1. Spend a day at Atuh Beach
Thank god for Instagram because I would have had no clue this beach existed on Nusa Penida if I hadn’t seen it on Instagram. It might be a bumpy, and slightly treacherous, scooter ride to get there from the port town of Ped, but man is it worth all the effort.
The drive along the coast offers stunning views of the ocean, small villages and windy mountain roads. Because Atuh Beach is so isolated and difficult to reach, not many people go there. Even during the high season there were only six other tourists on the beach and a handful of Indonesian children playing in the water.
It’s necessary to traverse down a steep, crude path to reach the beach. Looking down from above, I was amazed to see a sliver of a white sand being lapped by picture-perfect turquoise water. And the stunning rock formation located right off shore was just icing on the cake. It was as close as I’ve come to my ‘The Beach’ moment. This is one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s a great place to spend an entire day.
Traveler’s Tips: The roads leading from Ped to Atuh Beach are surprisingly well marked. The road does, however, get very rough, sandy and basically non-existent towards the end so be extra cautious when driving there. Once you get down to the beach, a man will ask for a Rp 5000 fee to enter. It’s possible to rent lounge chairs and buy coconuts, drinks and nasi goreng for just a few dollars from the few vendors on the beach. Tides are strange on Nusa Penida, so it’s best to know what the tides are going to be like when you visit Atuh Beach. At low tide the water pretty much disappears. So make sure you visit when the tide is on the higher side. Also, the beach bottom is rocky so tread lightly.
2. Explore Crystal Bay
Crystal Bay is a popular spot for tour boats shuttling tourists around on snorkeling and diving trips. Despite being a renowned spot for spotting sea life, there are still very few people here.
When I traveled here in the off-season (during March) I had the beach virtually all to myself. During my most recent trip, in the high-season in August, there was a smattering of tourists lounging on the beach and snorkeling off shore. Not too bad. Crystal Bay is a pretty special beach, and a great place to slap on a mask and fins and explore the sea life.
Traveler’s Tips: The roads to Crystal Bay are very well marked and relatively smooth from Ped. While drinks do appear to be served at a beach shack, it might be best to bring your own food if you plan on staying here all day.
3. Gawk at Broken Beach
Broken Beach is a stunning natural formation on the coast of Nusa Penida. Despite its name it’s not actually a beach. It’s a natural bridge that makes for an unreal setting. I set out to find Broken Beach during my fist visit to Nusa Penida – and I failed miserably. Nusa Penida is big and the roads are confusing. Getting lost is inevitable. During my recent visit it took me forever to find Broken Beach and for a while I thought it was a lost cause, yet again.
Luckily I eventually found it. I might have crashed my bike and then driven into a ditch (I was unscathed!) on the way, but it was worth it.
Traveler’s Tips: The drive to Broken Beach from Ped will likely take two hours. There are two roads pointing to Broken Beach. One is very steep and shouldn’t be attempted if you’re not super comfortable riding a scooter. The other is incredibly bumpy but at least it’s not a full-on death trap. If you’re lost, and you will get lost, then just keep asking locals the way to either Billabong or Broken Beach, they’ll help you find your way. There is an entrance fee of Rp 5000 (I think).
4. Enjoy the view at Billabong
Angel”s Billabong is the stuff Instagram dreams are made of. It’s basically a little lagoon, set in the middle of the black and craggy volcanic rock. It’s located on a cliff right down the path from Broken Beach (see above). Nusa Penida’s massive waves crash into the cliff and splash water into the lagoon. It is possible to swim in the lagoon (something that’s super popular with the selfie crowd) but be warned that people have been swept out to sea by the powerful waves.
Traveler’s tips: Angel’s Billabong is literally right down the pathway from Broken Beach, maybe a two-minute walk.
5. Cool off at Tembeling’s natural pools
I visited Tembeling during the dry season (in April) and the waterfall was pretty much non-existent, but the natural pools were beautiful, cold and refreshing. And the setting could not have been more amazing. Bless Nusa Penida for being so tourist-free because the best part was, I had the place all to myself. Well there were monkeys there, so technically I did have company.
Tembeling is surrounded by limestone cliffs and a lush jungle canopy. There are a couple of crystal clear swimming holes overlooking this stunning cove and the sound of waves crashing against the craggy rocks. It’s kind of like being in a lost world.
Traveler’s Tips: There are separate pools for men and women. And ladies, you’re not allowed to enter if you’re menstruating. The road getting here is steep and can get very slippery after it rains. Drive safely and slowly. Do not attempt to drive all the way down the road because it gets really steep toward the end.