Totalling some 200 square kilometres, Nusa Penida is much larger than the better known Nusa Lembongan. However, tourist infrastructure is very limited here. It is, though, an island of stunning natural rugged beauty, and tourism-related development plans have been rumoured and mooted to no effect for many years now.
Due to a lack of natural fresh water, little is grown or produced on Nusa Penida, and even some basic foodstuffs come in by boat. Visitors should therefore expect higher prices than in Bali, and not bank on any tourism-related luxury items being available for purchase here. Plan accordingly — this is as off-the-beaten-track as you can get and still be in the Province of Bali.
Nusa Penida has also become an unofficial bird sanctuary for endangered Balinese and Indonesian bird species, including the critically endangered Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). In 2004 theFriends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF) started an introduction program onto Nusa Penida of the near-extinct Bali Starling. Over 2 years from 2006, 64 birds were released into the wild. By the spring of 2009, 58 chicks had successfully hatched in the wild and in 2010 there were estimated to be over 100 birds. Despite many similar release bird projects in the West Bali National Park that have failed because of poachers, this has been by the far the most successful project to prevent the Bali Starling from becoming extinct and is because the Nusa Penida population actively protects the birds. In 2006 all villages unanimously passed a local regulation making it an offence to steal or threaten the life of the birds.
You can catch the daily public ferry (large boat that includes vehicles) at 13:00 (1pm). A passenger ticket is Rp 31,000 each way.
There is also a smaller private speed boat service that typically carries up to 20 people. This departs from Padang Bai beach side every morning. You should be at the beach side by 06:30 to catch the public speed boat. Buy ticket from ticket office near beach and then wait until the boat has enough passengers for the boat to depart. The ticket cost is Rp 45,000 each way if you are Indonesian. If you are from abroad, they will ask you for 75,000 Rp or show the way to the public ferry.
Quicksilver runs daily cruises from Benoa Harbour in Bali to their monstrous pontoon which floats off the north western shore of Nusa Penida. The trip includes watersport activities centred on the pontoon. Rp 570,000 per person.
Mola-Mola express, Sanur Beach. Scheduled departures from Sanur Beach at 07.30, 16:30. Departures from Sampalan, Nusa Penida at 08:30, 15:30. It's new speed boat service, just 2 times daily to Nusa Penida.One way Rp 85,000/person. edit
Caspla Bali Boat, Sanur Beach in front of Ananda Beach Hotel, ☎ +62 361 791-2299. Scheduled departures from Sanur Beach at 08.00, 11:00, 14:00 & 16:30. Departures from Buyuk, Nusa Penida at 08:00, 12:30 & 16:00. Speed boat service, 3 times daily to Nusa Penida.One way fare Rp 350,000/person and return Rp 550,000/person. edit
Maruti Express, Hangtuah Street (Sanur beach) front Diwangkara Holiday Villa, ☎ +62 813 3875 4848 or +62 812 383 1639. Scheduled departures from Sanur Beach at 08.30, 10.00 & 16:00; departs Nusa Penida at 07.30, 09:00 & 15:00. The first speed boat service to Nusa Penida.One way Rp 175,000, return Rp 300,000. edit
Public boats depart daily at 06:00 close to the suspension bridge between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan and run to Toyapakeh or Buyuk Harbour in northern Nusa Penida. There are also services from the Jungut Batu area of Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida. All of these can be a little 'worrying' at times and are often very crowded.
Charter boats are available, departing from and arriving at the same area as the public boats. If you are staying on Nusa Lembongan, ask at your hotel. If not, go to the shoreline close to the suspension bridge or to the beach at Jungut Batu and ask around amongst the boatmen. Rates certainly vary but expect to pay around Rp 300,000.
Renting a motorcycle is the most practical option, and this will cost you about Rp 80,000-120,000. Look for outlets in Toyopakeh and Sampalan (or more likely, they will find you!) You may be able to find a rental car but they are not common.
Some visitors from Nusa Lembongan arrive with rented pushbikes - make sure you get permission to take the bike off Nusa Lembongan first. You should note that roads in Nusa Penida are rough, hilly away from the north coast, and in remote areas no more than stone-strewn tracks.
Local public transport is in small old bemos or on the back of a truck. These vehicles ply the north coast road with some regularity, but elsewhere on the island do not bank on anything.
There are many quiet and secluded white sand beaches along the north and northwest coasts of Nusa Penida. Other geographical highlights include limestone caves, spectacular high coastal cliffs with karst formations and offshore pinnacles in the south and east, and rugged hill tops in the high centre.
Nusa Penida has several interesting Hindu temples. When visiting be respectful and always heed local advice.
