Why Nusa Penida must be part of your Bali itinerary?
We have all heard about the unmissable Gili islands and Nusa Lembongan in the list of nearby islands to visit when you are in Bali. We are here to make a case for the lesser known Nusa (island in Indonesian) - Nusa Penida.
Nusa Penida happened to us by chance and boy, did we fall for it, hard. The impending volcanic eruption of Mount Agung made us change our reservations from Amed (in East Bali, with geographical proximity to the volcano) to Nusa Penida. And that is one impromptu decision we are glad we made during our Bali sojourn.
The largest of the three Nusa islands (Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan being the other two) in the south-eastern part of Bali, Nusa Penida is almost untouched by tourists, thanks to its rough terrain and unpaved roads or lack thereof. But that is what makes it most exciting too. You can rent a bike and set out to explore the island at your own pace. Or for the time-pressed souls, you can rent a cab and go around the prime spots of the island in a day.
Reaching there: We took a fast boat from Sanur harbor that cost us IDR 150,000 per person one way. The boat dropped us at the Nusa Penida harbor in about 35 minutes. Our hotel sent a buggy to the harbor to pick us. There are slower boats too that are cheaper but take longer (approximately 90 minutes) to reach the island.
Staying there: We booked a two-night stay at the newly opened Semuba Hills hotel that overlooks the Indian ocean. We picked the King Suite there which was priced at IDR 1,100,000 per night. Since the island is low on the radar of tourists, hotels here are far and few between. There are some home stay options. If you are planning on spending a few days on the island, it is suggested that accommodation bookings be done beforehand.
Exploring Nusa Penida: On our first day there, the hotel staff was kind enough to give us a buggy lift to Crystal Bay. With the sun shining bright on the white sand beach and crystal clear water - Crystal Bay is your perfect picnic spot. It is also great for snorkelling. We spent the entire afternoon and evening lazing on the bed of sand and strolling through the nearby areas. Our food options were limited to the hotel restaurant itself as there was nothing else to opt for within walking distance.
The next day, we rented a bike (for IDR 100,000) from the hotel and set out on our adventure. We rode through treacherous roads for almost 45 minutes to reach Angel Billabong and the Broken Beach. The former is a natural pool and you could dip in for a quick swim here. Getting down to it is tricky and caution is suggested. The enchanting view made us stop every few steps to take it all in as we walked from Angel Billabong to Broken Beach - a distance of about 300 meters.
Our next stop was Kelingking Beach. After parking our bike, we were a little underwhelmed as the view seemed ordinary and a beach was nowhere in sight. It was not until we reached the edge of the cliff that we were completely dumbfounded by what we saw. We realized we were not at the beach, but at a beach point. The beach was located down the cliff and from where we stood the footsteps on the beach sand looked like an ant trail.
A flight of rickety steps will take you down to the beach. But mind you, it is not an easy task. We saw some fellow visitors getting up from the beach who were completely exhausted. While the walk downhill is feasible, it is the climb back up that took most out of those who attempted this expedition. We were already very tired and quite frankly, unprepared to take up such a venture. So we decided to give it a miss. With the sun setting in, we had to skip our next destination, Atuh Beach, too. Well what are next times for if not to cover the unseen and bask in the sun a little while more!