Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida Guide: Where to go, eat, and stay

Nusa Penida is a part of the three Nusas; islands which lie off the east coast of Bali. Nusa Penida is the largest, followed by Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. It has only recently become popular with tourists in the last 5 years or so. As a result, there is rapid development on the island which its inhabitants are trying to keep up with.

Nusa Penida is rough around the edges, and that’s what gives it its charm. Most people just come for day trips from Bali, so they only spend about 8 hours on the island, rushing around to all the sights to take Instagram-worthy photos. And yes, the sights are definitely some of the most spectacular in Indonesia – white beaches, huge clifftops, the bluest water you’ve ever seen, manta rays that can be seen from above or below. It is gorgeous. But… stay for longer than a day, drive around on the (now paved) roads through a lush green jungle, and fall in love with the island! 

Waves at Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida

Top tips at a glance
  • Take out cash before you come to the island (there are ATMs but sometimes they run out of cash / are not working). A lot of places take card now, but you’ll want some cash for renting bikes, parking / entrance fees, eating at local places
  • If you don’t drive a bike, try to sort out your transport before you come (on Facebook, or ask me for some numbers!)
  • Don’t do all the sights in one day – spread them out over a few days and enjoy!
  • On a map, the top sights look close. In reality, they are not. Check Google Maps before you plan your itinerary
  • Find accommodation between Toyapakeh (not past the harbour) and Ped

How to get to Nusa Penida

Getting to Nusa Penida from Bali is as easy as getting a 35-45 minute boat ride from Sanur. I wrote a post all about how to get to Nusa Penida from Bali, the Gilis, and Lombok

Getting around Nusa Penida
Bikes at the harbour, Nusa Penida

What about how to get around Nusa Penida once you’re here? The island is big, and quite spread out, so it’s not very walkable. There are no online taxis (Grab or Gojek) on the island. If you can drive a motorbike, this is the best way to get around the island. There are several bike rental shops around the island. Or, once you get off the boat several people will offer you their bikes for rent. If you don’t drive, you can hire a driver for the day (either scooter or car, depending how many people). Most people find their drivers on Instagram or Facebook. If you join the Facebook group ‘Nusa Penida Community’ you can post there and see if anyone is available to drive you.

What to do in Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is mainly known for two things: its landmarks and its… sea-marks? It is beautiful above and below the water! Many people come here for SCUBA diving. It’s the reason I first went there, to do my Divemaster with Indo Ocean Project. You can swim with manta rays, turtles, octopus, and many more magnificent creatures! 

Because Penida has become so popular with tourists who usually just come for day trips, I recommend going sightseeing earlier in the morning, before 10am when they all arrive, to avoid traffic and crowds. Make sure you have some cash on you for parking and entrance fees.

Top sights to see in Nusa Penida

I’m gonna put a little warning before I start detailing the wonderful sights of Penida: the ocean currents around the island are strong and unpredictable. Swim at your own risk – personally, I would only swim near shore between Toyapakeh and Sental. I highly advise you not to swim at Kelingking, Diamond, Atuh, Crystal or Angel Billabong. Also, the cliffs are tall and there’s not always barriers. Please be careful! Soooo, bear that in mind as I paint a picture of the sights for you…

Kelingking Beach

Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida

This is the beach that put Nusa Penida on the map. You’ve probably seen it all over Instagram and it has become almost synonymous with Indonesia, used in multiple tourism promotions. “Kelingking” means “little finger” in Indonesian, because the formation of this rock looks somewhat like a pinkie, although it looks more like a dinosaur or T-Rex. Drive up here, pay a small fee for parking, and walk to the top of the cliff where you will see a beautiful expanse of blue water, white cliffs, and lush vegetation. 

Admire the cliff from above, or venture down all the way to the bottom of the beach. It’s a proper scramble for half the way down, holding on to ropes and sliding down on your bum for parts of it, so be prepared! I also lost my drone here so be careful of that too. As you walk down the cliff you’ll notice lots of local men literally on the side of the cliff in the shrub looking for tourists’ drones, so don’t be that guy (like me). 

Broken Beach & Angel Billabong

Broken Beach, Nusa Penida

Broken Beach and Angel Billabong are right next to each other so you can visit them at the same time. Broken Beach gets its name from the fact that there is a huge hole in the rock where you can look down into the enclosed bay and walk around it. It is stunning!

Angel Billabong is a short walk away from Broken Beach, with some warungs (restaurants) on the way to stop for a cold drink or coconut. This is a great spot for sunset, as the colours reflect beautifully on the water (I wouldn’t recommend getting in though).