Crystal Bay, (take the only small road which heads west from the main road at Sakti village and keep going until you hit the coast.). A stunning white sand beach at Banjar Penida west of Sakti village on the north western coast facing Nusa Ceningan. Perfect clear waters and excellent snorkelling. Lovely white sand beach and a great place for a picnic. A truly idyllic spot and you are likely to have it to yourself apart for the odd local villager and maybe a dive boat offshore.edit
The rugged beauty of the south coast of Nusa Penida; the high point in the far background is Puncak Mundi
FNPF Bird Sanctuary, Ped village, ☎ +62 361 977978, . The conservation and community development centre for Friends of the National Park Foundation in Ped. Learn about FNPF's Bali starling introduction program and other matters of environmental concern on Nusa Penida.edit
Goa Giri Putri (Karangsari or Karangsari Cave), Desa Pakraman, Karangsari. Large limestone caves on the east coast about 4km north of Suana village. You will need a sarong which can be hired for Rp 5000. Climb the stairs and enter the caves via a manhole. Inside the caves there is (electrical) light and places for meditation. An awesome atmosphere. Take a bottle for some of the holy water. On public holidays it tends to be very busy with all Balinese who go on pilgrimage here as the place is of great religious and cultural significance. Some impressive stalactites and other typical limestone formations. edit
Pura Penataran Ped, Ped village (at Ped village on the main north coast road between Toyapakeh and Sampalan.). An extremely important temple to the Hindu Balinese many of whom make an annual pilgrimage to Nusa Penida specifically to pray here to protect against illness, disease and death. This temple is built on a quite grand scale which makes for something of a contrast with the generally rather austere nature of Nusa Penida.edit
Puncak Mundi (Mundi Hill). The highest point of Nusa Penida at some 521m above sea level. Great views from here. This area is also home to an alternative energy facility with wind turbines and a solar panel farm. Puncak Mundi temple perches high on the hill.edit
Pura Batu Medahu and Pura Batu Kuning. Two interesting and stunningly located temples on the east coast road south of Suana. Instead of taking the main road from Suana heading south west, continue on the coast road towards the tiny village of Semaya. You will come to the two temples (Pura Batu Madan first) after about 1.5km and before you reach Semaya. edit
Sebuluh Waterfall. The Seganing waterfall which is very impressive, located next to Cacah Village (part of Sebuluh) or about 5km from Batu Madeg village.edit
South Coast Cliffs. The whole southern coast of Nusa Penida has spectacular, high white limestone cliffs which will simply take your breath away. Even by the standards of Nusa Penida, the southern quarter is remote and inaccessible. The roads are difficult and in places distinctly hairy. But once you get there it will all seem worthwhile. Some of the karst formations are really dramatic as are the numerous offshore pinnacles. Try anywhere along the south coast from Pendem, around Bakung Cape to the coast west of Batu Madeg. Allow plenty of time as the chances are you will get lost at some stage.edit
A typical offshore pinnacle on the rugged south coast of Nusa Penida
This is a wild, rugged and largely untamed island which offers plenty to those with an adventurous spirit.
Trekking and mountain-biking are rewarding with amazing coastline views. The terrain away from the coast is hilly rising to nearly 550m and the vista back to Bali is stunning. Camping is a wise (or only) option for those who really want to explore this wild island away from the populated northern coast.
Absorb the culture. The native people are Hindu as in Bali but the language spoken is an ancient dialect of Balinese no longer heard elsewhere. The architecture and dance is also distinct. There is also a small Muslim enclave in the north which will remind visitors of culture in the more rural parts of Lombok.
Birdwatchers who find themselves with the opportunity to visit Nusa Penida should know that a thriving population of the superb white-tailed tropicbirds breeds on the south and southeastern cliffs of the island. Keep your eyes peeled. Nusa Penida has been designated an island-wide bird sanctuary by Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF). Various endangered Indonesian bird species have been released onto the island, including the Bali Starling, Java Sparrow, Mitchell's Lorrikeet, Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.
Diving. Nusa Penida is best known as a world class diving destination. There are more than 20 identified dive sites around the island, the most notable including Crystal Bay, Manta Point, Toyapakeh, Suana Bay and Malibu Point. The rich waters around the three islands support no less than 247 species of coral and 562 species of fish.
Many dive operators based in Bali and neighbouring Nusa Lembongan offer specific dive trips to Nusa Penida. Special attractions include fabulous Mola Mola (Oceanic Sunfish) in season and large Manta Rays year round. Mola Mola are migratory fish and most likely from July to October although sightings are reported all year round. There is diving available here for beginners but most of the dives require a decent level of experience as currents are strong and unpredictable.
