While many Sydneysiders head to Bali to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, in recent years it’s become almost as busy. In fact, you’d almost be forgiven for thinking you hadn’t left at all, as you can’t turn a corner without bumping into an Aussie in a Bintang and thongs!
But just a hair-raising 30-minute boat ride away lies Bali’s best-kept secret — a world away from the chaos of Kuta. Located off the Southern coast of Bali, Nusa Penida has managed to stay mostly under the tourist radar. While some tourists do head to Nusa Penida to dive and snorkel the reefs that fringe the island, most never actually step foot on land — which means more room for you to check out the spectacular sights. And from the Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave temple and the turquoise waters of Crystal Bay to the rugged, isolated Atuh Beach, there’s no shortage of things to explore.
With plenty of excellent hiking tracks and places to snorkel, Nusa Penida is the perfect place for an active getaway. Recently, British travel writer and photographer, Zosia Swidlicka, headed to the island to do just that. Here, she shares her experience.
“I had been enticed by rumours of free diving, cliff jumping and best of all, no tourists. A hidden paradise with a wealth of stunning sights to discover, mostly concentrated in the undeveloped south of the island. With no roads leading there, Atuh Beach was even more special. It certainly enticed me to persevere despite not having a map, directions, or any knowledge of the local language (don’t expect to hear any fluent English here).
An hour or so of navigating tricky dirt tracks, stony paths and fearless chickens later, I came to the cliff’s edge. I witnessed a blue so bright it shimmered under the sun, getting darker where it nudged the horizon. The sky was a deep azure, stretching into the distance as far as I could see. Down below, turquoise waves lapped against the rocks. Not a soul was in sight, not a sound could be heard. I had it all to myself, and I was on the edge of the world.”
Sounds incredible, right? If you’re ready to hop on a plane, like, yesterday, here’s what you need to know.
The easiest way to get to Nusa Penida is via a speedboat from Sanur in Denpasar — which takes around half an hour. However, if you’re not up for the bumpy ride or are on a tight budget, you can also get the 90-minute slow boat, which is significantly cheaper (and tamer!) You can read more about the transport options here.
Stay overnight, if you can: There’s enough to see on Nusa Penida that you could easily stay there for 2 or 3 days. There is a range of hotels, resort and private accommodation to choose from.
Go with the flow: Nusa Penida is not yet on the tourist radar, which is what makes it so special. This means you shouldn’t expect a working transport system, information points, timetables or opening hours. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the fun! Locals are really friendly and willing to help, and it’s much safer than Seminyak or Kuta.
Pack a snack: Although there are restaurants on the island, there won’t be many places to fuel up when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Don’t miss the sunset: It’s an epic show that turns the sky from hazy pink to fiery orange in a splendid thirty minutes. Bag a seat at trendy bar Penida Colada, where you get a view of Mount Agung. The two-for-one happy hour deal on Dragonfruit Daiquiris isn’t bad either.
Bring plenty of cash: There’s only one ATM on the island and it often runs out of cash. Make sure you’re prepared to avoid nasty surprises.
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