Nusa Penida Island: A Destination For Independent Travelers
I almost died on Nusa Penida. Kind of.
Alright, “almost died” may be a bit dramatic, but we did almost get hit by an oncoming truck when we stopped in the middle of the road to lovingly gaze at a little piglet, shivering in the rain.
In fact, this was one of the few times in my life that I have ever seen a piglet and I’m pretty sure that Nusa Penida had more of them than people.
Nusa Penida island is a paradise of palms, an impending death for motorbike tires, a patchwork of family farms and a point of reference for giant manta rays and colorful fish.
It must have been missed by the destructive brush of tourism, receiving just a splatter that has made it a literal oasis for the more independent travelers out there.
How to Get to Nusa Penida Island
The best way to get to Nusa Penida from Bali is by boat from Sanur Beach which is about a 40 minute drive from Ubud.
To get to Sanur Beach, either:
-Take a taxi.
-Drive your motorbike which you can leave in the parking lot while you are gone.
Buying a Boat Ticket
Once you arrive at Sanur Beach, there will be several different companies selling boat tickets to Nusa Penida from either buildings or stands along the pedestrian walkway.
The parking attendant may shuffle you over to the first building on your left to buy a boat ticket, but they are more expensive than the others. Walk past them to find additional ticket stands for cheaper prices.
We went for a company called Mula Mula Express and the ticket cost us 125,000 RP ($9) one way and was the cheapest option that we found.
The Mula Mula Express does not run as often as some of the other companies so you are a little limited in when you can set off for the island.
The boat ride took about 40 minutes and we had no problems getting there or back.
Transportation on Nusa Penida Island
I felt assured that when we arrived, there would be tons of men waving us down to offer taxi rides or rent us motorbikes. However, I had the wrong idea.
While I did notice that the Mula Mula Port offered some sort of shuttle service, there wasn’t much information about it and we decided to try to find our own motorbike.
Using very limited language, we were able to convey to some of the shop keepers that we wanted to rent a bike and they swiftly called up their friends, got them to bring around one of their personal rides and two shabby helmets for us.
We paid them 70,000 RP ($5) a day and I left my driver’s license with the owner for collateral.
NOTE: I saw no noticeable taxi service except for a few local guys giving some foreigners a ride on their bikes to the port. Majority of tourists were driving motorbikes and you will need to be comfortable driving one on rough roads if you want to get anywhere.
Where to Stay on Nusa Penida
There didn’t seem to be too many options for accommodation on the island so we opted for one of the nicest for the value. We stayed at Namaste Bungalows and thought it was fantastic.
It had the DIY look and feel of a Pinterest design and cozy cottages with hand painted, wooden furniture, air conditioning, hot water and tall ceilings. Everything seemed new and clean. There was a swimming pool, an outdoor lounge area and a restaurant where we ate all of our meals (breakfast was included.)
The cost of Namaste Bungalows: $55 per night for the Deluxe room.
Check out prices and reviews here.
Other Accommodation on Nusa Penida
Amenities: Guests can lounge on the terrace that’s attached to each room. If you can’t take the heat, watch some television from your bed or pop into the onsite restaurant for a meal. Some rooms have a view of the mountains or the sea, and with bike and car rental offers, you’ll be able to go see them up close.
Location: The nearest airport is 22 miles from Simpang. The inn is located 2.9 miles from Dalem Penataran and 1.6 miles from Gamat Bay.
What Makes it Special? The perfect location for snorkeling, the airport shuttle, and the onsite bar.
Check reviews and prices here.
Amenities:Lounge by the outdoor pool and catch up with the news over the on-site WIFI. Rooms are air-conditioned and have t.vs for every guest. Make sure to take advantage of both the bathtub and hot tub that is located in each room. When you’re not taking a bath, enjoy some tea while sitting on your balcony or terrace.
Location: You’ll only have a 4-minute walk to the beach! Pasih Uug Beach is only 1.4 miles away. And, Angel’s Billabong can be reached in only 1.5 miles.
What Makes it Special? The onsite spa, bar, bike rental, slippers and free toiletries.
Check views and prices here.
Amenities: These wooden bungalows offer air conditioning, free WIFI, parking, and a private bathroom. Some rooms feature an indoor sitting area and a terrace or balcony.
