Photo: Go before they put in a cable car.

Introduction

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The craggy limestone island of Nusa Penida to the southeast of Bali covers an area of around 200 square kilometres, dwarfing its popular neighbours Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, and until recent years had been all but ignored by tourists.


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Nusa Penida is in the midst of rapid change, having now being “discovered” and though infrastructure is lacking, guesthouses, restaurants and other tourist focused business are sprouting like mushrooms in the wet season. It’s not difficult to see the attraction, Nusa Penida is a place of natural rugged beauty with miles upon miles upon miles of gobsmackingly stunning coastline, 100-metre sheer cliffs that drop dramatically into crystal blue seas populated with an abundance of marine life, along with beautiful beaches, an attractive hinterland and (for now) a generally “unspoilt” vibe about the place.

Seaweed farming—one of the traditional industries of Penida is fading away. Photo taken in or around Nusa Penida, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Seaweed farming—one of the traditional industries of Penida is fading away. Photo: Sally Arnold

One of the reasons Nusa Penida has been avoided for so long, is that for centuries the Balinese have regarded the island as a place of “black magic” where evil spirits dwell and ill fortune awaits. Legend has it Nusa Penida was the abode of Jero Gede Macaling—a demon and the original inspiration for the Barong dance. Pura Dalem Penetaran Ped in Ped village contains a shrine to his evilness himself making it both a totem for those learned in the dark arts along with those seeking relief from them. Nevertheless, these beliefs seem now to be for the most part ignored—at least when there is a buck to be made.

Despite the exponential growth in visitors, the development of infrastructure on the island has not kept pace, and the few paved roads are rapidly being destroyed by the daily convoy of cars with traffic to rival any southern Bali town. Minor roads are worse than riverbeds, dangerously steep with loose surfaces, so keep that in mind if you plan on hiring a motorbike to ride around—this is really not the conditions for novices. Not to mention the growing problem ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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