Nusa Penida, Indonesia

Nusa Penida is a smaller island between Bali and Lombok, about an hour by boat from Sanur in Bali.

View from Nusa Penida towards Bali and Mt Agung

I spent a week as a volunteer with Friends of the National Parks Foundation. I helped with feeding the Bali starlings (critically endangered due to poachers – the population was down to 10 at one point but is now over 100 thanks to the translocation project), along with plant nursery maintenance, a beach cleanup of plastic waste, and construction of the new FNPF premises (thatched huts on a terraced hillside, and gardens that will be beautiful once established).

An endangered Bali Starling, Nusa Penisa, Indonesia
An endangered Bali Starling, Nusa Penisa, Indonesia

Nusa Penida is much less developed than Bali, and resembles Bali as it might have been 40 years ago before the tourism boom. Accomodation is simple, with basic facilities (eg cold showers – actually very pleasant in the tropical climate – bucket-flush toilets, and limited food variety).

For tourists it offers great snorkelling & diving,


and enough Hindu temples & local colour to make it interesting culturally. It’s nice to not be hassled to buy things as much as in Bali. Mostly people just say ‘hello’ (in some cases it’s the only English word they know).


I also need to mention The Gallery, run by an English expat Mike Appleton – it’s THE place to go for local information, language interpretation, western food, and to support local artists.

The main amenity I missed was reliable internet connections – there was no access at all for five of the nine days I was there, and when it was available it was patchy & unreliable even at the one internet cafe in town.  Lesson from this for me was to finish all travel bookings before  going somewhere remote like this.  Even back here in Bali the connection is too slow for me to upload any sounds or other photos, so I’ll add more later.

I also had a motorbike accident, though not the kind you’d expect. I’d just had dinner in the village of Toya Pakeh and rode back on my rented scooter… only to discover that the storage pocket under the console where I’d put my wallet wasn’t screwed in properly and the wallet wasn’t there! It must have fallen out onto the road.

It was after nightfall – I rode back up and down the 4km of road twice looking for it. I had numerous false alarms with brown leaves that looked like the wallet from a distance, but no luck finding the real thing. I also tried again at 5:30am when it got light but still nothing.

I had just enough cash left in my pack to get back to Bali – so I can hopefully arrange a Western Union transfer there to keep me going for the rest of the trip. Luckily I’ve already paid for the rest of my flights & accomodation, but I still need cash for food & local transport. It’s certainly a misadventure I can do without…  50,000 rupiah (about $5 Australian) for a day’s scooter hire seemed like great value, but has cost more than I expected.

At least I haven’t lost my passport! (hopefully I haven’t just jinxed myself there)

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