 200k rupiah fare. Though, we did observe one Caucasian couple who got charged doubled. So, you should negotiate your fare if you get charged unfairly.

Tip: Be sure to book your return trip, if you are planning to do day trip like me. This is to ensure you don’t get stranded on the island without any accommodations (as boat tickets are very limited). 

Angel Billabong, Nusa Penida jermpins
Angel’s Billabong, Nusa Penida

Getting around Nusa Penida

Getting around Nusa Penida, you need to either hire a car or motorbike. Upon arriving at Nusa Penida jetty, there are plenty of locals at the jetty offering motorbike for rent, at about 10 USD.

Getting around on motorbike may seem more convenient and time saving, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are very confident in handling the motorbike. Majority of the roads on Nusa Penida are unpaved, with lots of potholes, and some parts are narrow and steep.

Distances between sights may seem short on map, but it takes about an hour to get between each sights (due to the bad road conditions).

Our Airbnb Superhost arranged for us, pick up from Nusa Penida. We paid in total 600k rupiah (40 USD) for a 6 seater car, and a private driver cum tour guide for the whole day. It didn’t include parking and entrance fees as below,

  • Kelingking beach : Entrance fee 5000 rupiah per person
  • Angel’s Billabong (and Broken beach) : Entrance fee 5000 rupiah per person
  • Crystal bay : Parking 5000 rupiah per car

I would later compared notes with other blogs to find out that what we paid for was considered very reasonable. Hotels on Nusa Penida will charge about 700k rupiah for a similar day tour (including parking and entrance fees). However, some travel agencies may charge around 100 USD per person for an all arranged full day trip.


What to see

Departing from Bali Sanur beach, you will likely arrive Nusa Penida west coast. For a day trip, you can only cover four sights, i.e.

  • Kelingking beach, the infamous steep cliff shaped like a dinosaur, a secluded white sandy beach, with the most beautiful turquoise waters
  • Angel’s Billabong, natural tidal pool, with a vantage point to witness some serious strong waves crashing
  • Broken beach, inaccessible beach almost like a sink hole with an impressive archway
  • Crystal bay, beach with sands glittering like crystals, for swimming and sunbathing; also snorkelling with manta rays and mola mola (sunfish)
Broken beach, Nusa Penida jermpins
Broken beach, Nusa Penida

Our itinerary

Since we had our own private driver and tour guide, we were able to be quite flexible with our program.

0645 hrs – Depart villa at Seminyak

0730 hrs – Arrive Sanur beach

0800 hrs – Boat departs Sanur beach

0900 hrs – Boat arrives Nusa Penida; Pick up by our private driver cum tour guide

0930 hrs – Breakfast at a warung (food stall)

1000 hrs – (1 hour) Drive to Kelingking beach

1100 hrs – Arrive Kelingking beach

1130 hrs – (30 mins) Drive to Angel’s Billabong

1200 hrs – Arrive Angel’s Billabong (and Broken beach)

1300 hrs – (1 hour) Drive to Crystal bay

1400 hrs – Arrive Crystal bay

1500 hrs – (30 mins) Drive to jetty

1600 hrs – Depart for Bali Sanur beach

As you can see, you can’t do much with a one day trip, as most of the time is spent on travelling.


Verdict

Nusa Penida is as beautiful as how I pictured it, and seen it on others’ Instagram. However, I didn’t expect it to be as crowded and commercialised as I experienced. I can still remember as we were arriving the jetty, I was shocked to see all the hired cars and vans lined up and waiting at the jetty.

And when we reached the sites, all those Instagram famous spots have long queues, and all tour guides were queueing on behalf of their tourists.

It is surprising and a bit shocking to see how tourism can grow at such exponential rates with the help of social media. Sometimes, I wonder if it is for the greater good. One hand, I wish for Nusa Penida to be more developed with proper jetties, and paved roads, so that everyone can come and witness the beauty of it. And the locals can also benefit from it. However, on the other hand, I wish for Nusa Penida’s beauty to be kept untouched, and not risked being defiled by tourists.

I guess all we can do as sustainable travellers, is to do our best to preserve its beauty. To not trespass where you are not suppose to go. To not fly a drone where you are not suppose to. To not leave behind any rubbish when you leave.

Lastly, I wouldn’t recommend Nusa Penida for elderlies. As I shared earlier, it was quite a challenge for my parents, having to manage embarking and disembarking the boat, and sitting through hours on rocky roads. But, I myself, am definitely coming back again, and the next time, I want to take my time. I want to climb the steep cliffs of Kelingking beach, and definitely going for a dive with the manta rays and mola mola !

Nusa Penida jermpins
Nusa Penida

12 thoughts on “Bali: Nusa Penida Guide, what to expect, and how to plan your own day trip

  1. That sounds like a great trip for an unplanned one. I am glad the Airbnb superhost made things easy for you and your family. The waters look so clean and blue! Thanks for putting together this comprehensive guide, so very helpful. And here’s hoping you get to dive with the Manta soon!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s shocking as well how social media really has exploded tourism in some of the most secluded places in the world. It just shows how powerful it really is! And great tip about this area not being the best for the elderly due to several reasons that can be strenuous at an elderly age.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How fortunate that you found such a great Airbnb host who was so helpful. I appreciate how you told about te trip to and from Nusa Penida, showing some of the more difficult aspects of the journey. It is unfortunate that social media is having such a negative influence on the beautiful places in our world like Nusa Penida. Hopefully all of us can learn a lesson and seek to preserve such treasures.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s a really balanced account of the realities of visiting such a popular spot, and a great reminder of our responsibilities to treat its beauty respectfully. I hadn’t thought about the tidal impact on boat drop off; if you weren’t expecting this, it could be a challenging experience to be waist deep in the water. I know my mum would have struggled too. Glad your Airbnb host was so helpful, and that your day worked out well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bali is a place I continue to hear so much about and want to visit. Oh my goodness at the water levels and getting to/from the boat. Good thing it was only a day trip over to Nusa Penida because otherwise, how would you do that with luggage?? Broken Beach is gorgeous!! And yep, if it’s famous for being on Instagram, there are going to be long lines. I always expect those. My fight is when I wait in said line and I get up there and because I usually want a photo without myself in it, other people think I’m not going and push ahead of me. If I had a penny for every time I said “I would like my turn without ANYone in it please….” Your photos are really pretty!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have heard so much about Nusa Penida and admired a lot, but was always confused about how to reach there and what all I can do. Thanks to your detailed post as it has all necessary information like how to reach here and even full itinerary. Saving it for my future trip to this place.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Climbing onboard!?! Holy cow! I suppose if you’re going to do it, might as well do it when you’re in the beautiful blue waters of Bali! Thanks for sharing, it looks like you had a lovely time!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nusa Penida looks like a wonderful place to go when visiting Bali. Too bad that it’s so touristy now. Do you think there might be some periods when it’s less crowded?

    Liked by 1 person

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