Nusa Penida became a very special place for us due to our engagement on the island, Campbell made an underwater proposal during a dive. Before going there we didn’t have many expectations, the main reason we went to Nusa Penida was to see famous mola molas and mantas. Need to say that the island has much to offer except for the world class diving and snorkeling we really enjoyed our time there and could easily stay longer. Hope our Nusa Penida backpacking guide will inspire you to visit and explore the island.
Things to do on the island. Nusa Penida backpacking guide
For us diving is the main activity in Indonesia and the main reason we came back here every time. The main diving attractions on Nusa Penida are mantas and mola-molas (sun fish) if you are lucky. For more details and photos of our diving experience at Nusa Penida click HERE.
Maybe one of the best snorkeling with mantas in the world, sometimes your chances to see them snorkeling are even better then diving since they are most of the time just glide on the surface. Check our great snorkeling manta experience HERE.
Exploring the island by motorbike
There is a lot to explore, impressive cliffs, pristine beaches, bat caves, temples, waterfalls etc. We drove around one day and had time to visit just a couple of places in one area so if you have more time you’ll be able to explore and discover more.
Places of interest on Nusa Penida
Though the island is quite small there are many amazing things to do in Nusa Penida. to Have in mind the road conditions on the island once you are out of the main road that goes around the island your drive speed will reduce to 15 km per hour, due to numerous holes, steep ups and downs and dirt road sometimes. Though the island isn’t big don’t expect to be able to visit many places in one day.
Beautiful place, not many people go there. Some rock climbing involved, so be ready and better wear trainers, flipflops is not the best option. Steep long down all the way to the sea level and steep up on the way back. The waterfall is not big more like a creek with separate pools for swimming for men and women. Once there look up to the steep cliffs around the view is breathtaking. On the way down we spotted many, really many (about 15), mantas in the water.
At the same place where Seganing waterfall is just before you go down, good spot to see mantas and observe the picturesque cliffs including famous Banah cliff.
Beautiful beach, nice for swimming and snorkeling, not far from Toyapakeh, 20 min. by motorbike. There are some accommodation options and restaurants there. Nice place to stay if you want to chill out on a beach. Out of all places on the island (except for the main beaches) maybe the most visited by tourists.
Beautiful temple on the age of the cliff with some stunning views over surroundings, easy to get there. Locals go all the way by motorbikes we parked ours at the nearest village and walk for about 15 min to get there.
For more places to visit on the island check the map.
Where to stay at Toyapakeh beach
There are some accommodation options not as many as everywhere in Bali. The later in day you arrive the less is your chance to find something cheap. Both times we were there we had to walk around for sometime trying to find a cheaper option but in the end stayed both times at Ari La Casa. The place is very nice, new rooms with AC, clean, big double bed, bathroom (cold shower), wi-fi, towels, we paid IDR 250 000/$19 per night.
Penida Dive Resort, single room from IDR 210 000/$16, double from IDR 300 000/$22 including breakfast.
Tenang Home Stay at Toyapakeh beach, budget option, wi-fi, fan, double from IDR 175 000/$13, nice place. We didn’t have much luck there it always was full.
There are more accommodation options a bit further away from Toyapakeh to get to some of them you’ll need a motorbike. In Buyuk you can find a home stay for IDR 150 000/$11 for a double.
Transport on the island
The easiest way to get around is by motorbike, you can rent it anywhere for about IDR 70 000/$5 per day. The don’t ask your license or any deposit, basically nothing just the name of the place you are staying. If you don’t feel like driving bike you can move around by motorbike taxi for 30 000-40 000 per ride. There are public van-buses, average ride will cost IDR 15 000/$1 per person.
All details and tips on packing for a backpacking trip you’ll find in this post. ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓
Food places on the island I’d like to start with our favorite, Australian owned place Penida Colada, 10 min. drive from Toyapakeh beach. Absolutely great place, delicious food and cocktails, Happy hour from 4 to 7 pm. Our favorites there toasted ham and cheese sandwich comes with fries, pudding with sesame seeds, whole grilled fish. Prices from IDR 40 000 to 80 000/$3-6.
