Nusa Penida's best known strip of sand, the aptly named Crystal Bay, makes for a lazy day out on the sand, with clear waters, some decent offshore snorkelling and a couple of simple places to eat and drink.
Crystal Bay is a quiet arc of white-grey sand set amid rocky, scrubby outcrops, with a small jagged islet off shore and rugged Nusa Ceningan in the distance. The majestic mola mola, or sunfish, comes to cleanse here, meaning divers and snorkellers are also lured here in season (August and September), but, when the waters are calm, there is good offshore snorkelling year round. The beach is also the site of regular ceremonies so the southern end of the bay can be a bit littered at times with plastic drink cups and offerings. Crystal Bay also doubles as a floodplain – you'll see the flood channel towards the southern end of the beach – so perhaps reconsider sunbaking in rainy season.
Daytrippers from Bali come on cruisers and from Lembongan on speedboats and jukungs to trudge ashore and spend a few hours sunning themselves, getting a massage and frolicking in the waters. Part of the beach is set aside with some thatched huts for their use, but it’s not like there are security guards patrolling around, so you’re free to stick your nose in for a look — though they probably wouldn’t take kindly to you setting up camp in a hammock, at least while the daytrippers are still there.
There is a second beach just to the south of Crystal Bay – the stairs run up and around the southern headland – and the walk takes about 20 minutes we were told ... we were too lazy to walk it sorry! While the beach is smaller, you are in all likelihood to have it to yourself.
At one stage there was talk of the Chedi developing the area with a resort of luxury villas – that plan appears to have been scuppered and nobody we talked to seemed to have ever even heard of it – leaving the bay, for now, little developed. There is a string of small warungs selling cold drinks, cup noodles and crisps and one more established bar cum restaurant that does decent one-plate dishes with a couple of deck chairs laid out front. You can also rent snorkelling gear and arrange a snorkelling trip from here.
Crystal Bay is about a 30 minute walk from Namaste and Warung CoCo, but you'll need your own transport to visit here from further afield – Toyo Pakeh is about 30 minutes away by scooter. There are a few ojeks by the beach should you need a ride back to your guesthouse.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 7th July, 2016.