72 hours on Nusa Penida, Indonesia

Nusa Penida is a small island part of the Klungkung regency in Indonesia. I have lived in Bali for almost 1 ½ years, but never got the chance to go to Nusa penida and that is why Nusa Penida was high on my list when I came back to Bali for a holiday. I was not disappointed! For anybody travelling to Bali, I cannot recommend a trip to Nusa Penida highly enough.
map nusa penida.jpgSome facts

  • Next to Nusa Penida are two smaller islands called Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. The three islands are separated from Bali by the Bandung Strait.
  • Nusa Lemgongan is more touristic than Nusa Penida. A lot of snorkeling/diving day trips are organized to Nusa Lemgongan. I recommend going to Nusa Penida instead of Lembongan, because it’s more authentic, untouched by tourism and there are a lot of natural highlights. Snorkelling/diving is great here as well, because the coral has not been damaged yet due to mass tourism.
  • Nusa Penida is famous for diving with Manta rays.
  • Nusa Penida is hilly with a maximum altitude of 524 metres. It’s drier than Bali.
  • Most of the roads are in very bad condition which makes it a real adventure to drive around the island.
  • There are not many hotels or other tourist facilities on Nusa Penida and on most parts of the island there is no phone signal or Wi-Fi.
  • You can get to Nusa Penida by fast boat. It departs from Sanur, Bali and takes around 30 minutes. There are many fast boat companies. I used Maruti Express. Return ticket from Sanur to Toyapakeh on Nusa Penida costs around 300.000 – 400.000 IDR including pick up and drop off at your accommodation in Bali.
  • The island is never busy, also not in high season, so it’s not necessary to book your accommodation in advance. But keep in mind that there are not that many accommodations so using a website like Booking.com might make it easier to find one. Accommodations are cheap. You can get a bed in a dormitory room for only 100.000 IDR. Private rooms starts around 170.000 IDR and go up from there.
  •  It’s best to rent a motorbike to get around the island. You can get one for 60.000 IDR per day. The roads are difficult to drive on so if you are not a good driver consider hiring a motorbike with driver.

Here’s how I spend 3 days on Nusa Penida:

Day 1:
Pick up at my hotel in Bali around 8:00 AM. Because I am staying in Sanur the harbour is only a 10 minutes’ drive. The fast boat departs at 8.30 AM. Around 9.00 AM I arrive at Pelabuhan Banjar Nyuh II, one of the fast boat harbours in Toyapakeh, Nusa Penida. As soon as I get off the boat, local people start asking where I need to go and if I need transport. I rent a motorbike and I’m on my way to my hotel. I’ve booked a private room with air-conditioning at Manta Cottages with Sea View. A nice but basic hotel around 30 minutes away from the harbour. When I arrive, Ketut, the cleaner, shows me to my room and tells me about a nice temple only 5 minutes away. Pura Goa Giri Putri is a cave temple and many Hindus from Bali come and pray at this temple. So I decide to go there first.

goa-giri-putri-temple
At the temple I can see a ceremony is about to start. Before I am allowed into the cave I need to wait for the ceremony to finish. While waiting one of the priests gives me a bottle of water, some fruit and he makes me a bracelet of red, white and black threads. These three colours are believed to give protection to the wearer. Everybody is very welcoming and kind. I try to make some conversation, but nobody speaks English. After the local people have gone inside the cave I am allowed to follow. The entrance is very small and I have to crawl to get inside but the cave itself is huge. There are around 4 or 5 altars in the cave where people are praying. A priests blesses me with holy water and rice and after I take a few pictures, I go outside again. There are a few other travellers as well and I start talking with a Swedish girl who also travels alone. We decide to travel together for the rest of the day.

We plan to go to Atuh Beach first and then to a temple where they practice black magic (Pura Ped). There are not much signs so we have to ask several times for the right direction to Atuh Beach and the road gets worse and worse. Once we reach the cliffs at Atuh Beach the road is so bad that we decide not to go further. Also other travellers, who were on their way back, informed us the beach is nice but not worth the long, bad road down. We take a few pictures of the nice view and turn our bikes around. We are very hungry so we look for a warung (local restaurant) and order nasi goreng. After that we go to Pura Ped. It is a large, beautiful temple but we do not have a guide to explain us about the meaning of it all, so to us it looks like a normal temple. After 10 minutes we decide to leave. The Swedish girl has to go back to Nusa Lembongan at 5 PM so we head back towards the harbour. After she has left it is too late to go to another sight so I drive to a nearby beach and watch the local farmers tend to the seaweed. Nusa Penida has the largest seaweed farms of the Klungkung regency, so many beaches are seaweed farms. I am quite tired so around 7 PM I go back to my hotel. I have dinner at Warung Mola Mola, a warung on a cliff with good local dishes and surprisingly, also western food such as pizza and burgers. After that I go back to the hotel, take a shower and fall asleep with the sound of the waves on the background.

