If you ask people for recommendations in Bali, most people who have been there (including the locals) will recommend the usual places like “Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud” or perhaps the famous monkey “infested” Uluwatu Temple. (If you prefer a more conventional trip report, you can read my 4D3N experience back in 2014 here.)
However, this was not an option for the adventurous friend of mine.
Six months ago, I didn’t know about the existence of this place too and my friend only chanced upon it after seeing a photo on Instagram.
So I guess.. I can use this hashtag #instagrambroughtmehere
The view from here was pretty astonishing.. anyway, just a small piece of info I learned from the guide – nusa penida was only more opened up to tourist one year ago. How did it become popular? It was instagram! But seriously, photos like this is like #bucketlistgoals right? #flyhoneystarstravel #bali #nusapenida #kelingkingbeach
The photo above was not the same photo that my friend saw but it was taken by me (the amateur photographer).
If you find this familiar looking, you might be thinking of Navagio Beach, the beach with she shipwreck feature in popular K-drama ‘Descendents of the Sun’ but I somehow feel that the one I saw in Nusa Penida is prettier..
Photo Credit: Tripadvisor
Where is Nusa Penida?
It is situated off the south-eastern coast of Bali (in between Bali and Lombok) together with the more popular islands (Nusa Lembongon and Nusa Ceningan), managed by the Klungkung regency.
Prior to 2016, this group of 3 islands were only known for their diving sites. However, with the rising popularity of these islands on social media, it has received more and more interest from Indonesians (local tourists) and the foreign crowd which is predominantly Caucasians.
This island is not a cheap (assuming you don’t know/dare to ride a motorbike)
Before I continue, it would be good to highlight that we spent a total of 2,661,500Rp (approximately SGD $283) per pax for a 3D2N stay.
Exchange rate used: 1 SGD = 9400Rp (March 2017)
|Price Per Person (Rupiah)
|Transport Pick-Up/Return from Mainland Bali to accommodation in Lembongon
2 Nights @ Water Blow Huts, Nusa Lembongon
|Food (for 2 pax)
Lunch @ Sanur – 210,000
2-way Motorbike Pillion from accommodation to Yellow Bridge (Harbour to N. Penida) – 75,000 each
Boat Transfer (shared) to N. Penida – 75,000 each
|Nusa Penida Tour
Private Tour for 2 pax in air-conditioned car
Includes all entrance tickets/fees
Adding in my additional 2D1N stay in mainland Bali (Sanur), I spent a total of 4,227,400 Rp (SGD 449.72) + $187.66 (Air Tickets – Tiger) = $637.38 SGD
Please note that this huge amount is inclusive of shopping at the supermarket (about $30-40 SGD) and tipping. Will blog about my 2D1N Bali in a separate entry.
Anyway, if you are looking for a cheaper vacation, you can consider Krabi – Trip Report for 4D3N Krabi trip ($465, triple sharing, 2014).
Planning this trip was a huge headache.
As these islands were relatively new to non-diving tourists, I can barely find useful information (in English) about this place that it non-diving related. Furthermore, my friend and I have absolutely no knowledge of riding a motorbike (main choice of transport) so the existing trip reports we found were relatively useless as they were all motorbike adventures.
Apart from the fancy YouTube drone videos that we found, there were only a couple of blog entries and websites in Bahasa and none of them made me less confused on how I can arrange for a non-diving, non-snorkelling and no motorbike trip to tour this island.
