If you would like to see what Bali was like in the 1970s, which is when my mum 1st came here, then Nusa Penida is the place for you. It's a great little island to explore and have fun adventures on and there's some stunning sites to go and see.
It's only 30 minutes away from Sanur by a fast boat and costs around $30 Australian return. You can go from Sanur, Benoa Harbor or Padang Bai. Sanur's very easy for us because we live there. Don't wear long pants if you go because when getting on to the boat you must wade out into the ocean.
The Balinese Hindu's believe that Nusa Penida is a place of enchantment and evil power. It is the home of Jero Gede Macaling, a giant demon King who is believed to spread disease, floods and evilness. There are a few temples dedicated to him including Pura Dalem Penetaran Ped, that houses a shrine that is believed to be a source of power for those who do black magic. People also pray there if they are seeking protection from sickness and evil.
The whole island is made of lime stone and there's only 40,000 people living there. You won't see many tourists there and hardly any cars.
The roads on the island are very rough and narrow and in places also quite steep and scary. However at times it was very pretty because the jungle would almost overgrow the road. The roads were really steep at some points because they don't go around the edge of the island, they go inland, up the mountains and then back down to the coast. You will see some unusual sights such as the body in the photo at the end of my blog, on the side of the road.
Most people get around the island by motor bike. But to do this you need to have good skills on a bike because most of the roads on Penida are really bad. However you can also hire a car and driver for $50 a day, which we did, but a lot of the time we didn't go faster than 10kms an hour because of the rough roads.
The first place that we went to was Crystal Bay. Crystal Bay is my favorite place on Penida. The beach is beautiful and they have small warungs (cafes) and a toilet. The marine life & coral there is so gorgeous and I loved how there were separate little islands that you could swim out to. If the tide is high enough you can climb up onto the stairs and walk onto the island. The water was also crystal clear and warm. Namaste hotel is close by so you can go there for nice aussie type food.
The next place that we went to was the cliffs above Broken beach but you can't get down to the beach from there. So you can't swim at Broken beach unless you go by boat but the view is amazing. However if you do go by car it is quite a drive there over a mostly dirt track that goes past sheer cliff drops. It took us about 1 hour to get to from Crystal Bay.
The next place we visited was the Temeling watefall, swimming holes. We drove for another hour on a bumpy dirt track to get there and then our driver stopped the car and said we had to walk. He said the walk was 1.6km but it was actually about 2.5km. And it was mostly down steep hills and massive stairs. So you really need to be pretty fit to do this and take lots of water. The path was good for most of the way, quite lovely really walking through the rainforest and past limestone cliffs, just steep. Then we had to go back up hill which was even worse. There were two water holes, both were salt water and women could go in both but men could only use the bigger one. The water holes were so nice and cool to swim in and located down near the beach. A tip here is to do as much of the track as you can, coming back up, on a motor bike to cut down the amount of walking. If you have a driver or guide, they could organise this for you.
The next day we went for a snorkel at the beach in front of Ring Sameton Inn, where we stayed, on the North of the island. There were seaweed farms close to the shore and sea snakes out where we were swimming. We didn't want to swim over them so mum walked along the beach and found a local seaweed farmer who didn't speak English. But we were able to negotiate a price for him to take us out in his rowing boat. Once we got out past the seaweed the water was crystal clear and coral was beautiful. The currents were quite strong so we jumped out and drifted along the ocean while the boat followed us.
Because we were only on the island for the weekend we didn't have enough time to explore everything it had to offer. So we will definitely be going back there soon and doing the other things that we couldn't do the first time. One thing that I really wanted to do was to swim with the manta rays. You can go out on a boat, dive in and swim with them.
One last thing that I really loved was getting to ride a motor bike. Mum and dad agreed to it because the island is a safe place to learn on because there's almost no traffic. And our hotel had a very long driveway. It only costs $5 a day to hire a motor bike.