Camp and Explore Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida in Bali Indonesia is a backpackers dream. Off the beaten path, and small enough to navigate in a day, Nusa Penida has it all. Sun, surf, and snorkling galore. Jordan and I spent three weeks camping and exploring the island. We spent two weeks camping at Crystal Bay, and one wekk camping at Atuh Beach. We had a scooter to get around on, and left feeling suntanned and skinny thanks to a minute budget. I have shared some tips and ideas for camping and exploring Nusa Penida
1. angel billabong and the sea arch
Angel billabong is a large rockpool fed by the ocean. Beside it is the sea arch. The area is an exposed cliff on on the western coast of the island. To visit the two places will be a full day trip as the road there is quite slow to navigate. You do not have to pay entry but you will pay $1 for parking as you enter. Bring lots of water as it is likely to be very hot out there!.
2. sunbathe till sunset at toya pakeh
A budget travellers dream. I am going to tell you about Toya Pakeh. Located on the northern coast of Nusa Penida island, facing Bali, it is a small village with a local market every (yes, every) night and morning. On clear days Mt Agung, the tallest volcano on Bali is visible.
In Toya Pakeh you can : Visit the market early (it will be packed up by 10am) and purchase your fruit for the day. I love selak, or snake fruit (for market see our useful phrases below). Sunbathe on the beautiful beach. If you have a mask and flippers you could hike around the coastline and hop in the water for a snorkel. You will hopefully see an abundance of tropical fish and gemlike anemones as I did! I recommend staying near alongside the coast to avoid boats and the current, and swimming back to shore. There are cute cheap eateries alongside the beachfront. You will find people to charter a boat with by sitting down at any of them.
In the evening you can catch a sunset at the pier, which is delightful. Look down and spot interesting fish in the crystal water below. The night market is lively and authentic. My favorites are the fried egg pancake (so good but so greasy). As well as gado gado, which is simply vegetables folded through spicy peanut sauce to go with a parcel of steamed rice. Dinner at the night market will set you back around $4 nzd (aprox $1.50 for egg roll, $1 for gado gado and rice, 25c each for fried plantain or pisang goreng)
Another handy thing about the village is that you can buy big 10L bottles of filtered water. This is what we brought for camping to refill our drink bottles. They are cheaper and more eco friendly than lots of little bottles!
3. stay a night in a tree hut
This treehouse hotel on Nusa Penida Island was everything we hoped it would be. We needed a break from camping and had seen the hand painted ’treehouse’ sign on the road into Toya pakeh village. At the treehouse we were greeted and shown our own hut in the trees. The tree hut had a little veranda out the front, a fan and a double bed inside. There are shared bathroom and shower facilities which were nice and clean. Also check out those platforms in the trees! I loved them for morning coffee and evening sunsets. The treehuts get internet, but like most places on Nusa Penida it can be patchy.
The treehouse is in the budget travellers category, one night being about $22nzd (our time of visit was August 2018, prices may have changed since).
4 eat and drink at atuh beach
Atuh beach is pretty special. Steep cliffs, energetic ocean, hot white sand. It is hard to beat. Jordan and I came here for a day trip and loved it. We found somewhere we thought we could stay, and decided to move our camp from Crystal Bay beach to Atuh beach that day. The day after we moved camp we made friends with a local family selling food. Then we met some of their friends who were staying in cabins at the back of the valley. From then on we slept in our friends beach cabana. We enjoyed the tasty cassava salads he created and drank him out of bintang (the local beer).
5 swim with turtles at crystal bay
Ah crystal bay. This was our first campsite. A busy wee spot too, between the pigs and the land crabs at night to the Australians by day.
Sunrise at Crystal beach is a particularly nice to go snorkeling, but any time of day is good! I was lucky enough to hang out with a small green turtle early one morning. You can hire a mask, snorkel and flippers from stalls at the beach. There are toilets which you have to pay for (20c). There is food and coconuts to snack on.
There is a second more secluded beach to the true left of crystal bay. Climb the steps on the far left of the beach. Follow the path over the hill and down into the next bay over.
even more activities
Unfortunately I lost a bunch of pictures of our time on Nusa Penida, including pictures of some amazing beaches and cliffs that we visited. Some other highlights for us were the Pura Goa Giri Putri cave temple, and swimming with giant manta rays on a trip with local tour guides!
Exploring the island is easier with a scooter or driver. We rented a scooter on the island. If you have rented a scooter on Bali you can bring it with you to Nusa Penida on the 'slow boat' pictured below. To get to Nusa Penida you can take a 'fast boat' from a couple of different ports on Bali, or the slow boat. Bring cash with you, as the islands ATMs can be temperamental.
For camping, find places that look to be public property (beaches usually are). Think about bathrooms and water, and how comfortable you will be leaving your camp set up. We made friends with stall owners at crystal bay beach, which meant we felt comfortable leaving our tent set up all day. We decided not to camp up the hill above the beach, figuring it would be easier for people or monkeys to go through our stuff in a more isolated place.
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