2 girls eating under a hut while viewing the beach in front

Nusa Penida – The Secret Island

The beautiful holiday islands Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are frequently visited by tourists willing to escape Bali for a day or two – but the bigger island just after these more touristy getaways, Nusa Penida is still a somewhat unexplored secret that most people haven’t even heard of. Udayana University intern, Isabelle, visited Nusa Penida just recently, and will share a few secrets with our readers in the following piece. 

nusa_penida_secret_beach Do you want to leave Bali for a day or two and explore empty white-sand beaches with no tourists around you? If you just answered ‘yes’, Nusa Penida is for you!

Even though I’ve been living in Bali for a few years now, I have heard very little about the island of Nusa Penida. The island lays next to the more well known island Nusa Lembongan, which is located southeast of Bali. Totalling some 200 square kilometres, Nusa Penida is much larger than Nusa Lembongan. However, tourist infrastructure is very limited on Nusa Penida – but growing fast. On the island they speak an ancient dialect of Balinese which they call Nusa Nusa Penidan. I decided to finally visit the island and brought nine of my girlfriends with me – and it turned out to be quite an adventure!

We got picked up at our villa in Seminyak at 7 in the morning and the first leg of the trip was to the harbour in Sanur, which was only 30 minutes. From there, the speedboat took us to Nusa Penida island. The day we went the wind was strong, the waves on the ocean were high and you could feel the rain in the air. So not exactly ideal conditions for a boat trip but we all bravely jumped on the boat. The waves were indeed high and the boat rocked from side to side.

This 45-minute trip felt like five hours, and I was happy to kiss the ground when we finally reached the shores of Nusa Penida! Right after we arrived, we rented five motorbikes but none of them included a helmet! We were not happy with the no-helmet deal, but insead of finding us helmets, the rental guy just told us to be careful because the roads are very underdeveloped. We shrugged our shoulders and drove away, but oh how I wish that I had listened to that guy a little bit more!

Nusa_penida_motorbikes

We drove to our hotel which was located in the very north of the island. We threw our bags in the room and went out on the roads to explore the island. The first place we wanted to see was Cristal Bay, located on the west side of the island. The roads were full of holes everywhere and some of the hills were very steep. The nature was amazing and there were palm trees everywhere you looked.

We were getting closer to Cristal Bay and suddenly one of our bikes slid and crashed. One of the two girls on the bike got a lot of cuts and tears were running down her face. She soon recovered and we finally reached the beach. It was magical! All you could see was white sand, a crystal blue ocean, and not a tourist in sight. We all ran into the ocean and ended up having an amazing day at the beach.

All you could see was white sand, a crystal blue ocean, and not a tourist in sight. We all ran into the ocean and ended up having an amazing day at the beach.

Cristal_bay_nusa_penida Besides riding motorbikes, be ready to walk down some steep paths too in order to make your way down to the beaches. Cristal Bay, Nusa Penida

On the second day we woke up early and drove to Atuh beach, located on the east side of the island. After getting lost a few times we met a nice man that helped us find our way. The roads on this side of the island were even steeper and more broken than the day before; it didn’t take long after one of us had an accident again. This time one girl got her toes pretty badly hurt.

We were all so over driving on the roads but we were so close to Atuh beach already… We didn’t want give up so we continued a few more minutes down the hill.

Just 50 meters before the parking area we had another slight crash and now 3 out of 5 bikes had been in accidents. Again, nothing too serious but we were now very upset that some of our friends had gotten hurt. We started walking towards the beach and once we saw the amazing view, we soon forgot about the struggles that it took to reach this place.

Atuh beach is probably one of the hardest to reach locations I’ve ever visited but at the same time one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We all couldn’t believe our eyes! We got down to the beach and spent the whole day playing in the waves, picking seashells and drinking coconuts.

atuh_beach_nusa_penida Steps that lead down to Atuh Beach. While the journey to get to Atuh Beach may be long, it is very rewarding for those who are up for a little adventure.

Nusa Penida is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. Can I recommend this trip? Well, if you’re looking for pretty beaches and some nice restaurants, maybe it is an easier option to go to Nusa Lembongan or the Gili islands. But if you have good motorbike skills and want to see something very different from Bali, then Nusa Penida might just be where you want to visit. Just make sure that you take your helmet from Bali, and also wear proper shoes when riding the bike on Nusa Penida. There’s a lot to see but the roads can be dangerous, especially for more inexperienced drivers. As there isn’t much tourism on the island yet, the motorbikes are really the only way to get around.

Have fun exploring and be safe!

nusa_penida_amazing_view Isabelle, who is doing her internship at Udayana University in Bali, visited Nusa Penida with her friends in February 2017. This is a picture from an amazing viewpoint in Kelinging.

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