What are the Nusa Islands?
The Nusa Islands are a group of three small islands to the southeast of Bali’s mainland. They are reachable by a quick 30-minute speed boat ride from Bali, making these epic islands a popular spot for visitors to Bali.
The Nusa Islands are considered part of Bali but feel like worlds away. Each has a unique vibe and things to offer that feel totally different to classic places like Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu. They are made up of Nusa Penida, which is the biggest and most well-known, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
The Nusa Islands are about getting immersed in nature and less about pretty aesthetics and being a Digital Nomad. If you love adventure, then you will love Nusa Islands!! They are famous for diving and snorkelling (with Manta rays!), epic sunsets, dramatic cliffs, hiking, surfing and having some of the best beaches in Bali.
The Nusa Islands are very different and one may be more suitable for you than another depending on what you like and how you travel. In this guide, we’re covering the biggest and most well-known of the islands, Nusa Penida. We’re outlining the basics of the island including how to get there, things to do, how to get around, who is it for and how long you need to stay.
By the end of this guide, you should have a pretty clear idea of whether you want to include Nusa Penida on your Bali itinerary!
Nusa Penida is the biggest of the Nusa Islands and is located just 25 kilometres from the mainland. Nusa Penida is an iconic destination for its dramatic cliffs and beaches. Many of the images you see of Bali beaches on Instagram are from Nusa Penida!
Nusa Penida is a nature and adventure lover's paradise. It is perfect for going off the beaten path and getting active. If you love the idea of challenging yourself to get to the most epic spot or going on a mission to be rewarded with an unforgettable view, then Nusa Penida may be the perfect island for you!
How to get there from Bali
There are ferries that run daily from Sanur or Pemelisan Harbour. Sanur is 1 hour from Canggu or 30 minutes from Kuta. Pemelisan Harbor (Denpasar) is located on the southeast coast of Bali, an hour from Canggu and 20 minutes from Kuta.
There are 12 daily ferry services from Nusa Penida to Sanur with varying prices (starting at around $12 USD) and times. The fast ferry service also includes a hotel shuttle service to the port. This is the easiest, cheapest and most convenient way to get to Nusa Penida. Book online from Klookor Gili Ferries for up-to-date prices, and all routes and to save yourself bartering the price down if you book in Sanur.
From Pemelisan Harbour, there is only one ferry operator with just 2 daily ferries, so this may not be the most cost-effective or convenient option depending on your itinerary. The journey takes 45 minutes to an hour.
There are public slow boats from Sanur (the journey takes 90 minutes), but this service isn’t very suitable for tourists and the boats aren’t as safe.
How to get there from Nusa Lembongan
This is just a 10-minute ferry ride that runs from the ‘Yellow Bridge’ which is between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan every time the boat is full for $5 USD.
Always check updated ferry times and schedules, either on the online platforms or with your hotel when planning your itinerary. Ferry times can change and there may be more options available to you.
Things to do on Nusa Penida
Kelingking beach is a bucket list spot that you simply cannot leave Nusa Penida without seeing. This beach is located in a cove to the west of the island. This white sand beach is surrounded by dramatic cliffs which fall down into a rough yet deep blue ocean. There are some stunning viewpoints to take in all of the incredible views. Particularly the famous ’T-Rex’ cliffs, they appear to look like a T-Rex. This viewpoint is synonymous with Bali and the Nusa islands.
It is also possible to walk down the cliff to the beach. But this isn’t for the faint-hearted or anyone who isn’t fit and able to do such a climb down AND back up. The path consists of steps carved out of the cliff face and a flimsy bamboo railing (don’t lean on it!).
This is one of the most iconic spots in Bali and many people flock to the island (even for the day) just to get a glimpse, so expect crowds vying for the famous shot. The best way to avoid crowds is to go super early or later in the evening. That being said, not many people venture down to the beach so that is another way to avoid crowds!
Note that there are big waves, strong currents and rips in the water on the beach so be extremely careful if you decide to swim. Only confident swimmers with experience in rougher seas should go in.
Atuh beach is another unmissable spot located on the east side of Nusa Penida. This beach offers spectacular viewpoints and is accessible from either side of the beach.
The beach is enclosed by cliffs, making it a better spot for cooling off in the crystal clear blue water. There are beautiful rock formations out at sea that make great cliff jumping spots for those who love a bit of adrenaline.
Atuh beach is the most popular beach on the east side of Nusa Penida. It’s possible to walk down to the beach from either side. There is a small parking fee and entrance fee if you enter from the right side. There is no fee from the left side although this entrance is steeper and unpaved.
Another incredibly beautiful, dramatic and iconic spot to visit on Nusa Penida is Diamond Beach which is right next to Atuh beach. Named after the diamond shaped rock formation jutting out of the beautiful blue sea, this beach is another sight to behold and an Instagram favourite.
