Everyone talks about how beautiful Bali is, and while that may be true, so many people forget that they may be islands just as beautiful that are very near Bali as well. Nusa Penida is an untouched piece of paradise! At least for now it is..
Nusa Penida is an island in Indonesia.
What and where is Nusa Penida?
Located next to Bali, Nusa Penida is a much smaller island than its neighbour and receives much less tourists. Although it is small, it has a few stunning attractions that are slowly becoming world famous.
Nusa Penida is located right next to Bali, and is a short boat ride away.
How to get to Nusa Penida?
It’s an easy one way 40 minute boat trip from Bali (Sanur Harbour) and there are many boats that depart both ways at different times the whole day. The fares are quite cheap, which can be purchased one way on each of the Islands harbours to and from Bali.
So what’s all the hype about Nusa Penida?
Although it is next to Bali, Nusa Penida never received as many tourists. The infrastructure was never really invested in, and the island is very rural up to this day. So what does that give you?
Only spectacular views at the edge of cliffs, white sand beaches with perfect water and an off the beaten path rural island experience.
Nusa Penida has gorgeous landscapes throughout the whole coastline of the island.
How do you tour Nusa Penida?
That just depends on how adventurous you are. There’s pros and cons with every way.
The easiest way
Take a fully paid tour from Bali. This will be more expensive than any other option, but there will be a driver that fetches you from your hotel in Bali, guides you onto your boat at Sanur Harbour in Bali, and there will be a driver waiting for you as your boat reaches Nusa Penida with an air-conditioned private car. N.b: The roads in Nusa Penida are TERRIBLE. They also get worse as you go further away from the harbour (Which is where you want to go). There are sometimes traffic jams were you can wait up to 15 minutes at a single spot without moving because the roads are as narrow as a walking pathway and cars need to go in both directions.
The adventurous way
Hire a scooter. As soon as the boat reaches Nusa Penida, there will be people offering you scooters. N.b: You can hire a motorbike yourself. You can hire a driver and you can be a passenger or you can hire 2 bikes, one with a driver and a bike for you so you can follow him. The good thing about this is that you won’t have any issues with traffic jams or parking. Also, the prices are astonishingly cheap. A scooter will cost you IDR 60 000 for the day. The bad news is that this is a dangerous option! Take a look on YouTube about driving a motorbike in Nusa Penida. Again, I think the main issue is people rushing. Driving fast does not make sense here because there are potholes and ditches almost everywhere. Also, from my understanding helmets are not supplied with the bikes.
Although this may seem like a problem, I think that’s the beauty about Nusa Penida. The day all the roads are paved and all the attractions have guard railings, will be a sad day in my opinion. If I think of huge amounts of tourists, lots of taxis etc I would rather take Nusa Penida remaining this way any day!
This is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in Nusa Penida. The top is where you start. You can just admire the view at the top for hours if you want. That’s what most people do, but there is a path that goes down to the beach. The walk down will take you around 30 minutes and the walk up will take you around 40 minutes.
BEWARE: This trail has claimed lives. There’s not much solid information out there about how many people have lost their lives on this trail, but either way, don’t let it scare you. You do require a little bit of fitness, but it’s an unpaved rocky and sandy path with bamboo as railing. I say it’s a must! I think the reason people have problems here are because they go off the marked trail or they rush which causes falls or injuries. If you go slowly, take your time and bring enough water, it’s actually not that difficult.
The trail down to the beach requires moderate fitness and is slightly dangerous because of the loose rock and exposed cliffs on the path.
Although it’s not very long, the path is a bit steep and will take you about 30 minutes to go down and about 40 minutes to come up.
With risk comes reward. At the bottom of the trail is one of the best beaches I have seen in the world. White sand, clear blue water with just the perfect temperature to refresh your hard work that you put on the trail to get there. Also, there are thousands of pretty fish that are right near the shore swimming with you. If you are fortunate, you may see a manta ray as well. The best part of the whole experience for me was that as you enjoy the pleasant water and when you look up there are cliffs surrounding you from almost every direction. There also won’t be many people with you at the bottom because many people fear the trail and remain at the top. Expect more people on the weekend though.
The walk up the trail is the exact same trail that you walked down, except now you are walking 100% uphill until you reach the top. I went a bit slower and had many photo breaks in between, but on my way up there were quite a few people that were struggling. It’s usually hot and very exposed, so although it’s technically not a difficult trail, exhaustion could get to you.
I would strongly advise the following: Strictly no children. Don’t rush. Watch every step as it’s completely uneven with rocks that can have sand over and can become slippery. There’s a bamboo structure in place for you to hold on to from the top to the bottom, although you won’t have to hold on all the time, sometimes you will need to! Take at least 1L of water. Make sure you have eaten well before this experience. There are no services at the bottom. No life guards. No shops. No food, but that’s the beauty of it 😉
This is a natural pool surrounded by rocks with a cliff at the edge over the sea. What makes this special is the colour of the rock at the bottom of the natural pool. It may seem like it’s the colour of the water, which is bright green. It also has deep holes that you can swim and snorkel into. N.b: People have lost their lives here as well! At the end of the swimming area is a cliff that has pounding water against the rocks below. The problem is when the tide is high as it causes a strong back current of water that can sweep you over the cliff. When I was there, there was definitely a few life guards, and they ring a siren every time a wave is coming to warm people. Also, if you go to close to the edge they will ask you to come backwards.
