Exploring Nusa Penida in a Day
It’s not difficult to see why Bali is a south-east Asian hotspot, with the Indonesian island effortlessly interlacing surfer-vibes with boutique chic and jungle tranquility. If you’re fortunate enough to have some time up your sleeve, or are already a seasoned Bali regular, consider exploring just beyond the Island’s coast to the picturesque island of Nusa Penida. Ideally, I do recommend staying on the island for a few days as the beaches and natural features are aplenty (you can even snorkel with giant manta rays!). However, the popular hot-spots can be covered in one day provided you plan well and start early.
The island is accessible via ferry from Sanur Port in the south of Bali. Be sure to arrive early as although the boats are frequent you may find yourself waiting to board for quite some time due to the many tour groups needing to access the island. Be sure to wear shorts or easily removable bottoms- there is no boat ramp and you are expected to walk to the boat, even when the tide is waist-deep! Once you reach the island, bear in mind that it is far less developed than the mainland and the roads can be extremely bumpy, narrow and unpredictable. Local drivers are experienced so ensure that if you are going it alone you exercise extreme caution as the conditions do change quite unexpectedly. You should also carry cash on you will be need to pay a small entrance fee per vehicle for each site.
The first stops on your one day speed tour are Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. Both sites are located within walking distance of one another and surrounded by similarly breathtaking clifftop views of the ocean. I was a bit disappointed to learn that Angel’s Billabong is now completely roped off and unable to be accessed by tourists for swimming due to safety concerns. Nonetheless, the swells and surges of the water are quite striking. Broken Beach is characterised by it’s charming archway, inaccessible beach and a slightly nerve-wrenching drop. Getting anywhere near the edge of this cliff was stomach-churning but a perfect photo opportunity (see below for me risking my life for the ‘gram).
Enduring another long drive you’ll eventually reach Kelingking Beach (the quirky little land formation resembling a T-Rex). It’s not difficult to see why the spot has become the pinnacle of any trip to Nusa Penida. Generally, it is an opportunity for a gorgeous, birds-eye photo of the unique natural feature, yet the site also offers the option of a lengthy hike down to the beach itself. It is not an easy hike (particularly on the way back up) and slightly time consuming (hence why most tour groups simply won’t allow you the time). If you are fortunate enough to squeeze in the hike, you’ll have a lot more privacy than the crowded picture points and the opportunity to swim, explore caves and enjoy a little slice of paradise. Kelingking Beach viewpoint is also one of the most convenient places for a pit-stop, with lots of small, locally-owned restaurants serving affordable meals.
The final stop on a one-day-trip around Nusa Penida is Crystal Bay- a popular tourist beach with sparkling water. Admittedly the beach can get quite crowded as it is one of the only easily accessible beaches on the island, but it is definitely cleaner than the popular beaches on the main island. Be cautious when swimming as the bay has many sharp, jagged rocks under the water. If you wish to keep exploring, or don’t want to take your chances with the dagger-like rocks, a bonus site is located just alongside Crystal Bay. The surrounding area is adorned with rows and rows of sky-scraping palm trees and lush forrest- definitely worth a detour and explore before heading back to the port.
A day trip to Nusa Penida is the perfect compliment to any Bali trip, particularly for those travellers who have already exhausted the major tourist point. I really enjoyed cruising around and exploring the secluded and unique natural sites that the island had to offer (albeit I did fear for my life over a few bumpy potholes in the process).