If you’ve been on Instagram, you’ll recognize some of the iconic photos of Nusa Penida. The small developing island has received a huge influx of tourists over the last 5 years, from photos shared of it’s aquamarine waters, beautiful coast line, and infamous T-Rex beach. However, images oftentimes glorify destinations, leaving you to feel unimpressed when visiting in person. We decided to spend time on Nusa Penida and check out sights on the West side of the island, to see if they were truly worth the hype!
Getting to Nusa Penida
Taking the ferry to Nusa Penida was the first part of our adventure. The island is located right off the east coast of Bali and is roughly a 45 minute boat ride. The two most common ports for pick up are Sanur if you are staying in the south or Padang Bai if you are coming from the north side of the island. Luckily we were already staying in Sanur, so we had a quick commute to the pier.
After doing some research, we bought our tickets online through SkyPenida.com, but 12go.Asia is also a good option. They are online 3rd party vendors and will provide you with a digital voucher for your trip. Each site will show you a list of different boat companies and departure times. The company we chose was Angel Billabong Fast Cruise, based on the time we wanted to arrive and port that it would come into.
Port leaving = Sanur
Cost = $14 each for one-way
Time = Afternoon boat trip at 11AM, arrived at 1PM
**If you get seasick easily, we recommend taking a morning ferry when the waves are calmer.
There are SO many different boat options, all with fairly low ratings online. Don’t go reading through all the horrible reviews or you may scare yourself from getting onboard! Most complaints are regarding no port connecting the boat to shore if you are leaving from Sanur. This means you must walk into the shallow ocean to board. This is true for all companies.
We recommend wearing your bathing suit underneath clothes that are okay to get wet. I was in about knee deep water before being helped into the fast ferry. The company transferred our luggage from the shore onto the boat where everyone’s things were piled into a tall stack. We recommend keeping any of your valuables with you in a smaller bag.
Once we arrived in Nusa Penida, we were greeted by our hosts from our homestay, The Banana House. We highly recommend coordinating with your accommodation or a taxi service before arriving at the pier to avoid having to haggle.
We planned to stay on the island for 3 days, 4 nights. There’s so much to see on the island and we did not want to pack it into a day trip. Taking the afternoon ferry, our first day included setting down into our affordable homestay and planning out all of the sights we wanted to see! We broke up our tour into two days, focusing on the West then East side of the island per day. Our two hosts were extremely knowledgeable and caring. They ended up being our personal tour guides for the trip. They went above and beyond and made our stay on Nusa Penida unforgettable!
We jumped right into island life by hopping on the back of our host’s motorbikes to catch the sunset at Crystal Bay. It was a thrilling first scooter experience in Bali as we accelerated through the jungle on a newly paved road. Around each corner, our small scooters would honk to ensure we would not get hit by oncoming traffic. We witnessed some tourist motor accidents on the side of the road and large vans zipping by full of day-trippers. This place was full of adventure.
Arriving right before sunset, we were able to plop ourselves into the sand and take in the serene surrounding. The bay is one of the few beaches that faces West for sundown and is surrounded by idyllic palm trees. The water is calm compared to other beaches on the island and filled with people wading and snorkeling towards rock island in the middle of the bay. We cheered with a big bintang to the end of a picturesque first night.
A billabong is an Australian term that usually describes an isolated pond created from a river changing its course. However, this billabong resembles more of a natural infinity pool and is filled with ocean water during high tide.
When we visited the rock pool, it was not like the photos we had seen. The water was definitely clear, but the algae on the rock had created a murky appearance. We were there during low tide, when it’s the only safe time to swim, but we both did not have any interest.
This was definitely a place people visit and swim in just to get that instagrammable photo. If you do choose to swim, watch the tides and take caution. At high tide, you can be swept out of the pool by strong waves or into the surrounding jagged rocks.
A short ten minute walk from Angel’s Billabong is another impressive rock formation. The archway is made of collapsed limestone, allowing water to freely flow in from the ocean. We were mesmerized by the teal and jade shades rushing over the ancient rocks in the cove. Taking in the panoramic views, we strolled along the pathway that led us over the arch and looked out for Manta Rays. They are commonly seen in this area, but we were not lucky to spot any!
The infamous Kelingking beach is the poster child for Nusa Penida tourism. Out of all the sights we visited on the island, this was the most hyped up, for good reason. The lush t-rex shaped cliff is 500 feet tall and is surrounded by windex teal waters and an almost untouched beach.
We decided to make the climb down to shore without fully understanding the difficulty, and boy was it a trek! The pathway took us steeply down the first set of stairs that had been carved into the cliff towards the “back” of the t-rex. This part was moderate and we felt relatively safe with the wood railing on each side.
We continued on, not knowing the rest of the hike down would include rocky terrain, steep narrow passages, and limited hand railings to descend the remaining cliff face. Joe’s face was bright red as a tomato, and I was dripping sweat. At this point, we knew it would be harder to hike back up in the heat, then continue down. We stopped to take breaks in the limited shade the path provided, and were extremely relieved when we reached the sandy beach.
The powdery white sand grazing our toes was our first payoff. The beach was uncrowded and you felt a sense of solidarity with anyone there, knowing you had all completed the same rough feat. Overheated by the hike, all we wanted to do was swim! However, the waves were insane. The water was so rough with a ripping current, that only one person was swimming. We splashed around and dipped our toes, but due to the intensity, we could not plunge in. Because of this, we’re not sure if the beach is truly worth the risk.
After spending an hour cooling off, we decided to make our way back up to catch the sunset. Luckily the climb up was much easier due to the reduced fear of falling forward and the temperature cooling off. We claimed our spot to watch a cotton candy sky culminate the end of our venturous day.
Did it live up to the hype?
The sunset we witnessed that night at Kelingking is still one of the most unforgettable to date. At dusk our brain triggers were firing off. The colors in the sky along the prehistoric coastal cliff were unlike anything we’d experienced before. The entire day was filled with a mix of emotions and new vantage points to reflect on. While the billabong and Kelingking shore were overrated, Broken beach and the sunset were truly incredible. We can now honestly recommend these locations as they did not disappoint.