A quick guide to Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida, the home of the iconic Kelingking viewpoint. You’ve seen it online, you’ve seen it on Instagram, but you have no idea how on earth to get there. Don’t worry, I hear your calls in the faint distance. I got you. Here’s my quick guide on the who, what, where, when, and why of the island. And by that I obviously mean that you’re going to find out how to get there in one, budget friendly piece. And you’re going to find out where to munch and where to mooch. You’re darn welcome. That’s just what we do here.



There are SO many fast boat companies to choose from that it’s straight up overwhelming. Since it’s admittedly a rather unenjoyable journey with the best of companies, it’s hard to give a solid suggestion of who to go with. So, I’ll give you my experience to and from the island, and give you some tips. 

Choosing the right boat company for you

First up, if you’ve been in South East Asia for a while, you’ll already have picked up on 12GoAsia. Here you’ll get a rundown of all the possible travel options, prices and reviews. So, choose your day, your to and from, and have a look at the options. And I know this sounds obvious, but READ! THE!! REVIEWS!!! If there are hundreds of reviews saying that people sat on a boat for hours before they set off, it’s probably going to happen. If there are just a few complaints, take it with a pinch of salt and realise that you’re in Asia on an extremely cheap boat, and there’s always going to be some hiccups. Remember that there’s always that one difficult traveller that expects luxury on a backpacker budget.

What I’m saying is: Consider how much you’re paying, and set your expectations accordingly. Lastly, check the journey time. They’re probably not entirely accurate, but they will give you an indication of if there are other stops on the islands etc. 

Tried and tested fast boat reviews


Sanur, Bali

→ Banjar Nyuh Harbour, Nusa Penida 

124,000 IDR / £6.50 one way

So, the journey time on the boat was around 30 minutes. In total it’s around a 2 hour travel time. You’re told to arrive an hour early to check in and leave your bags, then you have to wait for your boat to be called, and ours boarded around half an hour late. Sanur port is borderline chaos. But expected chaos.

Albeit late, when we were taken down to the boat, our bags were loaded and we were on our way within about 20 minutes. There was no waiting around to set off. The seats were weirdly shaped and built for very small people (comparatively, I am not a large person). It’s also unavoidably warm aboard. On the whole for a half an hour trip, and limited waiting around before and after on the boat, I would go with Angel Billabong again. 


Semaya One, Nusa Penida

→ Gili Trawangan, Semaya One

300,000 IDR / £16 one way

Entirely disregarding the 3 star rating on 12Go we went with Semaya One to leave Nusa Penida for 2 reasons. It was literally more than half the price of some of the other ferries, and the port was a 3 minute walk from our hostel. 

As per most boats, we were advised to arrive an hour early to check in. It wasn’t really necessary since there was only one boat leaving around our time, and they started to board us half an hour late anyways. So we’d already been sitting for an hour and a half before we even got on the boat. Once we got on the boat, finally thinking we were ready to leave, another boat pulled up beside us, and they literally had to walk over our boat to get to the jetty. Long story short we were sitting on the boat for at least another hour before it set off. 

The boat journey itself was fine and we arrived in one piece. On a budget I’d do it again, if you’re not on a budget, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. 

IMPORTANT BUT OBVIOUS FINAL TIPS: DO NOT go on one of these boats hungover. Please. For yourself. They’re hot, they’re uncomfortable, and they’re just LONG. Do yourself a favour. 

Wear the coolest outfit you possibly can. Calm down Breezy, I’m not telling you to turn up in your finest swagger. I’m talking loose fitting airy clothes. A lot of the seats are faux leather, so don’t wear anything short, or you will end up with a sticky, sweaty situation. I like to wear a thin midi dress. You too can pull that off, John. 

Take some water, and if you’re prone to sea sickness, take anti-sickness medication around half an hour before. It’s cheap, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re extremely prone to sea sickness, take something to throw up in. Sick bags are generally not provided, and your backpacker pals will most likely cease to be so if you empty the contents of your stomach onto their lap.

Lastly, even though you’ll be inside, sun cream up. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself on a boat with windows, or even a rooftop that you can sit on, it gets damn sunny.


Nusa Penida is an unexpectedly big island. Everything is scattered around and most definitely not in walking distance. Many of the hostels/homestays are somewhat in the middle of nowhere and there are a number of docks you can come into from the other islands. Keep this in mind when you’re booking your accommodation.

If not you could be stuck leaving yourself in one of two situations:

I’ll paint a little picture for you; You’ve just practically launched yourself off the boat after spending 2 hours wedged (and I mean WEDGED) in between 2 equally sweaty strangers. You’ve forgotten what it feels like to breathe fresh air, and the only slight respite you’ve had is the unforgiving tiny breeze of a 4 inch fan that comes your way once every so often. 

Now you’re off the boat, you think ‘It’s finally over’. Nope. The jetty you’re standing on is so wobbly that all you can think about is how on earth you’re not going to fall in whilst 60 other people hold on for dear life waiting for their backpacks. But you’re a lucky one, your backpack is first to be flung off, so you scramble off the jetty.

‘Now it’s finally time to shower, and get myself settled into the hostel, right?’. Wrong again. You checked maps and your options are a grueling hour and a half backpack walk in the 30 degree heat with no pavement, or a battle with the taxi drivers to pay something less than extortionate. We chose the extortionate taxi fee option.

So, with that in mind, here’s what you’re going to do:

ONE. Try and take a boat to a port nearest to your accommodation. This can be hard as the smaller ports often have less daily boats, and also can be the smaller companies with more questionable reviews. They’re often cheaper, but a lot less enjoyable. Perhaps let the budget backpacker in you take over?

TWO. Pre-organise a transfer from the boat to your accommodation. This is possible to do on many of the islands that you’ll come from. Check with the company that you book your boat with too, they will often add them on for an extra fee. You can also contact your accommodation on Nusa Penida. Many of them have drivers either working there, or associated with them. Either way, you’ll get a cheaper deal than straight off the boat. All else fails, ask other travellers if they have a number, or look around online.

THREE. Hire a motorbike. Bikes are the main form of transportation around the island, so you may well end up hiring one anyways. That being said, it’s most likely going to cost you more at the port. One thing to keep in mind is also that the roads in Nusa Penida are not for the fainthearted or inexperienced. I wouldn’t suggest choosing this island to be your learning spot. 


As I mentioned, everything is spread out on the Island, so there’s not necessarily an ‘ideal’ location to stay. Sure, some places are better than others, but you either have to commit to some longer walks, hiring drivers/bikes, or taxis no matter where you stay on the island. 

Gedhong Hostel

£6 per night, 4 bed dorm with ensuite (breakfast included)

We booked our hostel the day we were due to arrive in Nusa Penida, so the options were limited. But thankfully, that lead us to this lovely hostel. On Hostelworld you’re given the option of booking a 12 bed dorm. They’re not 12 bed, they’re 4.

The rooms are SO lovely, so clean, each has an ensuite and two sinks with a huge mirror. There’s air conditioning (although be prepared for aircon wars if you’re sharing with people who like to sleep in unbearable heat), and the bunks were truly the biggest I’ve ever slept in! By some miracle, there’s also a plug by every bed, and huge lockers for each person. AND, towels included! My absolute favourite. I’m part of the microfibre towel hate club. If I can have a shower with a real towel, it’s genuine luxury.

The vibe of the hostel was very homely. The two owners looked after you so well, were available 24/7 and they would book absolutely everything you needed. On arrival they gave us a free welcome juice, and on departure a little bottle of coke on departure for our boat journey. 

The hostel wasn’t the most social, but there were people around every morning and most evenings so it’s definitely possible to make friends there if you’d like! The night market is near, as well as other food stalls and supermarkets. Most importantly, there’s cheap nasi goreng nearby. And that’s all you need in Indonesia. Oh, and there’s also a little pool for when the island sun is a little too much. 

The free breakfast consists of tea, coffee or juice and then banana pancakes or eggs on toast your way. The banana pancakes slapped. Translation for the non-Gen Z readers: they were scrumptious.

They also have private rooms for around £11 a night, which even for one person is a steal, let alone two. The only downside is that there isn’t really a great beach in walking distance, but I would still most definitely recommend it here. 

TOP TIP: If you’re looking for a more social/backpacker hostel, I’d recommend Nuansa Penida Hostel. It’s a little more on the pricey side at around £15 a night, and books up quicker. But I’ve heard good things!


Mupu Beach Bar and Resto 

A chilled beach club that won’t break the bank, but will make you want to go back. Take it from us, we spent our first evening there, and went straight back the next day. The lure of good munch and good vibes was simply too strong. 

In the evenings, happy hour will give you 3 cocktails for the price of 2 and if you can carry them all at once, they’re free! That’s not true, but it would be cool if it was right? No but really – you can choose any 3 from the menu, we got 2 frozen daiquiris and a pina colada, and it only cost us 160K (around £8). I’ve heard Freddos cost that much at home now. We accidentally on purpose spent hours there listening to live music, eating and drinking.

Once we could finally drag ourselves away, we were left with a bill of around 650k (around £34) for the two of us. We got 3 cocktails, 8 beers, 2 waters, garlic bread and shared a main of grilled prawns, rice and veg. And not to mention the very sweet live band who serenaded us multiple times. It turns out when you’re the only table that’s both female, and not a couple, you get special attention. The staff were great and the sunset views were lovely. And of course, it wouldn’t be a beach club without swings looking out to the sea. 

Our day time experience was a slightly more tame one, but equally as enjoyable. Picture this – free sunbeds on the beach, and fresh mango juice and prawn tacos (I’m leaving out the unattractive drizzle of taco juice running down your arm whilst you lean over the little sunbed table). Sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

Most importantly, you’re welcome to stay on the beds as long as you like as long as you buy something! If one nasi goreng too many has got you feeling a little slumpy, there’s tonnes of refreshing things to nibble on; tacos, poke bowls, pasta, fish and indonesian dishes too.

Although, I’d suggest leaving the nasi goreng to the street vendors or warungs. It’s just as good and costs a third of the price.

But what do I know… 

Bollywood Indian Cuisine 

I’m recommending this with a slight hesitation. Not because it’s not worth the recommendation. The food was delightful. We just ordered both too much, and potentially the wrong thing. And it was a little on the pricier side. 

First up, the onion bhajis were, as a family friend of mine would say – to die for. They were small pieces of onion rather than big bhajis, and came with a minty sauce. It was way bigger than we expected though! We ordered a curry each; I went for a dal fry (92k) and Hannah a mixed veg makhanwala. With fear of giving TMI, the dal was lovely, but I entirely forgot that lentils in excess do not agree with my tummy. And the makhanwala quite simply blew Hannah’s head off, and we asked for medium and we’re pretty good with spice (110k). Take that information however you like. We also got 2 garlic naans (36k each) on the side. You and I both know that you can’t go wrong with a garlic naan – even a bad garlic naan is a good one. Garlic and bread always go well together (in the far distance Peter Kay’s ears are burning). 

All in all, as long as you do a better job than we do at ordering, if your hot day in the sun has left you craving some Indian food, get yourself down to Bollywood Indian Cuisine. Just don’t order like you’re feeding the 5000, and ask them to hold it on the spice. Unless you’re braver than we are…

Local Food 

Do you too have a fried rice and noodle addiction? Or do you simply want to have a meal that costs £1? Eat local… duh. Nasi goreng and Mi(e) goreng your heart out. Get some grilled corn. Try some street meat if you’re feeling crazy. Just wean your little Western belly in. Don’t go on the first day and try every local delicacy that you can. It may be a shock to the system.


Head down to a beach bar

I don’t have to go on again about Mupu Beach Club, do I? If you skim read this, flick yourself back up the page and read all about it. Relax there for the day, chillax there for the evening (I don’t think we’re still saying chillax anymore, but it rhymes, so I’m saying it). 

That being said, there are tonnes of beach clubs to choose from, so if my suggestion isn’t good enough – find your own. I won’t be bitter. 

Do a West Coast trip

Now, you’ve most likely headed to Nusa Penida because you’ve seen that INSANE view point on your fellow backpacker friends’ travels. That viewpoint is Kelingking Beach. Which is one of many beautiful things to see on the west coast of Nusa Penida. 

As I said before, you can either hire a motorbike, or a driver. You’re not walking. Or maybe you are, but then you’re a little crazy. In my humble opinion. But I don’t know, maybe you like 10 hour round trip walks. We hired a driver for the day through our hostel for 550k, so between two it was 275k each (around £15). He took us wherever we wanted, waited for us at each point and we drove around for about 6 hours. The price was also for the car, not per person, so if there were more of you it’d work out cheaper! Each spot we visited had a 5k entry fee (25p) on top. 

‘Must see’ spots:

Kelingking Beach 

Spoiler alert. We didn’t walk down. We’ve been told by one too many people that it’s long, and not entirely worth it. More importantly we’re arguably a little bit lazy, especially in the heat. 

Crystal Bay 

It’d have been really nice to be here for sunset, so maybe try to leave your day trip a little later so you can do so!

Broken Beach & Angel Billabong

At Angel Billabong (right), when the water splashed up onto the rocks it made a little rainbow and it was really beautiful to see. Equally hard to capture on picture. But keep an eye out!

I have a confession…

I’m scared of fish. That’s why you’ll never see diving/snorkeling recommendations from me. And that’s why my suggestions of what to do have come to a sudden halt after two. Honestly I just ate, chilled, drunk, and did one day trip.

That being said, from recommendations of my fellow backpackers, you should check out manta ray snorkeling trips, and all the beautiful beaches Nusa Penida has to offer on the other side of the Island like Atuh Beach and Diamond Beach. Truthfully, with a bike Nusa Penida is your oyster – see beaches, go to sunset spots and eat nasi goreng from every corner of the island (do islands have corners?)


South East Asia isn’t on your mood board this year? How about Latin America? Maybe some of my Mexico recommendations might tickle your fancy. And don’t forget to follow along on Instagram for more updates.

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