Known for its photogenic beaches and cliffside viewpoints, there are so many things to do on Nusa Penida beyond the crowds.
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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 Indonesia must-sees.
I had a bit of bad luck in Bali, and honestly? My three days in Nusa Penida made up for two difficult weeks on the main island. It was perfect, and I’m so excited to share my itinerary with you because I genuinely had a wonderful time there!
How to get to Nusa Penida:
While many opted 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 the transfer to the ferry port). Alternatively, you can easily rent a scooter straight away or get a car/scooter taxi to take you to your accommodation.
How to get around Nusa Penida:
Since I can’t ride a bicycle (I’m dyspraxic) I didn’t rent a scooter, though this is a popular way to get around the island. Though in general, you’ll want to be an experienced scooter driver to take 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 terrific. He would literally run halfway up hills to check for the best lookouts 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 are some wonderful things to do in Nusa Penida, including how to spend 2-3 days in this Bali paradise!
Things to do on Nusa Penida
Day 1 on 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. Often skipped by tourists, I actually found the temple to be among my favourite places to visit in Nusa Penida.
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 vast caverns.
You may see people worshipping in 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! While being popular for photos, it does has spectacular views that make it worth the visit!
This place was a highlight for me because there were no crowds, and 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, so get there soon!
Wow, the water was sooo clear and gorgeous. It’s very rocky in the sea, 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 Teletubbies live hahaha.
By the way, I absolutely loved this spot! There were ZERO people around when I was there. Absolutely magical.
Day 2 on Nusa Penida:
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.
Next to the pool, walk to the white sandy beach – Tembeling Beach. Here, previous visitors have built up hundreds of stone piles! I walked into the cave filled with round stone piles, which was quite a unique experience. The beach was as quiet and empty as the pool. Perfection!
BANAH CLIFF POINT
If you love viewpoints, this is a great one to start 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!)
KELINGKING BEACH (and t-rex viewpoint)
This was my least favourite thing to do on Nusa Penida, despite it being home to a famous coastline that looks like a t-rex.
But don’t get me wrong, the viewpoint is still a sublimely stunning attraction.
Having spent the morning almost entirely alone, this poor dinosaur was being bombarded by hundreds of tourists – it’s incredible how Penida could be empty or crowded depending on where you explore!
The best ‘photo spots’ had people literally queuing. Both my guide and I felt uncomfortable and went back up the hill, where he did take a photo for me, and then we drove away.
Definitely worth seeing for the views, and I know many people who loved their experience sightseeing here. So don’t rule it off your Nusa Penida itinerary on my account!
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 got near any edges. If you’re not with a local, don’t be stupid and stay away.
Crystal Bay is THE beach to visit on any Nusa Penida itinerary, particularly if you love watching sunsets.
Sadly I wouldn’t say I 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 excellent scooter driver would get home early anyways. (I blame solo travelling with ADHD for making me too impatient!)
It’s a gorgeous beach, though, surrounded by picturesque palm trees and a gorgeous sea.
Day 3 on Nusa Penida
Before getting your boat back 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 choose 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 best Nusa Penida beaches after all your rushing around! I wish I’d taken the time to 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 not to splash out on a dive in case it was uncomfortable and stuck to snorkelling. Although swimming with manta rays and seeing them in the water was amazing, 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.)
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?