Bali is a bit like Marmite or The Big Bang Theory. You tend to either love it or hate it (I hate both of those if you were wondering). I am however a Bali fan, but that wasn’t always the case. To really fall for Bali, you need to get away from the trashy beaches and tout-filled streets of places like Kuta and out into the (sort of) unspoilt nature of the interior / outlying islands. The perfect way to do that is on a day trip to Nusa Penida. You can organise a day trip from most of Bali’s mainland beach suburbs (Kuta, Seminyak etc) – it’s not the cheapest Bali day trip but it could be the most memorable.
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Things to See on a Day Trip to Nusa Penida
I’ll leave all the boring details on how to get there / the costs until later in this post – so first let’s look at what you can see on a day trip to Nusa Penida. We arrived early in the morning, found a driver (he was awesome – more on that later though) and headed to our first stop.
The word billabong is an Australian term for a small pond or lake. As Bali is swamped with Australians, it kind of makes sense that they’d start naming stuff eventually. Angel’s Billabong is a little rocky area which fills with water from the ocean. Sometimes waves crash onto the rocks in an aggressive fashion – people have been swept off the rocks and died here – so be careful! We were content with viewing it from the safety of dry land, but it did look like a cool place to swim (if you don’t mind hobbling over slippery rocks and possibly getting swept off to a watery grave). It’s a nice enough place, but there are better things lurking a short walk away.
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Just around the coast from Angel’s Billabong lies Broken Beach, a circular pond thing where the ocean rushes below a rock bridge. It’s a cool place to walk around, but make sure to walk a little way around the rocks nearby for more ocean views. We even saw dolphins and manta rays swimming in the water below. It seems like a nice place to snorkel — check out this tour if you’re interested in swimming with mantas.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or two (or just dislike Instagram) you’ve probably seen numerous photos of Kelingking Beach. The viewpoint above the beach is an Instagrammer’s dream spot, but even for people that don’t feel the need to make their friends jealous with their exotic travel photos it’s still a great place to visit. There’s a dodgy path leading down to the beach but most people, including my wife and I, are content with the view from above. I did walk a little way down the hill and it wasn’t that bad. It is a long way down though and one slip and you’d be in trouble – beaches like this always look better from above anyway! You can keep walking a little way around the path above the beach for a different angle – there was a guy up a tree taking photos for people so we jumped on that bandwagon pretty quickly.
A surprisingly good lunch
If you’ve ever been on a tour in Southeast Asia which includes a lunch stop, you’ll be aware that they usually take you to the lowest quality / most expensive place they can find (it’s all about that commission). That wasn’t the case on this Nusa Penida Day trip. We stopped for lunch at Warung NG, a largish restaurant on the way to Crystal Bay (the last stop on our tour). The food was amazing – chicken strips and chips and chicken with white wine sauce. It was almost gourmet and was surprisingly one of the best meals we had in Bali.
Most tours, whether private or group, finish up at Crystal Bay at around the same time. It was packed and a bit dirty, but it was nice enough. We killed some time by lying in the shade, but I can’t help thinking there are better places than this. Ask your driver if it’s possible to skip it and go somewhere else (unless you feel like having a beer in the shade next to a slightly messy beach).
A day trip to Nusa Penida: The Details
- Getting there: The best way to get to Nusa Penida is to first head to Sanur, where most of the boats leave from. There are all sorts of boats, from private to public and they all seem similar. If you can, stay in Sanur the night before and walk along the waterfront boat stalls in the afternoon and strike a deal. We got a return ticket for 350,000 IDR each, but I’ve heard of people getting it cheaper than that. You can also take a tour from most beach destinations in southern Bali – expect to pay anywhere between 700,000 and 1,000,000 IDR per person. It’s not a bad deal but you’ll get it cheaper if going from Sanur. The boat ride can apparently get quite rough, but we had no problems. It is kind of hard to get on and off the boats though and your legs will get wet! Rather take a tour? You can book once you’re in Bali or check out this one on Get Your Guide.
- Organising a driver / motorbike: Assuming you aren’t taking a tour, your two main options for exploring Nusa Penida are renting a private car / driver or a motorbike. The roads are rough, and people have died on them – I wouldn’t recommend it for inexperienced riders. We opted for the driver and luckily we met Bryan, a friendly Nusa Penida local who spoke great English. He’s more than happy to take photos for people and it was almost like exploring the island with a friend rather than a tour guide. Check out his Instagram account and get in touch if you’re thinking of heading to Nusa Penida! We paid 500,000 IDR for the day and it was money well spent.
Another popular way of getting to Nusa Penida is to first head to Nusa Lembongan. They are close and if you have a few days it’s a good idea to check them both out. I went to Nusa Lembongan a week or so after Nusa Penida – check out my post!
Are you planning a day trip to Nusa Penida? Where are you most excited to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
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