This Nusa Penida itinerary, perfect for solo or group travellers alike, hits the Instagram photo spots and as of 2018 still off-the-beaten track must sees.
I had a bit of bad luck in Bali, and honestly? My 3 days in Nusa Penida makes up for 2 difficult weeks on the main island. It was perfect and I’m so excited to share my itinerary with you because I truly had a wonderful time there!
How to get there:
While many opt for a tour, I had my own ferry ticket from Sanur ferry port. Don’t just turn up – check times in advance as you don’t want to get stuck on the island an extra night or have to wait around for hours! I booked my ticket easily from my accommodation in Canggu (including transfer to the ferry port). From the other side, you can easily rent a scooter straight away or get a car/scooter taxi to take you to your accommodation.
Getting around Nusa Penida:
Since I can’t ride a bicycle (erm, yeah it’s embarrassing) I didn’t rent a scooter… particularly on Penida’s notoriously steep and bumpy roads. An accident is imminent if you’re not prepared for how bad these roads are!
Aside from scooter rental, you can rent a car (with a driver) if you’re in a group or simply get your own scooter driver for the day. I say I was alone in Nusa Penida, but I hired a scooter driver for 2 days (250K IDR per day) and honestly he was amazing. He would literally run half way up hills to take photos I wanted and took me everywhere I wanted to go with a smile on his face. Awesome.
The locals were amazing in general. The woman who ran the little B&B I stayed at drove me to restaurants, an ATM AND 40 minutes to my ferry back for no extra cost because I was alone. See? Awesome.
Okay. Here’s how to spend 2-3 days in the paradise that is Nusa Penida!
GIRI PUTRI CAVE TEMPLE
Okay, we’ll get to the instagram-famous places shortly but the Giri Putri Cave Temple is a great place to start and get your cultural hit. I entered this Hindu/Buddhist temple through a small hole but the space widened into a giant cavern uniquely lit up with coloured lights. It’s quite an experience to see the shrines lit up inside the huge caverns.
You may see people worshipping in the underground shrines which is quite a thing to witness.
1000 VIEWPOINTS/NUSA PENIDA TREEHOUSE
I swear this place has a different name every time I see it! I love this place too though.
For me this place was a highlight because there were no crowds but it had the best views on the island. (I hit the famous spots on Day 2 – see below – where it was harder to relax and enjoy in my opinion.)
I’m pretty sure that treehouse must be Instagram famous by now though so get there soon!
Wow, the water was sooo clear and gorgeous. It’s very rocky in the see so not the easiest to go for a swim, but the sand itself is lovely. It’s a great place to unwind in the middle of the day! Also, in exchange for buying any food or a cold drink you can sit on one of the beanbags. Super chill.
So called because the green rolling hills look like where the telletubbies live hahaha.
By the way I absolutely loved this spot! There was ZERO people around when I was there. Absolutely magical.
Truly the perfect place to start the day! It was actually empty until two other travellers appeared with their own guide… and their guide turned out to be my guide’s brother. Ha! So we all swam and played in the natural pool together until they went on their way. Best. Morning. Ever.
BANAH CLIFF POINT
If you love viewpoints, this is a great one to start at if you want a panoramic awe-inducing lookout at Penida’s gorgeous coastline.
Oh, and be sure to look down too… you might see some manta rays swimming in the ocean below (I did!)
My least favourite spot, despite it being home to a famous coastline that looks like a t-rex. Having spent the morning almost entirely alone, this poor dinosaur was being bombarded by hundreds of tourists – it’s amazing how Penida could be empty or crowded depending on where you explore! The best ‘photo spots’ had people literally queuing. Both me and my guide felt uncomfortable and went back up the hill, where he did take a photo for me, and then we drove away.
Definitely worth seeing though!
BROKEN BEACH & ANGEL’S BILLABONG
Okay, still crowded, but because there’s not one famous ‘insta photo’ here I did find it a bit more bearable – not to mention absolutely gorgeous. Be careful before deciding to swim in Angel’s Billabong, as people have got swept out to sea from here before. And of course ‘Hati-Hati’ (meaning ‘caution’ or ‘be careful’ in Indonesian) if you feel like sitting on any cliff edges. My scooter took great care in ensuring I got down safely before I sat on any edges. If you’re not with a local, don’t be stupid and stay away.
It’s THE beach for any Nusa Penida itinerary, particularly if you love watching sunsets.
Sadly I don’t like watching sunsets alone, or I’d have stayed here longer (it’s meant to be amazing). I really like the beach here but ultimately am not good enough at relaxing to make solo beach time worth it, so I left after about 30 minutes. I was happy my amazing scooter driver would get home early anyways.
It’s a gorgeous beach though, surrounded by picturesque palm trees and a gorgeous sea.
Before getting your boat back on to Bali, it’s worth doing one of three things to finish off your Nusa Penida itinerary:
- snorkelling or diving – potentially with manta rays
- chasing waterfalls, such as Peguyangan waterfall or Seganing Falls (but be careful if you chose to go without a guide as I’ve heard the heights can be dangerous!) Search them on Instagram or google, they’re stunning.
- just chill and relax on one of the gorgeous beaches after all your rushing around! I wish I’d taken time to do allow time for this on my Nusa Penida itinerary
Swimming with manta rays
After hearing mixed reviews where people felt the area was crowded with people ‘chasing’ after mantas, I decided to not splash out on a dive in case it was uncomfortable and stuck to snorkelling. Although it was amazing to swim with manta rays and see them in the water, I have mixed feelings about the experience.
Never touch marine life! Try to stay 3m away from mantas at all times! And if you think you’ll be tempted, stay the hell out of the water. It is actually contributing to their worldwide decline if you touch them. Don’t. (Seriously.)
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What else would you add to a Nusa Penida? Would you get to the off-the-beaten track places or stick to the Instagram photo spots?