Broken Beach, Nusa Penida

Crystal Bay

Sunset at Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida

Crystal Bay is the perfect spot for sunset. The bay faces westwards so you can see the sun as it dips below the horizon, silhouetting the fishing boats and painting the sea a glorious colour. There are some warungs along the beach too, so grab a beer and some mie goreng and enjoy the perfect sunset. 

Diamond Beach & Atuh Beach

Diamond Beach, Nusa Penida

Diamond Beach and Atuh Beach are on the far side of the island (the east side) and are beside each other. On a bike it should take about an hour from Toya Pakeh harbour. The views from the top are gorgeous, sometimes you can even see manta rays swimming below. Walk down the steps to Atuh Beach (on the left side if you’re looking out to sea) and you’ll come across a bay with some warungs to get some food and drink, and listen to the waves lapping at the shore. This spot would be perfect for sunrise, if you are able to wake up early enough to drive down before it peeks over the horizon!

Tembeling Forest & Pool

Tembeling Forest and Pool, Nusa Penida

A steep, rocky road leads down into Tembeling Forest, at the bottom of which you can find a pool near the shore of a beach. The road can only be accessed by bike, and I strongly recommend you take a taxi bike up and down (75k each way), unless you feel you are a very very good driver (the road is basically just rocks). While bathing in the pool, you can watch the waves crash onto the beach, listening to the sounds of birds chirping, and butterflies fluttering around you. If you’re like me and love to look in rockpools to see what creatures you’ll find, there are an abundance of them there with loads of life – fish, hermit crabs, I even saw an eel!

Guyungan Waterfall & Blue Stairs

Guyangan Temple and Waterfall, Nusa Penida

I’ve wanted to visit this spot since passing it so often on the boat to Manta Point. The blue stairs are so eye-catching and mysterious: where do they lead? Well, I found out they lead to a (small) waterfall and temple, and some freshwater pools inside a cave that look out over the ocean! It is a really beautiful walk down all 700 steps, but maybe not for the faint of heart. Especially towards the bottom of the stairs, the wooden steps are almost horizontal and they are perched precariously over the crashing waves beneath. It is a temple so you have to wear a sarong and can’t enter if you’re on your period. 

Smokey Beach

Smokey Beach, Nusa Penida

Smokey Beach is probably my second favourite spot for sunset, after Crystal Bay. Crystal Bay is much easier to get to. The road to Smokey Beach is only accessible by bike and it is very bumpy and rocky, so again I would only recommend going if you are very confident or with an experienced driver. Smokey Beach is not a beach, it is a cliff top with a grassy patch to sit and watch the sun go down over the horizon. It gets its name because as the tide swells, it pushes against the cliff face in a big ‘puff’, making it look ‘smokey’. The sound of the waves, the sight of the sunset and the lights of Bali in the distance, make it the perfect place to end your day.

Diving & Snorkeling
Manta rays at Manta Point, Nusa Penida

The SCUBA diving in Nusa Penida is some of the best in the world. Some dive sites can be very busy, but for good reason. You can go to Manta Point when the sea conditions are good (take seasickness pills if you are prone to getting seasick…) and dive or snorkel with mantas if you’re lucky. They’re usually there as it is a cleaning station for them, but of course it’s nature so nothing is ever guaranteed! Apart from the mantas, the tropical waters around Nusa Penida island make for a beautiful ecosystem of bright corals, fish, octopus, crabs, shrimp, small sharks, and sometimes even a roving whale shark or pod of dolphins!

Other things to do in Nusa Penida
  • Get a massage. My favourite massage in Nusa Penida is at Avocado or Aloe spa
  • Chill at one of the beach clubs (Khamara, Singabu, Penida Colada, The Chill)
  • Watch some live music in the evening (Mambo, Aguan, Wyn’s, Penida Minang, Penida Colada, The Chill – there’s lots to choose from)
  • Go to a yoga class (at Tishe), muay thai class, or gym session (Semabu Gym, GNK, Pandawa)
  • Volunteer with the Friends of the National Parks Foundation. Their main conservation program works with the endangered Bali starling and other endemic birds. They are also involved in restoring habitat, protecting wildlife and promoting alternative sustainable livelihoods for local people while providing education.
  • Go to a ceremony. If you are friends with any locals, you might get invited to a Balinese Hindu ceremony. They are held quite often, and are beautiful to witness. At bigger events they will usually have Balinese dancers and a gamelan orchestra (traditional percussive ensemble music). Just remember to be respectful, wear a sarong (traditional skirt – for men and women), a kebaya (traditional shirt for women), an udeng (headdress for men), and wear your hair tied off your face.
  • Play a game of pool. Penida Project, Nemu Kitchen, or Nora’s all have pool tables, or try your luck playing with the local guys up in Sakti during the evening.
  • Go to the local market in Toyapakeh (‘Toyapakeh traditional market’ on Google Maps). Fancy some fresh fruit and veg? This is the best place to get it for a cheap price and to practice your Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) skills!
  • Make a day trip to Nusa Lembongan. Not technically something to do in Nusa Penida, but a fun thing to do nonetheless! Make the 15-minute boat journey over in the morning (50k one way), rent a bike, see the sights, and return in the evening (before 4.30pm).

