The beautiful island of Nusa Penida, located off the southeast coast of Bali, is an unspoiled gem of a destination. It is relatively new to the tourist circuit and its rugged beauty, unsealed roads, and undeveloped coastline give us a glimpse of what Bali might have been like many years ago.
No doubt Nusa Penida will soon become as popular as nearby Nusa Lembongan, with all the organization and development that goes with it. But for now, head to Penida to enjoy rustic, authentic charm while you still can.
You can visit the island on a day trip from Bali, but given its size and its many wonderful sights, we strongly recommend staying overnight to give yourself more time to explore. We’ve put together what we think is the perfect two-day itinerary to help you enjoy the best of Nusa Penida.
Table of Contents
Day 1 – Ferry To Nusa Penida
The best route to Nusa Penida is via ferry from Sanur, Bali to Toya Pakeh Harbour. Several ferry companies service this route which takes 30minutes to 1 hour and costs roughly $30 return. The ferry does not pull up to a jetty but directly onto the sand at the beach, so you’ll need to wade out through knee-deep water to the boat. The staff will carry your luggage, so you just have to worry about yourself, but wear flip-flops and shorts to avoid getting soaked.
We recommend getting the first boat of the day – around 7.30 am – to make the most of your time on the island. But if you prefer a more leisurely start, they leave regularly throughout the day.
The best way to explore Nusa Penida on a 2-day itinerary is to split it into west coast one day and east coast the next to avoid doubling back on yourself. We’re going to start with the west coast on day 1!
Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach
The first stop takes in two of Nusa Penida’s most beautiful sights, which are located conveniently close to one another. First up is Angel’s Billabong, a large tidal rock pool with beautiful emerald green waters. At low tide, the water is mirror-calm and makes a beautiful natural infinity pool and a wonderful photo opportunity.
However, as you’ll see by the warning signs, it can also be dangerous. There have been fatal accidents when people tried to swim in the pool at high tide and were swept away by the powerful waves. So heed the warnings and don’t swim when it isn’t safe.
A short walk away, and you’ll find the dramatic landscape of Broken Beach. Once a sea cave before the roof collapsed, Broken Beach is now a lagoon enclosed by rocky walls. There’s no access to the water here, and the crashing waves wouldn’t make for safe swimming anyway, so just enjoy the view from above and wander along the stone archway, which once formed the mouth of the cave.
The next stop is the most famous sight on Nusa Penida and probably the most photographed. Many people visit just to see the uniquely shaped headland – which looks like a T-Rex. But the incredible ocean view and the stunning stretch of white sand below are well worth the trip too.
However, the climb down to the beach is not for everyone. It takes around 20 minutes to get down, is quite steep, and can be slippery. And the climb back up is not for the faint-hearted. But if you do brave it, you’ll find the beach is well worth the effort. And since the climb puts most people off, it’s rarely as busy as the headland at the top.
If you’re not up for it, you can climb halfway down to where you get the best Insta-worthy photo of the beach and then turn back. And don’t worry, we’ve got more beach opportunities coming later.
Peguyangan Waterfall And Manta Point
If you don’t give your legs a workout at Kelingking, you’ll get a second chance at Peguyangan Waterfall. This cliffside spot is not only a steep climb but an exercise in controlling your fear. The path down to the waterfall is via a steep metal staircase built onto the cliff’s side. Between each step, you’ll be able to see the sheer drop below, so it is not advisable for anyone with a fear of heights. The views are stunning, though, so just focus on that, and you’ll be ok.
At the bottom, you’ll find a freshwater spring pouring out of the cliff and cascading into the sea below. The spring water also gathers on the rocky ledge and forms a beautiful infinity pool. This makes a great place to relax before you tackle the climb back up. This spring is sacred to the locals and you’ll find a Hindu shrine here too, so be respectful and wear a sarong. If you didn’t bring one you can rent one at the top of the steps.
Next, a 10-minute drive will take you to the most southern spot of the day, Manta Point. As the name might suggest, this is the best place to see manta rays around the island, and many snorkeling trips and dive boats visit this spot. But if you’ve only got 2 days on Nusa Penida, a dive trip won’t fit the itinerary. So instead, take a stroll along the headland and look for the majestic creatures in the waters below.
It’s time to give your legs a rest and head to the beach. Drive back up the coast and stop at Crystal Bay, one of the most beautiful and most visited beaches on Nusa Penida. Since you’re staying overnight, you won’t need to rush off for the ferry and can relax on the beach after the rest of the crowds depart.
