We had ummed and ahhed whether to make the hop across to the largest of the three islands neighbouring Bali’s southeast coast and if it would be worth it considering it had rained for the last week but we couldn’t be more happy that we decided to take the plunge! We spent just two nights on Nusa Penida but they were two of the most challenging yet rewarding days of our trip so far!
To get to the island you can either charter a boat from Jungutbatu beach on Nusa Lembongan or do as we did, which was also the cheaper option, and head down to the base of the yellow bridge and haggle with a local fisherman to take you across in his boat. We paid 50k each, one-way which is still pretty expensive in our opinion but was our only option (apart from swimming which Josh certainly considered!!) The boat journey over takes around fifteen minutes and drops you on the beach at Tojapakeh where you can hire a moped from the many little shops which you again will most definitely need to explore!
But first – a warning!!! Nusa Penida is a big island and whilst the main ring road is a lovely drive along a smooth tarmac, palm tree lined road, the interior of the island is quite a different story. The scenery is absolutely spectacular, the roads are not! These are THE worst roads we have ever come across and most definitely need an experienced, confident driver with a lot of patience to manage. It takes a long time to get anywhere on the island due to this and can be extremely frustrating at times but should you choose to brave it the end of the journey is always rewarding!
Here are our top 5 things to see and do in Nusa Penida….should you choose to accept the adventure!
On the southeast coast of the island this is the most dramatic coastline we have seen on our travels so far…it is amazing and well worth the long journey and 10k entry fee! We stayed for around two hours before having to tear ourselves away from spectacular views at the top of the cliff in the tree house and tiny hut view points that give you the most incredible views out over the shear cliff face and white sand beach at the bottom. There is no way down to the beach but that doesn’t really matter when the view is like this…
Broken Beach aka Pasih Uug
As mentioned, don’t expect the journey to this point on the west coast to be that pleasant! Once you pass through the tiny village the road weaves off to some very up and down barely there roads down to the beach itself. Endure! Once you arrive the view of an entirely circular cliff with crystal waters in the middle will (almost!) make you forget the journey. Look closely and you can see Manta Rays swimming around in the lagoon style water and the view out over the rest of the islands coastline is, once again, incredible! Its one of the main attractions of Penida and we definitely agree that if you go, its a must see!
We were actually somewhat underwhelmed when we arrived at Crystal beach – yes, yes, beach snobs we hear you call! The sand is very hard and not as white as we had seen in the many pictures before arriving. However, its a great place to laze around in the afternoon, buy some cheap food and enjoy watching the local fisherman swim around in the sea! We certainly still enjoyed it after a morning of tearing our hair out at the roads!
Take a drive…
Now this might sound stupid considering how we have banged on about the awful roads this whole post but making sure you stick to the ring road which circles the island and none of the interior there is one nice drive to be had. The road takes you all the way around the coast with palm tree filled fields, local house, local children waving frantically, gorgeous views out across Bali and Mount Agung and twisting and turning up over the cliffs looking down on the sprawling seaweed farms and farmers hard at work in the sea shore. With the wind in your hair and sun shining it may be just nice enough to forget the other roads…just!
Rumah Pohon Tree house
Finally, if the rest of the island hasn’t been an adventure enough for you book a nights accommodation at Rumah Pohon. We booked a night here before arriving in Penida and its one of the best decisions we have made! After spotting it on Booking.com we just could not turn down the chance of staying in a real life treehouse! Yep, you heard! Booking.com gave us a vague idea of where we would be staying but other than that, it was really unclear what was to come…
Review to follow..
For now lets just say it was amazing, the views incredible and the experience one of a kind!
We absolutely loved all three of the Nusa islands but with the added adventure of Penida probably making it our favourite and a place we will definitely recommend. Our time here made us realise that Bali is not quite what we had expected, so if you want a real taste of island life with not many travellers, head here and enjoy the delights of the local Indonesian village and fisherman culture.
C & J