My Trip Itinerary
9:55am – Land @ Bali Airport
10:42am – Transfer from airport to Sanur
11:40am – Lunch @ (Sanur)
1:00pm – Boat Transfer from Sanur to N. Lembongon (Mushroom Beach) via Marlin Fastboat
1:50pm – Transfer from Mushroom Beach to Water Blow Huts
2:10pm – Arrive at Water Blow Huts
3:50pm – Walk around to explore Dream Beach, Devil’s Tears
5:30pm – Dinner @ Cookies Coffee Shop
7:00pm – Back at Water Blow Huts
8:00am – Motorbike Transfer from accommodation to Yellow Bridge
8:20am – Boat Transfer from Lembongon to N. Penida (Toyapakeh)
8:40am – Arrive at Toya Pakeh (Nusa Penida) and start Day Tour
9:40am – 1st Stop: Broken Beach & Angel’s Billabong
10:40am – Depart
11:15am – Arrive @ Kelingking Beach (instagram worthy beach)
11:52am – Depart
1:40pm – Arrive @ Atuh Raja Lima Nusa Penida (Tree House) – we had lunch here
2:30pm – Depart
3:20pm – Arrive @ Atuh Beach
5:00pm – Depart
6:22pm – Arrive @ Toya Pakeh
6:25pm – Boat Transfer back to Lembongon (Yellow Bridge)
6:40pm – Motorbike Transfer back to Accommodation
Breakfast + Chillax at Pool
11:15am – Transfer from accommodation to Mushroom Beach (Harbour)
11:50am – Boat Transfer to Sanur (Mainland Bali)
12:15pm – Arrive at Sanur Harbour
12:40pm – Arrive at Hotel (Maison Aurelia Sanur)
2:00pm – Grab Car to Nusa Dua (Pirate Bay)
4:00pm – Grab Car to Seminyak (Sea Circus)
7:30pm – Grab Car to Sanur
8:40am – Pickup by Driver from Hotel
10:00am – Arrive at Timbumana Waterfalls
11:00am – Depart Waterfalls
12:00pm – Arrive at Ubud Rice Fields
1:31pm – Arrive at Hotel
2:00pm – Depart Hotel
2:30pm – Lunch @ Rumah Makan Babi Guling Karya Rebo
3:00pm – Transfer to Super Market
3:15pm – Shopping @ Pepito Super Market
3:50pm – Transfer to Airport
4:00pm – Arrive at Airport
6:45pm – Flight back to Singapore
What are the options of visiting Nusa Penida?
** Options quoted are based on travelling in air-conditioned cars, not renting your own scooter or riding as a pillion on a scooter guide.
- Go with an arranged tour group which provides pick up/return from Bali
- Day Trips from 1,350,000 Rp/pax (includes boat transfer from mainland Bali)
- 700,000 Rp/pax (excluding boat transfers)
- Website entirely in Bahasa
- 110 USD/ pax, includes snorkelling experience
Now, let me explain why we did not proceed with option 1.
- There was no itinerary which offered both Nusa Lembongon and Nusa Penida to us.
- Most tours were catered towards snorkelling/diving which we were not really keen for this trip.
- Most day tours had a pickup timing of 6:30-7am (to reach Sanur harbour at 8am) and this was not possible as we were only scheduled to land at 10am.
- We kind of preferred having a private tour vs with a group of random strangers as I had my objective of taking video footages while my friend wanted to have nice photos of herself. Assuming we were following a tour group, we may be bounded by the time constraints.
As a result, I attempted to create my own option where I get to:
- Be on a Private Tour (with affordable pricing)
- Spend 1 day in Nusa Lembongon and 1 day in Nusa Penida
- Choose my own accommodation (Note: if you join their tours, you will have to stay in their preferred guest house)
- Not needing to rent my own motorbike (If you watch the YouTubers, most of them drive themselves around the island)
Step 1: Choosing accommodation
As seen from the image above, there is significantly more accommodation choices in Nusa Lembongon as compared to Nusa Penida on Booking.com. Of course, there are more on airbnb but I kind of have slightly ‘high’ standards for my accommodation these days. I only shortlist places with ratings of 80% and above, at the same time it has to be affordable.
After thorough research (you have no idea how many accommodations I scanned through), I concluded that the accommodation options at Nusa Penida was catering to the diving crowd, not for the usual holidaymakers like me. Diving guests are not fussy about their accommodation (if you dive you’ll understand), as long as there is running water, a clean bed and toilet, they will be happy but I was looking at something more.. a place with view, staff that can communicate in English and perhaps a nice pool and air-conditioning (not a priority but a bonus).
Anyway, my first choice accommodation was Bukit Taman Cottages as it has an exceptional rating of 9.6 (261 review) with a gorgeous pool. I booked the family room as we had 3 pax at time of booking but 1 month before the trip, 1 person couldn’t make it and by that time, their 2 pax room was already fully booked. We had no choice but to look for another accommodation. For comparison sake (I emailed them in English), their pickup from airport + boat transfer was only 450,000 Rp/pax compared to 550,000Rp for the one that I booked. Their boat transfer from Nusa Lembongon to Nusa Penida was only 50,000 Rp (requires 3 pax) and it was like private boat. (On the other hand in my accommodation, we paid more than twice the price but then again we only had 2 pax) The accommodation does not provide any details on Nusa Penida Tour and advised me to check with front desk upon arrival. right.
View from Water Blow Huts.
