Indonesia / Nusa Penida / Travel

Nusa Penida – Bali’s authentic & affordable neighbor

Nusa Penida - Crystal Bay// Contains affiliate links

Just 30 minutes off the coast of Bali, lies the unspoiled and authentic island of Nusa Penida. Authentic because time here has stood still, daily life is not yet affected by tourism like on Bali and Lembongan. Seaweed farmers, weavers and fishermen go about their day as they have for generations. I’ve said it before about the south coast of Lombok, but this is probably an even better representation of what Bali looked like some 30 years ago.


How to get to Nusa Penida

There are several local ferry options departing from Sanur and Padang Bai, starting from as little as 20k Rp. We got told so many different departure times that I’m not going to write anything here. The best thing to do if you’re on a tight budget is to Google it and go to the harbor early in the morning and ask around.

We decided that time was more important than money this time so we found these three speedboat companies to choose from:

  • Mola Mola Express is the cheapest option at 125k Rp one way. They depart from Sanur at 8.30 AM and 4.30 PM every day.
  • Caspla Bali Boat leaves Sanur at 7.30 AM and 4.30 AM and costs 300k Rp one way. That includes pick up at your hotel.
  • Maruti Fast Boat is the third option. Their departure times from Sanur are 8.30 AM, 10 AM and 4 PM. The price is also 300k and includes pick up.

In the end we chose Maruti because the driver that would have to take us to Sanur would cost more than the difference in price between Mola Mola and Maruti. Also, they were the first ones we managed to get ahold off by phone. Mola Mola might be the best choice if you are already staying in Sanur. If you don’t have access to a phone, there are tourist information stalls all over that will help you arrange your journey.


If you don’t want to travel alone or just want to meet new people, check out this amazing tour which includes both Bali, Lombok and the incredible Nusa islands in a 14-day itinerary.


Where to stay

Nusa Penida best hotels - Bintang Bungalows

There haven’t been that many accommodation options on Nusa Penida until recently. As more and more people seek to escape the craziness of Bali, new hotels are starting to emerge. And right now you get a lot for your money!

We had booked four nights at Bintang Bungalows in advance, which I was so happy about from the moment we arrived. Just look at this place! We were greeted by a smiling staff and a cold watermelon welcome drink. After about two minutes I already had my camera out and was busy shooting photos of palm trees, colorful butterflies and cute dogs.

We paid about $40 / 350kr /560k Rp a night including breakfast and high-speed wifi, which I think was a great deal! But if you want some even cheaper options I have heard good things about Ananta Bungalows at $30 a night and The Mel Homestay at only a little over $20 a night.

Related post: The most Instagrammable places on Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida Hotels - Bintang Bungalows

Bintang Bungalows Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida best hotels - Bintang BungalowsThe turquoise pool was surrounded by these beautiful red plants which made for a beautiful contrast to all the green and blue.

Nusa Penida best hotels - Bintang BungalowsHaving breakfast at our bungalow every morning was such a treat and nice way to start the day!

Nusa Penida best hotels - Bintang BungalowsOf course, I managed to find a dog friend here as well. This little guy kept a close eye at all times in case any food accidentally fell on the floor. Or not so accidentally in my case!

Crystal Bay

Nusa Penida - Crystal Bay

 After settling into our bungalow, we rented a motorbike and headed for Crystal Bay. Being used to motorbiking all over Lembongan and Ceningan, we thought the supposed 5-minute drive would be a piece of cake. I see myself as a good driver, I even owned a scooter for a couple of years at home. But we soon got a taste of Penida’s bumpy and very steep roads. It all ended up with Ulrik walking and me turning off the engine and rolling down, trying my best to steer clear of the many potholes and not slip and fall on the gravel. Along the way, we were passed by many locals smiling and laughing at us. Even three young girls on one motorbike (one holding a baby!!) rushed passed us down the hill without as much as touching the break. I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best.

Nusa Penida - Crystal BayAfter a sweaty 15 minutes, my hand started cramping up because I hold on to the break so hard. But it was soon forgotten when the palm tree jungle opened up and we were greeted by this view. It was suddenly very apparent how Crystal Bay got its name!