Where to stay in Nusa Penida

The best area to stay is between Toyapakeh and Ped. This is the area with the most shops and restaurants. If you’re on foot and don’t ride a bike, I would recommend staying in Toyapakeh or Banjar Nyuh. If you’re comfortable riding a bike, then the island is your oyster, but I would still stay around the busier areas as it is quite a big island, and you don’t want to be driving for an hour just to have a smoothie bowl. 

Map of Toyapakeh and Ped, Nusa Penida
On a budget (150k-300k per night)
  • Ari La Casa
  • The Cozy Bidara
  • Lina’s Villas
  • Ped Cottage

None of these options have swimming pools (that’s why they are budget), but they are in great locations in the centre of the main stretch, but a little away from the road so it’s not too noisy. They all have air conditioning and are clean and comfortable.

Hostels (190k-250k per night)

There aren’t very many hostels in Penida, but a new hostel that opened in September 2023, Penida Project, has proved to be a hugely popular. They provide 6-bed to 12-bed dorm rooms, have a pool to hang out by, basketball court, pool table, and by far the best pizza on the island. They also host nightly events ranging from salsa to musical bingo. Penida Project has become a fun social spot for tourists and long-term residents alike – something that was much needed in Nusa Penida!

Mid-range (300k-800k per night)
  • Sunrise Penida Hill – a little further away, down a bumpy road, but you are in complete silence and have a gorgeous view of the sunrise in the morning over the pool.
  • Namaste Bungalows – I stayed here for 3 months as it was near the dive centre I was attending. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, however there are geckos and other creatures that are around (but you are in Nusa Penida so it’s to be expected). The air conditioning is not amazing but it’s okay!
  • Blue Harbor – right on the beachfront
Luxury (2 million +)
  • Sea La Vie – far away from everything, down a bumpy road, but the views from the rooms are unparalleled, overlooking the blue sea and harbour
  • Deep Roots – very different from Sea La Vie, nestled up a hill in the jungle, with a perfectly framed view of Agung. This resort is new and offers dive and yoga packages.
  • Autentik – close to Crystal Bay, this resort is well-known among influencers for its gorgeous interiors and view over the jungle.

Where to eat in Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida has a relatively wide range of food choices for a small and still-developing island. Of course, it’s no Bali, but there is definitely enough to keep you satiated. 

Best local food in Nusa Penida
  • Warung Muslim Ichwan – batagor & es buah
  • Warung Surabaya – gado-gado & ayam bakar (Warung Suroboyo in Google)
  • Lalapan (any) – Damn I Love Lalapan in Sampalan and Toyapakeh
  • Sampalan night market – gado-gado & murtabak, goat satay
  • Warung Mosawi – nasi goreng, Balinese vegetable curry
  • Warung Coconut – nasi campur (mixed rice, buffet-style)
  • Warung Beach – paratha, srosob, gado-gado
  • Oregano – spring rolls, noodle soup

If you’re wondering what some of these Indonesian dishes are, take a look at my guide on the best local Indonesian dishes to try.

Best Western & other cuisines
  • Penida Colada – avo toast, smoothie bowls, happy hour, right next to the sea, swimming in the sea and showers
  • Wyn’s – good local and Western food, burgers, burritos
  • Sunny cafe – pancakes, smoothie bowl, avo toast
  • The Chill – amazing view with a pool, good salads and milkshakes
  • Nemu – delicious pasta
  • Sushi Island – only sushi restaurant on the island, great sushi and edamame
  • The Penida Project – authentic pizza & great burgers
  • Vegan Soul Kitchen – mix of local and Western but all vegan
  • Holy Penida – the best mashed potato 
  • Father field – pad thai, vegetarian quesadilla
  • Mambo – good burgers

Best bars in Nusa Penida

Aguan – shisha & arak (local spirit) mojitos

Penida Minang

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions about Penida or anywhere else in Bali.

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