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Nusa Penida is a stunning island off the south eastern coast of Bali, often said to be what Bali was like 20 years ago. Today, it remains a haven for travellers who love the outdoors to be unspoilt by mass tourism. Discover why Nusa Penida, with its natural rock pools, pristine beaches, Jurassic cliffs and raw landscape, should be a bucket list destination.
Nusa Penida is the largest of the three islands off the south eastern coast of Bali, with Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan being the more visited destinations. Boats leave from Sanur, Kusamba and Padangbai, the main harbours in east Bali. Public boats take 45 minutes and cost Rp31,000 (US$2.30), with more expensive speed boat options from Rp75,000 (US$5.50). There are also boats from Nusa Lembongan.
Accommodation on Nusa Penida is mostly located on the north coast. From cheap homestays to air-conditioned bungalows, prices range from Rp135,000 (US$10) to Rp540,000 (US$40) per night. There are also numerous Airbnb options. Fancy something a little quirky? Why not stay in a treehouse? Rumah Pohon has several with stunning sunrise views.
Nusa Penida is a largely untamed island and offers plenty to see. Although roads in the main areas are well developed, exploring the rest of the island can be extremely difficult as the road conditions are very poor. It can take a while getting from one spot to another, so the best way to manoeuvre around the island is by the small motorbikes that are available for hire from Rp60,000 per day (US$4.40).
There is plenty for the adventurous traveller to do on Nusa Penida. The 200km² island boasts over 20 dive sites and is known as a world class diving destination. The most noteworthy spots include Crystal Bay, Manta Point, Manta Bay and Toyapakeh. Divers can expect to see hundreds of species of coral and fish, including the mola-mola (oceanic sunfish) and large manta rays. There are a few dive operators on the island, the most popular being Penida Dive Resort and Blue Corner Dive Penida.
One of the most distinguished features of Nusa Penida is the rugged cliffs and coastlines. The island is full of impressive natural rock formations. Kelingking Beach, nicknamed ‘T-rex cliff’ is a prime example, with the cliffs forming the shape of a Tyrannosaurus rex. A steep climb down leads to a deserted, white sandy beach.
Another beautiful location is Seganing Falls. A narrow path built into the cliff face leads to a tiny waterfall down below, complete with its own rock pool to relax in.
Angel’s Billabong is a lagoon in the middle of a huge expanse of rock. The waves come over the rocks and form a clear turquoise swimming hole. A short walk away is Broken Beach, with an incredible natural stone bridge across the bay.
Nusa Penida is not short of sandy beaches either. Crystal Bay, on the west of the island, is a favoured swimming and snorkelling spot and offers calm, clear waters and great sunset views.
In the southeast, Atuh Beach is tucked away between two imposing headlands. The beach is only accessible by climbing down either headland, but the white sands and azure blue waters are worth the workout.