Crystal Bay - Nusa PenidaIt says a lot when there’s no development happening at maybe the most visited tourist attractions on the island. Just a couple of small traditional warungs serving some basic dishes, colds drinks and coconuts. I hope it stays like this!

Crystal Bay - Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida - Crystal BayCrystal Bay is one of the best diving and snorkeling spots around, so charter boats from Bali came and went all the time. But on the beach, there were only about ten other tourists and some local kids playing in the waves. Snorkeling gear is available for rent in various places along the beach.

Nusa Penida - Crystal BayThere is a second beach just to the south of Crystal Bay, called Pandan. You’ll find a staircase taking you through the jungle and over the headland, which should take about 20 minutes. I sent my boyfriend on a mission to explore, but about half way there he had to give. The bush had taken over the stairs and the bugs became a bit too eager to say hello. But at least he got the amazing overview shot of Crystal Bay you see above. I know there is at least one tour that includes camping on Pandan beach, which might be worth checking out!


In the next few posts, I will talk more about some of the other attractions the island has to offer. So stay tuned!


Some of the links above are affiliate links and I will earn a small percentage of the sale if you purchase through them, at no extra cost to you. This helps me cover the costs of running my site – so thank you in advance! I only ever link to products and services I use and love myself!


  • stephanie
    8. March 2017 at 18:53

    I was on Bali last summer and went to the Gili’s too. Sadly I did not visit Nusa Penida.
    Well maybe next time 🙂 because it looks pretty.

    • Charlotte
      9. March 2017 at 06:22

      Thanks for stopping by Stephanie! Yes, you definitely should go next time. I wish I hade gone sooner 😉

      • stephanie
        28. May 2017 at 20:13

        I forgot to ask.
        How many days would you recommand?

  • charles
    9. March 2017 at 09:34

    wow,i will plan a trip to this beautiful place.I really enjoyed every bit of reading this post.Your picture quality is so perfect

    • Charlotte
      9. March 2017 at 09:39

      Thanks Charles! Yes you should 😉

  • Sarah
    9. March 2017 at 14:00

    Wow! Thank you for sharing. We are going to go to Bali on our honeymoon in September!

    • Charlotte
      9. March 2017 at 14:05

      Thank you for stopping by Sarah! And congratulations on your upcoming wedding 😉

  • Vibeke
    9. March 2017 at 16:28

    This looks so exotic 😀 I have to explore this and the rest of Bali one day. Love the photos 😀 I am pinning this valuable information for later reference 😀 Thank you!

  • jenny
    9. March 2017 at 20:52

    Amazing photos, I miss Bali. I didn’t make it out here, but next time I will. It looks absolutely incredible.

  • Gina
    10. March 2017 at 03:58

    What a beautiful place. And so affordable. I would love to go here and must look in to it more.

  • Casey
    10. April 2017 at 22:05

    I was just in Bali a few months ago and had no idea about Nusa Penida! This will definitely be on the list for when I return. Thank you for the inspiration Charlotte!

    • Charlotte
      10. April 2017 at 22:20

      Thanks for stopping by Casey! Hope you get to visit Nusa Penida soon 🙂

  • Aimee
    9. July 2017 at 07:59

    Looks amazing. Just booking a few lazy nights there for XMAS. How many days would you recommend there?

    • Charlotte
      9. July 2017 at 11:23

      If you want to explore the whole island by yourself, I recommend you stay 3 nights 😀 The island is much bigger than I first thought. Happy travels!

  • Febelia
    11. September 2017 at 04:59

    Wow! I will definitely come to this island! Beuatiful post and photos!

  • Mary
    24. January 2018 at 14:04

    I have 8.5 days on my first time to Bali. Do you think the Gili Islands are a must or are Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan a good alternative in a better proximity to Bali? Looking to make the most of my time and it seems like Nusa Penida is much more untouched.

    • Charlotte
      24. January 2018 at 19:54

      Hi Mary! The Gili Islands are not a must in my mind unless you are super into partying. There are often delays getting there which means you will most likely spend half a day just getting there and back. With 8.5 days I would spend most of the time in Bali and then go to Lembongan for a couple of days. From there you can do a day trip to Nusa Penida. You could get a driver to be able to explore most of the island in one day 😉


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