saren-cliff-point
Day 2
I wake up around 8 AM and Ketut brings a banana pancake and cup of coffee to my room. They are still constructing the restaurant so for now, guests get their breakfast in their rooms. Today I plan to go to the main sights of Nusa Penida; Angel’s Billabong, Broken Beach (Pasih Uug) and Kelingking Cliffs. If there is enough time, I also wanna go to Peguyangan Waterfall. On the main road there are clear signs so I have no problem with finding the right direction. However, after around 1 hour driving I have to go off this road and I get lost almost immediately. My sense of direction is not that good and GPS is not working. I drive too far south and instead of going to the sights I was planning to see, I go to some other beautiful places. In Tembeling I follow a sign that lead to a natural pool in the forest and a beautiful secluded beach. Unfortunately, the pool is only allowed for man. At the beach there is a much smaller natural pool (puddle) for women. I take a rest here and locals tell me about Saren Cliff Point & Derek Hill View and Banah Cliffs. They are not far away so I decide to go there next.

derek hill view.jpg
The views at the cliffs are mesmerizing. All the cliffs are definitely something that make Nusa Penida special. Again, I sit and take a rest. I’m already driving for a few hours and because the roads are of very bad quality I’m quite tired already. At banah Cliffs I meet a Dutch couple who have a good map of the island and I see that the Kelingking Cliffs are not far away. So I get back on my bike and drive to Kelingking.  It’s around 3 PM once I get there. Again, the view is amazing. It’s a beautiful cliff and a white sandy beach with turquoise water. I drink a fresh coconut here and speak with a couple from Jakarta. They have just been to Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. I wanna go there next but again, I get lost. I see a sign for Seganing Waterfall so I decide to follow that. Seganing Waterfall is a cliff waterfall going straight into the ocean. To get there you have to climb down the cliff. This is a very difficult and scary road. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have done it, because I was completely alone. I definitely do not recommend it if you are not in a good shape. It took me 45 minutes to climb down and to be honest, I was disappointed to see the ‘waterfall’. It was not much more than a small stream going into the ocean.  Apparently it’s more impressive at the end of rainy season, which is around April. It took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to climb up again and once I arrived back at my bike it was starting to get dark (It gets dark at 6 PM). Because the roads are very bad and there are no street lights, I headed back to the main road. I was very hungry and tired. I ate again at Warung Mola Mola and went to bed early. Today had definitely been a real adventure.

Seganing waterfall.jpg
Day 3
My last day in Nusa Penida. At 3 PM I have to catch the boat back to Bali so I decide to wake up early. I quickly eat my banana pancake and I’m on my way. I am  determined to find Angel’s billabong and Broken Beach and I also wanna go snorkeling at Crystal Bay. I have decided to skip Peguyangan Waterfall as it’s too far away.

angels-billabong
Luckily, I stay on the right road today and within 2 hours I arrive at Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. These two landmarks are right next to each other, within walking distance. I walk around for a while, taking many pictures, and then I drive back to the main road. Crystal Bay is very easy to find. The road is not good, but the signs are very clear. It’s the most touristic part of the island. Many people come to crystal bay for snorkelling and most of the diving boats also depart from this beach, but luckily I have the beach almost to myself. I rent a snorkelling set for 15.000 IDR and spend the next hour in the water. The coral is beautiful and there are a lot of fishes. At 1.30 PM I go back to Toyapakeh to catch the boat to Bali. I arrive their early so I have lunch first. I eat Nasi Jinggo, which is white rice with shredded chicken, tempeh and sambal in a banana leaf. After that, I check-in at the Maruti Express office and wait for the boat. Back in Sanur the driver drops me off at my hotel and I spend the rest of the day relaxing in the swimming pool.

crystal bay.jpg
These 3 days were a highlight of my holiday. I recommend Nusa Penida to everybody who wants to get off the beaten track and escape the crowds of Bali.

Guest author: Jolien Peters

All the pictures in this article are in possession of Jolien Peters.
Read more inspirational articles of Jolien Peters:

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