Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat February 13 2016

Nusa Penida: Bali’s Nearly Untouched Island Companion

Destination & Tourism | Shannon Ullman | February 13, 2016

Nusa Penida: Bali’s Nearly Untouched Island Companion

PHOTO: Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

There are more pigs than people on the Indonesian island of Nusa Penida. Lacking a substantial tourism infrastructure, it’s nearly untouched, making it a natural playground for the independent traveler. Want to be your own guide? Here’s what you need to know.

How to Get There

Nusa Penida is most easily reached from Bali. From there, you must travel to Sanur Beach via motorbike or taxi. It’s well known and easy to get to so don’t worry about finding transport to this mysterious sounding destination.

Once at Sanur Beach, the pedestrian walkway will be lined with companies and stands that advertise boat tickets for Nusa Penida.

Take some time to shop around for the best price as the closest stands are sneaky and tend to rack up the cost. Purchase your ticket and wait for that boat.

READ MORE: 27 Life Lessons Learned In Indonesia

Budget Tip: Take the Mola Mola Express if you want to save a little cash. They are the cheapest company that I have found with tickets costing 125,000 RP one way. However, they have more limited boat times.

Getting Around The Island

This is the part where your independence, ability to improvise and creativity come into play. On Nusa Penida, you won’t find hoards of taxi drivers flagging you down. The independent motorbike taxis won’t be hanging on every street corner either.

While I did see that the Mola Mola boat port offers some sort of shuttle service, it didn’t seem to be running while I was there.

The best way to get around the island is via your own motorbike, and getting your hands on one requires a little effort. After getting off the boat, I walked up to a nearby shopkeeper, made hand gestures that suggested a motorbike and was quoted a price. After the store owner made a phone call, I received her own personal bike and helmet in exchange for 70,000 RP a day and my old student ID for collateral.

Note: Please make sure that you are comfortable riding a motorbike as the roads are not always in good shape.

Where to Stay

There aren’t a ton of options around these parts, but you can still find some cozy and affordable accommodation. We stayed at Namaste Bungalows, but another nice option is Agung View Villa.

Namaste Bungalows:

• Rooms start from $25

• The accommodation is bungalow style

• There is a pool and outdoor lounge

• There is an onsite restaurant

• The property is surrounded by nature and has a simple but beautiful design

Agung View Villa:

• Rooms start from $50

• Overlooks the ocean

• Has modern decoration that is incorporated with the traditional decor

• Has a pool, kitchen and living space

What to Do

Nusa Penida is all about nature and it’s got a whole lot of it to be explored. Here are a few places that can help guide you in your wanderings.

Note: Many of these places are quite remote; so make sure to pack water and snacks. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a corner store to pop into to refuel. We actually had to leave Angel’s Billabong due to thirst, since our plan to pick up water at the shop didn’t work out.

• Angel’s Billabong: It’s nature’s own version of an infinity pool. A deep ledge located between two cliffs, it overlooks the ocean and fills up with water at high tide. Climb down the rocks at your own risk, swim and snorkel.

• Crystal Bay: It’s reached by driving through a grove of palm trees and is hiding gardens of coral under its waves. You can pay a local to take you out on their boat to snorkel or scuba dive for your chance to encounter the Mola Mola fish.

• Broken Beach: Right next to Angel’s Billabong is a literal break of land in the cliff that drops right off to a beach down below. You can watch as the waves push into the opening from the sea and take pictures from above. Unfortunately, it would be quite dangerous, difficult and ill advised to visit this beach, but it certainly makes for some jealously-inducing photos.

• Snorkeling With Manta Rays: During Manta Ray season (December/January), you can hire a local to take you on a small, private boat out to snorkel with these sea creatures. There is no guarantee you will see one as you are relying on the guide to spot them and tell you when to jump out into the open sea.

You should be a strong swimmer and seasoned in snorkeling because there are no safety precautions, not much English being spoken and little in the ways of direction. You don’t want to end up like me, hyperventilating through a snorkel and holding onto the boat for dear life.

• Giri Putri Cave Temple: You will have to crawl through a rock tunnel to get to it, but this cave opens up to a religious temple hidden beneath the surface.

READ MORE: 8 Mesmerizing Things to Do in Bali

Where to Eat

While you won’t have to forage for your own dinner, there are not that many options for dining around the island. Typically, your hotel will have a food menu but if you want to venture off you can try:

• Penida Colado Lounge Bar

Besides its clever name, this restaurant has a laid back atmosphere, happy hour, some western food options and grilled fish.

• Namaste Bungalows

If you’re not already staying here, you can drop by for a traditional curry, fruit smoothie or breakfast.

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