Penida Dive Resort, Toyapakeh, Nusa Penida, ☎ +62 813 5334 0044 (email@example.com), . An established Czech-run dive centre actually located on Nusa Penida. Has 11 double bed bungalows with toilet and shower, fan or air- con and with a small terrace located in a tropical garden, with a restaurant at its centre. After 15:00, there's a volleyball court nearby. Adjacent to the turtle rescue project Kura Kura.edit
There is an ATM for Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) in Sampalan, which accept Visa and MasterCard Debit cards. There are some other ATMs of minor Banks. To be sure you may want to bring enough rupiah with you just in case the ATM is out of order.
Sampalan has a couple of supermarkets for buying local snack foods, toiletries, washing powder, clothes, footwear, hardware, ice creams etc. As does Toyapakeh. Both these towns have morning markets to buy fruit, vegetables, snacks, fabric, clothes, bags etc; Sampalan being more extensive.
There are simple local warungs on Nusa Penida but no western style restaurants to speak of. Don't expect Bali extravagance here, you will get traditional Indonesian meals. Wayan's Warung (didn't appear to be operating June 2015), located on the beach-side near FNPF Bird Sanctuary in Ped village is popular with visitors for its fresh, foreigner-friendly dishes. Warung Podock, opposite Ring Semeton Inn entrance, has a good range of food and a bar, with fantastic sunset views. Ring Semeton Inn's restaurant produces fresh honest local meals, juices and wifi if you consume 40,000Rp. Sampalan has several good roadside warungs and the night-market serves up siomai and bakso. Depot Anda Warung offers another tasty range of meals, busy with the locals and take aways. Opposite is QFC (Queen Fried Chicken) for everything deep fried and popular with the locals for their amazing range of juices. Ask for Pisang Goreng for a real treat, (10,000Rp) it's not on the menu, but a must...banana fritters drizzled with sweet milk, dusted with chocolate and grated cheese! Try fresh-caught fish for a real taste of Penida. On the beach front at Toyapakeh there are two very small restaurants (Resto Toyapakeh & Warung Makan) serving simple and good Indonesian food. It makes for a good spot to catch sunset. Jungle Warung is best found before the sun goes down, but worth it; a white sign, on the road to Crystal Bay from Toyapakeh, starts the journey through small villages and a tiny track into the jungle for excellent fresh fish, prawns, calamari barbecued over coconut husk grill.
There are some small, simple homestays and bungalows on Nusa Penida. These are in the north between Toyapakeh and Sampalan. There is nothing even approaching mid-range accommodation though. Visitors to the island often do not book ahead and instead turn up and take their chances.
Visitors wishing to explore the remote, rugged areas of the island in the high centre and south may be able to find informal accommodation with a local family by asking a head of village (Kepala Desa). The only other alternative away from the north coast is camping.
Nusa Garden Bungalows, Sampalan (opposite the hospital on the main road), ☎ +62 81337576231, +62 3665596693, +6281239901421 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Bungalows set across a nice garden complex are decorated in Balinese style. The staff are very sociable and are happy to take guests to various interesting parts of the island (temples/waterfalls etc) for free. Nice place to meet fellow travellers willing to step off the Bali tourist trail. Free wifi, Breakfast is included and is pancake or omelette with hot drink at a nearby warung, laundry service, parking area, a 5 minute walk from the beach. The great advantage is the the European standard of toilets and a strong water to take a shower. They also offer tour around Nusa Penida.Bungalow price is from Rp 150 000 to 250 000, and they have one cheap room Rp 150 000, and one hostel room 4 beds - the bed is Rp 60 000, hammock Rp 20 000 - just ask them. edit
Friends of National Parks (FNPF), Ped village (close to main temple, Ped), ☎ +62 361 977978, . FNPF's centre offers simple accommodation, including a charming bamboo house, set within its conservation centre for endangered birds, tree sapling nursery, and community library. The centre is across the road from the beach where there is easy accessibility to world class reefs, once you swim over the strip of seaweed farming. Overnighters and volunteers make donations to FNPF to stay in the centre.edit
Bungalow Pemba, Sampalan (opposite the police station), ☎ +62 813 38539435. The government homestay on Nusa Penida with 14 rooms. It is not the nicest of places but has great ocean views.edit
Losmen Trang, Toyapakeh, ☎ +62 852 37643649. Simple rooms close to the beach in Toyapakehedit
Made's Homestay, Sampalan, ☎ +. Simple single and double rooms in this friendly family-run homestay.About Rp 130,000. edit
Ring Sameton Inn, Ped in front of Ped Dive Point, ☎ +62 821 4676 3612, +62 813 3798 5141, +62 813 5154 2596 (email@example.com), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 13:00. 12 air-con rooms with hot-cold water shower, satellite LCD TV, restaurant, 24h security, laundry service, Wi-Fi, swimming pool, wide parking area and garden. Very friendly staff. USD45. edit