Nusa Penida snorkeling guide with extra travel tips

We visited the best Nusa Penida snorkeling spots that left us speechless with wonderful coral reefs and various sea creatures such as turtles and manta rays. In this guide, we share with you the list of the top snorkel places to visit along with extra travel tips like how to get to Nusa Penida, what are the best points of interests like the Kelingking Beach and Angel’s Billabong or where to stay. Hope you will find this summary helpful when setting up your itinerary to Bali’s most Instagrammed island!

The best 5 Nusa Penida snorkeling spots

With pristine coral reefs and rich marine life, Nusa Penida snorkeling places are considered to have some of the world most diverse underwater ecosystems. They are part of the Coral Tringle, and enjoy having fresh, plankton rich water around delivered by the deep, strong currents of the Indo Pacific Throughflow.

See here the 5 best Nusa Penida snorkel spots that we recommend to visit:

Crystal Bay

Nusa Penida snorkeling spots don’t include too many options for shore snorkeling, but Crystal Bay is one of the few sandy beaches where snorkelers at all levels can enjoy exploring beautiful coral reefs thanks to the shallow water and easy shore access. I’m sure that snorkeling in Crystal Bag will amaze you with its clear water and lively corals. Sometimes even turtles can be seen here.

Crystal Bay Penida Island
This corner of the Crystal Bay is where you need to snorkel

Snorkel in the left corner of the bay and arrive as early as possible. The water is the calmest in the morning, but the waves and currents might get strong during the day and the bay gets crowded with boats.

Snorkeling spots Crystal Bay - Nusa Penida
Coral reef in Crystal Bay

As the name shows, the water is crystal clear meaning you can expect 30 m visibility! A dream for underwater photographers so make sure to bring a waterproof camera!

Gamat Bay

This secluded little beach is visited by very few tourists due to the difficult access. We tried to get there from land but our attempt failed… There is a dirt track that leads down to Gamat Bay, but the last part of it is a narrow, very steep path where you need to climb, so it is manageable only wearing proper sport shoes.

Nusa Penida snorkeling spot -  Gamat bay
Vibrant reef in Gamat Bay

Therefore we recommend arriving here by boat. It is definitely one of the best Nusa Penida snorkeling spots with crystal clear water and thousands of fish that play hide and seek among the vibrant corals. A must visit place when on the island!

Manta Bay

Swimming with manta rays is definitely a bucket list experience and Nusa Penida is the perfect place for this unique encounter! Thanks to the rich currents around Nusa Penida, these majestic filter feeder creatures are present all year round.

Manta Bay - Penida
Swimming with manta rays is a lifetime experience!

They usually gather in a shallow bay called Manta Bay where you can have a chance to snorkel with these peaceful creatures. For more information, see our detailed manta snorkeling Nusa Penida post where we share all the information you need to know!

Tip: Don’t leave your snorkeling camera in your hotel room because this will be the adventure you want to have memories of, but please keep in mind do not touch them!

Toyapakeh Wall Point

The wide variety of fish and large coral colonies make the Toyapakeh Wall diver’s favorite reef. Large pelagic species like Mola Mola fish are regular visitors here. Besides being a superb dive spot, the Wall Point is one of the most beautiful Nusa Penida snorkeling places too!

Coral wall Nusa Penida Toyapakeh
The Toyapakeh Wall is teeming with life – amazing healthy coral and fish to see here

You can reach this spot by boat. Near the wall, just jump into the water from the boat and slowly drift with the current that runs parallel with the wall and enjoy the amazing underwater scenery.

Buddha Temple

An underwater temple that works as an artificial reef where you can see a Buddha statue and stupas in approx. 6-7 meters deep water.

underwater buddha statue in Indonesia
Don’t miss out visiting the Underwater Buddha Temple!

The Buddha Temple is next to Nusa Ceningan but most Nusa Penida snorkeling trips include this point in the itinerary thanks to its uniqueness.

