Kelingkling beach, Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida, Indonesia – Backpacking Guide

Nusa Penida is a hidden gem located just off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. The island is a backpacker’s paradise, offering unparalleled natural beauty and adventure experiences. With its rugged coastline, turquoise waters, and dramatic landscapes, Nusa Penida has quickly become one of the top destinations for backpackers looking for an authentic and unforgettable travel experience. 

Whether you’re looking for pristine beaches, thrilling water activities, or stunning hikes, Nusa Penida has something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to plan your trip, including tips on where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around.

Nusa Penida, Indonesia – Backpacking Guide

Nusa Penida Map & Resources

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Best Time to Visit Nusa Penida

The best time to visit Nusa Penida is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During this time, the weather is generally sunny and dry, with comfortable temperatures ranging from 25°C to 32°C. This is also the best time to explore the island’s beautiful beaches and enjoy water activities such as snorkelling and diving.

The wet season in Nusa Penida runs from November to March, and during this time, the island experiences heavy rainfall and occasional storms. While the rain can bring out the island’s lush greenery and waterfalls, it can also make some roads and trails more difficult to navigate. If you do decide to visit during the wet season, be sure to bring appropriate rain gear and be prepared for some travel disruption.

It’s important to note that Nusa Penida has become an increasingly popular destination in recent years, and peak season (June to August) can get quite crowded. If you prefer a quieter travel experience, consider visiting during the shoulder season (April to May, and September to October), when the crowds are less intense and the weather is still pleasant. Visiting popular spots in the early morning or late afternoon is best to beat the crowds.

Nusa Penida, Bali
The rugged cliffs of Nusa Penida, Indonesia.

Where to Stay in Nusa Penida

Northeast (Ped – Buyuk)

This is probably the most urbanised area in Nusa Penida, alongside Toya Pakeh. This is where you will find most of the accommodation options. Hostels located here have easy access to both ports on the island, making it easy to travel to either Bali or the Gili Islands.

Northwest (Toya Pakeh)

This area is well-located and plays host to most of the dive shops on the island. From here you can also access Nusa Lembongan easily. 

Toya Pakeh is a great location to base yourself if you are coming from Bali as you will arrive at the port here. There are a number of accommodation options available but hostels are limited. Budget travellers need not worry though – there are plenty of cheap guesthouses. 

South East

The main reason backpackers choose to stay in this part of the island is the location. You’re far closer to Diamond and Atuh Beach here than if you base yourself on either the west or northern sides of Penida. Budget accommodation options are the most limited in this area, with mainly higher-end hotels and guesthouses. 

West (Crystal Bay)

Crystal Bay is one of the most famous spots on Nusa Penida, located on the west coast. It has beautiful white sand and crystal clear waters, with awesome snorkelling off of the beach. Here you will find several luxury homestays, hotels and a few hostels.

Crystal Bay is well located to visit the south of the island. There are plenty of food options in the area but it’s a 20-minute scooter ride from the main harbour – consider this for your arrival.

Crystal Beach, Nusa Penida
Crystal Bay is far from the harbour but worth the journey!

Best Budget Accommodation in Nusa Penida

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Nuansa Penida Hostel

Nusa Penida Hostel is well priced, offers free breakfast, good WiFi and can help you sort moped hire and other activities on arrival. Family-owned and located in Toya Pakeh, Nuansa Penida Hostel is a good base for visiting the rest of the island. There are plenty of restaurants and cafés nearby.

Double’D Hostel

Often touted as one of the best hostels in Bali and the surrounding areas, Double’D is well situated in the northern part of the island, close to quality restaurants and cafés. This boutique, family-owned hostel offers stylish dorms, good WiFi and they will even pick you up from the ferry port! Bonus!

The Banana House Guesthouse

If you are looking for a small guesthouse, check out The Banana House. This small set of apartments is a nice change from hostel dorms. Run by a welcoming family, Witu, the manager will go out of his way to help you. It is also well-priced and located not too far from the main harbour.

Things to Do in Nusa Penida, Indonesia

There are plenty of things to do and see in Nusa Penida. Here are some of the top activities and attractions to check out:

1. Visit Kelingking Beach 

Known for its stunning views and unique rock formation resembling a T. rex, this is one of the most popular spots on the island. If you are feeling brave, take the hike down to the beach. This is not for the faint-hearted though – it involves walking down the uneven cliffside! I recommend visiting either early in the morning or in the evening when the sun is not as strong.

Kelingking Beach, Bali
The famous Kelingking Beach is an Instagrammer’s paradise!

2. Snorkel or Dive at Crystal Bay 

Famous for its crystal clear waters and colourful marine life, Crystal Bay is one of the best snorkelling spots on the island.

3. Explore Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach 

Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach are two natural wonders located next to each other. Angel’s Billabong is a natural infinity pool while Broken Beach is famed for its archway cliffside formation. 

Good to Know! 

Be careful in Angel’s Billabong as the waves can come crashing in! It can be incredibly dangerous to swim here at high tide as there is the possibility of being swept out to sea. If you’re not a strong swimmer, do not risk it!
Broken beach nusa penida- nusa Lembongan guide pics-05
Broken Beach archway, Nusa Penida.

4. Trek to the Natural Pool at Tembeling Beach

A hidden gem in Nusa Penida, this natural pool is located in the forest and requires a bit of a hike to get there, but it’s worth it. Alternatively, you can hitch a scooter ride from a local. The hike takes about 30 minutes.

5 . Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach 

A pair of secluded beaches with golden sand and crystal clear water. Would it even be an Indonesian island without a bit of beach time?!

Diamond Beach, Nusa Penida
The jaw-dropping Diamond Beach.

6. Visit Goa Giri Putri 

A unique temple located inside a natural cave, this is a must-visit for those interested in Balinese culture and religion.