For local food the best and cheapest options we found is Windy’s at Toyapakeh beach, big portions of Nasi or Mie Goreng for IDR 15 000/$1, some soups, fresh juices and coffee cocktails as well.
There is a restaurant at Penida Dive Resort they have both Indonesian and Western food, good breakfast option; pancakes, eggs, toasts (they bake their own bread) etc., for about IDR 18 000-20 000/$1,5.
ATMs on Nusa Penida
There is one at Toyapakeh beach, BRI, both times we were there it worked, limit IDR 2 500 000/$190 per withdrawal. There are more ATMs on the island, in Buyuk. Some places e.g. Penida Dive Resort accept cards with 3% charge.
How to get to Nusa Penida from Bali
You have two options; from Padangbai by public ferry or from Sanur by speed boat.
Public ferry to Nusa Penida leaves once a day at 12.00 or 1.00 pm, price 31 000, takes about 1-1h30min. to get there. Ferry arrives at Buyuk (small town) to get to Toyapakeh beach (main beach for diving) you can by motorbike for IDR 40 000-35 000/$3 or by van-bus for IDR 15 000/$1. There are speed boats departing from Padangbai to Nusa Penida, price between IDR 150 000-200 000/$11-15.
How to get from Denpasar airport to Padangbai by public transport
To get to Padangbai from the airport you can by public buses but it can take some time. First take Trans Sarbagita bus all the way to Batubulan bus terminal. From there you can get a minibus going to Padangbai, probably you’ll have to wait for more passengers or pay IDR 50 000/$3,5 each (if you are two, if more try to low down the price) and depart immediately. Depending on the traffic the way can take from 40 min. to 1 hour.
There are tourist and public speed boats, the price difference is not big IDR 175 000/$13 and 150 000/$11 relatively. The drive is about 30 min., all speed boats arrive at Toyapakeh beach. Speed boats start operating at 7 am and finish at 3.30 pm, they leave quite regularly.
How to get from Denpasar airport to Sanur
Off course the easiest way is to take a taxi, you can find rates from the airport to different places in Bali HERE.
Take a public bus Trans Sarbagita from the airport and get off in Sanur. Buses depart from the bus stop across the road from the International terminal (arrivals), follow the sign ‘Public transport’. There is no fixed time, bus arrives every 30-40 min., we caught our at 6 am. Price IDR 3500/$0,2, compare to official taxi rate IDR 95 000/$7 quite a big difference. Ask to stop at Sanur beach, the bus stop is about 10 min. walk from the pier.
Where to stay in Padangbai
If you don’t make it before 1 pm to catch a public ferry and don’t want to pay for a speed boat you will have no other option than to stay in Padangbai. There are many places you don’t even need to look, just walk with your backpack along the beach soon you’ll start hearing “Do you need a room”. We stayed at Marco Inn, on the beach, 5 min. walk from the ferry terminal. Nice and clean, wi-fi, good breakfast (fruit, tea/coffee, pancake or omelette with toasts). For our en suite double we paid IDR 150 000/$11, they always ask 200 000 but if you say no low down the price. They have smaller rooms with shared bathroom for less.
Getting back to Bali
By public ferry from Buyuk to Padangbai, leaves every day at 10.00 am you need to be there at 9 am, price IDR 27 000/$2, takes 1-1h30min.
By speed boat (public or tourist) from Toyapakeh beach to Sanur. Public boats leave at 7 am and 2 pm (the second time is not very reliable, doesn’t go if it’s not full). Tourist boats leave at 7.30 am, 10 am and 3 pm, it’s better to confirm the time and make a booking the day before or early in the morning. There are speed boats from Toyapakeh to Padangbai as well.
From Sanur to Denpasar airport you can get by Trans Sarbagita public bus, a bus stop is about 10 min. walk from where the boat drops you, at the corner of Matahari Terbit and By Pass Ngurah Rai streets (main street), price IDR 3500/$0,2 per person. Before getting on the bus ask if it goes to the airport, only every second bus does. The way takes about 20 to 30 min. bus stops at the entrance to the International terminal.