Nusa Penida is an island paradise off mainland Bali – it also revived my love for the island. Here are 11 reasons why.
Nusa Penida is the largest of the three Nusa islands. It’s a beautiful nature wonderland, and worth more than a couple of day’s stay to really explore. I did not have the luxury of time, so I did a two-day one-night stay from Nusa Lembongan. I feel like I’ve only scratched the Instagram surface of this island.
A couple of things to note: I would not recommend a daytrip to Nusa Penida. Each site is perhaps an hour away from each other, which meant a day trip would only allow you a maximum of three places to visit.
Exploring Nusa Penida
I would recommend engaging a tour which would involve a private car with your own driver and guide. A lot of the roads are still under-developed, which meant lots of bumpy rides. If you choose to self-drive by scooter, practice with caution. On our journey, we passed by a tourist washing her wounds clean after falling off her scooter. That said – there are certain locations that can only be accessed by scooter. If you’re adept to the skill of scootering… by all means.
The company I went with is Lembongan Penida Tour.
Kelinking Viewpoint, with the iconic “T-Rex” cliff.
This place is slowly becoming developed, and this is apparent with the warungs along with the steps that’s been built to get to Kelinking beach below. A friend of mine visited just a couple years back, and the way down was a dangerously steep rickety path. There are also lots of warungs built up there.
If you have time (or energy), hike your way down to Kelinking Beach, which I’ve heard is exceptionally beautiful. I skipped on this, because exercise, so I was just admiring the view from the top. I did venture the thought of climbing down, even going down a few steps. But decided against it after two fit-looking guys were huffing and heaving their way to the top, one almost collapsing as soon as he reached the top.
The way here is rough though, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
BUT. Kelingking Beach with all it natural beauty glory, has become a bit of a touristic hellhole, especially if you’re there in midday like I was. I didn’t mind the crowd, what bothered me was that I couldn’t even stand anywhere to admire the view without someone shooing me away because they wanted a photo. I must have been shooed away some three times for just standing there trying to mind my own business.
In any case, still a gorgeous place… I’m just saying, if you didn’t end up here on your trip, it’s no experiential loss.
Angel’s Billabong. Uniquely beautiful crater of water. You used to be able to swim in it, but they’ve since closed it up after a couple of tourists got swept away by the currents out into the open sea. Yikes.
As one of the more popular places in Nusa Penida, it gets crowded. But I still couldn’t help but marvel at the crystal clear waters against the rocky bottom. It looks a lot like a gemstone.
Located close to Angel’s Billabong is Broken Beach. Definitely take the time to have a leisurely walk around. Chill by the cliffside overlooking the ocean, maybe venture up further – it’s close to Manta Point so there’s a high chance of some manta ray spotting here.
Speaking of which…
I didn’t actually go to Manta Point while I was in Nusa Penida – I was there on a diving excursion from Nusa Lembongan. While I didn’t spot any manta rays while underwater, we managed to see one on our way to the second dive site. Manta rays are large, and extremely elegant underwater. I would still love to see some while diving someday.
You can snorkel here too, although I have to warn about the rocky seas. I’ve never gotten seasick on a dive trip before, but I hurled my guts out from the rocky waves at Manta Bay.
Crystal Bay Beach
Crystal Beach is one of those popular touristy beach that’s included in all itineraries. I wouldn’t say I was blown away by it, but the waters are the fun sort to swim in. These are nice, warm waters with waves strong enough for a bit of a workout, but will not bash you off your bikinis. If you’re swimming with kids, you’d still need to keep a close lookout for them – these waters were not the calmest.
I was told that there’s a temple nearby perched on top of one of the stone cliffs off the beach. While I did see some semblance of a temple up there from the beach, I can’t quite figure out how people would be able to visit. If you do, let me know.
On the same dive trip mentioned prior, Crystal Bay was the second site. Great diving following some healthy coral reef walls, but the currents here can get strong and the waters are cold. The site is also popular for spotting Mola-molas, unfortunately I wasn’t a part of this since I am but an open water diver. Boo.
An absolutely heavenly beach is Atuh Beach. To get here is a bit of a tough one – you have to hike all the way down, some 20 to 30 minutes away. We skipped this… Don’t judge, but we had very limited time here before we had to catch our ferry back to mainland Bali. We would only have about half an hour on the beach if we were to make the journey down. That doesn’t seem a worth-it amount of time for the effort it would take to get up and down Atuh Beach.
Till today, however, my travel buddies and I would lament a slight regret that we didn’t go down. From where we were, the beach looked heavenly. The waters were calm, a gorgeous clear blue, and gloriously… empty. Shoulda woulda coulda.
To get to Atuh Beach, you will first arrive at Atuh Cliff. This cliff is an attraction in itself for the amazing views that it offers. Overlooking the sea, there are also a couple of sights from here, namely the Treehouse, and Pulau Seribu.
The Instagram-famous Treehouse. I wasn’t too fussed about this place, but followed along since it was included in the itinerary. There were three treehouses there, and they were all occupied.
You can stay at the Treehouse if you want to, though though from quick search online, they seemed booked out for months. The treehouses all had occupants when I visited. It looked very basic from the outside, and they share a toilet outdoors.
The main draw of Treehouse Molenteng is its view. It looks over the gorgeous Pulau Seribu.
Pulau Seribu is translated as Thousand Islands. But there’s really not a thousand islands. More like five.
“This is Pulau Seribu,” said our guide.
“One, two, three, four,” I said, pointing out some rocky juts. “Where’s the seribu?” *awkward laughter ensues. So maybe also don’t make that joke with your guide – he’s heard it seribu times.
Regardless, the view of the Pulau Seribu is unbelievable.
I was not expecting much when I first read that we’re going to see Teletubbies Hill as part of the tour. However, once we arrived the sight excited me much that I had to break out into the Teletubbies theme song. One more time now: “TINKYWINKY! DIPSY! LALA! PO! POOOO!!!” #90sKid
The hills were giant versions of the hills the Teletubbies tumbled over. This might just be a distance optical illusion, but the hills looked strangely soft and fuzzy. In any case, this was a fun stop before we headed to the pier to catch our ferry.
Sunrise at Toyopakeh
If you were with a tour like we were, there’s a high chance your overnight stay will be at Toyopakeh. It’s a long, coastal stretch of beaches and accommodation. The sunrise here is beyond spectacular, so I would suggest staying at a beachfront hotel and setting a 6am wakeup call.
A couple of recommendations for Toyopakeh accommodation would be: Coastal Inn and Umah Prahu. Our initial choice was Coastal Inn, and we were excited to arrive to a charming little hotel by the sea, but it was fully booked. We drove a few doors down to Umah Prahu, which turned out even better. Each bungalow room is in the shape of a boat front. Adorable.