Photo: So many cliffs, so little time.

Three Days on Nusa Penida

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That flash of white cliff you see from Bali’s east coast looming on the horizon is not neighbouring Lombok, but is actually Nusa Penida and if you have a sense of adventure, this rugged limestone beauty should not be ignored. Nusa Penida, is easily reachable by boat from Bali or neighbouring Nusa Lembongan and its mostly natural attractions can be seen over three days.

In high season it would be wise to prebook your accommodation, similarly if you have your heart set on a particular spot as the popular places fill up fast. If you have time, consider volunteering with Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF) and stay in their basic but delightful digs in the bushland near Ped village.

Meet the Bali starling. Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Meet the Bali starling. Photo: Sally Arnold

Once settled, you’ll need to sort out some transport. A motorbike is the easiest way to zip around and we’d strongly suggest a driver as well. Wear a helmet, take water and don’t forget to fill the tank! Expect to pay from 70,000 rupiah a day for a bike, or around 200,000 rupiah a day for a bike plus driver and 500,000 for a car plus driver. These rates will certainly be higher in peak season. Your accommodation can help with transport arrangements. Be sure to read the small print on your travel insurance before deciding to ride unlicensed.

Day 1

You are probably biting at the bit to see those white cliffs up close, so first up we’d head to the most popular, Kelingking. If you are fit and adventurous, that stunning piece of golden sand below is sure to entice, but it is a steep and dangerous climb down and takes longer than it looks—take care. If you are not so brave, a selfie form the top is almost as good.

Defining spectacular. Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Defining spectacular. Photo: Sally Arnold

Not far from Kelingking is the unusual “car temple” Pura Palung. There’s not much to see (although there are good views) and you may not be allowed to enter the temple itself, but if you have time, it’s worth the detour to this oddity.

Next venture over to Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach, two impressive land formations that will have your Instagram feed soon flooded with “likes”. Back on the bike for more bumpy roads, and it’s time for a swim at gorgeous Crystal Bay where daytripping snorkellers and sunbathers are shuttled in from Bali—mola-mola can be found in the bay at the right time too. Pull up a sun lounge, sip a coconut and catch your breath. If the beach is too crowded, check out the sea and sand at Gamat Bay, but this takes a little more effort to reach—you’re up for another climb, right?

Angel’s Billabong Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Angel’s Billabong Photo: Sally Arnold

Return to your digs to freshen up, then out for a bite to eat. Unfortunately most of the restaurants at Nusa Penida haven’t cottoned on to offering transport, so if you want to venture further than walking distance, you’ll need your own transport and if you plan on indulging in a few Bintangs, don’t drive yourself—take an ojek.

Day 2

On your second day, rise early for a spot of sunrise birdwatching—arrange it through the FNPF and help them monitor numbers of the rare and critically endangered Bali starling. You’ll be back in time for breakfast—try a smoothie bowl at Organica in Toya Pekeh or closer to FNPF, at Penida Espresso in Ped before another day of sightseeing.

Atmospheric within. Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Atmospheric within. Photo: Sally Arnold

Zip around through the market town of Sampalan and continue to Pura Goa Giri Putri, a temple attached to a massive cave with a tiny “secret passage” entrance way. If you’re claustrophobic, you may freak out at just how minuscule the portal is, but it’s not so difficult to skedaddle in, where it feels like quite the “Raiders of the lost Ark” adventure. You’ll need a sarong and sash as this is a holy Hindu temple.

Next head to Atuh Beach, but as you travel around the coast, look out for the old seaweed farmers—there are just a few of them left here and this generation will probably be the last. Atuh Beach requires a steep climb—ask your driver to take you to the main carpark with the easier cement stairs if you don’t want to scramble down a steep track. You could easily spend the rest of the day here lolling about on the sand, but make sure you try the fresh and delicious barbecue fish. If you wish to see one of Nusa Penida’s best cliff views, walk along the cliffs heading south to the “tree house” you can see in the distance, believe us it’s worth the effort.

Cliffs and sand and water. Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Cliffs and sand and water. Photo: Sally Arnold

When you’ve had enough sea and sun, time for some culture at Tanglad, a traditional weaving village where you can see looms in action and buy some fabric as well. It’s a very low-key set up and you may have to ask around to find anyone working, but for folks interested in textiles this is an interesting stop.

If you haven’t had enough beach (or climbing stairs), Suwehan Beach is next on the agenda. If the tide too high, there won’t be any beach, but climb down for a look anyway as it’s a very pretty spot, then hold on to your hairpiece for the bumpy ride back. You’ve probably earned a beachside bevy, so pick a beach bar before relaxing in for the evening.

Day 3

All that looking out to the beautiful deep blue sea has probably whet your appetite to get underwater. To view the famous manta rays here, you’ll likely need to jump in a boat (although you may see them from the clifftops too)—join a morning snorkel or diving trip to meet these gentle creatures of the deep.

No need to even get wet! Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

No need to even get wet! Photo: Sally Arnold

Once you’ve dried off, jump back on the bike and see how many mantas you can spot from Nusa Penida’s various viewpoints: Banah, Saran and Manta Cliff Points and if you are fit and not fazed by heights, climb down to Peguyangan Waterfall and visit the sacred sea temple Pura Segara Kidul dedicated to the Queen of the Southern Ocean.

Make sure you leave time for a walk through the forest at Tembeling, okay, to be honest, it’s another climb, but it is not as difficult as some others at Nusa Penida, besides your calf muscles are well stretched by now and you can be rewarded with a dip in a pristine spring pool. Bliss.

Jungle hideaway. Photo taken in or around Three Days on Nusa Penida, Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Jungle hideaway. Photo: Sally Arnold

Return to your accommodation via Nusa Penida’s highest point, Puncuk Mundi over 500 metres above sea level, where you’ll see the ghosts of an abandoned wind energy project and have fantastic views of the desolate but beautiful landscape of the island. You’ve more than likely had enough of the bone-jarring roads for now, so why now add another day or two to just relax… that schedule can wait.

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Popular attractions in Nusa Penida

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Nusa Penida.

Best places to stay in Nusa Penida

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Nusa Penida.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Nusa Penida.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Nusa Penida.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Nusa Penida.
 Read up on how to get to Nusa Penida.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Nusa Penida? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Indonesia with Tourradar.

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