Breathtaking vantage points, pristine white sand, azure seas, lazy palms, wondrous rock formations and vivid sunrises and sunsets, Nusa Penida is a must-visit destination when travelling to Bali. It originally came onto my radar after seeing many tourists post that iconic shot perched above the dinosaur-shaped headland of Kelingking Beach. And boy am I glad I scheduled a trip there!
Many tourists do a speedy one day tour of the island. But, in my opinion, they miss some of the island’s true treasures. I would recommend a two day tour, giving you enough time to cover both sides of the island (East and West). The island is bigger than you think, trust me. On the first day there were so many other tourists around. But on the second day, I barely encountered any. And the second day was my favourite in terms of what we saw. Since the roads are so unforgiving, bumpy and often broken, I would definitely recommend hiring a driver. I booked my driver through a friendly and professional company called Bali Custom Tour and the booking price included return fast boat tickets to the island. It also included a local guide who knew all the best photo opportunities and was more than happy to accommodate any requests! So I’d highly recommend booking a tour through this company. You’ll even receive a discount if you mention “wholesomeclo” when making a booking via their email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or whatsapp number (+6285739711559).
I departed Sanur Harbour at 9 am in the morning on a fast boat to the island of Nusa Penida. My tour guide awaited my arrival and led me to his car to be taken to the first destination. This destination was Angel’s Billabong, a gorgeous, glistening rockpool that looks like a natural infinity pool.
Just a short walk away, Broken Beach is characterised by a natural archway forged by waves crashing into a rockface. The water is a brilliant blue.
It was then time to drive onto the infamous Kelingking Beach, which frankly steals the show with its uniquely shaped headland, pristine white sand and whirling waves. A few souls were brave enough to descend the almost vertical, incredibly sketchy stairs down to the beach. But the strong waves make it not particularly friendly for swimmers. And then there’s the matter of getting back up…
Before tackling the impossibly narrow, bumpy and compromised roads to Crystal Bay, we stopped for lunch at a local warung. Crystal Bay is about an hour’s drive from Kelingking Beach and is a great spot for snorkelling with manta rays. However, an unfortunate motorbike accident in Bali left me with stitches in the top of my foot and a warning to not get my foot wet. So I stared enviously at the tourists splashing in those beautiful waves and imagined the marine life below. I enjoyed a wonderfully hydrating dragonfruit from one of the local stalls set up on the beach and stayed to watch the sunset, which was breathtaking. Can you expect any less when on a blissful tropical island?
Thousand Island & Rumah Pohon Treehouse
After getting my sunset fix, the driver dropped me to my hostel and reminded me that he would be picking me up the next morning at 4 am! The hostel I had booked unfortunately did not have air conditioner (no wonder it was so cheap) and so by the time 4 am came, I was more than willing to jump out of my sticky bed and get out into the natural air. We began the drive in darkness to Thousand Island and Rumah Pohon Treehouse. I believe in a past life I was part monkey (I love climbing trees and eating bananas haha) so coming across the majestic Rumah Pohon Treehouse was my favourite part of the trip. The fact that it was the most incredible sunrise of my life might also have had something to do with it. And people can actually stay in the treehouse through airbnb! The treehouse had a perfect view of the rocky formations that give Thousand Island its name.
From there we drove to a new destination. When we arrived, we looked down from our high vantage point to Atuh Beach on our left and Diamond Beach on our right – both looking beautifully alluring. It was then time to begin the steep descent first down to Atuh Beach where we were the only ones in sight. I enjoyed some beautiful moments doing some yoga on the sand with the lapping waves as my soundtrack.
After a while it was time to conquer the stairs back up. I almost skipped the descent down to Diamond Beach because I was so tired after all our hiking that morning. But the picture perfect palms, white sand and azure sea made it impossible to miss! You can even pay to be strapped into a swing that lets you sail back and forth over the blissful beach.
The next destination was Bukit Teletubbies. If you ever watched the Teletubbies as a child, you might associate the lush rolling hills with those featured in the show. If only I’d brought my teletubby suit…. ha! You can also see views of a decent chunk of the island.
Pura Goa Giri Putri
The last stop on the tour was Pura Goa Giri Putri, which is a cave temple on the north-eastern tip of the island. I had to cover up with a sarong before walking up the stairs to the temple entrance. After paying my donation to gain entry, I crawled through a hole in the rock floor which led to huge underground caves filled with four Hindu temples, praying locals, glowing candles and hums emanating through the air. It was an experience completely different to anything I’ve ever encountered before.
Plant-based Food on the Island
By this time, I’d worked up quite the appetite! So as soon as we finished the drive back to my hostel, I walked down the main street and found a local warung offering my favourite, smoothie bowls! I ordered the dragonfruit smoothie bowl which was the most brilliant pink. The food was so good that I also dropped in again for lunch before leaving the island and ordered the tempeh buddha bowl.
I spent the next while sorting through my photos and getting my things together for when my driver would pick me up to drop me to the harbour so I could catch the last fast boat back to Sanur at 4 pm.
So that’s it folks. I hope this blog post has opened your eyes to the beauty of Nusa Penida and helps you to plan a trip there in the future. Let me know in the comments what’s the most magical place you’ve ever visited? I’d love to know!