Nusa Penida, the last island

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Kadek, our driver, described his island of origin Nusa Penisa as intact, hidden away from tourism. An island that gives you an idea of what Bali could look like, before the tourist boom. The Balinese themselves name that island “the last island”, as it is the last place that escaped from tourism (especially because of the lack of clean drinking water, infrastructure and the import of all products). We spent one night on the island, in one of the three hotels of Nusa Penida, and we had Kadek as our guide!

The journey by ferry only lasted a quick half an hour. We disembarked on a beautiful white sandy beach, just like Christopher Colombus (that is how I imagined it, haha) where you have to jump off the boat, getting your legs wet and maybe even kiss this promised land sand. However, watch out for the sharp pieces of coral, scattered all around the sand. Kadek’s cousin had come to pick us up from the ferry terminal (which is no more, no less than a small part of the beach) with his tiny-wheeled minivan. On the way to the hotel, we saw that the island hadn’t been affected by tourism at all; coconut plantations covered a big majority of the island, its habitants lived essentially from the harvest of algae that they dry out and sell. There were no bars, no buildings, nor resorts; just a few little modest properties with chickens running around in every direction. Most of all, there were no tourists!

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Check-in done, we had just put our bags down and it was already time to discover what secrets the island had. First stop was at the Goa Giri Putri Temple. To get there, just hundreds of steps to climb at 35°c. That was really not cool, as everyone was sweating bullets (everyone but Kadek) but according to Derrick, the higher the climb, the better the temple will be. And it was true! Once we reached the top, a few Hindu priests were singing and reading some texts. When they saw us all melting, covered with sweat, they offered us some water before asking us to sign the visitor’s register. No entrance of a cave in sight, until I saw Kadek squeezing into a tiny hole in the rocks. Once inside, it was hard not to be surprised by the volume of the cave. It was dark, humid and we could hear the bats chittering over our heads. It was really different from all the Balinese temples i’d visited so far. In the middle of the cave, the worshippers took off their shoes to climb some more stairs that went up to infinity (we couldn’t see the end of it!). Near the exit, more Hindu priests were chilling. The exit overlooked a lush green valley. I could hear Kadek proundly saying to Derrick’s dad “no pollution here” right when one of the priests threw away his plastic cup. Great!

We continued our excursion to Broken Beach. A beach where we could finally cool off in the water! To get there, it was almost an hour trip, all confined in an oven-on-wheels, driving on small super steep rocky paths with bombshell holes in it. We all ended up having super sore butts… I was even wondering how the tiny-wheeled minivan could still keep up! At Broken Beach, there was no beach but instead a breathtaking panorama! Around us, a few cows were tanning in the sun, in their perfect location. It was possible to walk on the stone bridge and overlook the beach from above. Super beautiful! Unfortunately, this piece of paradise had already been sold for god knows what new project…

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After all this, we told Kadek that we were itching to go to the refreshing water. He then drove us to the next beach, Crystal Bay, which was also in the middle of woopwoop. But before, we stopped by his family house where his mum and sister live. The two ladies had really lined faces, no more teeth at all, but despite that, they had super cheeky smiles! We stayed for a quick afternoon tea and we hit the steep rocky road with bombshell holes on it again  in our oven-on-tiny-wheels. Crystal Bay finally appeared. It was an empty, small black sand beach, really famous for its reefs and coral. Apart from these few French tourists, we could have thought we were castaways.

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Obviously, Nusa Penisa is a small island that you can visit really quickly: we visited the landmarks in a day. However, if you plan to go on this island, do not expect to find tour operators, bars, shops or even restaurants. You will be most likely to find everything you need in your hotel (if you need to rent a motorbike, getting some booze and food). Nusa Penisa attracts tourists for its rich marine diversity, for tourists searching for some farniente in the middle of nowhere and for the curious, who are seeking a true and authentique Bali experience.

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