The Ultimate Guide to Nusa Penida [2024]

Everything you need to know to plan your trip, including how to avoid the crowds.

Last updated: 04 Jan 2024 - 13 min read
The Ultimate Guide to Nusa Penida [2024]
The Ultimate Guide to Nusa Penida [2024]
Hi! Welcome to Seek Sophie
We take pride in finding the best local guides and experiences. We will only recommend what we love, and hope you love them too.

Nusa Penida, just off the coast of Bali, is one of our favourite places to visit. The views are epic, it's not packed with villas yet, and the local culture here is fascinating & different from mainland Bali.

Here's everything you need to know to plan your trip - from whether it's worth your time, to how to get there and how to avoid the crowds.

TLDR: Nusa Penida is getting more crowded, but still worth visiting because the views are gorgeous. For the best experience, we'd highly recommend spending the night here, and going to East Penida. Skip snorkelling unless you're a strong swimmer.

1. The Basics

Is Nusa Penida Worth Visiting?

See the beautiful island paradise of Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is a complicated place. It's become increasingly popular in recent years thanks to IG, and many travellers have complained about needing to queue up at view points, and unsafe snorkelling practices.

We think it's still worth going if you love nature and outdoors because Nusa Penida is still one of the most beautiful places in Bali. If you have the time, you should spend a night or two here because you'll get to experience it away from the crowds and get to know the local community here.

What to See & Do at Nusa Penida

Most travellers go to Nusa Penida for its epic viewpoints

Nusa Penida is known for its epic viewpoints, snorkelling and diving. People usually go to West Nusa Penida for beach hopping & snorkelling at IG-hotspots like Kelingking Beach, Angel Billabong & Broken Beach (more below).

But what we really love about Nusa Penida is that it reminds us of Bali before mass tourism (if you stay after the daytrippers have left!). We love the tight-knit, heartfelt community here, the gorgeous local villages and the off-grid places still to be found on East Nusa Penida (see Points of Interest below).

How Much Time Do You Need

To really see the beauty of Nusa Penida, we'd highly recommend staying overnight

If you are looking to swing by the top sights for nice photos or don't have a lot of time, a day tour from Bali will suffice. This means that you'll be visiting the attractions at the same time as everyone else though so it'll be more crowded and touristy. If you're only visiting for a day and want to avoid the crowds, we'd recommend going to East Penida, which is less crowded and authentic.

Insider Tip: If you prefer to experience the local way of life, and see Nusa Penida's epic viewpoints without the crowds, we highly recommend coming here for at least 2 days.

Best Time to Go

Try to go during dry season between April to November, as most of the sights are outdoors and you may not get great pictures if it rains. But if you don't mind the rain you can visit Nusa Penida anytime really!

Manta rays can be seen all year round in Nusa Penida, but the best time to see them is from May to October. During this time, the water is calm and clear, and the manta rays are more active.

2. Getting There

Taking a Boat From Bali

Most travellers would hop on a fast boat from Sanur in Bali to Nusa Penida

To get to Nusa Penida, you will need to take a 35-45 minutes' boat ride from Bali. You can get your boat tickets at the jetty, or buy it in advance.

Boat rides depart from Pantai Matahari Terbit Harbour in Sanur (main port) and Kusamba Port in Kusamba Beach. Sanur is the main port in Bali and has more frequent boat departures, and more modern jetties. If you're coming from the east side of Bali, you can go to Kusamaba Port, but the departures are less frequent.

Most of the fast boats located in Sanur leave at around 7.30am and then again during the mid morning around 10am, followed by an afternoon departure around 2.30pm or 3.30pm. They come back to Bali in clusters from 8am to 10am and 3.30pm to 4.30pm.

Hiring a Guide

Get a local to take you around and support Nusa Penida's local community!

While it is possible to get around Nusa Penida without a guide, we'd highly recommend getting one to support the local economy, and to take you to hidden gems that most travellers don't get to see.

Insider Tip: Do note though that the tourism industry in Nusa Penida isn’t as mature as the rest of Bali, so most guides for the tour companies offering trips to Nusa Penida don’t speak much English.

Getting Around Nusa Penida Island

There are three ways to get around Nusa Penida:

  1. Book a guide in advance. This is the best option if you want to see hidden spots and have a more personalized experience. Your guide will arrange your round trip transfer from Bali (including hotel pick-up and boat transfers), take you around Nusa Penida by car, and share their knowledge of the island with you.
  2. Hire a driver on the beach at Nusa Penida. You can also hire a car or scooter driver to take you around when you get to Nusa Penida. This is what most travellers do, but you will have less flexibility in terms of your itinerary. Most drivers on the beach also do not speak English, so it can be difficult to communicate with them if you have a specific plan in mind. However, if you are happy to see the usual highlights of Nusa Penida, then this is a perfectly fine option.
  3. Renting a scooter at Nusa Penida. If you have a scooter licence, you can also rent a scooter at the Banjar Nyuh Harbour or at the accommodation you are staying. A one day hire starts at around IDR 70K. However, scooter rental should be reserved for highly experienced drivers, as the roads around Nusa Penida are narrow and challenging.

