Nusa Pineda: An Island Getaway

I spent a month traveling throughout various parts of Bali, Sanur, Kuta, Ubud, Canggu and Depensar. But the highlight of my trip was definitely my time on Nusa Pineda.  It’s the largest of three islands off the southeastern coast of Bali. The island is full of spectacular mountain views and it is surrounded by sparkling, clear turquoise water.  The vast majority of the island is inhabited by locals, which I love because everything moves at a slower, more relaxed pace. It’s a nice break from the more overwhelmingly touristy cities like Ubud or Canggu that are overrun with souvenir shops and people standing on the sidewalks trying to flag you in to their cab or restaurant every 30 seconds.

Getting to Nusa Pineda

The easiest way to get to Nusa Pineda is by a 30-minute fast boat ride. There are a few different harbors that offer transport via fast boat as well as ferry to the island. I took a fast boat from Sanur Harbor. There are several cruise operators that travel to Nusa Pineda from Sanur Harbor, but the company I chose was Crown Fast Cruises. The cost was Rp400,000 ($28) round trip. They have 3 departures per day to and from Nusa Pineda. They pick you up from your hotel in Sanur, and they also provide the transportation to your hotel on the island. The same service is provided to you on your return trip from the island. It’s all included in the price!  FYI, when boarding the boat in Sanur there is no dock, so be prepared to walk about 35-40 meters or 115-130 feet to the boat in water that is about 1/2 meter or 2 feet deep. However, there will be a dock when arriving to and departing from Nusa Pineda back to Sanur.

What To See

Kelingking Beach or T-Rex Beach as it is more popularly known, has one of the most iconic viewpoints on the island. The road there is honestly the roughest, and rockiest road I have ever driven on in my life. Many of the potholes are large enough to swallow the front tire of your motorbike, so proceed with caution. It would be less than ideal to get a flat tire on such a remote stretch of road. Once you arrive, you’ll have to hike down from the viewpoint to the small, isolated beach below.

Atuh Beach, a secluded beach on the eastern tip of island. Is best accessed by motorbike along yet another narrow, rough and rocky road. The beach can be reached by a 10 minute hike down concrete stairs. There are no handrails so be careful! Atuh beach features a natural rock arch and is surrounded by green cliffs.

Broken Beach is located on the western side of Nusa Pineda. It boasts a natural bridge that stretches over crystal clear turquoise waters that flow in and out of the natural archway.

 Crystal Bay is one of the most popular and easily accessible beaches on the island. Unlike many of the other beaches, the road to Crystal Bay is an easy one. The roads are smooth and paved, and there is no need to leave you motorbike behind while you hike for 20 min through rough terrain to get to the shore.

What To Bring

Aside from the things you’d normally pack for a tropical getaway, be sure to bring plenty of local currency, ATMs and currency exchanges are few and far between on the island. You’ll definitely need a portable power bank to recharge your phone after all of the amazing photos you’ll be taking while out and about. Be sure to bring a good pair of walking shoes, as many of the beaches are surrounded by rock formations that may be difficult to maneuver with flip flops or sandals. I would also bring snacks, dried fruit, nuts, etc. Unless you’re staying along the coast of the island, food options on Nusa Pineda are limited. I don’t recall seeing any convenience stores, just a few stands here and there with locals selling things like chips, soda and cup o’ noodles. If you want more variety or healthier food options, you can either bring snacks with you, or buy an extra meal while you’re out exploring the coast and take it back to your hotel in case late night hunger strikes.   

Getting Around Nusa Pineda

While on the island, I wouldn’t recommend that you walk- anywhere. There are no sidewalks. The speed limit is apparently, “as fast as you can go”, the roads are narrow and there are endless curves, hills and blind spots. If your hotel or bungalow offers a car service, that may be the safest way to get around. But if you’re more adventurous like me, and prefer to explore the island on your own, a motorbike is also an option. Motorbike rental on the island ranges from Rp70,000 – Rp80,000 ($4.94-$5.64) per day.

An example of how narrow the two lane roads are. They almost clipped my mirror as we passed each other.

Before You Go

The beaches are free but there may be times when a local standing out front will charge $0.50 or $1 for an “entrance fee”.  Is it wrong, yes, but just pay it and go about your day, there’s no point in arguing.

The terrain on many of the roads, particularly the ones on the way to the more isolated beaches can be very rocky, rough and dangerous. If you aren’t an experienced or confident motorbike rider, I’d recommend that you have someone from your bungalow or hotel take you if possible.

Proceed with extreme caution

If you do choose to ride a motorbike during your time on the island, make sure you start your day with a full tank of gas. Gas stations are usually just locals on the roadside with bottles or jars of gasoline, which may or may not be easy to find depending on what part of the island you’re on.  

One of the local “gas stations”

The Wi-Fi on the island can be a bit sketchy at times so be sure to download an offline version of google maps before you go out exploring. Although I’d imagine getting lost in paradise wouldn’t be so bad, but just download the maps to be safe.  

If you’re pressed for time, a day trip to Nusa Pineda is definitely doable. You can take the early speedboat from Sanur and the last boat back in the evening.  You’d have time for a hike and would be able to see lots of amazing viewpoints, as well as visit a couple of the beaches, maybe have time to see a waterfall, but I would suggest that you stay for 2-3 days to be able to fully explore the entire island. 

Several of the beaches offer boat tours, diving, snorkeling and there are also several waterfalls and hiking trails. No matter which parts of the island you chose to explore, you will be absolutely amazed by the clarity of the turquoise waters, the gorgeous white sandy beaches and the towering high cliffs. You’ll also be surrounded by sweeping mountain views and some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen.