In three years in Indonesia, I have visited most parts of Bali. Even for someone living in the country, Bali, is still the classic tourist destination. The beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere of the island offers an important release valve when everything in the capital gets a bit too much.
I normally visit Bali at least once if not twice every year. When a friend, or a member of my family comes to Indonesia, then it is inevitable that they’ll want to visit the resort island, for it is a place that has caught the popular imagination for generations; you only need to look at the 19th century tourism adverts to understand how deeply ingrained the image of Bali as an exotic holiday destination is.
Each time I come to Bali I stay in a place that I have never visited before, for the simple reason that every town or village has its own distinct atmosphere, whether its the hippy vibe of the highland town of Ubud or the party atmosphere of Kuta. After much trial and error I can reveal my favourite Bali holiday was actually not in Bali.
Nusa Penida is a small island just off the Eastern coast of Bali, which is a short thirty-minute ferry ride from the mainland. This isn’t an unknown tourist destination; large and small resorts stand side by side along every part of the beachfront. Even though the island is jam-packed full of tourists you never get the feeling that the beaches are overcrowded.
For me one of the best things about Nusa Penida is that wherever you stay, it is almost inevitable at you will be less than ten metres away from the beach. That means you can wake up, have breakfast and simply start swimming in the warm waters of the tropical ocean. Added to that there is a great little path that goes around the edge of the island.