Is Nusa Penida worth it? This is a question I got many times after we returned from our first visit to Bali.
Nusa Penida has become one of the most Instagrammable places in the world, thanks to its breathtaking views and natural beauty. Tourists from all over flock to Nusa Penida to catch a glimpse of Kelingking Beach (also known as the “T-Rex”) and experience the untouched nature of the island.
If you find yourself wondering “Is Nusa Penida worth it, even just for a day?”, keep reading to find out if you should include it in your itinerary.
Nusa Penida – What No One Tells You
Nusa Penida is Bali untouched. A relatively underdeveloped island, Nusa Penida offers a raw and real vision of Bali as it once was. Its rustic appeal, local culture, and beautiful landscapes are just some of the main draws to the island.
However, what no one tells you is that it is ridiculously overcrowded with tourists. This, sadly, puts a damper on its charm.
I realize that a few years back, Nusa Penida was relatively unknown. However, in recent years, it has become such a hotspot for people trying to snap a photo for the gram. This has led to extremely long lines for just catching a short glimpse of the magnificent viewpoints.
How to Get to Nusa Penida
Getting to Nusa Penida is relatively easy. Most people access the island via a speedboat from Sanur, and the ride takes only about 45 minutes.
At the port in Sanur, there will be a mass of tourists and groups waiting to board their boat. Speedboats line the harbor, each of them decked out with 5 engines, while the smell of gasoline overpowers all other scents in the area.
There is no real dock or pier, so be prepared to get a bit wet – the boats anchor close to the shore, but you’ll be required to wade through a foot or two of water to get to your boat.
If you’re only going for the day, you’ll want to hop on the earliest possible speed boat to get across. This is because you’ll be returning by boat around 4 or 5 PM due to the tide.
Getting Around the Island
Once you arrive on the island, you’ll make your way around either by hiring a driver, taxi or motorbike. If you have an organized tour, someone will be waiting for you at the pier once you arrive to Nusa Penida.
Be very careful when choosing how you plan on getting around the island as driving can be pretty dangerous. Because the island’s infrastructure is basically nonexistent, handling a scooter can be a challenge.
What no one tells you is that the roads on Nusa Penida are bumpy, narrow, filled with potholes, and are overall horrendous. I would advise hiring an experienced driver to take you around the island by car. Though even in a car, it’s a REALLY bumpy ride. If you tend to get motion sickness, I would highly recommend having Dramamine with you, or something similar.
If you do decide to rent a motorbike, pack light, and plan to spend a lot of hours on the bike.
Unfortunately, we saw many tourists fall off of their scooters, and a number of them returning to Bali with bandages.
Be Careful Who You Book a Tour With
We originally thought we had booked a trip to Nusa Penida with a tour guide who would fill us in on interesting facts about the island. However, when we arrived to Nusa Penida and met our “tour guide”, we quickly realized we wouldn’t be doing much learning as our guide did not speak English.
Additionally, although our tour guide was an island local, he was not a very experienced driver. Remember how I mentioned the awful roads? Well, our driver managed to get us into an accident before we even reached our first destination. Luckily, we were all fine, but the car was in pretty bad shape afterward.
Although we heavily researched a number of different day trips to Nusa Penida, our experience just didn’t live up to our expectations. Many people will tell you to avoid day trips at all costs – so if you’re planning on visiting alone, or with a tour, be sure to do your research.
Nusa Penida: What to See
There are two sides to Nusa Penida – the East and the West. Each side offers its own unique viewpoints and beaches, but we only had time to see one side during our trip. We chose to visit the West side of the island as we were dying to see Kelingking Beach. Is Nusa Penida worth it for the sights? Keep reading to find out.
Kelingking Lookout Point
Kelingking is definitely one of the most beautiful natural creations I’ve seen. The stunning cliffs and heart-stopping views of the Indian Ocean are like a scene out of a movie.
However, this spot is a high traffic area for tourists, as many visitors to the island flock here to get the best photo of the “T-Rex”. We arrived around 11:00 AM and there were probably 100 other people there. If you spend the night on Nusa Penida, there should be less people around for sunset, as well as early in the morning.
This incredible rocky arch is breathtakingly beautiful, and it’s truly extraordinary to watch the waves crash onto the secluded beach. You can walk completely around the natural arch and the views from every angle are nothing short of spectacular.
Right next to Broken Beach is Angel’s Billabong, a crystal clear natural infinity pool. Angel’s Billabong can be viewed from the clifftop but is closed to the public for safety reasons.
While it was cool to see, sadly, Angel’s Billabong didn’t live up to the hype for us.
Crystal Bay is the easiest beach to reach on Nusa Penida since it doesn’t require a steep or dangerous trek to get to.
While this beach is supposed to be a gorgeous swimming spot, there is, unfortunately, a lot of trash everywhere. Especially when walking from the palm-tree dotted parking area to the beach, you’ll notice a huge amount of garbage and parts of palm trees lying around.
Our tour guide left us here for an hour to enjoy the beach, but honestly, we didn’t find it very enjoyable and ended up leaving early.
Perhaps this beach was once a beautiful place to enjoy on the island but in all honesty, it just seemed very dirty when we visited.
The Verdict: Is Nusa Penida Worth It?
Overall, Nusa Penida is a stunning island.
It’s so raw and untouched, and that’s what makes it so beautiful. However, if you’re debating between spending an extra day on Bali or taking a day trip to Nusa Penida, I’d recommend staying on Bali. I don’t think it’s worth the struggle to spend all that time traveling there and back just to get a few photos.
While I don’t regret visiting Nusa Penida at all, I do wish I had been more informed about what the situation on the island is really like.
Have you been to Nusa Penida? Did you think the island was worth visiting? Let me know what your experience was like in the comments!