Off the east coast of Bali is a cluster of three islands known as the Nusa Islands. Of the three islands, Nusa Penida is the least visited. It’s a rural island that is more local than touristy.
Those who make it there often fall in love with it as it’s more ‘off the beaten track’ than Bali. Plus, it’s home to some pretty awesome scuba diving spots. If you are heading to Bali for diving, this is probably the place you want to go!
Nusa Penida Dive Sites
Nusa Penida doesn’t have a ton of dive sites, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in terms of quality. Nusa Penida is one of the best spots in Bali area to see manta rays and mola mola (oceanic sun fish) which appear in the area around June/July and October/November when the waters are cooler.
Read: Best times to visit Bali
These are Nusa Penida’s dive sites:
Manta Point I & II: Two of the area’s top dive sites as they are famous for having manta rays year round.
Crystal Bay: Crystal Bay has a pretty reef and a wall, but can also be a good spot to see mola mola when in season. Also suitable for snorkeling.
Vertigo Point: Also called Batu Abah, this is a popular spot for seeing mola mola in season.
Malibu Point: A drift dive with strong currents. One of the best spots in Bali to see sharks and mola mola when in season.
Sental, PED, and SD: On the north end of the island, these three dive sites are great drift dives with an abundance of marine life, good visibility, and colourful reefs.
Toyapakeh: A big, colourful reef. Most popular during mola mola season as they tend to be seen in the area.
Gamat Bay: Can be a bit rough, but pretty coral reefs and plenty of marine life.
Getting to Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida has no airport or bridges so the only way to get to this island is by boat. Boats leave Bali daily from Sanur Beach, and tickets can be booked in person from the ticket office before departure time.
There are both fast and slow boat options. The slow boat will take about 1.5-2 hours and is your cheapest option.
The fast boats are considerably more expensive (though still cheap by western standards) and take about 40 minutes. At the time this article was written, there is only one slow boat option each day (8am departure) and several fast boat options.
It is also possible to get to Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan. Again, there are fast and slow boats, but you can also consider checking with local boat operators as many of them go back and forth and may be willing to take you.
Tip: If you are taking the fast boat, it’s definitely worth shopping around and haggling for your ticket.
Also read: The Ultimate Nusa Penida Island Guide
Getting Around Nusa Penida
Really, the only way to get around Nusa Penida is by renting a motorbike. This can be done cheaply from your accommodation, but know in advance that the roads here are not in good condition.
Plenty of pot holes, gravel trails, and steep (sometimes dangerous) roads. If you are not experience at driving a motorbike, you might want to just stick to the spots around where you are staying.
Tip: Make sure to keep an eye on your gas tank! Nusa Penida is a rural island so you will want to fill up before you head out for the day.
Things to do on Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is a great adventure island. While it may seem small, given the road conditions we suggest allowing two days to see the sights and attractions.
Tembelin: A hidden Hindu Temple beside a fresh water pool that is perfect for swimming and cooling off. According to local legend, the area is haunted by demons. Word of caution: the road down to Tembelin is quite tricky and steep so take it slow.
Manta Point: Above the dive site is a set of cliffs that you can drive to. The views here are fantastic and, if you are lucky, you can see mantas skimming the surface below.
Atuh Beach: A gorgeous crescent beach in Bali. The viewpoints above this beach are also beautiful.
Broken Beach: Broken Beach is actually a natural rock formation (not a beach). It’s a natural bridge crossing over the bright blue ocean below. Perfect for photos.
Billabong: Right by Broken Beach, Billabong is a natural pool that is filled by ocean waves. It’s a popular spot for photos but be careful; if the tide is strong you an be swept out to sea.
Crystal Bay: A popular dive site as we indicated above, but also a good spot for a lazy beach day and some snorkeling.
Where to Stay in Nusa Penida
There are two main areas to stay on Nusa Penida; Toyapakeh and Sampalan. We recommend staying in Toyapakeh, especially if you are considering not renting a motorbike. It’s where the boat from Sanur, Bali will drop you off and where you can find the locals to take you across to Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan. There are a number of accommodation options in this area along with some restaurants.
Nusa Penida is a bit off the beaten track when it comes to Bali travel, but it’s authenticity, gorgeous scenery, and incredibly dive opportunities make it a must visit for scuba divers.
While you are in Bali and looking for more fun stuff, check out our 101 Awesome Things to do in Bali.