3. Points of Interest in Nusa Penida

If you're only going for a day trip, you'll need to choose between the West or the East side of the island. The island is large and a day is not enough to experience both sides of the island!

If you'd like epic viewpoints and snorkelling, head to West Penida. This is where the IG photo spots are, and where 90% of visitors go to.

If you like local culture, and off-the-beaten-path exploration, head to East Penida. Even better, stay overnight in Nusa Penida so you cover both sides of the island, and see Nusa Penida's beauty without the crowds.

West Penida

Kelingking Beach (T-Rex)

The famous IG picture at Kelingking Beach - looks like a T-Rex from above!

Located on the southeastern coast of the island, Kelingking Beach is known for its crystal clear waters and stunning cliffside which looks like the head of a T-Rex. It's the most famous beach on West Nusa Penida, and the most touristed by far. Sometimes you'll need to queue to get your picture at the viewpoint!

The main thing to do here is just take in the views. While you can also hike to the bottom of the cliff to get to the beach, few people do this on a day trip as there isn't enough time. It usually takes at least 1-2 hours to hike each way.

Insider Tip: The best way to experience Kelingking Beach without the crowds is to go in the late afternoon, when the daytrippers have left for the day. To do this, you'll need to stay overnight on the island, which we'd highly recommend.

Broken Beach

Beautiful Broken Beach

Broken Beach is a gorgeous viewpoint of an epic rock archway opening up to the sea. The name is a bit misleading, because you can't actually swim at Broken Beach, but the views here make it definitely worthwhile.

Our favourite part of this viewpoint is that as you look into the waters from the cliff, you might be able to spot manta rays just beneath the water's surface. It's very cool!

Angel Billabong

Angel Billabong has a lovely infinity pool, but we don't recommend swimming here

Just next to Broken Beach, on the southwestern coast of Nusa Penida, is Angel’s Billabong, a natural infinity pool surrounded by towering cliffs and crystal clear waters. We didn't find Angel Billabong super impressive (especially if you go during low tide when the pool is empty!), but the views are nice enough.

Insider Tip: The waters can be unpredictable with tide rushing in very quickly, so we don't recommend swimming here! Many travellers have warned of the danger here.

Top Snorkelling Spots

At Nusa Penida, you can do a full-day snorkelling trip, or a island tour that includes both sightseeing and snorkelling. Usually the guides will take you via speedboat to the snorkelling spots to see Manta Rays, turtles and gorgeous coral.

Manta Point

Gorgeous manta rays swim in the waters here

Snorkeling with manta rays at Manta Point in Nusa Penida is an unforgettable experience. These gentle giants are truly majestic creatures, and it is an incredible feeling to be able to see them up close. The best time to visit is during manta ray season, which typically runs from May to October. However, manta rays can be seen at Manta Point year-round.

Insider Tip: To snorkel at Manta Point, you will need to be a strong swimmer. The water can be quite choppy, and you will need to be able to swim against the current in order to stay in the area where the manta rays are feeding.

Gamat Bay

See serene turtles at Gamat Bay

This spot is quite difficult to reach by land, which has been helpful to preserve the ocean life nearby. This clear water spot is known for vibrant coral reefs and colourful schools of fish. Turtles are also known to hang out here!

Crystal Bay

Snorkel at Crystal Bay

This cozy little bay, blessed with super clear waters is great for beach goers and snorkellers alike. You will see quite a few boats docking here with snorkellers looking to find vibrants corals, colorful fish and even some turtles.

Wall Bay

See gorgeous red corals

Perhaps most impressive site here is that of the gorgeous blood-red finger corals, which thrive at Wall Beach. When snorkelling here, you may even get a glimpse giant Moray eels, octopi, sweet-lip emperor fish, the red-toothed triggerfish, batfish, and more. The current is a bit strong, but you will see more fish here.

East Penida

Teletubbies Hills

Teletubbies Hill is an iconic hill in East Penida that local festivals are held at

This super cute and unique landscape features rolling blob-shaped green hills that resemble the set of the popular children's TV show "Teletubbies." The best time to see the hills is during rainy season (December-March) when the hills turn bright green.

Insider Tip: This is also the best sunset spot in Nusa Penida and hardly anyone goes there! To see sunset here though, you'll need to spend the night at Nusa Penida as boats back to Bali would have left for the day by then.

Seaweed Farms

Visit a local seaweed farm

Most people don't know this but seaweed farms dot the northeastern coast of Nusa Penida, invisible at high tide. Introduced to the island in the 1980s, seaweed farming experienced a revival during the COVID-19 pandemic, when tourism declined and locals needed a new way to make a living.

We loved going down to the ocean during low tide and seeing the acres of seaweed being grown there. There's something really special about seeing this local side of Nusa Penida that few travellers get to see. By visiting a seaweed farm, you can support local farmers and help them maintain a more local way of life apart from tourism.

