Nusa Penida: Bali’s Hidden Paradise (Shhhh!)

This island has long been overlooked by tourists, much to the pleasure of the locals. In fact originally I was not even going to write about it. However my blog is not near as popular as some of the others out there and I highly doubt that this post will result in a flood of new tourists to Nusa Penida, so I have decided ehh what the heck, I’m going to write about it.

  Here’s a gift for all the Pinners out there 😉

Nusa Penida: Your HoliDaze Travel Guide To #Bali's Hidden Paradise.....sssshhh! #travel #indonesia #offthebeatenpath #traveltips

Nusa Penida Travel Guide

The shoreline of Nusa Penida, Bali's hidden paradise
The shoreline of Nusa Penida seen as you approach via fast boat

Despite being located only a 40-minute fast boat ride from Bali, for some reason this island has been completely overlooked by foreigners. It is full of small villages, gorgeous locations, pristine beaches, tons of happy young kids who will all wave and yell “hello mister!” as you motorcycle past, and even a Buddhist temple inside of a cave!

Seaweed farming on the north shore of Nusa Penida island, Bali's hidden paradise
Seaweed farms on the north shore of Nusa Penida island. Few foreigners visit here despite its proximity to Bali. That’s what makes it such a great place 😉

There is only one hotel and one resort (comprised of ten bungalows) on the entire island. The latter is where my friend Jenny and I decided to stay. The owner is a French husband and wife who discovered the majesty of the island nearly a decade ago and decided to move there, become Indonesian citizens and open their resort.

Namaste Bungalows on Nusa Pendia island, Bali's hidden paradise
Namaste Bungalows (photo via Namaste web site as I did not take any of my own because I did not plan on writing about the island)

The best thing to do while staying on the island is to rent a motorcycle and just go exploring. One of my favorite places there was the traditional village of Tanglad, located about an hour drive up into the mountains.

Tanglad town center, a small village atop the highest mountain in Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Tanglad town center at the top of Nusa Penida, Bali’s hidden paradise 😉

Beautiful construction in Tanglad, a mountaintop village on the island of Nusa Penida, Indonesia
Even the building under construction in Tanglad looked beautiful

In addition to being downright gorgeous, Tanglad is also well-known by Indonesians for their tenun, handmade traditional fabrics of a colorful nature. Although tenun fabrics have been made for centuries, only in the last few years have they become known to the outside world as a result of modern day clothing designers incorporating them into their designs — most notably Didiet Maulana and his Ikat Indonesia line. However tenun still pales in popularity compared to batik, Indonesia’s most well-known fashion style.

  Last year I spent a week at a bakit school, learning how to produce my own batik…batik bule. Watch The Video

Local Tanglad kid making his own tenun
Even the youth of the village know how to make tenun. This kid was doing it while listening to an Indonesian movie on his handphone.

The village expert tenun weaver working the more traditional way, without the aid of a hand-operated machine
This lady prefers to weave tenun the more traditional way, instead of using a hand-operated machine

Modern tenun machine for weaving fabric
A modern tenun weaving machine — Still hand-operated, but with less work

More Photos Of The Beautiful Island

Seaweed farms along the coast of Nusa Penida Island, near Bali, Indonesia
There are countless seaweed farms dotting the coastline of Nusa Pendia

Seaweed farmers hard at work on Nusa Penida Island, Indonesia
Seaweed farmers hard at work

Exploring the old jungle roads of Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia
Just an ordinary road in Nusa Penida

The island mountain roads of Nusa Penida, Indonesia, are not in the best of conditions
The roads in Nusa Penida are old and full of potholes so if renting a motorcycle there, drive carefully!

A road trip around Nusa Penida island will leave you with countless jaw-dropping views
The road to nowhere…gotta love that view!

How To Get To Nusa Penida

  Go to Sanur Beach, just east of Kuta, the infamous foreigner area of Bali. Fast boats depart from there three times a day, at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm. The cost is 150,000 IDR (around $13 USD) per person.