If you’ve got any energy left, you can rent snorkeling gear here and experience some of the best snorkeling on the island. Crystal Bay has clear waters, healthy coral, and an abundance of marine life. But if you’d just like to relax, you can find sun loungers, parasols, and beachfront bars serving food and drink. This is a wonderful spot to enjoy sunset too, so so hang around for the evening and sample some cocktails with a view before heading on to your hotel.
Accommodation is mainly scattered around the northern half of the island, and there’s plenty of choice from luxury to basic, beach bungalows to inland hotels. You’ll find a collection of accommodation and restaurants by Crystal Bay or head east of the Toya Pakeh Harbor to find the busiest hub on the island. Here you’ll find hotels, restaurants, cafes, and a night market that’s great for sampling local food. You’ll also find the best of the island’s nightlife here, although it’s local musicians and after-dinner drinks rather than clubs and late nights.
Day 2 – Goa Giri Putri Cave
After day one’s busy, leg punishing schedule, we’ve got a much more relaxed second day for you. The east coast of Nusa Penida is less crowded, and our day two itinerary involves fewer stairs.
And we’re starting with something very different from yesterday. Goa Giri Putri Cave is a temple built inside one of the largest caves on Nusa Penida. Even if you don’t usually visit temples, you’re not going to want to miss this one. The entrance to the temple looks like nothing more than a crack in the rocks. However, once you’ve squeezed inside, you’ll find yourself in a breathtaking cave system that can accommodate over a hundred worshippers. If you are lucky enough to visit during a ceremony, it will be an experience you’ll never forget.
The locals are well used to tourists marveling at the cave and won’t mind you wandering around, but do be respectful, wear a sarong and make a donation on entry.
Thousand Island Viewpoint, Atuh Beach and Diamond Bay
Back out in the sunlight, make your way south to another of Nusa Penida’s most Instagram-ed spots, Rumah Pohon Treehouse. Built on the very edge of the coastline at Thousand Island Viewpoint, the treehouse offers not only awesome photo opportunities but incredible views too. Resist the urge to scramble down the cliffs to the sea, because the best beaches are just a short drive away.
Atuh and Diamond are two of the most beautiful beaches on the island. Each one boasts dramatic rock formations, water that looks too blue to be real and sheer cliffs backing the soft white sand. But, thanks to their location, far from the harbor on the less-visited east coast, they’re also two very peaceful beaches.
Park at the Diamond Beach car park and you’ll find access down to both beaches plus a walkway along the clifftop. Head to Atuh Beach to see its famous rocky archway and Diamond Beach for an ocean swing with an amazing view. You can get drinks, snacks, and tasty meals from the beachfront warungs. So eat, drink, snorkel, swim, sunbathe and relax, but keep an eye on the time because it’s an hour’s drive back to the harbor.
Unfortunately, the ferries back to Bali don’t run late. The last boat leaves around 4.30 pm, and you’ll need to be there at least 30 minutes early to book in and be sure of a spot. Check the ferry timetables carefully, so you don’t miss the last one. Although if you did, you’d just have to stay another night on Nusa Penida, and really, would that be such a bad thing?
Nusa Penida 2 Day Itinerary – Best way to travel
There are a few ways to explore Nusa Penida. The cheapest option is to hire a scooter for $5-10 a day and navigate the island yourself. However, Nusa Penida is a large and rugged island. The roads are unsealed, often very steep, and can be treacherous, so we do not recommend hiring a scooter if you’re not a confident driver.
Instead, consider a car. It will cost around $40 for the day, but it comes with an experienced driver and you can split the cost between 4 people. You’ll still be able to handpick your itinerary, and your driver may also give you some local insight and recommendations.
Alternatively, you can book an organized tour, but you will not have as much flexibility or control over your itinerary.
Nusa Penida 2 Day Itinerary – Things to remember
Don’t get caught out without the essentials on your adventure, be sure to pack:
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses, a hat and layers in case of a chill or too much sun.
- Enough cash for your whole trip. You will need to pay entrance fees to some sights and beaches and Atm’s are few and far between.
- Bring a sarong to cover up at the sacred sights.
- Wear shoes you can comfortably hike and climb steps in.
- Water! The sun can be fierce and you’ll be doing plenty of walking. So don’t risk getting dehydrated
And Lastly – Take your time
Sightseeing on Nusa Penida is all about doing what you want to do. Our 2-day itinerary covers all our favorite sights on Nusa Penida but maybe you want to spend more time snorkeling and less time driving. Or maybe you want to do the east coast first or miss out all the places with stairs. So feel free to make changes as you go, it’s up to you, it’s your trip!