Nusa Penida Island: A Destination For Independent Travelers

January 2, 2016
nusa penida

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.

Nusa penida island

Our view of the Manta Rays from Broken Beach

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.

How to get to nusa penida

The Mula Mula Express Sign

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.

where to stay on nusa penida

The bungalow accommodation

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.)

where to stay on nusa penida

The resort restaurant

The cost of Namaste Bungalows: $55 per night for the Deluxe room.

BOOK YOUR STAY AT NAMASTE BUNGALOWS  HERE!

 

where to stay on nusa penida

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?
Snorkel
-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.

Broken beach nusa penida

Broken Beach

 

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.

Nusa penida Angel's Billabong

Angel’s Billabong

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.

What do you think? Can you handle being an independent tourist ?

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18 Comments

  • Reply John and Laurel Rodgers January 2, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I certainly wish I had found this gem when I was in Bali in July. I needed to venture a little bit further from Ubud than I did.

    Great pics and information.

    • Reply Livesabroad January 2, 2016 at 8:14 am

      I feel really lucky that I found out about it because it was a highlight of my time there. It will just give you another reason to go back to Bali!

      -Shannon

  • Reply Inna Crisostomo January 23, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for this article! It’s very informative and helpful. I will be visiting the island two weeks from now and I can’t wait!! 🙂

    • Reply Livesabroad January 24, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      That’s awesome! I hope it helps you out because that island is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! Have fun!

      -Shannon

  • Reply Anne January 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Nice… Am I correct that you went for the cheapest ticket you could find for the boat (9USD) and then chose an accommodation for 55USD? No luck in finding more affordable accommodations?

    • Reply Livesabroad January 24, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Hey Anne! Yupp the ticket was the cheapest that we found for the boat but I think we probably could have found accommodation for cheaper. Actually, the room that we chose was a little more on the pricey side because we needed a third bed to share with a friend. Have a look on the site and you may be able to find a cheaper room.

      -Shannon

  • Reply Lisa January 25, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    I’m stunned by these beautiful photos! And you saw mantas, I’m so jealous! 🙂

    • Reply Livesabroad January 25, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      I’m glad you like them! The island was even more gorgeous than it looks through these little squares! The mantas were wild but I wish that I could have seen them while I was snorkeling! Next time ! Do you plan on visiting Nusa Penida?

      -Shannon

  • Reply Sharday January 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Wowwww. I’m speechless. Everything sounds so incredible yet idk if I’m that daring :0( The sea-creatures woulda totally freaked me out lolololol so I admire your courage :0) Namaste Bungalows, Crystal Bay and Angel’s Billabong are now on the list. I’ll tell ya all about my performance afterward, hahhaha, I’ll be there next month

    • Reply Livesabroad January 29, 2016 at 8:39 pm

      haha it was super awesome but I honestly don’t think I would have enjoyed it as my younger traveling self. When I first started traveling…I always wanted to be seeing “something” , a museum, a tourist attraction or a good restaurant. I think I would have been really anxious and bored if I went there a few years ago. BUT as my traveling style has changed and I have learned to better embrace just doing nothing and enjoying a place for what it is….I really loved it there. BUT …as soon as you turn up on that island…you are kind of on your own. If you want to go to ANgel’s Billabong, the road is pretty much just unpaved…rocks…steep hills and such. So just be careful gurl.

  • Reply pei February 8, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    hey! lovely photos. I’ll be heading over to bali in less than 2 weeks and i plan to visit nusa penida for a day trip till about 6pm. hopeful to cover both angels billabong & the crystal bay. do you think that is possible for a days trip? If so, how do i get to angels billabong from the boat arrival area.. and then to crystal bay (cause i would wanna snorkel there). and how long the journey is from each point and return to the port.

    thanks! 😀

    • Reply Livesabroad February 9, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Hey Pei! That’s awesome that you are going! I found it pretty difficult to get to Angel’s Billabong. It took a while on motorbike and the roads were pretty bad. I think you could fit it both of those things in a day trip but it may be a little rushed. But I really think you can do it. It took us over an hour to reach Angel’s Billabong from the hotel we stayed at. I think that you should chat with your hotel and see if they can provide you any sort of transportation. Also, my boyfriend just found everything for us on his Google Maps and directed us to all of the places that way.

  • Reply Tiffany March 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    LOVE the Namaste Bungalow picures. This is a wonderful post!I am on a Livesabroad post reading marathon today!

    • Reply Livesabroad March 6, 2016 at 10:16 pm

      Hey Tiffany! Namaste Bungalows were pretty rad! That’s so exciting that you are on a marathon! Are you currently traveling at the moment?

      -Shannon

  • Reply Bridgette Rozinski May 11, 2016 at 5:31 am

    I really want to volunteer at the turtle rescue on the island the only thing I’m worried about is flying into bali. Then trying to figure out how to get to nusa penida by myself. Is there a okay amount of people that speak english? I really want to go to do something different after I’m done with school this June.

    • Reply Livesabroad May 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      Hey Bridgette! I didn’t even realize there was a turtle rescue center for volunteers. That sounds amazing! You should totally do it. Flying into Bali and getting to Nusa Penida is actually the easy part. Once you fly into Bali, you can take a cab right to the beach I mentioned in the article. Then you can just follow my directions from that beach over to Nusa Penida island. I forget all of the exact names at the moment but the article tells you which boat I took, where to find it and where it drops you off. Once you get to Nusa Penida, things are a tiny bit more difficult since it’s not very touristy and people don’t speak too much English there. I would see if you can get the volunteer place to arrange a taxi to pick you up. Also, if you stay with the hotel that I mention in the article, they speak English and you could ask them to arrange for someone to pick you up and drive you back to the hotel once you arrive in Nusa Penida. I hope that helps!

  • Reply Aisha Majid June 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Hey there! I’m planning a trip to Nusa Penida next month. Were you able to buy tickets for the fast boat on the spot without having to book online and how were the boat timings like? Thanks so much!
    Penida looks really beautiful!

    • Reply Livesabroad June 29, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Hey Aisha. Sorry for the late reply. We did book the tickets on the spot and the times were pretty frequent. The cheaper boat services offer less boat runs and the more expensive offer more. I hope that helps!

      -Shannon

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