Nusa Penida Ultimate Guide 2024: An Underrated Hidden Eco Destination

Kelingking Beach in Nusa Penida: crystal clear blue sea, green lush cliff and untouched sandy beach

Nusa Penida is a small hidden gem nestled in the waters of Bali, in Indonesia.

It offers a breathtaking escape into untouched natural beauty. With its wild landscapes, vibrant marine life, and fascinating culture, Nusa Penida is a must-see destination for those seeking to explore (and protect) the wonders of the natural world. 

When the boat docked at the harbor, I realized how small Nusa Penida was. One tiny wharf surrounded by a handful of buildings. A few narrow tongues of asphalt branched off in all directions. The rest were rustic and unpaved streets, covered in puddles after the rain. The sea around that area was crystal clear and beautiful, full of colorful corals and fishes that I didn’t need a mask to see underwater.

Even though rough and wild, the energy that I could feel on the island was very powerful and pure, and the connection with nature was tangible. 

As days went by, I couldn’t help but fall in love with those views, where palm trees were growing tall towards the sky, chicks were running in the grass following their mom, and cows were enjoying the warmth of the sun chilling under the trees on the sides of the streets.

Is Nusa Penida Worth Visiting?

As a “side destination”, the island still enjoys a certain tranquility and mass tourism has not yet arrived.

It is therefore the perfect time to visit it and enjoy its natural beauties to the fullest in a much more complete way than how tourists usually do with daily tours.

During our travels, we met many people who asked us if this small island was worth a stop or how long to stay there.

If you love nature and adventure, you should definitely visit Nusa Penida: its lush nature will surprise you.  When a gentle culture meets such an elegant environment, something magic happens and creates a unique and authentic experience.

Nusa Penida as a Green Destination

Eco Destination Level
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The nature of the island really has a lot to offer.
On one side Nusa Penida has a lush vegetation. Sweet and enveloping scents typical of hot-humid tropical areas, a wide variety of tasty colored fruits, including mango, dragon fruit, papaya, jumbo and durian, and some charismatic animal, such as monkeys make it unique.
On the other, the coast and the sea hide amazing landscapes, worthy of the fame that the Indonesian coral reef has. It is a worthy stop for sea lovers to enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving.
I had never seen a blue starfish.
I had never swum with a manta ray.
When I decided to visit this island, I never expected such a wonder, nor the emotions I felt.

6 things I loved about Nusa Penida (as eco traveler)

– the feeling of connection with the surrounding natural world
– the calm and relaxing atmosphere, almost as if time has stopped
– the details: colourful flowers, huge leaves, small waves in the sand, some fluorescent blue corals, tiny crabs that populate the beaches. Each landscape hides precious details that make everything unique and wonderful
people‘s smiles and traditions, which bring color and simplicity everywhere
-the underwater world, absolutely stunning
manta rays!
Nusa Penida Ultimate Guide: An Underrated Hidden Eco Destination
That green!

Conscious Travel in Nusa Penida

Sustainability Level
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Like many other beautiful places in Southeast Asia (and beyond), Nusa Penida also faces two major sustainability issues:
 – plastic and waste
 – air / water pollution due to transports.
The island is becoming a famous tourist destination, yet the infrastructures are not behind this fast evolution. Moreover, poverty conditions of some areas do not favor a sustainable approach by the local population.
Landscapes are truly varied: breathtaking pristine spots, rural life, or strong tourism areas. But the common element (unfortunately) is the presence of plastic on the ground, in the corners, in the forest, almost everywhere.
Considering this, our travel choices and habits will have a significant impact on the local environment and fauna, on the general health of the island, its inhabitants and tourists and travellers as well.

5 sustainable habits to use while traveling in Nusa penida:

  • reusable straws + washable travel cup
 One of the easiest ways is to always carry these two ecological alternatives with you and use them to avoid plastics and waste production.

Eco tip #1: when you order a drink, ask not to get straws and use your own. You will save a lot of waste and inspire others

  • use bicycle, feet and scooter
People mostly uses scooters to move around, but there are many private tours and drivers that are offering car transport. There are many reasons to avoid cars: prices, pollution, authentic experiences, comfort and practicity.
  • choose local food
Super cheap, fresh, tasty and healthy. Should I say more? 😉
  • get a reusable bag
Food, souvenirs, accessories: whatever you buy it’s usually packed in plastic bags. Bringing your bag will avoid this huge waste.
  • support local associations
Share, donate or join some local environmental cleaning initiative (such as Only One, Trash Hero, Save the Plastic, etc.)

