If you are seeking a new adventure fix combined with a tropical getaway, look no further than Nusa Penida, the larger of the three small islands off the south-east coast of Bali. The locals are friendly, accommodation & food very cheap and the untouched island charm still resonates strongly. Be quick to get there soon as signs of a forming tourism industry are beginning to set in and no doubt, this quiet island won’t stay this way for long.
Nusa Penida is full of free or very affordable activities the new age ‘adventure seekers’ are looking for. Swimming with Mantra Rays, hiking through forests, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, exploring isolated white sandy beaches and sleeping in treehouses are just some of the activities you can tick off.
Getting there and around
We caught the Mola Mola Express fast boat from Sanur to Nusa Penida for 125,000 IDR ($12 AUD) each. You can also depart from Nusa Lembongan for a small fee.
If you are confident & capable, we’d suggest hiring a scooter for the duration of your stay as it makes for easy transportation and you’ll need it to sightsee due to the distances between spots. Just make to pack light as you don’t want to be pulling a suitcase around!
As soon as we disembarked the boat on Penida, in true Bali style we were met by a group of eager locals trying to flog us their scooter to hire. We locked in two for 70,000 IDR each a day ($7 AUD) and began exploring.
As part of my birthday surprise Mr Winch booked a two-night stay at the ‘Rumah Pohen Tree House’ – the remote rustic property that sits high on a cliff that overlooks Atuh Beach. I started to cry, overcome with emotion when I saw where we were staying! I had never seen a destination with a view that spectacular!
There are only two tree houses privately tucked away on a piece of land that overlooks the turquoise water, rugged limestone cliffs and kasts formations and an isolated beach. The tree houses are very basic with only one double bed, a pedestal fan and bench inside and a bench seat on the balcony that we sat on each morning to watch the sunrise. Simple but liveable, private and romantic! The shower and toilet is an outhouse a short walk away. Very minimal but clean.
This experience will only cost you approximately $50 AUD (500,000 IDR) per night.
Air BnB Link – HERE
WARNING 1: Don’t book here expecting 5 Star luxury.
It’s the atmosphere, remoteness, view and novelty of sleeping in a treehouse that you come for.
WARNING 2: Think twice before taking small children or if you have a physical disability.
The walk to and from the Treehouse to the Warung and exit was full-on! Don’t bring a suitcase!
WARNING 3: Use the rope to close off the entrance to the treehouse!
If you stay in Treehouse no# 1 (closest to the cliff face) make sure you use the small piece of blue rope and close off the entry to your stairs. We made the mistake and didn’t and woke up at 6 am to find a group of five Asian day-trippers had walked up our stairs to sit and take ‘selfies’. So much for privacy!
Choose your Adventure
The best spots aren’t easy to get to on Nusa Penida but well worth exploring. We’d highly recommend visiting Atuh Beach, Angel Billabong, Tumbling Forest, Crystal Bay, visit the local Temples and if you have time lock in a swim with the Manta Rays. The island is very big and you’ll need at least four days to fit most of the “must-do” activities and sites in, so plan accordingly.
We ran out of time to swim with the Manta Rays while we were on Penida, so we hired a private boat during our stay on Nusa Lembongan and took a half-day trip to Manta Point and hit the jackpot. We saw 5 Mantas.
On our 2nd day, we set off early to cruise around the island, sightseeing through small villages and forests and found ourselves at the Peguyangan Waterfall. You descend over 500+ stairs down a massive cliff face to find the beautiful spot on the West Coast. At the bottom is a sacred Hindu shrine and we were fortunate to be there with only four Indonesian locals who had travelled to the island specifically to pray. They bathed under the water that came directly from the cliff face through a pipe & told us they believed it had healing powers. So great to see another culture & the religion in such a place. They didn’t mind that we took photos, but the only rule was that I wear clothing around my bottom half in this sacred spot & that we don’t swim in the natural pool.
Travel experiences are delivered in all forms
On our last day we came upon a Cock Fight at seaside village & decided to stop. There were about 200 men who had come from all over the island villages and bought their roosters to take part in the fight.
Not really something we’d do normally but being in a foreign country, we decided to embrace the culture & the men welcomed Mr Winch & I inside to watch. It was interesting to see the ritual play out and this different style of gambling and sport amongst the villagers. Disagree with this sport if you want, but it is part of their tradition & engrained in years of generations.
It pays to get off the main roads and take a chance on the small Warungs, and by chance, we found one of the best on the island. Warung Forest is a must do! Owner, Wayan is a real character and a top host. Full of helpful insights, trip ideas and stories that keep you engrossed. He is the perfect host. The cooking is all done by his wife and mother, and the food is fresh and tasty. The dragon fruit juice was divine!
If you’re after a little adventure, open to spontaneous travel and appreciate a simple life, consider a holiday on Nusa Penida. One of Balis best-kept secrets that won’t stay this way for long.
– Mrs Unwind