I highly recommend visiting Nusa Penida islands as it’s a fantastic day-trip to take from Bali, Indonesia!
Disclaimer: This blog post was originally published in June 2019 and was updated in December 2021 for relevancy.
Getting to Nusa Penida Islands
Nusa Penida is one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands. Located about a 45-minute ferry ride east of Bali, this island just opened its doors to tourism TWO years ago and is now a common day trip! Although slowly becoming more Insta-famous, the island is still extremely under-developed and difficult to travel around.
Upon arrival off the ferry, the port is full of commotion. Families are reuniting and people are bumping into you as they carry their Balinese goods, including a bag of chickens waiting to be prepared! It is best to see the Nusa Penida Islands via a tour guide/driver, so we met ours at the port.
Visiting Kelingking Beach
From the port, Kelingking beach is a 1.5 hour drive away. There are no paved roads on Nusa Penida, so the drive was EXTREMELY rough. Even with a seatbelt on, my head was still hitting the roof every time we went over a pothole. The roads are only wide enough for one car, so when another had to pass, it was terrifying having to move to the unsecured edge and look down at what seemed like your impending death below. At one point I swear the back tires of our van were hanging off the cliff! There are also a lot of motorbike drivers on the island, making the hilly and curvy roads dangerous for everyone. I saw two motorbike accidents in the one day that I visited – both people injured were inexperienced tourists!
Klelingking Beach, said to resemble a dinosaur head (and it does!), is probably the island’s most famous attraction. It is common to get a photo here from the top of the hill looking down on the beach (like the one I took below). If you’re feeling brave you can attempt the very steep climb down to the beach itself. We didn’t do this, but if I had more time I would’ve liked to!
Visiting Angel’s Billabong & Broken Beach
From Kelingking we drove to Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach – two other natural attractions that are slowly putting the Nusa Penida Islands on the map. Angel’s is a whirlpool of crashing waves – super cool to watch and super dangerous to swim in. At one point a man blew a whistle to signal tourists to back up from the edge because there was a large swell forming. From here we walked to Broken Beach which I really enjoyed. It was super pretty!
Visiting Crystal Bay
We ended our day at Crystal Bay which was a far cry from paradise. The water was pretty but the beach was completely overtaken by vendors. We also had to pay to go to the bathroom. This is normal in many parts of the world and would’ve been something I was comfortable doing, IF the toilet wasn’t just a (very used) bucket behind a fence! That we had to pay to use!!! This was certainly a first… and hopefully a last.
On our way from the beach to the port our van stalled out on a huge hill. All seven of us had to hop out because our weight was causing the van to roll backwards. To say this was terrifying would be an understatement. Once the van finally kicked back into gear, a large truck was coming down the hill. Both vehicles (including the one we were in) had to move dangerously close to the edges to let the other pass. These were definitely some of the scariest moments of my life.
Overall the Nusa Penida Islands have a lot to offer. I am so happy I was able to see Klingking beach because I’ve had photos of it saved on my phone for years, but I think the dangerous conditions definitely took away from the beauty of the island. The lack of infrastructure and the island’s current inability to cater to tourists is something I know will improve overtime, especially as the island gains popularity from tourism. I hope to return to Nusa Penida in a few decades and see the transformation with my own eyes. It really amazes me how frequently places change, and it excites me to think about revisiting some of my favorite places in the world once I’m retired because I know it will feel like the first time all over again.
Stay tuned for my last spring break post… I went to Singapore!
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