Traveling with Pets

Pet Friendliness
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Nusa Penida is a destination where the natural world still predominates.
Both domestic and wild animals live in uncontaminated areas as well as in inhabited and touristic ones. Humans and animals share the territory, everyone having its place and living independently.
On the island there are many stray dogs and they protect their area. So it is not a good idea to violate their rules with another animal, because it could get dangerous for your pet.
Moreover, there are few shops where you can find specific products for dogs.
In the same way, wildlife peacefully coexists with people but could become aggressive and territorial in the presence of a new animal.
This whole situation does not make it an ideal place to travel with your pet, or at least you need to consider these things before going.
Nusa Penida Ultimate Guide: An Underrated Hidden Eco Destination
A beautiful Macaque we found chilling around Kelingking Beach

Remote working in Nusa Penida

Nomading Level
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Once I reached the hotel, I realized that the phone was almost dead and I had no way to charge it: the socket was different and I had no adapters. Plus, I still hadn’t been able to activate the local SIM, so I didn’t have internet either.
I decided to take advantage of the last few moments of the charge to look for a shop where to buy an adapter for both telephone and laptop. Sadly, being in the last room translated in “no wifi” and the phone died loading.
I was officially out of this world!
The only choice was to ask for information and hope for someone’s help. After 3 days of full technology detox, I managed to buy two adapters and solve the situation, at least the charge situation. When I activated the SIM, I found out that the area was not well covered.
Nusa Penida is a great place to work remotely, but I personally think it’s still not the ideal destination for a digital nomad.

Pros and Cons

  • Stunning views
  • Peaceful atmosphere, perfect to focus and increase productivity
  • Weak internet. Restaurants and bar generally have good wifi, while it’s not always working in accomodations.
  • Digital accessories are scarcely available

Travel Tips: 8 practical things to know about Nusa Penida

1. How to Get There

Nusa Penida is about 1 hour far from Bali.
The most common way to get there is by fast boats, tiny vehicles that connect all the islands in the area. In case of rough sea, you need to take ferries instead. They are bigger and slower, but safe in case of bad weather or sea conditions.

There are tons of companies, even if not all reliable, efficient and cheap. How to choose then?

Word of mouth and direct experience are the only ways you can get the best deals. Not all companies have a website, and taxi drivers or locals tend to choose based on their knowledge (or convenience).
The company with which I found by far the best is the Golden Queen: the cheapest I’ve found, better organized and with more comfortable boats, also present in the event of unexpected situations (including bad weather).

2. When to go

The island has a tropical climate characterized by sudden changes and an evergreen warmth. The best time to go to Nusa Penida is the dry season, which approximately corresponds to the months of June, July, August, September and October.
From November to May it’s the wet season, so the weather is tolerable but highly unpredictable.
We visited the island in July, and experienced both sunshine and rain in equal measure (not very lucky I would say!).

3. How long to stay

Nusa Penida is a very small island, with an area of around 203 km².
My advice is to dedicate at least 3 or 4 days exploring the island and avoid the “one day tours” (you’ll find many of them in Bali).
The reason is simple.
Although the island is small, it hides several interesting places, landscapes and activities. Compressing everything into one day will make everything stressful and less worthy.

5. Religion

The majority of people in Nusa Penida is Hindu.
You’ll see graceful temples in the most disparate places, dressed up with flowers and statues, and smell the incense from the small squared offerings in front of each building, packed with flowers and leaves. Be careful to not step on them!

6. Language

You’ll have fun trying to communicate with people, because very few people speak a good english. But they’re very kind so it won’t be that hard. Just make sure to be clear with them when you buy or rent, otherwise you’ll pay way too much more than usual prices: they’re talented sellers!

7. Money

Bring some cash. Turistic places often accept cards, but I highly recommend to bring cash everywhere. For example most of the boats companies use the only cash policy. 

On the island there are few ATMs, so make sure you get the money in time as well.

On our last day we were ready to leave, but no ATM seemed to work, so it took us half an hour to get the cash and pay the boat company, risking to miss the trip.

8. Safety: is Nusa Penida dangerous?

The island is quite safe for couples and solo travelers. We have been walking around both in day and nightime without any worry, except for cars and scooters speeding on the tiny road next to us.

To travel and enjoy my time abroad, I always use SafetyWing insurance as well, which works perfectly for me to save money and stress abroad.

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