Are you wondering what top things you should know about Nusa Penida before you go? You’ve come to the right place!
No doubt you already know that Nusa Penida is all about dramatic cliffs and spectacular views. It’s definitely not a place for those with a severe fear of heights! All of the most popular points of interest tower hundreds of meters above massive waves crashing into steep cliffs.
One thing’s for sure though – You’ll leave Nusa Penida with your camera roll full of impressive photos of some of the most picture perfect spots in all of Bali!
But, in order to make sure you also leave with wonderful memories, there are a few important things you should know before you set off and explore Nusa Penida.
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1 – Nusa Penida Is Not As Undeveloped As People Say
- Maybe it was undeveloped a few years ago but tourism has well and truly arrived on Nusa Penida
- While you might still not find too many chic restaurants or trendy bars here, there is no doubt that Nusa Penida is not going to be the quiet, secluded island paradise you might have had in mind
- If this is what you’re looking for in Indonesia, I highly recommend Gili Meno near Lombok instead!
2 – There Are Multiple Harbours On Nusa Penida
- Make sure you know where your boat is docking and consider booking your accommodation on Nusa Penida accordingly
- The fast ferry from Sanur arrives on the northwest coast while the public slow boat from Padang Bai arrives on the north coast
3 – Boats May Not Dock At A Pier
- This is definitely the case at Sanur Beach Harbour, and often also on the Nusa Penida side. This means you’ll get on and off your boat on the beach and you may get a bit wet!
- I would recommend wearing flip flops or water shoes for your ferry ride to Nusa Penida as a result
4 – Visiting Nusa Penida Is Not Free!
- This one is important. Since July 2019, there is a new tourist tax charged for anyone visiting Nusa Penida (and the other Nusa Islands too for that matter)
- The cost is IDR25,000 per person and is payable in cash as you leave the harbour area (IDR15,000 for children)
- The tax is a one-off payment and will cover you for all of the Nusa islands if you are island hopping between them (make sure you keep your receipt)
- We did not know this before we visited Nusa Penida and were caught a bit off guard
- Make sure you bring enough cash to cover this fee!
5 – Less Is More When It Comes To Luggage
- You might want to consider leaving your big bag at your hotel on “mainland” Bali and taking a smaller bag for your two-three days on Nusa Penida
- Not only does this make it easier to travel, but also gives you more accommodation options as you can jump on a scooter from the harbour and drive a little further out if you wish
6 – Most Accommodations And Eateries Are Located Close To The Harbours
- Accommodation options are mostly centred in the north and west of Nusa Penida, as are restaurants (warungs)
- When you’re out for the day exploring, you may struggle to find warungs (that are open) in the centre of the island. I’d suggest bringing some snacks and water just in case and have a plan of where you might want to stop for food along the way
7 – You Will Need To Hire A Scooter Or A Car With Driver
- There is no public transport on Nusa Penida, and it is too large to walk
- If you’re comfortable on a scooter, it’s definitely the preferred way of getting around Nusa Penida. But, a driver and car is certainly an option too
- If you rent a scooter, make sure your insurance covers you and that your licence allows you to drive one
- Also – helmets are a must! Don’t sacrifice your safety for the sake of looking “cool” – it’s not worth it!
8 – Haggle For Prices
- This is true both for boats to/from Nusa Penida and scooter rental on the island but bear in mind that it won’t be as cheap as on Bali
- The fast ferry from Sanur is advertised from IDR200,000+ per person but we got it for IDR150,000 each.
- Buying a return might also give you a better deal
- You’ll get a better deal on scooter rental if you hire it for more than one day. The regular charge for one day is IDR70,000 but we were able to get it for IDR120,000 for two days
9 – Roads Are Better Than Expected
- It seems like a lot of work has been put into roads on Nusa Penida recently and most of the roads are actually paved if not a little narrow and windy
- Having said that, getting anywhere takes longer than you might think! Roads are steep and windy and there are usually no direct routes between sights. You’ll find yourself heading back to the “main” road and branching off from there to the various sightseeing spots
10 – Petrol Stations Are Scarce
- Fill up on petrol (“bensin”) before you set out. Scooters normally take “Petralite” but the petrol station attendant will know if you don’t!
