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Nusa Penida Island  

by on Friday, 1 December 20063 Comments | 2,171 views

Nusa Penida is a small island located just off the south-east coast of Bali that largely remains in its natural state, relatively untouched by tourism development. Clearly visible form Bali, Nusa Penida lies across a deep straight of ocean subject to heavy swells that frequently hinder boat passage. The ride across to the island takes less than an hour by by public ferry from the port of Padangbai, while traditional boats regularly leave; weather permitting, from Sanur beach for a much slower journey.

Nusa Penida Map

Due to its isolation most goods and commodities have to be transported across the stretch of water to Nusa Penida and resold at a reasonable profit for village consumption. In fact the isle was once used as a penal colony for criminals and misfits banished from Bali’s powerful kingdom Klungkung. Nowadays the island has a prominent Hindu population, but many of the youngsters make their way to Bali to complete their education and seek employment opportunities.

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The landscape of Nusa Penida is generally dry and highlighted by a series of limestone cliffs that provides rugged scenery for visitors. Rainfall is minimal and the central part of the island bears meagre crops of cassava and beans farmed to supplement the fresh supply of vegetables that are ferried from Bali daily. Rice plantations don’t particularly flourish on Nusa Penida due largely to the lack of fresh water and thin topsoil. Economically the entire island struggles and the village lifestyle borders on being described as primitive.




Despite their hardships, the islanders always welcome the few outside visitors they receive on the shores of Nusa Penida. Those working as fishermen and seaweed farmers dwell in bamboo structures along the coastline forging out a simple livelihood, but they are always keen to engage in conversation with those who make their way over from Bali. In the heat of the day groups of fishermen gather in the shade and mend their net in the hope of a profitable evening catch. Due to the island’s dry conditions, the high salinity levels ideally support a small seaweed industry that is based here. Crude bamboo pens are erected in shallow waters where seaweed is harvested, dried naturally under the sun and then packed for export to different Asian nations.



Nusa Penida is believed by the Balinese to be a powerful centre of black magic and each year literally thousands of Hindu worshippers make the boat journey to pray at several temples located around the isle. Group meditations are regularly organized by Balinese families who partake in a pilgrimage to placate spirits and seek protection from evil forces. It is hard to believe that this arid island is in league with the underworld, yet the main temple Pura Dalem Penetaran Ped radiates a strange atmosphere even in full daylight. Many Hindu’s come to this particular temple to seek relief when they consider that a certain sickness or misfortune has been caused by black magic.


Regardless of the chilly water temperatures, the ocean surrounding Nusa Penida lends itself to some spectacular diving and snorkelling opportunities. Diving enthusiasts are recommended to book trips with a reputable dive operator who is familiar with the waters and conditions. The marine life in this area is truly inspiring and offers glimpses of turtles, mantra rays and sharks. Seasoned divers are directed to sites where the currents are strong and the waters are deep and icy for more challenging experiences.


A handful of luxury marine operators make daily trips to Nusa Penida and dock in the surrounding waters. They offer a variety of water activities including glass bottom submarines rides, banana boats and excursions by small outriggers to explore the island. Those interested in a day trip to Nusa Penida should contact their holiday travel representative for a list of marine operators that are active in the area.

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