Things to know when snorkeling in Nusa Penida

As mentioned above, the Nusa Islands are in the area of the Indo Pacific Throughflow which means the currents are really strong around Nusa Penida. These nutrient-rich currents explain why the marine life is so diverse. Out of Bali snorkeling places, Nusa Penida is considered the top if it comes to the variety of species and coral reef conditions.

But from the other side, these currents make the waters around more dangerous. Keep this in mind and be very careful when exploring Nusa Penida snorkeling spots, no matter from land or boat. The sea might seem calm but undercurrents can pull you out to the open sea in seconds.

Sandy beach Nusa Penida
The sea might sea calm and flat, but beware of the undercurrents and don’t swim far from the shore

For this reason, shore snorkeling is limited. If you are a beginner, we recommend snorkeling on your own in Crystal Bay only. Other places are better to visit by boat. The tour will take you around all the good places, and the staff takes care of your pick-up even if you get caught by a stronger current. We suggest to read this 10 tips on how to stay safe when snorkeling post that can also give you some safety precautions.

Most Nusa Penida snorkeling tours start from Toyapakeh harbor or from Crystal Bay. Generally, a half-day trip includes visiting 2 places. If you want to see all the best Nusa Penida snorkeling places, look for a full day tour! Organizers use to provide the guests with equipment, but we recommend bringing your own snorkel gear due to hygienic reasons.

Nusa Penida travel tips

People say if you want to know how Bali looked like 20 years ago when it was less touristy, book a trip to Nusa Penida! Over the past few years, while Bali most popular areas went through massive developments and became rather noisy than relaxed especially in high season, nature lovers started to seek peace in other regions. Northeast Bali quickly became a top escape spot with iconic land attractions like the majestic Mt Agung, not talking about the excellent snorkeling in Amed and the unique shipwreck in Tulamben. In the same time, adventurous travelers started to discover the nearby Nusa Islands.

Nusa Penida Toyapakeh
Nusa Penida aerial photo – the island is not overdeveloped yet therefore it is peaceful and quiet

These 3 gorgeous islands on the southeast of Bali that are available with a short boat ride. For a while, tourists visited the two smaller islands mainly, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, but thanks to the diverse landscape and superb snorkeling/diving, Nusa Penida quickly became famous too. When Angel’s Billabong and Kelingking Beach photos went viral thanks to social media, Nusa Penida irretrievably made it to a must-visit place in Bali.

For this reason, our advice is to travel the island as soon as possible so that you can enjoy its pure beauty before it gets crowded. However, the island might seem to be less developed if it comes to infrastructure, but this is the reason why it is still less busy compared to Bali most visited places.

Best time to visit Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida’s climate is very similar to mainland Bali’s weather so to answer the when is the best time to visit Nusa Penida question is that to check out Bali’s climate chart. The Nusa Islands get less rain than Bali. You have the highest chance for sunny and dry weather from May through mid-November. In my opinion, this period is perfect if you want to explore both the land attractions and Nusa Penida snorkeling spots.

Nusa Penida Crystal Bay
Clear sky and calm sea – perfect summer weather for beach and water activities

Since the area has a tropical climate, the weather can change in instant, therefore, long-term forecasts are never reliable. Cloudy periods are common throughout the year, because of low-pressure systems in the region, but these don’t last long.

Don’t forget to take care of UV protection no matter you explore on the land or underwater! If you use sunscreen, make sure that it is a reef safe mineral sunscreen! I rarely use sunscreen but always check the selection in the shops wherever I go, and didn’t find any safe sunscreen in Nusa Penida. Therefore, I recommend buying it in advance and bringing it with you!

How many days to spend in Nusa Penida?

The main points of interest like the Kelingking Beach, Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach can be visited in 1 day with following a tight schedule, but we think the island is worth more than a short visit!

Best points of interest Nusa Penida Map
Best points of interest Nusa Penida Map

We highly recommend spending at least 3-5 days in Nusa Penida which allows you an adventure-packed yet convenient itinerary. Like this, you will have enough time to see all the attractions, chilling out on the best beaches and visiting Nusa Penida snorkeling spots which would be a shame to miss!

