Nusa Islands

Until a few years ago, Nusa Penida was still a real insider tip. But thanks to Instagram, the island with its clear blue water and breathtaking rock formations has become increasingly popular. And understandably so! Because I really liked Nusa Penida. It feels like Nusa Penida is still what Bali was before the big tourism boom. Everything here is still a bit more rustic and original. But here and there you will see a cool restaurant, a cute café or a chic beach bar in the well-known Bali boho style.

Nevertheless, Nusa Penida is much quieter than Bali. Perhaps this is also due to the fact that many Balinese avoid the island because, according to a legend, the evil giant Jero Gede Mecaling lives here. Yet, you should definitely not avoid the island! Because the beaches are a dream. You definitely don't get a panorama like this everywhere!

But it wasn't just Nusa Penida that won me over. I liked the neighboring island of Nusa Lembongan even better. Nusa Lembongan is home to just under 5,000 people who live mainly from seaweed cultivation. There, too, you will find impressive cliffs, deserted beaches and cute cafés. The island is also characterized by its mangrove trees. But what I liked best was the atmosphere on the island. We had a really relaxed island-life feeling. You can also get to Nusa Ceningan via a bridge. The island is still very undeveloped. However, it is becoming an increasingly popular destination thanks to its Blue Lagoon!

What to see & discover:

Top 1: Kelingking Beach

My highlight and at the same time my nightmare was Kelingking Beach. I had seen so many pictures of the impressive rock formation on the famous beach. And it is indeed impressive in real life (or perhaps even more impressive). However, to fully enjoy the view, you should get here early! Because Kelingking Beach attracts a lot of tourists.

The beach itself is much emptier. This could be because it is not so easy to reach. You have to climb down a steep cliff path, some of which involves climbing. Once you reach the bottom, you are rewarded with a beautiful (and empty) beach and bright blue water.

The only thing is that the waves here are very choppy. Relaxing in the water is not possible here. Instead, you're more likely jump over the waves... if you go into the water at all. Or you spent your time saving your things from the waves. Because they can reach unrecognizably far onto the beach. And that brings us to my nightmare story: unfortunately, the waves caught my things and caused a water damage to my phone... When I wanted to climb back up, I logically had to take the same steep path again. Unfortunately, I had already used my water to clean my things and arrived back at the parking lot completely exhausted and somewhat dehydrated. Well, after a little refreshment, I still had to get home. My phone suddenly stopped working and I had to find my way back to the hotel without a GPS somehow...

My trip was a bit of an adventure. To make things better for yourself, you should definitely take care of your things (from the waves and the monkeys!) and have enough water with you! My little story about Kelingking Beach is not the only exciting one I've heard. So take care of yourself and don't underestimate the walk to and from the beach. It can be very strenuous, especially in the midday heat.

By the way: Kelingking Beach costs IDR 15K to enter.

Top 2: Diamond & Atuh Beach

Diamond Beach and the adjacent Atuh Beach are no less famous. You will have seen countless pictures of this beach on Instagram. Although I found the view of Kelingking Beach even more impressive, the views here are also stunning! In addition, the plateau from where you can look out over the coast is more natural than at Kelingking Beach, which I liked better.

The biggest plus point, however, is that Diamond Beach is much easier to reach. This is because there are steps leading down to the beach. Of course, it is also strenuous to walk up them again after your visit to the beach. In contrast to the climbing excursion at Kelingking Beach, however, this is only a small effort. The beach is also quite empty, so you can relax in peace and quiet!

Close to Diamond Beach and very popular is the Thousand Islands viewpoint. There is a small wooden hut from where you have a unique view of the coast and the rock formations. It also makes a good photo spot. But that's where we have a problem. Unfortunately, this is a tourist trap. You first pay an entrance fee for the park in which the wooden hut is located. Then you are allowed to join a long queue of tourists and take a photo at the hut for an extra fee. You can only avoid this if you come very early in the morning (just in time for sunrise). Otherwise, I would honestly leave it alone. Because then it's not worth it.

By the way: The entrance fee to Diamond & Atuh Beach is IDR 10K.

What else you should visit on Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida has so many other places worth seeing. You should therefore plan enough time! Especially because you shouldn't underestimate the distances on Nusa Penida. It can take longer than an hour to get from place to place on a scooter!

You shouldn't miss Angel's Billabong. This is a waterhole in the rocks where you can swim at low tide (it's too dangerous at high tide). It's like a natural infinity pool. Broken Beach is also located right next to Angel's Billabong. As both places are very popular, you should get here early to avoid the crowds. Another highlight is Tembeling Beach and Forest. The beach is somewhat hidden and therefore less frequented. The real highlight, however, are the natural pools located in the Tembeling Forest. 

Nusa Penida also has so many more beautiful beaches to offer. I recommend Pandan Beach, which is close to the well-known Crystal Bay, but is much emptier and perhaps even more beautiful. I also liked Gamat Bay. We felt like we were on a desert island here. You can also snorkel everywhere. For a special snorkeling experience, however, you might want to go to Manta Point. Because you can dive with manta rays there!

Bege also recommended the Goa Giri Putri temple to me. This is located in a large cave and is something completely different! In addition, there are beautiful waterfalls on Nusa Penida, e.g. the Guyangan Waterfall or the Seganing Waterfall. Oh, and what you can easily include on your trip across the island: A trip to the Teletubbies Hills.

