Nusa Penida is the largest and most exotic of the three Nusa Islands, thanks to its collection of unique Hindu temples and picturesque natural features of cliff formations and lagoons. Lately, the island’s best known as the new sanctuary of the once endangered Bali Starling following a highly successful captive breeding program of the bird, which is originally an endemic species from the forested region of West Bali National Park.
Nusa Penida measures over 200 sq km – significantly larger than the popular Nusa Lembongan and its easily accessible sister island, Nusa Ceningan. Lesser-travelled by visitors compared to the other two, Nusa Penida also features a very limited number of hotels and tourist features. Nevertheless, what it lacks in infrastructure, it makes up for with its unspoiled natural beauty and rare cultural highlights.
Close to Penida’s white sand beach of Crystal Bay, divers enjoy one of Bali’s best dive sites, where pristine coral reefs and Mola-Mola fish (also known as oceanic sunfish), manta rays, and, if you're really lucky, even whale sharks are some of its seasonal sights. Besides diving in Nusa Penida, You can also find great visibility for snorkelling right near the shoreline. Some local shops selling refreshments right on the beach make for wonderful chill out spots with sunset views.
Among Penida’s most famous temples is Goa Giri Putri, a Balinese Hindu temple set within a limestone cave in the village of Karangsari, which sees a steady flow of pilgrims from the Bali mainland visiting to pay their respects and ask for holy water and blessings. The grand temple complex of Pura Penataran Ped in the northern coastal village of Ped is another popular monument to visit. There are other temples dotted along the island’s coast, but be sure to visit the unique Pura Paluang temple in the village of Karangdawa on Penida’s southwestern cliffs – it has shrines resembling automobiles!
For some natural beauty, visit Atuh Beach, a remote beach on the south-eastern coast of Nusa Penida, bordered by magnificent green hills and peninsular formations. Another popular beach is Pasih Uug, aka Nusa Penida’s ‘broken beach’ that was once a large cave that collapsed to reveal the crashing blue waves from the Indian Ocean beneath. Nearby, is Angel’s Billabong, with its vast lagoon revealed by waves after a high tide. Some visitors brave the descent for a dip and some out-of-this-world holiday photos, but mind you that it’s treacherous, and it’s claimed lives in the past.
From the Bali mainland, boats mostly depart from the Padangbai seaport in East Bali, but you can also hop on a boat from Sanur. Most visitors usually visit Lembongan and Ceningan first, then add a boat ride to Penida as an extended tour on their Nusa Islands trip.
Nusa Penida Island
- Location: Nusa Penida, Nusa Islands, Klungkung
- How to get there: To get to Nusa Ceningan, boats depart from Sanur, Serangan Island and Tanjung Benoa on the Bali mainland to Nusa Lembongan. Journeys usually take around 45 minutes. From Lembongan, you can access Ceningan via the bridge.