Where to stay in Nusa Penida

Accommodations are still limited compared to the nearby islands and mainland Bali, but the selection is getting continuously bigger with new developments every year. The prices generally a bit higher than in Bali or Nusa Lembongan. But don’t worry, it is still possible to find a decent place to stay that fits your budget.

Private rooms for 2 persons are available from around 10-12 USD per night at several homestays. You find nice bungalows from 20 USD per night. Breakfast is almost always included in the room rate.

We stayed in the Wabitaka Bungalows and were really satisfied with it. It is a good choice if you wish to visit Nusa Penida snorkeling places, since the Toyapakeh harbour is in walking distance where most day trips depart from.

Wabitaka Bungalows
This was our bungalow – spacious and clean

The bungalows are new, spacious with a huge bathroom. Staff is super sweet and the breakfast is delicious! Moreover, they offer scooter rental. If you don’t mind spending more on the accommodation, check out luxury resorts like the recently opened Pandawa Beach Resort!

Tree House Nusa Penida – Rumah Pohon

When on the island, don’t miss out staying in the Rumah Pohon Tree House. Here your childhood dreams can come true and you can live in a real tree house in Nusa Penida.

The Tree House Penida
The island’s most unique accommodation – Tree House

Although Rumah Pohon Tree House is not a luxury hotel but definitely the most romantic experience you can get on the island! This little cozy treehouse on the Thousand Islands viewpoint area provides an epic view looking around the beautiful coastline.

Practical and safety tips

According to Google maps, there should be some money changers on Nusa Penida but did not find any in 5 days. There are some ATMs, but don’t rely on them because sometimes they are out of money. The best is to bring enough cash in IDR Indonesian Rupiah.

The best way of getting around on the island is renting a scooter. Although, some roads are in very bad condition and sometimes there is only a dirt track available so slow down and drive carefully. Scooter rental is approx. 40-60.000 IDR / 3-4 USD per day.

Plastic is a huge problem in Indonesia. While driving around, you will see that there is rubbish everywhere due to the lack of waste management. Try to leave the smallest footprint possible on this wonderful island! Read our tips on how to reduce plastic usage when traveling!

Plastic waste on the beach in Indonesia
There is a plastic crisis in Indonesia – as a traveler, be responsible and do your part to reduce the waste while there!

Always be cautious! This is not just a general take care advice but a serious Nusa Penida travel tip. Safety standards are very low on the island, there are no fences at the viewpoints and cliffs are often unstable. Several tourists died because of ignoring this…

Kelingking Beach view from the cliffs
Be extra careful at the viewpoints – at most places there is no or only a weak safety fence

When snorkeling, do not touch marine life! The undersea world is truly beautiful around the island with pristine reefs and rich marine life, look only and take photos but never touch anything! You can harm the creatures but also they can sting you. See our how to become a responsible snorkeler post for some tips on how to protect yourself and marine life when exploring the ocean.

Things to do in Nusa Penida

We would get never bored of going back and forth between Nusa Penida snorkeling spots , but of course there are many things to do and see on land too! Our best advice is to enjoy the island’s beauty as much as you can before it gets crowded and turns into a tourist factory as sadly happened to most parts of Bali.

Find here the list of the main attraction and things to do, but if your travel itinerary allows you to spend longer time on the island, we encourage you to drive around and you will find many other cool.

Visit Kelingking Beach

Probably the most famous point of interest in Nusa Penida is the breath-taking Kelingking Beach. I think there is no need to explain why this place became one of the most Instagrammed spots of Bali. The picturesque view of amazingly blue water, dramatic cliffs and vibrant sandy beach beneath you makes Kelingking Beach just simple a perfect spot. Also known as T-Rex-Bay because the dinosaurs shaped rock formation of the.

Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida
The famous Kelingking Beach

If you feel the adventure, walk the steep path down and enjoy chilling at probably one of the most unique beaches you ever have seen! You might visit the nearby Pura Paluang Car Temple too, which is just a few hundred meters away from Kelingking Beach.

