There is no direct connection from Lombok to Nusa Penida, a small island in between Bali and Lombok. So we stayed overnight at Padang Bai (Bali) and approached Nusa Penida on the next morning via public ferry.
I was not in the best mood and the midday heat on Nusa Penida gave me the rest. Luckily Mo organized us a driver to our home for the next days. We were nicely welcomed in a very cute and clean bungalow. From the first moment on it felt right to be here and it cheered me up a bit.
Nusa Penida belongs to Bali. Everywhere you can find temples, small offerings and the fragrance of incense sticks.
We had learned from Clarissa (our host in Kuta) that there is a flora break between Lombok and Bali. Its called the Wallace line a transitional zone between Australia and Asia. If I understood it correctly that means, that Lombok and the Gilis have the Australian flora and Bali and surrounding islands like Nusa Penida has the Asian flora. And if you look for it, even an untrained eye can see the difference.
Nusa Penida is so beautiful and the perfect place for me. Our accommodation was originally booked for three nights, but on the second day, we extended it for two more nights.
The Bungalow was placed in Ped, a small village next to the ocean with some Warungs (small restaurants), one dive shop and beach bars with stunning view of the volcano Mount Agung on Bali.
The island itself is so small that you can go everywhere by scooter within one hour. And the main streets are in surprisingly good conditions (except the one to Kelingking Beach).
On the first day, we booked a snorkeling trip at the local dive shop Octopus Diving. After fitting all the snorkeling equipment we were ready to go on the boat, it was very new and in excellent condition. We were just a small group: two snorkelers (Mo & myself), two divers and the crew. The weather was very good so that we were able to see mount Agung for the first time. The boat trip itself would have been worth the money, we passed impressive cliffs with small temples, waterfalls and stones like in the Halong Bay while driving through the very rough sea. The first stop was called Manta Point 66 (Legend has it, they spotted 66 mantas there). The sea was very rough and I was kind of nervous to jump into it. But the guys from the dive shop were very professional and helpful. After 2 minutes in the water, we saw the first gigantic and majestic manta ray. They are unbelievably big and graceful at the same time. It was a mind-blowing, magical experience. Mo was brave enough to dive down to them. I was a bit too scared of their size. Sometimes they came really close and I didn’t know how to escape. So I just waited as calm as possible and let them pass.
The weather over here is changing so fast. After our first snorkel stop, it began to rain – it was really cold and the rain felt like thousands of small sharp needles when the boat was going fast. And 30 minutes later the sun was back for another snorkeling back burn.
After two more snorkeling stops, one sweet turtle, aggressive big fishes, amazing corals, delicious lunch and nice chats with the divers the trip was sadly over. For me, it was a once in a lifetime experience.
(We also made some more pictures under water).
That was enough adrenalin for one day, so time for chilling around on our terrace and enjoying the silence.
From the second day on we had a scooter. And for the first time in Indonesia a more or less fitting helmet.
We discovered an impressive cave, with many temples in it and I survived a monkey attack. (I just wanted to climb up the steps to the cave entry. There was a big monkey sitting on the right side and I passed him slowly, as far left as possible. Suddenly he jumped in my direction with a very angry looking face. I immediately went into reverse, with a small heart attack >_<) The people at the cave – same as everywhere on Nusa Penida – were very open and super friendly. In the beginning, we thought that they might screw us over, but that was never the case, they were just nice and welcoming. Maybe it’s because of the small number of tourists and the relaxed life here.
On another day we drove to crystal bay, that’s one of the more famous beaches on Nusa Penida. That beach was surprisingly nice and not very crowded. We found a place in the shadow and played frisbee for a bit. After a while, all the shadow was gone and the places with umbrella were impertinently expensive. We decided to go on an adventure and try to explore a small lagoon nearby. After a moderate 20 minutes hike we found what we were looking for. A small beautiful beach with turquoise water and nearly no people. Weirdly though, there were three topless girls making yoga and one guy who tried to make art out of driftwood and drift-flip-flops – whatever? We just stayed there for a while and enjoyed the view (of the lagoon, not the yoga). On the way back we passed crystal bay again… and it was just horrible. In the time when we were at the beautiful, lonely lagoon, some drunken Australian dudes arrived. Probably on a day-trip from nearby Nusa Lembongan (a very touristic island near to Nusa Penida). They were roaring around while playing cricket as a drinking game in the midday heat. It was a bit of a culture shock 😉
In the evenings we just went out to grab some food. Either in a small Warung or at the Nightmarket in Sampalan. On the night market, you can find everything you need: Nasi Goreng, Nasi Campur, Bakso, Martabak, Sate sticks and luckily Terang Bulang with peanuts and bananas. The sunset with Mount Agung in the backdrop was a nice complement.
There is also a very famous Hindu temple – Pura Dalem – in Ped. Every Balinese tries to come here once a year because it is so holy. So naturally, we wanted to visit it as well. We asked one of our hosts (Raye) what we should wear if we want to enter the temple. She was super nice and I don’t know why, but she offered us to just join her on the next evening so that she could explain everything to us. Yes, absolutely!
On the next day, Raye approached me with one of her traditional dresses and also organized something for Mo. They helped us to not look too silly. I was a bit nervous because I don’t want to do something inappropriate or embarrassing.
In the evening we made our way to the nearby temple. Raye bought some small offerings and incense sticks for the ceremony.
With that dress, we were allowed to enter every part of the temple, also the prayer sections, which are normally closed for tourists.
We are both not religious at all, but that was a wonderful, spiritual experience. Raye explained everything to us and we were part of the ceremony. The Balinese Hinduism is very complex and sometimes doesn’t fit into the daily schedule of its followers. Raye has two kids, works every morning as an English teacher in elementary school and in the evening at our accommodation. She told us that it’s not important to go to the temple every day because you have your faith in yourself. So, you can pray wherever you are and meditation is an essential part of her life.
In the end, she even invited us for delicious food. What a surprisingly kind and wise woman. Thank you, Raye!
Before we left Nusa Pedida towards Bali, there was one last open thing on my ToDo-list: visiting Kelingking Beach, a striking and lonely beach at the bottom of a steep cliff.
We marveled at it from the seaside on our boat trip but looking at it from the top was even more impressive. Sadly, Mo had a slight case of Bali-Belly and therefore we decided not to try hiking the dangerous and scary trek down to the beach.
Nusa Penida is as wonderful as Bali, with all the temples and ceremonies. But without many tourists. The locals are very welcoming and inviting. They have beautiful dive and snorkel spots and the nature is just incredible. If you ever have the chance to come to Bali and you like it calm and authentic, you should definitely spend some time on Nusa Penida. I don’t know why all the people say that Lombok is the little sister (maybe it is because of the less commercialized surf spots). In my personal opinion that’s wrong. Despite no surfing, Nusa Penida is the real and still unknown little sister.
There is also a gallery dedicated to our snorkeling with mantas.