Where To Stay

I recommend Namaste Bungalows as it is where I stayed. They have both air-conditioned and non-AC bungalows available, five of each. The price is 500,000IDR/night ($45USD) for the ones with AC, although I would imagine the non-AC ones are slightly cheaper. They will even arrange a fast boat and transportation to/from the Nusa Penida port as well.

Derek with the Namaste Monkey of Nusa Penida, Indonesia
The mascot of Namaste is a rescue animal

  Namaste does not know I have written about them and gave me no promotional consideration during my stay. In fact I was charged two days for my motorcycle despite the fact I only had it for 24 hours :/ Regardless, I still recommend them — and if you do book with Namaste, make sure to say that Derek sent ya!

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

11 thoughts on “Nusa Penida: Bali’s Hidden Paradise (Shhhh!)”

  1. So interesting to read your post! We just returned from Bali. We didn’t make it to Nusa Penida though. It looks quite charming. Wonder why more visitors don’t head over there? There are throngs (too many) that head to the Gili Islands (to stay overnight and as daytrippers), and we thought Gili T. was way overdeveloped and overcrowded.

    • Not sure why more visitors don’t head there but those are exactly the types of places that I search for when traveling. I’m not much of a fan of the Gilis, or even of Bali, but that is just me. I’ve found better food, more relaxing beaches, friendly people and prettier sights elsewhere in Indonesia. Next time you come back, try and get off the beaten path a bit 🙂

  2. Speaking as an Australian, and I think Bali gets more tourists from Australia than any other country, I suspect these sort of places dont see a lot of western tourists because, well, so many people that come to Bali specifically are there to party, drink, etc and so they gravitate to the same places (I havent actually been to Bali, and that’s kinda why). It’s great to find a place like this…. are there any nice beaches?

    • Bali most definitely does Andrew. And yes, they almost always come to drink and party and rarely pay much attention to the culture. However for those in search of culture or perhaps a peaceful, overlooked sanctuary, well then Nusa Penida is definitely the place to visit. There are quite a few nice beaches as welll, most of which you will find deserted. Heaven in an island 🙂

  3. I was lucky enough to visit Nusa Penida when I went on Honeymoon to Bali 2 years ago! A quite incredible place. This has inspired me to look out my photos. The beach and cove we landed on looked alot different to the one in your images. Maybe I should blog about it?!

    • Oh really? Has the place changed that much even in just two years? I’d be kind of curious to see your photos too! I’ve been told by local friends that Nusa Penida is what Bali looked like 30 years ago…of course now I’m curious how NP will continue to grow and evolve as time progresses. Will it one day become just another westernized extension of Bali?

  4. Hello guys. If u have a vacation on Bali, I totally recommend you to go to the Gili, namely to the Trawangan island. So, now you’re standing on the coast of the island. Now you can do what you want, but don’t drink cheap alcohol or you may die. This is bad idea to do it here. Buy a beer, man. Everybody have to dive at least one time and try local fishing. The feeling was inexpressible!

  5. We are about to go to Bali, and would love to visit Nusa Penida! Can you advise if cars are for hire there? I ride bicycles, but not motorcycles. If I do not have an international license or motorcycle license can I rent a moto and not get ticketed? All I would have is a US driver’s license. Is it legal to hire and drive motos with only this documentation?

    • No, there are no cars at all on Nusa Penida, and only a handful of motorcycles. That’s what adds to its charm, especially given the chaos of Bali. There are no police on the island, so do not worry about getting ticketed. You don’t even need anything except a smile. It’s a small island with several villages scattered around it, a few hills, and nothing but quiet peaceful roads connecting them. Too far to walk but not any crazy speed demon motorcyclists to worry about. Could even hit some of the closer villages and beaches by bicycle. However a motorcycle is definitely necessary to get you up top, to Tanglad village that mades the fabric.

      HAVE FUN! 😀


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