Take a dip in Angel’s Billabong

Spectacular natural pool on the west coast, a top attraction in Nusa Penida! It looks like an infinity pool surrounded by cliffs and the powerful sea. Visiting Angel’s Billabong is a long yet rewarding trip. The road is probably the worst I’ve seen in Indonesia so far and the trip takes about 1.5-2 hours from Toyapakeh.

Angel’s Billabong
Angel’s Billabong – not a safe spot to swim but the view is amazing

If you are not confident riding a scooter, hire a driver. Day-trippers often start their Nusa Penida tour at Angel’s Billabong so the best is to arrive early morning or in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.

However it is tempting to take a perfect Insta photo standing at the edge of this natural infinity pool with crashing waves in the background, but don’t take the risk. Many accidents happened here and tourist died because they were pulled out by waves while taking photos. Therefore swimming in Angel’s Billabong is not recommended if the sea is not completely flat!

Tour around Broken Beach

If you were brave enough to drive the road to Angel’s Billabong, you can kill two birds with one stone and visit Broken Beach too. Just follow the signs and you will quickly find this incredible cove and natural cliff arch.

Broken Beach drone picture
Broken Beach aerial photo

The location is kind of surreal and picturesque at the same time, makes you feel instantly like being in a movie scene. Take your time, walk around and enjoy nature’s beauty!

Dive into Tembeling Forest natural pools

Tembeling Forest freshwater natural pools are true hidden gems that are not often mentioned in a simple Nusa Penida travel guide! This trip is a perfect combination of trekking, exploring a tropical rainforest, discovering some spiritual places and chilling out.

After walking through the forest, you find two separate natural pools, one for women and one for men. Don’t miss out chilling out on the nearby beach too!

Walk the Blue Stairs at Peguyangan Waterfall

The less visited yet remarkable Nusa Penida Blue Stairs I recommend for travelers who are not afraid to walk the extra mile. Once you make it down on the blue stairs, you find a little temple and some amazing rock pools, and last but not least amazing view on the whole way down and up!

Nusa Penida Blue Stairs
The Blue Stairs – this hidden spot has amazing views!

You can have some snacks and refreshment in the Warung on the spot.

Watch the sunset at Crystal Bay Beach

Crystal Bay is not only one of the best Nusa Penida snorkeling spots, but also a picturesque place to watch the sunset! After a long day spent with driving around or snorkeling, enjoy a cool drink while watching the sun going down from this perfect palm-fringed beach is truly a blessing!

Sunset on Crystal Bay Bali
Magical sunset at Crystal Bay

Tip: Don’t forget to bring a good mosquito repellent with you, the forest around Crystal Bay is full of them!

How to get to Nusa Penida?

You can reach Nusa Penida from Bali, Lombok by speedboat and ferry, and also from Nusa Lembongan and Ceningan by small public and private boats. A few years ago, there was no direct speedboat service to Penida, so the only option was traveling through Nusa Lembongan with the small water taxis leaving from the yellow bridge that connects Lembongan and Ceningan.

But as Nusa Penida became popular, companies started to operate speedboats directly. The journey takes approx. 30-60 minutes depending on the boat and weather conditions.

Here is a list how you can reach Nusa Penida from Bali and Lombok different areas:

Sanur to Nusa Penida speedboats

The best way of traveling to Nusa Penida taking a speedboat from Bali Sanur Harbour. There are several companies that offer 2-3 daily departures from Sanur to Nusa Penida. Double check if you are buying the right ticket, because most boats are going to Nusa Lembongan, not to Penida.

Most Nusa Penida boats use the Toyapakeh pier but some go to Buyuk Harbour the other side of the island. Always clarify this with your salesman and ask him to show you the pier on a map! There are departures available from morning till the afternoon back and forth.

Ticket prices vary by company, one-way ticket costs approx. 150-200.000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah) while a return 400-500.000 IDR. You don’t need to pre-book the ticket online, you can buy it on the spot and might try to negotiate the price.

