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.
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).
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)
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.
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 !