Nusa Penida is the biggest of the three islands located just off the coast of mainland Bali.
Having spent over a week on the island, here’s why I believe it’s worth a visit for every traveler to Indonesia.
1. Less commercialized than Bali
If you’re visiting Indonesia for the first time, chances are that you would want to stop by Bali. But so does everyone else, thanks to its reputation as one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Its small neighbour off the coast is, however, still not on everyone’s radar (yet). Many people who visit the Nusa islands from Bali took a day trip to Nusa Penida instead of spending a night there. One of the reasons being that the other two islands especially Nusa Lembongan have more options for eating out and shopping.
But that’s the beauty of Nusa Penida – being somewhere away from the crowds and free from commercial tourist activities.
2. Incredible beaches
Nusa Penida is no exception when it comes to amazing beach destinations in Indonesia. What makes it unique though is that you might have the entire beach to yourself if you get there early in the day! Simply because some of these beaches are not as easily accessible as say, those in Bali or other famous ones in the country.
For instance, Kelingking Beach, which is probably the most photographed spot on the island, requires making a descent on a narrow and steep path. In fact, few visitors make it down these steps to the stunning beach.
NOTE : In situations when the currents are strong (which is often the case), swimming is highly not recommended.
If you’re into diving or snorkelling, check out Crystal Bay. It’s another incredible beach that is quite accessible thanks to well-developed roads and its proximity to a few resorts in the western part of Nusa Penida.
As a diver, you can expect great visibility of down to 30 metres.
If you’re not pressed for time, it’s worth visiting Atul and Suwehan Beach as well. Because of how far they are from the harbour and resorts in the western region, they’re far less crowded.
3. Spectacular landscapes
Indonesia is full of them, but given its relatively small size, Nusa Penida sure does pack a punch.
Angel’s Billabong is a beautiful tide pool framed by rock formations, facing the Indian Ocean. You can swim down there as long as it’s low tide, though I highly recommend exercising caution at all times. Try not to go too close to the edge of the pool.
If you walk further down the path, Broken Beach is just right there (they’re next to each other). It’s a stunning cove that got its name from the archway that allows the flow of water in and out from the ocean.
Broken Beach is definitely one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever seen in Indonesia.
4. Quiet and peaceful retreat
Like Bali and anywhere else in Indonesia, local guesthouses and luxury resorts are common on Nusa Penida. What makes them unique is that they tend to be located far away from everything and often surrounded by lush greenery.
While this implies a sense of exclusivity and luxury, the good news is that they’re still relatively affordable even for budget-conscious travelers.
I spent a majority of my stay at Bintang Hostel And Homestay, which offers both dormitory and large private rooms. You also get a welcome drink upon arrival, and have access to the pool.
5. Perfect for the adventurous
Whether it’s diving or biking around the island for breathtaking views, you can’t go wrong with Nusa Penida.
In fact, there’s hardly any traffic on the roads, and any incidence of police stopping drivers for bribes like you’ll see in Bali.
NOTE : Bad roads are very common on the island, so I don’t recommend exploring by bike alone unless you’re experienced or confident enough to handle this situation.
6. Friendly locals
I’ve also met many locals who were very helpful, hospitable and open enough to share with me their life experiences.