Recommended speedboats from Sanur to Nusa Penida:

  • Dwi Manunggal speedboat
  • Mola-Mola Express
  • Angel Billabong fast cruise
Speedboats in Sanur MolaMola Express, Angel Billabong Fast Cruise, Dwi Manunggal
Boarding the speedboats in Sanur – there is no pier here so arrive in flip-flops

Good to know that there is no pier in Sanur port meaning you need to board from the shore. Best to arrive in flip-flops! When boarding, just simply remove them and put into your backpack. Otherwise, the staff will collect them and you will get them back only after the trip (if they don’t lose it on the way that happened to our friends).

Try to hop on the boat when there is no big wave coming so you can avoid being completely wet. The staff will take care of your big luggage (if you have any). Usually, they transport them on top of the boat. Strong currents and high seas are normal around Bali, therefore prepare for seasickness if you use to suffer from it. However, some boat companies provide tablets.

Benoa Harbor to Nusa Penida – Quicksilver Cruise

Although the most common is taking a boat from Sanur, you can choose to leave from Tanjung Benoa Harbor too. The Quicksilver boat departs from Benoa and arrives at the north-western shore of Nusa Penida. The ticket is more expensive than Sanur ferries (about 110 USD/person) but includes complimentary snacks and drinks, as well as watersport activities.

Serangan Bali to Penida – Gili Getaway

Gili Getaway is one of the newest speedboat charter that uses the well-developed Serangan Harbour. However, their prices might seem a little higher than other companies’, but our personal experience is that their boats are in a very good condition and the staff is really helpful. Moreover, their customer service is great and you can change your travel dates for free if needed.

Speedboat in Indonesia
Gili Getaway Speedboat

Padang Bai Nusa Penida public ferry

Between Padang Bai and Nusa Penida only public ferry operates, there is no speedboat service. Little information is available online (no official website), so below we collected all the information we got when we used the Nusa Penida Padang Bai ferry:

Public ferry in Nusa Penida to Padang Bai Bali
The publis ferry that operates between Nusa Penida and Padangbai
  • it departs from and arrives to the Port Ro-Ro not the Toyapakeh Harbor
  • there is no fix schedule and usually only 1 departure per day! We were told that the ferry leaves whenever they are ready, but nobody knows what ready means. This is normal in Indonesia if it comes to public boats. If you have time, go to Ro-Ro port 1 day before your planned departure and ask them personally about the schedule for the next days.
  • ticket costs around 31.000 IDR, it can happen that you need to pay a bit more (‘tourist price’)
  • you can take scooter/car for extra cost
  • the trip should take about 2 hours but calculate with longer time, especially if you decide to take this public ferry from Nusa Penida to Padang Bai like we did. We left Nusa Penida around 8 am but arrived in Padang Bai before noon only because the public ferry is the last that can go inside the harbour. All other ferries and commercial boats enjoy priority, therefore, we ended up waiting 2 hours outside the harbour

To cut this story short, if you are flexible and are not in a hurry, the Nusa Penida Padang Bai public ferry is a cheap way of traveling. But better to choose a speedboat if you have a fixed schedule.

Kusamba to Nusa Penida – Gangga Express

The Gangga Express speedboat operates between Tribuana port Kusamba-Bali and Sampalan Nusa Penida. If you think the public ferry trip takes too long, you might choose this option. Kusamba is a small traditional salt-making village 10 kilometres south of Padang Bai.

Speedboat in Nusa Penida
The Gangga Express speedboat at their mobile pier in Penida

This is a good option if you are coming from Ubud to Penida, or the other way around, you want to go to North Bali from the island. Ticket costs 100.000 IDR for tourists and the trip takes about 30 mins.

Lombok Nusa Penida – Gili Getaway

The above recommended Gili Getaway is the only company that connects Nusa Penida and Lombok. They offer daily service between Lombok and Bali. The departure point can be Gili Air, Gili Trawangan, Bangsal Port and also Gili Gede. The schedule and prices find on their website.

Tip: If you plan to visit the neighbouring Lombok too, don’t miss our our Lombok snorkeling places guide!

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Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!