It does get a bit crowded towards midday, although regardless it’s a great experience. You don’t really need to be a swimmer to enjoy this and it’s definitely a must stop as it’s located next to the Broken Beach which is just a short walk away.
The Angels Billabong has green rock that looks like water from a distance.
At the end of the Angels Billabong is a rocky cliff thats against deep water.
I would strongly recommend visiting Nusa Penida on a weekday. My experience here on a Sunday just before lunch time was not as pleasant as it could have been. There were too many people. I couldn’t swim properly without bumping into others, and the whole area was just too crowded. If I had visited this early in the morning I think I would have enjoyed it a million times more, but my choice for the morning was Kelingking Beach which was worth it.
This is an arched tunnel in a rock that allows water to flow through into a pool. Hence the name “Broken” Beach. Located walking distance from the Angels Billabong. You could go to whichever first. There is quite a large walking area around the whole feature. There are also lots of people selling snacks and drinks with a shaded area to sit in. I got to speak to lots of the locals there as well. Their English might not be as good as those in Bali, but you won’t have an issue communicating.
The Broken beach is located within walking distance from the Angels Billabong.
Not what the name suggests. This a very high point at the edge of a cliff, but not a waterfall. There’s two different experiences. From the parking lot at the entrance there are steep steps going up a hill, if you take those you will reach a very high point on a cliff without any form of railing at all. One wrong step and you will fall more than 200m! But you don’t have to go too close if you don’t want to, there is a small seating area that gives you a great view of the ocean with a safe distance away from the edge.
One step away from a two hundred meter cliff.
If you don’t go up the steep stairs and just walk straight into the entrance, you will meet some friendly people at the entrance, who will offer you a sarong to wear when you pay the small entrance fee. It’s actually a temple at the bottom, and a huge blue staircase that takes you down at the edge of the cliff. It’s not as dangerous, but it is quite steep. If you have lots of time on Nusa Penida you should give it a try, although if you are doing a day trip I would suggest you spend the time elsewhere on the island.
There’s a seating area with a view of the sea that’s almost to the end of the earth 😉
This is as the name suggests! A bay with crystal clear water. Depends on what your idea of fun is, you could easily spend the whole day here. If you just want to relax and have a nice swim, the beach is excellent, scenic and steps away from the parking lot. Depends on what tide it is, you could get quite close to the rock just off the beach. There are lots of shops renting out snorkelling gear on the beach as well.
Although it looks better in broad sunlight, the Crytsal Bay is an excellent swimming area with snorkelling equipment available for rent as well.
But the best part about crystal bay is, as you walk along the beach towards the extreme left, you will find a small concealed staircase that’s very easy to miss. It’s partly hidden by water flowing into the sea and part of the forest is taking the staircase back into nature. I actually didn’t know what this was or where it was leading to, until I had to find out by exploring it.
At first it’s steep, winding and seems never ending, but after about 10 minutes of walking it leads to a flat surface for another 5 minutes of walking, followed by a downward staircase of another 10 minutes which will lead you to a gorgeous beach that’s between two small mountains. When we reached it, we had the entire beach to ourselves, compared to the main area in front of the car park that was full of people. The beach itself is about 100m in length and has lots of shaded areas to relax. The walk back is exactly the same way that you got there from.
From the main area at the Crystal Bay, there is a concealed staircase that leads to a smaller and more private beach that’s surrounded by mountains.
Atuh Beach/ Diamond Beach
It is between this and Kelingking Beach for the most gorgeous spot on the whole island! There’s three main things you need to see here. Atuh beach is towards your left as you enter. You will need to drive down an insanely steep road that has lots of loose sand, which will take you to the first of the two beaches. Although it’s a fantastic beach, the main highlight of this is the Diamond beach, which has a path carved from the rocks which you can walk down to from the top of the cliff. It’s called Diamond Beach because of the diamond shaped rock at the bottom, and just makes the whole area look spectacular! And of course at the bottom is a great beach with scenery in every single direction.
There is one catch though however. This area is located on the east of the island, and because of the roads being so bad on the island, it will take you a while to get there. So this is very easy to do with a 2 day trip to Nusa Penida and a bit complicated to add to all the other main activities located on the West of the island that you cannot miss.
Exactly as the name suggests! A bay with lots of Mantas (If you are fortunate). This is located near the Angels Billabong and Broken Beach area. If you love snorkelling and like to see marine life, this is a great area for that. Manta rays tend to like this area for some reason, although I have heard of people who haven’t seen a single one the whole day at this point.
How long do you need in Nusa Penida?
A day trip will do, although it will be difficult to finish all the attractions and enjoy them thoroughly in a day. I suggest you stay ONE night and have 2 full days. There are a few decent hotels that have come up recently and are mostly well priced.
Nusa Penida is not meant to be an all round destination that you can stay at for weeks. The infrastructure and services are just not at that level as yet, but that’s where the beauty of it is in! It’s so close to Bali, yet so different and the rural experience will definitely give you something to remember.
The only sad thing is that the island won’t be as untouched as this for much longer as the world realises that is really has to offer and tourism numbers increase. How much longer do we have to experience this piece of paradise exactly the way it is?
I hope it’s forever..