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Wild island Nusa Penida – ceremonies and snorkeling with mantas

Nusa Penida, Toyapakeh beach – mostly occupied by boats rather than by tourists. 

Our 5-days trip to Nusa Penida started quite spontaneous. We knew just, that Penida is a biggest of the three islands group easter from Bali, and there is a good snorkeling. Why there? The other two islands are Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Cheningan, accessible from Penida (and from Sanur) and known mostly for leisure resting rather than adventures. So we chose adventures: wild nature and lack of touristic facilities, and snorkeling with mantas (a safe type of skate).

Somewhere between Sampalan and Ped. At that moment I didn’t recognize what means “lack of facilities”! Mostly, the guesthouses have no signs, are away from the sea, and it’s better to stay in Ped for some warungs choice!

The public ferry starts from Padang Bay to Nusa Penida at 12.00 every day. Of course, we slept too long, and we were last at 11.45. One minute later we would have no space for a bike in ferry! But happy us: we paid 100 000 rupees for two of us and a bike (less than the prices announced), and came to the island in 1 hour.

Our ferry: 3 floors, no a/c, but still comfortable. 

So here we are – on the cursed island! It is, indeed, a part of island history and beliefs: Nusa Penida was an island of exile, and till now the shrine of a demon are kept in one of the main temples – in Pura Dalem Ped.

Pura Ped. Take it serious! No entrance without sarongs and loose hair. 

And the island confirms its reputation on the first day! It was a long and broken way from Sampalan to Toyapakeh, when we failed to see any guesthouse, and finally started to ask locals. “Terima kost?” brough us to a simple room with no hot shower and the bed with insects, for 100 000 rupees. Same price as the sea view room in Amed, but such a different quality! But ok, we came here for snorkeling!

Looking for a shelter… 

Crystal bay – the beach worth crazy roads, very local food in very local warungs, etc… It is just from the romantic pirate tales! A small island in the center, almost white gentle sand, clear blue water, sacred tree and a temple. And awesome shells!

Crystal beach from above: on the other side of the hill is another hidden beach, but it’s worth in high tide only. 

Boats of snorkers from Nusa Lembongan. 

Crystal bay: a tree, a temple, and a guesthouse. And, of course, some pricey warungs!
Snorkeling. It is, indeed, beautiful: many different corals and fishes! But… It is almost same as in Lipah, Amed, with one difference: the water is freezing! We have swimming t-shirts, but I would gladly wear something else. And the plankton: many areas of the “oily”, semi-transparent water. What’s more?
A surgeon fish and a butterfly fish are almost lost in colorful corals!

Colors and forms are exciting!

Next two days we were seeking for it. The circle around the island was interesting, but torturing for our bike and some parts of the body. The roads are just as awful as the local villagers are nice and welcoming! In addition to the roads, the insufficient maps and empty gasoline stations (only two for the island) made this tour a real adventure!

Happy children: touching a white brings luck! And it almost sent me off from the bike 😉


Very desert island, it seems from above. 

Some findings from this tour. Seaweed farms – the main business for this island. They keep the coral reefs in their natural state, as no extensive fishing is possible near the farms.

Seaweed farms. Most of the beaches belongs to them. 


Drying seaweeds. 


Carrying them home. 

Temples and ceremonies. Nusa Penida is a perfect place to watch and participate! Many people from Bali come here for beautiful and sincere ceremonies in the white temples. This white style is amazing, especially during sunset!

A temple on the road to Crystal bay. 

There are many of them, three biggest – Pura Dalem Ped, Pura Saab (monkey temple, and better be careful with them), and Pura Goa Gitri Putri (temple in a cave). And, of course, the sacred pools of Temeling.
Tempering natural pool. This pool is for men – women’s is down to the beach, small and tiny :))) The water is really nice, and you can prove yourself by jumping from the rocks!

Pura Saab, monkey temple. Quiet and even desert place, waiting for a special day. 


A special day in another – Toyapakeh – temple. Such a procession! 

Pura Goa is really easy to find on the way from Sampalan to the south – just watch for the steps to the mountain. The long stair and small temple above doesn’t promise anything, but when we went inside a small hole – we didn’t believe ourselves.

Entrance to Pura Goa

The cave is huge! Dark, wet, chilly, and full of prayers. These people were so kind to invite us in the purifying ceremony with them! We passed all stages: three bowls of holy water to the head, three sessions of mantras, each of them – deeper and deeper in the cave…

From the entrance in the cave, it still looks just an ordinary cave. 

But later (and deeper) the event begins…

And we finished with a welcoming speech from a temple priest, pleased with his English skills – he told us about the unity of Hindu and Buddism in this temple, congratulated two foreigners for our dedication, and gave all of us the three threads as a sign of purification.

After the ceremony – a daylight is so surprising!

That ceremony was a great experience, making us feel united with all people around, and bringing some clarity to the mind 🙂 I think this is something we miss in the western culture, being all alone with our lives and stories, so far from each other every day.
Our trip woundn’t be complete without snorkeling with mantas – and, I must admit, this is something we tried to escape. I mean the tour, not the mantas! 🙂 As we are independent travelers, shouldn’t we go on without guided tours? But this is an exception: finally we paid 250 000 rupees, and it totally worths!

A traditional balinese boat. 

First, the mantas of Old Point are not accessible without the boat, and this meeting required some experience (to see them and not to touch, ouch!). Mantas are big and beautiful! We spent there 30 minutes, until got completely frozen.

This manta is almost twice bigger than me, and when it appears from the blue deep – it is a feeling!

A manta and its fans 🙂

And we headed to mangrove forest of Lembongan to get warmer! The forests are not really full of life in the places good for a motor boat (no snorkeling there), but still beautiful. There are the paths for an ordinary boat (manual, I would say), and I wish to come there again – to find a special kind of barrakudas!

Mangrove forest of Lembongan. 

And again, snorkeling. The tour point between Lembongan and Penida was amazing: so many big and colorful fishes I’ve never seen! And the corals: huge and small, round and flat, sometimes just a little bit lower than water surface, sometimes growing for meters from the deep blue sea! Fishes were not so experienced with snorkels, and came really close. The only thing I don’t understand after this snorkeling – why local people don’t do that all day?!
Thanks to this tour the island came to our hearts really deep! There are many other things to explore on this island and its smaller sisters, but nothing touches more than the harmony between the nature and the rural life expressed with their extremes – sharks, mantas and kilometers of corals, and the farmers doing their daily life and ceremonies with no special purpose to attract the tourists!

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