Swimming Pool View at Water Blow Huts
Conclusion – we booked Water Blow Huts (rating 9.3, 90 reviews) which was $20-30 more expensive (for the room) and also a lot more expensive when it comes to boat transfer, land transfer to yellow bridge etc. Nevertheless, despite paying a higher price, we were still satisfied with our entire stay and I think we even gave a small tip when we left.
Tips, or perhaps not a Tip at all..
Instead of booking from booking websites like the usual booking.com, agoda.com, hotels.com or expedia.com, they convinced me to pay full in cash for a slight discount.
If i book through these websites, I will have to pay 984,600 rp at the accommodation (3% more with credit card) but since I emailed them and liaise with them via Whatsapp, he offered me a special price of 900,000rp (Note: Room with Sea View). Why is this possibly not a tip? Well, the discount of 9.4% can be earned back if I use Shopback (especially during their crazy cashback rebates of up to 10%) plus if I pay upfront using credit cards (up to 5% with DBS Fresh Live, T&C applies), my potential ‘discount’ is slightly more than the 9.4% that they are offering me.
Initially, the staff wanted me to make a deposit (not knowing I was not living in Indonesia) but I said if I had to make an overseas deposit, I might as well just book online. So after negotiation, he decided to accept my email/whatsapp reservation with 0 deposit. This means that if either party breaks the trust, one will have to suffer (I cancel my trip or he doesn’t reserve me a room) but since Bali is generally nice and tourist-friendly, my fears did not materialise and I managed to stay there successfully without any hiccups.
Step 2: Arranging Transport from Mainland Bali to Nusa Lembongon
There are 2 areas where the boat will arrive at – Mushroom Bay and Jungut Batu Village
You can choose the preferred boat operator base on the accommodation location, to see which ‘dock’ is nearer or simply just by the timing.
Marlin Lembongan Cruiser – 300,000Rp (One-Way)/ 550,000Rp (Return)
Tanis Express – 350,000Rp (One-Way)/550,000Rp (Return)
Lembongan Paradise Cruise – 300,000Rp (One-Way)/ 500,000Rp (Return)
Jungut Batu Village
Rocky Fast Cruise – US $30 (One-Way) / US $50 (Return)
The Lembongan Traveller AUD $30 (One-way) / $50 (Return)
Additional 10% if your accomodation is booked through them.
There are other boat options available and you can see a longer list of companies and boat timings in this link: http://lembonganfastboats.com/instant-booking-list.php
What we took: Marlin Lembongan Cruiser
Our boat ride was arranged and booked by our accommodation (Water Blow Huts) and they charged us 550,000 x 2 pax, which seems to be the official price listed in the website (aka foreigner pricing). However, we did not have to pay the 75,000 airport surcharge for the pickup. We made payment for the boat ride directly at their counter but in case you’re wondering, the staff/hotel is likely to get a cut for the referral. This is standard practice in Bali. Our Nusa Penida guide informed us that the price difference between a local and a foreigner can be as much as 50%, thus he advised us to always book through a local agent in Bali as they may be able to get you a discount through their connections of being a ‘local’, but of course they get to earn at the same time so it’s kind of like a win-win. Unless you speak the language, forget about getting the discount yourself.
Mushroom Beach, Nusa Lembongon
The Boat Experience
Prior to the trip, I’ve read harrowing experiences of how rocky and dangerous the ride was on TripAdvisor. Some blame it on the fast and furious drivers, some blame it on nature (strong winds) but I took extra precaution by eating a sea sick pill prior to the ride. The boat was a 30-40 seater and every paying passenger had a seat (though you might end up at the outoor rear end facing the waves if you’re the last few). Our boat was full and all our luggage was piled at the top of the boat. The boat ride (for both ways) felt totally fine for me (for the return trip, I did not eat the sea sick pill). It was a bit bumpy at times but it was a lot better than the one I took to Pulau Besar from Mersing which was on a 12-seater boat. I guess the smooth ride can be due to the good weather and I somehow feel that the choice of boat company doesn’t really matter. Anyway, the boat which I sat had life jackets underneath the seats so that was a decent safety precaution, or perhaps the least that they can do. The staff was friendly and they will help you load and unload your luggage/bag to the boat. Bringing a luggage to the island is totally fine but be prepared to see it scratched quite a bit with all that dragging and sand.
Tip: Do wear slippers/sandals when riding the boat as you will have to remove your footwear before entering the boat. Also, as the waves at the shore can be strong at times, it is advisable to wear shorts. I wore knee length berms and was about to get up the boat when a huge wave crash into shore and my berms became wet.
Land Transfer from Mushroom Bay Beach to Accommodation
Upon reaching Nusa Lembongon, you will be assigned to your pick-up (something like a tuk-tuk seating style) and this is where you will cry if you’re carrying a brand new luggage. There isn’t any storage area in the pick-up so your luggage and bags will be stowed underneath the seat and if it sticks out, the person at that seat will just have to extend his/her leg out. It was pretty cramp for us and there was this massive surfboard lying on everyone’s legs. The ride on this pick-up is extremely bumpy as the roads are as such on this island.
Broken Beach, Nusa Penida
Step 3: Finding a Day Trip to Nusa Penida from Nusa Lembongon
This was the hardest part of it all. As mentioned earlier, the day trips to Nusa Penida mainly started from bali mainland and none of my accommodations could arrange for me before my trip. Well, they did promise me that the staff at front desk would be able to do so but without knowing the price and the availability, I was a little unsettled.
Anyway, so here’s my list of failed enquiries from the various companies/agents that I contacted via email and instagram direct message.
- Penida Tours | firstname.lastname@example.org |
- Replied me asking how many days I wanted the trip to be for, after which I kept receiving some auto reply from boxbe asking me to click a link (which I didn’t dare assuming it could be a spam/virus)
- Explore Nusa Penida | email@example.com | https://www.instagram.com/explorenusapenida/
- Replied and asked me for more details. After I gave, no reply.
- Instagram message – no reply after I gave the dates
- Nusa Penida Tour & Travel | firstname.lastname@example.org | https://www.instagram.com/nusapenidatourandtravel/
- Replied me with itinerary and prices but all schedules are departure from main island bali despite me already saying that I have booked accommodation in Lembongon.
- When I replied asking for pickup from Lembongon and not Bali, there was no reply.
www.nusa-penida.info | email@example.com
- Asked for customized tour for 3 pax. Replied and gave me a link to choose a tour (how is that customizable): http://nusa-penida.info/index/0-2
- The tours were all segregated and you could only choose to snorkel, visit south, east, west or sandy beach.
- Tour doesn’t seem customizable and prices are from USD 46.15 (no mention of how many hours)
- Offered pickup from Toyapakeh but did not tell me how to get from Lembongon to Toyapake
- Nusa Penida Trip (Instagram) | firstname.lastname@example.org | https://www.instagram.com/nusapenidatrip/
- Responded and asked for my travel dates but after that, no reply.
- Nusapenida Traveling (Instagram) | www.nusapenidatraveling.com | https://www.instagram.com/nusapenida_traveling/
- No reply
And finally.. the one we chose..
- Nusapenida Holiday | email@example.com | https://www.instagram.com/nusapenidaholiday/
- Replied with good english, pricing (car) and suggested 8-9 places for day trip.
- Offered boat transfer pickup but gave me pricing of private charter vs public boat to choose from
- Email conversation continued to Whatsapp where guide sent photos of suggested itinerary.
- If you would like to have the exact driver that I had, please quote ‘flyhoneystars’ when sending in an enquiry. He is quite popular and he can only do 1 tour/day so I guess you need to be lucky to book him. (Updated: 21 Aug 2017)
It was frustrating to not receive any response at all. It was even more frustrating when they gave me replies that disregarded the specific enquiry I had – private tour and pick-up from Lembongon, not Bali. You have no idea how happy I felt after I received a positive reply email from “Nusapenida Holiday”. His email was clear, specific and in good english. Even after bringing the conversation to whatsapp, the english was still good and understandable. I will do a review on my adventure in a next post but I highly recommend this tour guide simply because he was the only one that gave me a useful reply and wanted to do my business. Oh, and a bonus, he takes really good photos which my friend feels is a lot better than what I can take. He goes all out to angle the shots (including climbing trees) and he’s like a 3-in-1 (Driver cum Tour Guide (understandable English, very decent in Bali context) cum Photographer). However, do note that as he is rather popular, he has 1-2 staff under him and I’m not sure if they deliver the same service but you can always try requesting specifically for him – the owner of this ‘Nusapenida Holiday’ brand.
Continue reading my next entry on my Day Trip to Nusa Penida adventure or you can watch my video in the mean time..
Feel free to ask me any questions or share tips if you’ve been to this place too!