Location: It’s located 3.7 miles away from Atuh Beach, and 7.5 miles away from Nusa Penida Harbor.
What makes it special? The onsite restaurant, and the chance to snorkel nearby. The artistic design makes it more inspiring than most places on the island. There is also an airport shuttle which makes it more convenient for travel.
Check rates and reviews here.
Amenities: You’ll have access to free WIFI, a flat-screen T.V in your bedroom, and a private bathroom. Some rooms have views of the mountains, garden, or the ocean. The front desk is open 24-hours.
Location: The inn is 2.3 miles from Dalem Penataran Ped Temple, 3.4 miles from Goa Giri Putri Temple, and one minute walking distance to the beach.
What makes it special? Aside from the beachfront location, the inn provides car rental and is close to some great
snorkeling and diving spots.
Check rates and reviews here.
Amenities: This resort has a 24-hour desk, private bathroom, (some are actually outside!) and rooms that are inside their own bungalow. You’ll have free WIFI, and depending on the room, a private terrace.
Location: Located only one mile from Gamat Bay, 1.9 miles from Dalem Penataran Ped Temple, and 4.3 miles from Puncak Mundi Temple.
What makes it special: The in-ground pool which is located on the property, the artistic design, and the views.
Check rates and reviews here.
What to do on Nusa Penida
Nature lovers, try not to freak out because there is so much here that you are going to love.
While there is way more to do and see on Nusa Penida than this, we only had two days which wasn’t nearly enough. Here is what we got in to….
Watch The Sunset From Crystal Bay
You will reach the beach at Crystal Bay only after driving through a massive grove of palm trees.
If you’re lucky, the locals will be playing songs on traditional instruments and you can strike up a conversation with the residents who have some limited English.
Find red and orange coral washed up in the sand as you wait for the sun to give you that perfect goodbye photo. What else can you do here?
-Scuba dive to see the Mula Mula Fish
-Have a day lounging on the beach
-Eat Balinese food at the beach side stands
Snorkel With Manta Rays
Luckily for us, December is Manta Ray season on Nusa Penida and we paid 300,000 RP ($22 USD )to try to snorkel with them. Apparently, if you book a snorkeling trip right from Crystal Bay Beach, you only have to pay 200,000 RP ($15.)
A local man and his young son took us out on a tiny and private boat, right to the spot where the manta rays can usually be spotted. We went over some huge waves, waited for our guide to spot one in the water and then jumped out into the sea, with no safety precautions, training or guidance.
The water was deep, there were potentially giant sea creatures below me and I had a mini panic attack thinking about my situation. As hyperventilating is no good through a snorkel, I held on to the boat, was calmed down by a friend, and started my hunt for the mantas.
Sadly, we didn’t get to see any that day but the impromptu snorkeling adventure was worth it anyway.
Have a Picnic at Broken Beach
If you plan on taking a motorbike ride to Broken Beach, please make sure you are comfortable with driving one. The roads to get there are steep, not well paved and covered in rocks and holes.
However, the sight of it is beautiful and we stayed longer than we thought as we spotted giant manta rays in the water from the cliffs where we stood. We were invited to a curry picnic by some other tourists who had headed up to the spot and realized that it would have been a great idea to have a brought a picnic, or at least some water of our own.
NOTE: There are no stores, restaurants or facilities here of any kind. It is pure nature so come prepared so that you don’t have to ration water like we did.
Swim in Angel’s Billabong
Our picnic buddies didn’t even realize that it was there and you might not either unless you look for it. Marked with two large red flags to the right side of Broken Beach is Angel’s Billabong, a natural infinity pool.
This pool is wedged between two cliffs and fills up with water as the tide comes in. As it was low tide when we arrived, we climbed down the cliff and spotted sea snails, tiny crabs and lots of sea moss as we waded in the warm water. We swam and felt invincible as we looked out over the rough sea below.
NOTE: The area can be pretty dangerous if you are climbing down the cliff and the waves are quite rough if you are standing on the edge.
And that’s all guys! If you want to experience paradise without the tour buses, pushy guides and shop keepers pushing trinkets in your face, Nusa Penida is your place.