Nusa Penida is the largest of three islands off the south eastern coast of Bali, the others being Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.
Totalling some 247 square kilometres, Nusa Penida is much larger than the better known Nusa Lembongan. However, tourist infrastructure is not as advanced as Lembongan. It is an island of outstanding natural rugged beauty. The north shore is the most densely populated part of the island and is where most tourism is based. This is also where the beaches are and where the seaweed farms are. Seaweed farming started on the island in the 1980s as a way for locals to get an income. Sadly prices are declining and so is production. Most locals still derive their income from subsistence farming. The west and south side of the island is carpeted with limestone cliffs and magnificent views but not many beaches that can be accessed by land.
Due to a lack of natural fresh water, little is grown or produced on Nusa Penida outside of the rain season, and even a lot of produce comes in by boat. Nusa Penida has also become an unofficial bird sanctuary for endangered Balinese and Indonesian bird species, including the critically endangered Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi). In 2004 the Friends of the National Park Foundation (FNPF) started an introduction program onto Nusa Penida of the near-extinct Bali Starling. The waters around Nusa Penida are part of a marine park authority (MPA) and are home to diverse corals and fishes. Nusa Penida is part of the coral triangle which is a massive area renowned to be “the amazon of the sea” as it provides habit for the many fishes to breed in. Nusa Penida is renowned as one of the best diving sites in the world and is also home to the giant manta ray and mola mola (oceanic sunfish).
Renting a motorcycle is the most practical option, and this will cost you about Rp 70,000. Look for vendors in Toyopakeh and Sampalan (or more likely, they will find you!). Car rentals are available but very expensive (about Rp650,000 per day).Some visitors from Nusa Lembongan arrive with rented pushbikes – make sure you get permission to take the bike off Nusa Lembongan first. You should note that roads in Nusa Penida are rough, hilly away from the north coast, and in remote areas no more than stone-strewn tracks.Local public transport is in small old bemos or on the back of a truck. These vehicles ply the north coast road with some regularity, but elsewhere on the island do not bank on anything.
There are many quiet and secluded white sand beaches along the north and northwest coasts of Nusa Penida. Other geographical highlights include limestone caves, spectacular high coastal cliffs with karst formations and offshore pinnacles in the south and east, and rugged hill tops in the high centre.
Crystal Bay (take the only small road which heads west from the main road at Sakti village and keep going until you hit the coast.). A stunning white sand beach at Banjar Penida west of Sakti village on the north western coast facing Nusa Ceningan. Perfect clear waters and excellent snorkelling. Lovely white sand beach and a great place for a picnic. A truly idyllic spot and you are likely to have it to yourself apart for the odd local villager and maybe a diveboat offshore
Kelingking Beach, Bunga Mekar Village. A hidden beach in the village of Bunga Mekar, with nice views over the hills. The sight features a limestone headland covered in green, against the deep blue waters of the ocean. This unique formation is reminiscent of a Tyrannosaurus Rex head, hence its nickname ‘T-Rex Bay’. The secluded beach itself is down a rugged 400 m cliffside hike, recommended only for the fit and adventurous. This is a wild, rugged and largely untamed island which offers plenty to those with an adventurous spirit. Trekking and mountain-biking are rewarding with amazing coastline views. The terrain away from the coast is hilly rising to nearly 521m and the vista back to Bali is stunning. Camping is a wise option for those who really want to explore this wild island away from the populated northern coast.Absorb the culture. The native people are Hindu as in Bali. Locals speak Nusa Penidan, an ancient dialect of Balinese no longer heard elsewhere, younger locals speak Bahasa Indonesia also. The architecture and dance is also distinct to the island. There is also a Muslim village situated in Toyapakeh on the north west shore which faces Nusa Lembongan. Birdwatchers who find themselves with the opportunity to visit Nusa Penida should know that a thriving population of the superb white-tailed tropicbirds breeds on the south and southeastern cliffs of the island. Keep your eyes peeled. Nusa Penida has been designated an island-wide bird sanctuary by Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF). Various endangered Indonesian bird species have been released onto the island, including the Bali Starling, Java Sparrow, Mitchell’s Lorrikeet, Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.