09 Jun Discover: Nusa Penida
A combination of three things excite me: (1) amazing scenery and (2) little tourist infrastructure because that means (3) there will not be much tourists in the area. And as I was going on with planning the Balinese dream, I came across this one island called Nusa Penida.
It looks like this:
I’m an island lover and if you show me photos like those, I’d immediately figure out how to get there. ASAP. A quick Google search led me to a company called Nice Tour Bali who (apparently) provides private tours to and around the island for USD100 per person. Yes, private. I knew I had to go; I mean who would say no to an all-inclusive island tour to such a beautiful island? A private one at that.
So we’re off.
About Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida is an island southeast of Bali. It is the biggest (but least famous) of the Nusa Penida district; formed together with Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan (the most famous). Aside from being home to a famous beach and billabong, it is also a bird sanctuary. The marine life in the island is rich with multiple dive sites and a bay where you can spot and swim with manta rays.
The trip begins in the morning, kicking off from where you’re staying. A private pick-up will be arranged (pick-up time to be advised based on where you’re coming from) to bring you to Sanur, where a jet boat is waiting to take you to Nusa Penida. In Sanur, you board a speedboat together with other people headed to the island; you will sail on the Badung Strait for more or less 50 minutes.
The Island Tour
Welcome to Nusa Penida. Find your tour guide when you get to the island. He will brief you about the tour, as well as provide you with your snorkelling gear.
The adventure begins with a (long) drive to the famous Broken Beach, pictured below, and Angel’s Billabong.
In ideal weather situations, you can swim in the billabong (as seen on Instagram lol), but fate wasn’t with me when I visited; waves were too strong. I was allowed to go down, but only low enough (still over the rocks) to snap a photo quick; I was told the waves can seriously injure you (I actually know someone who almost drowned in it).
From Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong, the tour continues on a (yet another) long drive to one of the most beautiful beaches in Indonesia – Kelingking Beach. However, this tour does not permit you to head down (bummer) due to time constraints of the day trip. You instead go to a “secret point”, which is really just a view point. It is also the same area where the trek down to the beach begins.
Lunch (your choice of meal and drink) is included in the tour, served in a small restaurant near this viewpoint. I went with a coconut (of course, I mean why not) and a traditional chicken meal. Not the best, but it wasn’t bad.
Another (long) drive will take you to the last stop of the tour – Crystal Beach. Lounge, snorkel, swim kind of vibe. They sell snacks and drinks here, too! At this point, I was too beat from the driving; I had to chill for 25 minutes before heading to the water lol.
From Crystal Cove, it’s another (long) drive back to the dock, where your speedboat is waiting to bring you back to Sanur. The same car that took you to Sanur will drive you back to your hotel / villa.
I ASKED FOR IT
One thing I failed to inform myself (and get ready for) is the fact that the tour involves driving through the island. My ill-informed self thought we’d be sailing on a boat around the island. So one thing to consider: you will drive around the island for at least an hour to get to each stop. The reason for the long drives is this:
A big chunk of the roads in the island is unpaved (and really ~rocky), uphill-downhill, and more importantly – “one way”. It is an undeveloped island, and main roads and byways are fit for just one car. If there is a vehicle coming from the other side, someone has to pull over and give way.
Perhaps I asked for it – I wanted to visit an untouched island, a place with just a few tourists. And along with this craving is the *pretty* intense journey it took just to get a feel of what paradise is like. I would say it’s worth it, but I wish I knew it took that much of an effort. #justkeepingitreal
Also, keep in mind that this particular tour is more of a sightseeing tour around the island than a swim-in-the-sea beach trip. You only get to swim at the end for a few hours (and in the billabong if you’re lucky). Moreover, it felt as though I spent more time on the road than anywhere else in the island. It’s not the best feeling but given the “untouched” situation of the island, it’s inevitable and clearly something you have to bear if you want to see what the island has to offer.
You can know more about my Bali visit here; see why the island is such a dream. I have enumerated 13 reasons why you should stay in Ubud, in case you need convincing. I have also spilled seven secrets of Southern Bali cos no Bali visit is ever complete without seeing the south.
Find the good in getting lost,