Diamond beach is untouched with beautiful white sand and gorgeous blue water. The view from the viewpoint at the top of the cliff will take your breath away.
Diamond beach used to have no access and you could only admire it from a distance, but now the locals have carved out a stairway down. Similar to Kelingking beach, this trek down is a bit precarious but worth it if you are able!
It is advised to only go down to the beach at low tide otherwise the waves can crash right up to the cliffs and be very dangerous. Diamond beach isn’t the best or safest place to swim, but the views alone make it worth a visit.
Thousand Island Viewpoint
Thousand Island Viewpoint is also located on the east side of Nusa Penida. This spot offers some of the most amazing vistas on this side of the island. Be spoiled with more views of dramatic cliffs, crashing waves and rock formations
.There is a trail from the car park to the first viewpoint with several different vantage points if you keep following the trail. Here you will find the Instagram famous ‘Treehouse’ (see next point).
There is a small entrance fee to access this spot.
Rumah Pohon Treehouse
The Rumah Pohon Treehouse is an Instagram-famous spot! It’s three tree houses perched on top of the mountain at the Thousand Island viewpoint. It is an awesome spot to check out when you’re in the area.
You can even stay at this treehouse! Although this spot is world renowned, it is very basic. If you’d like to stay here, book as far in advance as you can! You can also just visit without staying. All you have to do is pay a small fee to access the Thousand Island Viewpoint.
Diamond beach, Atuh beach, Thousand Island Viewpoint and Rumah Pohon Treehouse are all near one another on the east side of the island. This side of the island is quieter than the west and is usually missed during day tours of Bali, but we think it is a must on Nusa Penida!
Image credit: Adventures & Sunsets
Suwehan beach is another dramatic beach on the east side of the island, 25 minutes from the Rumah Pohon Treehouse, that is well worth a visit. Again you’ll find interesting rock formations in the sea, gorgeous blue water and towering cliffs. This is another spot with an intense climb down to enjoy the beach itself!
Angel’s Billabong is a beautiful rock pool that becomes visible during low tide. It is like a magnificent infinity pool and is a staple on any Nusa Penida itinerary.The rock pool is in between two cliffs and is slightly elevated. It may be possible to swim in the pool at low tide, however, it is very dangerous. If the sea is rough or there are some freak waves you can easily get washed out to sea or thrown into the rocks so be extremely careful.
Broken Beach is another unbelievable spot on Nusa Penida which doesn't even look real from above. An archway forms in the cliffs which can allow the sea to enter and carve out a small cove.
From above the cove appears to be an opening in the earth with a beach hidden underneath! At eye level, the arch appears much higher. This beach is near Angel’s Billabong so can easily be explored at the same time.
Nusa Penida is one of the best places to snorkel in Bali thanks to the incredible sea animals that live here. It’s most well-known for Manta Point, where you have a 97% chance of seeing and swimming with Manta Rays. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!
The Mola mola fish is another famous resident in the Nusa Penida sea and people travel from all over the world to spot them. The best place to spot them is Crystal Bay between July and October.
There are plenty of tours specially designed to see the manta rays and it can be easily done as a day trip from Bali if you don’t have time to stay on the island but simply cannot miss this.
There are many epic snorkelling spots year-round including Crystal Bay, Bed Village, Gamat Bay and Toyapakeh. All have beautiful reefs and unique marine life to explore.
How long to stay
It is possible to do a day trip from Bali. If choosing this, best to do it with a tour company so you can see all the main spots.
However, if you don’t want to rush and are keen to see all of the island, it’s best to stay for 1-3 nights to make the most out of everything this stunning island has to offer.
How to get around
Getting around Nusa Penida is the most challenging part. Most things that are a mission to get to are usually the most memorable!It’s possible to hire a scooter to get around Nusa Penida. Unless you’re very confident on a scooter this isn’t recommended as many of the roads are in very poor condition and the chances of getting into an accident are relatively high.
There is also the option to book a day tour (as above) or hire a private driver to take you around the island for a day. Prices for a private driver start at around $40 USD. This will be relatively affordable if you are splitting the cost with others!
The best way to find a driver for the best price is through your accommodation or word of mouth on the island or online.
Since Nusa Penida is larger, you may like to strategically book your accommodation at a location that is closer to many of the sites you want to see to save on travel time and cost.
Nusa Penida is best for travellers who:
- Love dramatic scenery and are down for an adventure
- Don’t mind going on missions and making an effort to see amazing spots
- Have FOMO and don’t want to miss some of the most Instagram-worthy spots in Bali
- Love snorkelling and diving
- Aren’t afraid of heights
Overall Nusa Penida is an amazing place to make the effort to visit. There are so many incredible spots that you will never forget. Adventure is waiting for you on Nusa Penida Island!