7. Visit the ‘Teletubbies Hills’

Teletubbies Hill is one of the most unique attractions in Nusa Penida. It is located in the southeastern part of the island, near the village of Tanglad. The hill is named after the popular children’s show, Teletubbies, due to its resemblance to the rolling green hills featured in the show.

8. Go Diving with Manta Rays 

If you want to try diving for the first time or even if you’re a seasoned diver, Nusa Penida is a great place to hone your skills. 

There are many dive shops located around the island offering trips to Manta Point. Personally, I used DPM Diving located in Toya Pakeh. They were incredibly professional, friendly and had excellent facilities. I could not recommend them enough.

Manta ray - Nusa Penida
Manta Ray spotted off Nusa Penida.

9. Take a Day Trip to Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan

These two neighbouring islands each have their own unique charm and are perfect for a day trip from Nusa Penida. Nusa Lembongan is a small island located just south of Penida. It is famous for its beautiful beaches and world-class surf breaks. Nusa Ceningan is an even smaller island, located between Lembongan and Penida. It is known for its stunning cliffs, mangrove forests, and hidden beaches.

Boats on Jungut batu Harbour - Nusa Lembongan guide pics-12
Nusa Lembongan makes for a great day trip!

Food and Drink in Nusa Penida

Secret Penida – Located in the north of the island in Ped, Secret Penida is right on the beach so you can enjoy a meal with epic sea views and views of Bali’s Mount Agung. They regularly have live music here at the weekends so there is a good vibe in the evenings. It is also a relaxing spot during the day. 

Father Field Bistro – Father Field Bistro is located a 20-minute scooter ride south of Toya Pakeh but it is well worth the visit. This cash-only restaurant is family-run and offers a small yet comprehensive menu. Don’t miss the pesto gnocchi – it’s a real crowd favourite. In my opinion, this is the best restaurant on the island! 

Sunny Cafe – A vibrant café offering a variety of Indonesian and western foods. There are really good breakfasts and coffee on offer here. There is also decent WiFi should you need it.

Penida Colada – This cosy café and restaurant is located in the village of Ped in the northeastern part of Nusa Penida. It offers a unique menu of fusion dishes, combining Balinese and Western flavours in creative ways. The restaurant also has a laidback vibe and friendly staff, making it a great spot to relax and enjoy a meal.

How to Get to Nusa Penida

To get to Nusa Penida, you can take a ferry from Bali. You will need to book a ferry or speedboat ticket from Sanur harbour.

There are several companies that offer ferry or speedboat services from Sanur to Nusa Penida. Some popular ones include Maruti Express and Angel’s Billabong. You can also depart from Padangbai or Kusamba if needed. I recommend saving yourself money and the hassle of haggling by booking your ferry ticket with 12Go Asia

The ferry or speedboat will take around 30-45 minutes to reach Nusa Penida. Once you arrive, you can take a taxi or rent a scooter to get around the island. 

Alternatively, you can also visit Nusa Penida on a day trip from Bali, which usually includes transport to and from your hotel/hostel, speedboat ride, and a tour of the island’s top attractions. 

Canggu Beach, Bali
Many people visit Nusa Penida on a day trip from Bali.

Personally, I think you can see everything in a day, but Nusa Penida deserves more time than that! It is a stunning island and seeing it at a slower pace without the day trip crowds will result in a better experience.

How to Get Around Nusa Penida

The most popular way to get around Nusa Penida is by renting a scooter. There are plenty of scooter rental shops in Nusa Penida, especially at the harbours where you will arrive.

Most shops offer scooters with prices ranging from 70,000IDR to 120,000IDR per day (approx. $5-8USD), depending on the type of scooter and rental duration.

I drove in a loop around Penida in one day on my scooter but if you want to go slow, you can always base yourself in a few different areas around the island. Before you agree to rent a scooter, check its condition, including the brakes, lights, and tires. Take photos, just in case!

Make sure to wear a helmet, follow the road rules, and be aware of the narrow and winding streets in Nusa Penida. Do not ride too fast as the many unsuspecting potholes can cause a lot of damage (both to you and your bike) if you hit them at speed! If you want to ride a scooter, check you have the necessary permits and insurance to do so. 

If you don’t feel comfortable driving a scooter, you can also hire a private driver or join a tour group. Taxis are available, but they are less common and more expensive than scooters. Keep in mind that the roads in Nusa Penida can be bumpy and some areas are only accessible by motorbike or 4WD.

Where to Go Next:

There are several nearby destinations that you can visit after Nusa Penida. All the following destinations can be reached by boat or ferry from Nusa Penida, and offer a great opportunity to explore more of the beautiful Indonesian archipelago.

Bali – The popular island of Bali is just a short boat ride away from Nusa Penida and offers a range of activities from surfing to shopping and cultural experiences.

Lombok – Another beautiful island located east of Bali, known for its pristine beaches, stunning waterfalls, and Mount Rinjani, a popular hiking destination.

Gili Islands – A group of three small islands (Gili Meno, Gili Air, Gili T) located off the northwest coast of Lombok. They are known for their crystal clear waters, coral reefs, and beachside bars and restaurants.

Howard Samm - Author Pic
Howard Samm | Howard’s Jaunts

I’m Howard, a mid-20s backpacker from England. I found my passion for travelling after going on my first solo trip in 2017; a road trip across the USA. Since then I have been to Australia on working holidays, Southeast Asia, New Zealand and much of Europe. I’ve now set my sights on being able to work and travel full-time, with plans to visit Central and South America, plus Antarctica in the near future. I love finding good hikes, food and a party every now and again when I am travelling. When I do find myself at home, I’m normally watching a game of football or cricket, or I’ll be in the pub!

Find him on: Instagram | TikTok

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