Diamond Beach

The IG popular view from the Nusa Penida treehouse at Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach in East Nusa Penida is named after the diamond-shaped rock cliffs that jut out of the blue waters. The beach is accessible via a long staircase, and the walk down is worth it for the stunning views.

However, Diamond Beach has become increasingly crowded in recent years, especially with daytrippers. A treehouse has even been built on the beach for people to take pictures. The queues can be long and to be honest it just feels like a tourist trap (see video for the crowds at the Nusa Penida treehouse).

Insider Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, try to visit the side of the beach without the treehouse. The views are just as good, and you'll have more space to relax and enjoy the beach!

Atuh Beach

Atuh Beach at low tide

Atuh Beach at East Penida is known for the epic view of a rock island formation which ends in an arch and sticks out of the gorgeous turquoise waters.

If you come here during low tide, the view of the arch is supplanted by an ocean bed full of otherworldly rocks.

Goa Giri Putri Temple

Goa Giri Putri Temple, a huge cave temple in Nusa Penida

Goa Giri Putri Temple is a really cool cave temple in East Penida. In a land of many sacred temples, this is one of the most sacred to the Balinese, with many coming from the main island to take part in purification.

Our favourite part about this temple is its entrance! The entrance to the cave is tiny, and visitors must duck crawl through it to enter. This is said to be a test of their intention and devotion.

The locals believe that if you have the right intention, no matter how big you are, you will be able to get through the tiny crevice!

Once inside, the cave opens up into a whole other world, with walls covered in carvings and paintings. It really did feel quite spiritual and otherworldly to us.

4. How to Avoid the Crowds

Even though only a small fraction of the visitors to Bali go to Nusa Penida, most travellers come here on a day trip. This means that everyone goes to the exact same places, at the exact same time.

This has led to overcrowding at popular spots and some dangerous practices - such as swimmers being carried away by the tide.

It's only going to get more crowded as plans are in place to build a glass elevator at the most popular highlight - Kelingking Beach.

There are a few ways to enjoy Nusa Penida without the crowds, and see it in a way you'll actually enjoy. Here are our top tips.

Travel slow & stay overnight

Stay overnight at one of the lovely guesthouses here. You'll be able to see Nusa Penida at its best, without the crowds

95% of visitors just go to Nusa Penida for a day trip so they end up at all the same spots at the exact same time.

If you stay overnight you can really enjoy the magic of the island, the hospitality of the locals and see the beautiful spots when the crowds have left. We love staying at the guesthouses here - they're a lot more chilled than in Bali, and the locals here are genuinely happy to have you.

Take a Local Guide

A local guide will be able to show you how to avoid crowded spots, and add colour to what you're seeing. This way you'll get to better understand the local lives and culture of people who live on Nusa Penida.

By taking a guide, you’ll also be contributing towards the local community with your visit.

Go to East Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is home to several gorgeous local villages

We've seen both sides of the island and we much prefer the east! With the exception of the treehouse at Diamond Beach, East Nusa Penida has a ton of heart and the sense of community here is incredibly strong.

In addition to Teletubbies Hill, Goa Giri Putri Temple and the seaweed farms, we'd also highly recommend seeing Tanglad village if you have the time! It's one of the prettiest villages we've ever seen, and it just has a lovely energy about it where everyone is incredibly welcoming.

Ready to visit?

Check out all the best Nusa Penida Experiences here. Whether you're looking to spend a couple days in Nusa Penida, do a day trip to see the hidden gems of East Penida or snorkel and see the West Penida highlights, you'll find a trip here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to Nusa Penida?

You will need to take a fast boat which takes about 30 minutes and has several departure times daily. There are multiple fast boat companies that operate on a daily basis. Most of the companies that provide day trips to Nusa Penida, also include the transfer.

How many days should I spend on Nusa Penida?

It is highly recommended to spend at least 2 days on Nusa Penida so that you can see most of the sights and not have to rush. Spending the night will also allow you to see some of the most popular spots with out the crowds. However if you only have one day to spare, there are plenty of one day trips that will pack a full day itinerary with sight seeing and even snorkelling.

What are some popular experiences to have in Nusa Penida?

Nusa Penida is known for its epic viewpoints and snorkelling. Some popular experiences to have in Nusa Penida include visiting Kelingking Beach, snorkeling with manta rays at Manta Point, and exploring the natural beauty of Angel's Billabong and Broken Beach.

Is it possible to go diving in Nusa Penida?

Yes, diving in Nusa Penida is a popular activity. The island is known for its crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life. Many dive sites can be explored, including Manta Point, Crystal Bay, and SD Point, offering opportunities to see manta rays, colorful corals, and various species of fish.

What is the best time to visit Nusa Penida?

The best time to visit Nusa Penida is during the dry season, which is from April to October. This period offers sunny weather and calm seas, perfect for enjoying outdoor activities like beach hopping and snorkeling. However, it's advisable to avoid the peak tourist season (July and August) to enjoy a less crowded experience.

For real-time travel guides and tips, find us @seeksophie