Nusa Penida

Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is the largest of three islands off the south eastern coast of Bali, the others being Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.

Understand

Totalling some 247 square kilometres, Nusa Penida is much larger than the better known Nusa Lembongan. However, tourist infrastructure is 'limited here. It is an island of outstanding natural rugged beauty, and (thankfully?) tourism-related development plans have been rumoured and mooted to no effect for many years now.

Due to a lack of natural fresh water, little is grown or produced on Nusa Penida, and even some basic foodstuffs come in by boat. Visitors should therefore not bank on any tourism-related luxury items being available for purchase here, although beware the island is developing fast, so get in while its still a tropical idyll. Plan accordingly — this is as off-the-beaten-track as you can get and still be in the Province of Bali.

Nusa Penida has also become an unofficial bird sanctuary for endangered Balinese and Indonesian bird species, including the critically endangered Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). In 2004 the Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF) started an introduction program onto Nusa Penida of the near-extinct Bali Starling. Over 2 years from 2006, 64 birds were released into the wild. By the spring of 2009, 58 chicks had successfully hatched in the wild and in 2010 there were estimated to be over 100 birds. Despite many similar release bird projects in the West Bali National Park that have failed because of poachers, this has been by the far the most successful project to prevent the Bali Starling from becoming extinct and is because the Nusa Penida population actively protects the birds. In 2006 all villages unanimously passed a local regulation making it an offence to steal or threaten the life of the birds. However, T.I.A., and regulations are rarely enforced.

Get in

Map of Nusa Penida

There are public boats from Sanur, Kusamba or Padang Bai in East Bali.

From Padang Bai
From Benoa Harbour
From Sanur
From Nusa Lembongan

Get around

Renting a motorcycle is the most practical option, and this will cost you about Rp 65,000. Look for vendors in Toyopakeh and Sampalan (or more likely, they will find you!). You may be able to find a rental vehicle but they are not common.

Some visitors from Nusa Lembongan arrive with rented pushbikes - make sure you get permission to take the bike off Nusa Lembongan first. You should note that roads in Nusa Penida are rough, hilly away from the north coast, and in remote areas no more than stone-strewn tracks.

Local public transport is in small old bemos or on the back of a truck. These vehicles ply the north coast road with some regularity, but elsewhere on the island do not bank on anything.

See

There are many quiet and secluded white sand beaches along the north and northwest coasts of Nusa Penida. Other geographical highlights include limestone caves, spectacular high coastal cliffs with karst formations and offshore pinnacles in the south and east, and rugged hill tops in the high centre.

Nusa Penida has several interesting Hindu temples. When visiting be respectful and always heed local advice.

The rugged beauty of the south coast of Nusa Penida; the high point in the far background is Puncak Mundi

Do

A typical offshore pinnacle on the rugged south coast of Nusa Penida

This is a wild, rugged and largely untamed island which offers plenty to those with an adventurous spirit.

Trekking and mountain-biking are rewarding with amazing coastline views. The terrain away from the coast is hilly rising to nearly 550 m and the vista back to Bali is stunning. Camping is a wise (or only) option for those who really want to explore this wild island away from the populated northern coast.

Absorb the culture. The native people are Hindu as in Bali but the language spoken is an ancient dialect of Balinese no longer heard elsewhere. The architecture and dance is also distinct. There is also a small Muslim enclave in the north which will remind visitors of culture in the more rural parts of Lombok.

Birdwatchers who find themselves with the opportunity to visit Nusa Penida should know that a thriving population of the superb white-tailed tropicbirds breeds on the south and southeastern cliffs of the island. Keep your eyes peeled. Nusa Penida has been designated an island-wide bird sanctuary by Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF). Various endangered Indonesian bird species have been released onto the island, including the Bali Starling, Java Sparrow, Mitchell's Lorrikeet, Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

Diving. Nusa Penida is best known as a world class diving destination. There are more than 20 identified dive sites around the island, the most notable including Crystal Bay, Manta Point, Toyapakeh, Suana Bay and Malibu Point. The rich waters around the three islands support no less than 247 species of coral and 562 species of fish.

Many dive operators based in Bali and neighbouring Nusa Lembongan offer specific dive trips to Nusa Penida. Special attractions include fabulous Mola Mola (Oceanic Sunfish) in season and large Manta Rays year round. Mola Mola are migratory fish and most likely from July to October although sightings are reported all year round. There is diving available here for beginners but most of the dives require a decent level of experience as currents are strong and unpredictable.

Dive operators

For other dive operators check Nusa Lembongan article.

Buy

There are two ATMs in Sampalan, one for Visa and one for MasterCard. However, it's best to bring enough rupiah with you just in case the ATMs are out of order.

Eat

There are simple local warungs on Nusa Penida and since 2016, there are a few great western style places for a meal, music and sunset drink. In Ped village, on the seafront near Ring Sameton Inn and Octopus Dive, you'll find Wayan's Warung, popular with visitors for it's local dishes. Just next door, blessed by sea breezes, you'll find Penida Colada Beach Lounge where the excellent food (try the grilled fish, veg curry, sandwiches), music, drinks (happy hour 2for1 cocktails 4-7 are a must) and the hospitality from Liza, her local husband Wayan, their toddler William and lovely team are truly world-class. Also in Ped, drop by The Gallery for great art, fair trade island goods, big brekkie, muesli, coffee, French toast and fruit salad. His chips are legendary. Mike, a wonderful welshman and his lovely crew will make you feel right at home. Mike is a veritable font of island knowledge. Opposite the temple in Ped are two excellent local warungs. The one on the right serves really good nasi campur for 10,000rp (get a few takeaway for a picnic) and next door at Yuda's you'll get the best ayam goreng in the archipelago. At 16,000rp, its no problem to order two as it is so cheap and tasty. Asking for extra homemade sambal and a big cold bintang is advised. Sampalan has several good roadside warungs and the night-market serves up satay and local delicacies. Just 1km further east, you'll find Rolling Cafe. Outstanding food and drinks beautifully presented by the wonderfuly welcoming and fun host family. Amazing value for money pizza, pasta, salads, fish, cocktails, veggies and possibly the world's best chicken soup! Great music (Elvis, Buena Vista, dub, classical Spanish, chillout) and free, fast Wi-Fi complete the scene. Try a whole fresh-caught coconut grilled fish for a real taste of Penida.

Drink

Remember to take plenty of water on board. The climate here is hotter and drier than in Bali and you will dehydrate quickly.

Sleep

There are some small, simple homestays and bungalows on Nusa Penida. These are in the north between Toyapakeh and Sampalan. There is nothing even approaching mid-range accommodation though. Visitors to the island often do not book ahead and instead turn up and take their chances.

Visitors wishing to explore the remote, rugged areas of the island in the high centre and south may be able to find informal accommodation with a local family by asking a head of village (Kepala Desa). The only other alternative away from the north coast is camping.

Connect

Directory inquiries

There are no public internet facilities on Nusa Penida and the nearest are at Jungut Batu on Nusa Lembongan.

Go next

The best advice is to get out from one of the northern points in the same way as you came in. A boat to Nusa Lembongan and then onward to Bali or Lombok is recommended although ferries of a questionable standard direct to Bali are available. There is no onward direct service to Lombok or other points east.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.