- If you get stuck though, there are many small local shops that sell bottles of petrol. While these will be more expensive than Petramina (the only petrol company in Indonesia it seems), it’s certainly better than nothing! Either way, petrol is not exactly expensive in Indonesia
11 – You Will Be Charged For Parking
- Parking your scooter at popular viewpoints is usually charged around IDR5,000 (in cash)
- The benefit is that you can leave your helmet on the scooter and someone will watch it for you
12 – Expect Entry Fees
- Some “attractions” (can you really call it that? These are natural sights after all…) will also charge you an entry fee
- Diamond beach, for example, will set you back IDR10,000 per person
- This does depend on which side you enter from. Driving to Atuh beach and climbing up the cliff to Jogglo Viewpoint means you can avoid the fee but does involve more climbing!
13 – Local Drivers Are Not Exactly Considerate
- Cars will take up the whole road and won’t be too concerned about you on your little scooter… As I mentioned, roads are narrow and you will find that the edges are often crumbling.
- Cars will toot to indicate that they intend to pass. Slow down and give them as much room as you can without going off the road
14 – Nusa Penida Is A Fairly Large Island
- To see everything without rushing, you’ll need at least two days if not three on Nusa Penida
- You’ll be pretty exhausted at the end of each day of exploring. Long stints on your scooter and plenty of hiking up and down steep cliffs will numb your arse and set your legs on fire!
- Check out my suggested Nusa Penida itinerary for more tips on how to make the most of your trip to this rugged island
- If your time is scarce, however, it is perfectly doable to see most of the island on a day trip from Bali. Just know that you won’t get to spend as much time at each sight and you won’t be heading down all those steps to the beautiful sandy beaches. Still, a daytrip is definitely better than not visiting at all!
15 – Wear Appropriate Footwear
- You’ll be doing a lot of walking and climbing! Which you definitely don’t want to do in flip flops. Plus, proper shoes are safer on the scooter
- There are dramatic cliffs with spectacular viewpoints and stunning beaches below. To get to them, you’ll need to walk up and down a lot of challenging and steep cliff faces. There are some stairs and even steps carved into the rock, but it is still a difficult and tiring climb to get down to the water and back up! Sneakers or walking shoes will make it that little bit easier. Still…. Prepare to get sweaty!
16 – It Gets Hot
- Ok, so this is not specific to Nusa Penida alone, but it really does get exceptionally hot here during the day! Make sure you bring along a day pack with plenty of water, a sunhat and sunscreen too
- Note that drinking water on Nusa Penida is more expensive to buy than on Bali. A 1.5 litre bottle will set you back IDR10,000. Bring your own refillable water bottle and check with your accommodation if you can get free water refills!
17 – Swimming On Nusa Penida Can Be Very Dangerous
- Yes, there are incredibly beautiful white sandy beaches with sapphire blue water that invites you in. But!! There are very few places where you can easily, and more importantly, safely, swim in Nusa Penida. The currents are extremely strong around here and the waves are massive!! Plus, for the most part, these beaches are waaayyyyy down a steep stairway (at best).
- If you do choose to swim at places like Kelingking Beach (T-Rex Bay) or Diamond Beach, please don’t go out too far and be very careful!
- More easy to reach beaches like Crystal Bay aren’t as beautiful but certainly easier to reach if you fancy a day of sunbathing and swimming
18 – Snorkelling On Nusa Penida
- While snorkelling is definitely possible on Nusa Penida, in reality the snorkelling is better on the Gili islands (well, in my personal opinion anyway!)
- The only exception here is that on Nusa Penida, you can snorkel (or dive!) with manta rays!
- There are plenty of companies that offer snorkelling tours, most starting from IDR250,000 per person including equipment.
19 – Nusa Penida, Like Bali, Is Primarily Hindu
- Unlike Bali, however, temples on Nusa Penida have speakers, similar to mosques throughout the rest of Indonesia. We found the sounds (prayers?) from the temples rather sinister sounding and not exactly quiet…
- There are mosques on Nusa Penida too, but they are hard to hear over the sinister temple sounds!!
Have you been to Nusa Penida? What are your top tips of things to know about Nusa Penida for others heading there? Add your thoughts in the comments below!
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