When one thinks of Bali, the first regions that come to mind is probably Seminyak, Ubud, or even Uluwatu. That’s unsurprising, given how rapidly these areas have been developed. However, Bali’s idyllic surrounding islands offer a variety of landscapes to explore, local food to taste, and plenty of marine life to dive alongside.

Located southeast off the coast of Bali is Nusa Penida. The island is marked by stunning natural landscapes, turquoise blue oceans set against burnt orange cliffs, and miles of padi fields. While it is lesser known than its more developed neighbours Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, the bigger island (geographically) is home to some of Indonesia’s most stunning natural landscapes.

Whether you’ve been to Nusa Penida one too many times or a first time visitor, here’s our guide to the idyllic spot.

Enjoy the slower paced life at Nusa Penida. (Image credit: Dewi Nurjuwita / Lifestyle Asia)

How long should you stay? 

While exploring the main spots on Nusa Penida is completely possible in a day, we’d recommend setting aside at least two days off your Bali itinerary to fully experience this charming, slow-paced backwater for yourself.

Natural landscapes

When you’re wandering around the island on your own on a scooter or with a local tour guide, you’ll probably chance upon a few gorgeous beaches. Perhaps the most well known one is Crystal Bay, the go-to place for snorkel tours. Its popularity can be attributed to various reasons. For one, the waters here are calmer than other spots around Nusa Penida. It’s the perfect spot for snorkelling with a variety of coral fish and turtles. The next reason is that it faces directly west, and is thus the perfect place for a sundowner.

(Image credit: Conserve Nusa Penida)

The mention of Nusa Penida will most probably bring to mind the iconic T-Rex shaped formation you’ve probably seen a hundred times on Instagram. The geotags point to Kelingking viewpoint, one of Nusa Penida’s most popular attractions. From here, you are treated to all-encompassing views of the Indian Ocean and coastal cliffs. While it attracts many visitors visiting Nusa Penida for a day trip, here’s a tip to get to away from the crowds: follow the hiking path down, and you’ll find yourself on an isolated beach.

(Photo by dadang kurniawan on Unsplash)

Of course, Nusa Penida is full of secret beaches. Atuh Beach, for one, is a magical white sand beach on the east side of the island, surrounded by cliffs and rock formations. And if you’re in search of dramatic landscapes for the gram, you can’t miss Manta Bay and Broken Beach, located right next to each other. These unique formations tower over massive, turquoise waves, and is renowned for its manta ray population.

Where to eat 

For a taste of local cuisine, head to Warung Jungle, an authentic eatery known for its grilled snapper served with a portion of rice and vegetables, grilled prawns and calamari and of course, mie goreng. Otherwise, check out Ogix Warung, an intimate restaurant overlooking Nusa Penida’s seaweed farms.

Tuck into local fare at one of Nusa Penida’s most popular warungs. (Image credit: Ogix Warung)

While local warungs are the best place to experience Nusa Penida’s culture, those on a strict diet may find it difficult to adjust. Here’s good news: the island has seen more healthier food options than ever before. Nestled right next to the main thoroughfare is the Secret Penida Cafe. Besides insta-worthy interiors, the cafe serves up some of the best coffee on the island — if you need a break from the local Balinese coffee. If you’re feeling peckish, choose from one of the bowls, smoothies or avocado toast on the menu.

(Image credit: @paulo3774)

After a day exploring the island, chill out with drinks and breathtaking views of the ocean at Amok Sunset, a restaurant and sunset bar at Gamat Bay. The bar offers one-for-one deals on cocktails every day from 5:00pm to 6:00pm.

How to get there

Bali’s Denpasar airport is the gateway to Nusa Penida. The best way to reach the island from Bali is to take a 30-minute fast boast from Sanur harbour. Upon reaching the island, you can choose to either rent a scooter or a car with a driver. Here’s a tip from us: hire a guide to take you to Nusa Penida’s hidden spots, as Google Maps aren’t as accessible on the island.

Best time to go 

May to September boast perfect dry weather, perfect for outdoor activities such as snorkelling and hiking.

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.