Nusa Lembongan & Nusa Ceningan

A trip to the neighboring islands of Nusa Penida is also worthwhile. Very much so! I even liked it better on Nusa Lembongan. You often encounter even fewer tourists here, but Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are no less beautiful! And somehow Nusa Lembongan gave me a relaxed island feeling, which Nusa Penida couldn't give me. This could certainly be due to the fact that the distances on Nusa Penida are so great, which quickly got on my nerves after a whole day on the scooter. On Nusa Lembongan, on the other hand, everything is much more pedestrianized and somehow also quieter.

Similar to Nusa Penida, it's much more pristine there, but you'll still find the odd cool beach club or café with the most beautiful views. I really enjoyed the view of the bright blue water and white beach over a cool drink at One80 Nusa Lembongan. Pure relaxation! We also enjoyed making ourselves comfortable in the hammocks on White Sand Beach! Other popular beaches on Nusa Lembongang are Coconut Beach and Mushroom Bay as well as Sandy Bay and Dream Beach. Incidentally, we also went to the spa on Nusa Lembongan and treated ourselves to a one-hour full-body massage. It felt really good. We went to Kayana Spa for this. For my taste, the masseuse could have massaged a little more firmly, but on the whole the massage was good.

On Nusa Ceningan, you should definitely not miss the Blue Lagoon. In the rocky bay, the blue water just beams at you. It is particularly popular at sunset. So it's better to come here at sunrise to enjoy the picturesque view in peace. However, the water is at its most blue during the day - outside the golden hour. Nusa Ceningan also has one or two insider tips. Like the beach behind Villa Trevalley. You can visit it if you eat something there.

Where to eat & drink

Anyone who knows me knows that I love cafés! And luckily there are some good cafés on both Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, and of course we tried out a few of them. The café with probably the best view is One80 Nusa Lembongan. So often I just want to sit there, look out over the sea and enjoy a cool drink. But Nusa Lembongan also had another café to offer: We really liked the Bali Eco Deli and it was so cheap! On Nusa Penida, I can definitely recommend Sunny Cafe Penida and Wyn's Penida Cafe. They are conveniently located next to each other and in the busier part of Nusa Penida.

But you'll also find plenty of restaurants on both islands. My absolute favorite restaurant was the Father Field Bistro on Nusa Penida. The food here was delicious and the atmosphere was really good. Plus, if you're looking for a place to connect with other travelers, then this is definitely the place for you. If, on the other hand, you prefer typical and traditional food, then I can recommend Warung D'Natah. On my first visit to Nusa Penida, I also had a delicious meal in the restaurant of my hotel, Warung Bambu Green. Here you can eat in the loveliest atmosphere. If you like beach club vibes, then Amok Sunset is another good address for you. It's just a bit of a hike to get there and the prices are a little more expensive. If you're looking for a good place to eat on Nusa Lembongan, then Siki Poke House and Sushi is my heartfelt recommendation. It was so delicious!

Where to sleep

My very favorite accommodation during my Bali trip was on Nusa Penida. The Penida Bambu Green Suites (affiliate link) were so beautiful that I was sad that I was there alone. Because it's usually the best moments that you want to share! You can only reach the accommodation via a gravel path, as it is located in the middle of the jungle. The hotel rooms here are not rooms, but small bamboo houses with beautiful terraces and outdoor bathrooms. There is also a hammock with the best view of the main island of Bali and Mount Agung. It was my absolute dream accommodation. And best of all, it's not even expensive. So I can only recommend staying at the Penida Bambu Green Suites (affiliate link)! Alternatively, there are the Penida Bambu Green Villas (affiliate link), which are also located on Nusa Penida.

On my second visit, both accommodations were unfortunately already fully booked, which is why we booked into the Tegal Besung Cottage (affiliate link). Although the accommodation is not even remotely comparable to the Penida Bambu Green accommodation, it was still nice. Above all, the price-performance ratio was very good and I liked the location. However, the location of Lushy Hostel Nusa Penida (affiliate link) is unbeatable! It only opened on Nusa Penida in 2023 and is right on the beach. You can look out over the white sand and the sea from the hostel's own pool. And there's no better place to meet other travelers.

On Nusa Lembongan, we stayed at the Coconut Village Guest House (affiliate link). The accommodation is very well located, as most of the restaurants and cafés are within walking distance and the beach is only a 2-minute walk away. When booking, I would just check which room you book. Because there are the newer, renovated villas (recommended) and older villas. The older villas are not bad either, but you can see here and there that they are in need of renovation. But the price is also very good!

I have put together a list of all the places on Google Maps.

You can find the list here.

 Good to know

There is currently no Grab or Gojek on the Nusa Islands (yet). Therefore, you still have to get a driver the original way: by negotiating at the roadside or through an organized driving service (usually from the hotel). Unfortunately, the prices for a driver on Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are noticeably more expensive than on Bali.

When I came to Nusa Penida for the first time - and travelled alone - Bege had organized a driver for me through a friend. Alternatively, I could have booked one through the hotel, but that would have been more expensive. On Nusa Lembongan, Clara and I opted for a shared shuttle for the journey from the ferry to the hotel (and back). All passengers paid the same price, although we negotiated this beforehand. On Nusa Penida, we then negotiated as normal on arrival at the ferry port. For the way from the hotel back to the ferry, our hotel organized a taxi for us and probably even negotiated the best price.

If you want to get from A to B on the island, a scooter is recommended. As some of the routes can take a long time, I would recommend taking a better (and more comfortable) scooter. It's only a few euros more (if not cents), but your body will thank you after a long day on the scooter! Alternatively, you can also get a driver. This will of course cost more. But it will also get you to your destinations faster.