Are you planning an island getaway, but are worried with all you have heard about the Nusa Penida Roads? Let’s talk about that.
Nusa Penida is rapidly climbing up the ranks of top travel destinations worldwide, and rightfully so. It is absolutely gorgeous; nowhere else can you experience so many spectacular attractions, so close together, on such a quiet island, for (nearly) free!
We would go back in a heartbeat.
This got us thinking about how we nearly never went. We would definitely have travelled somewhere, but considered skipping Nusa Penida because of the large majority of articles out there and the warnings they share.
Are The Nusa Penida Roads Really That Bad?
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk specifics.
Are ALL The Roads Bad?
There is a large, double-looped ring road that provides easy access to all sections of the island. It is thin, but it is very well tarred and very smooth.
Once you get onto these roads its actually a lot of fun. Driving home from the far sections of the island can take up to an hour, but we would pass nobody else on the roads and always had uninterrupted vistas that felt unreal.
Nice! That road is easy and enjoyable.
So Which Roads Are Bad?
Once you break away from the main ring road and head directly towards your destination, that’s when things get a little trickier. The roads have fallen victim to harsh erosion that is made worse by being previously tarred.
This means that the sections that still have some semblance of solid road are much higher than the sandy potholes that surround them. At some points you can stay on the tar and weave between the potholes, but other times you cannot.
You’ll end up spending anywhere between 10 to 40 minutes a day on these unforgiving roads a day, so…
How Do You Drive On Nusa Penida Roads?
Everything up to now has looked at the harsh realities, but now let’s talk optimistic possibilities.
We spent a week on the island and drove to pretty much every single attraction – we are still here and even itching to go back.
The next thing is to be realistic. Do not ride a motorbike or scooter on these roads to impress anyone, not even yourself. You need to be confident and humble.
I will submit to say that this is not the best place to learn how to drive a bike, but if you can ride already, you can make it here.
Traffic is all about the flow, you are responsible for everything you can see. Lane changes, turning, merging and stopping can happen without warning, so be sure to pay attention and learn to accept the flow rather than resist it.
Maintain the idea of flowing onto the tough roads too. A slow, constant speed is much better than short bursts. Braking, accelerating and sharp turning are far more likely to end in slipping, skidding & falling as opposed to smooth, continuous motion.
Don’t fear the potholes. You will definitely end up riding through a ditch or two, which again, is far better than swerving abruptly.
A little less pressure in the tyres widens the surface area of your tyres and provides better traction in off-road conditions.
Relax your hands, arms and shoulders. It’s human nature to tense up in an attempt to prevent loss of control. Not only is this incredibly exhausting (which you will only notice later), but it is counter productive.
Have You Had An Accident?
Thankfully not, but we have had some close shaves.
Early in the morning, the vans rush towards the harbour to fetch and ferry around the day visitors. We had the option of a head-on collision or heading off the road immediately. After our first encounter like that, we were sure to avoid that time of day or just wait on the side of the road if it was too narrow or cliff-like.
Another instance was while travelling from Suwehan Beach towards Atuh Beach. There was a sharp turn, followed immediately by a steep hill. In my attempt to smoothly build speed and navigate this section, I followed the tar parts as much as possible and drove straight into a massive pothole.
We lost all momentum. The hole was deep enough that Tammy merely stood up from the back of the bike onto the tar. A short regroup was in order and we opted to simply walk the bike back up, rather than rolling down and trying again.
Our final story involves a steep uphill and a cow. All that ended up happening was the bike started to slip down the hill once we slowed down, so we jumped off and walked it ourselves.
So I Can Drive On Nusa Penida Roads?
Only you know the answer to that.
Unfortunately we passed a couple who had fallen off of their bike near Crystal Bay. They were in pain and we felt really sorry for them. It does happen.
I personally believe that it has more to do with your mental focus and beliefs than your physical disposition, but that isn’t to say everybody should just drive around Nusa Penida without care.
If you are a confident driver and can handle a bike well, then just be extra cautious and you should be fine. If you are already nervous to drive elsewhere, perhaps opt to take tour company packages or hire a taxi.
Why Should We Even Bother With Driving Ourselves?
The tour companies have strict schedules and lots of people. This means that the few attractions you will get to visit, will definitely be packed with tourists and you will never have the opportunity to spend sunrise or sunset there.
Many roads are also too narrow for vans to drive, which means you miss out on some of the best attractions like Tembeling Pools.
How Do We Rent A Scooter Or Motorbike On Nusa Penida?
The easiest option is to ask your host, hotel or AirBnb if they have a motorcycle to rent to you. That’s how we got ours, plus it meant we could arrange a discount (which we did).
It cost us IDR 390k for the week which was a little better of a deal compared to the standard IDR 70k a day.
Before discovering this, our plan was to call one of the agencies on the island and have them bring a scooter to the harbour for us. This is a service that they all seem to do and it is much more cost effective than arranging a taxi pickup.
Simply go onto Google Maps and search scooter rentals on Nusa Penida and then read some reviews. Their websites and contact information are all there too.
Another idea we toyed with was taking the ferry and bringing our bike from Bali across. After much research, it turns out the fees would nullify any savings, the time wasted on the ferry would be painful and if something were to happen to our bike while on the island, we would be pretty much stuck.
What Are The Laws Around Renting And Licences?
You need an IDP (international driving permit).
This has to be obtained in your home country prior to arriving on Nusa Penida and is only valid with your original licence (they must be presented together) and cannot be valid for longer than your original either.
Most IDPs are valid for between one to three years.
It is also important to mention that you need to be legally licenced for whatever you wish to drive in the other country. If you’d like to rent a motorcycle in Nusa Penida, you need to be licenced to ride a motorcycle in your home country too.
Tourists can no longer get temporary licences in Bali as we could before.
Conclusion On Nusa Penida Roads
The roads are not the easiest, but they are definitely possible. We were heavily warned about certain roads that ended up being an absolute breeze! Most of the time we actually had a blast riding around Nusa Penida.
Like I said, it provides access to some of the most spectacular attractions we have had the privilege of exploring.
This is a travel guide the precisely outlines every single step from booking your ticket, to heading home on the speedboat. Every cost, every route, every attraction.
A Nusa Penida Travel Guide
If the video above isn’t your kind of guide, if you like to read at your own pace, then we have the guide for you.
Of course, in order to get to Nusa Penida, you’ll probably need to start from Bali. So best you explore that too!
Where To Stay On The Island
There are many accommodation options on Nusa Penida. It all really depends on what you are looking for and what your price range is.
Here are our recommendations:
➩ When you first sign up to Airbnb and book using our code you can score up to R600 off of your first booking and R225 towards an experience!
How To Get To Nusa Penida
Throughout all of our Southeast Asia travels 12Go Asia has been our friend! They make travelling so much less stressful – you can book all of your transport before you set foot out the door.
The best way to get to Nusa Penida is from Sanur Harbour with a speedboat. You can book your speedboat right here: Sanur to Nusa Penida.
Or search any transport destinations and modes below.
Were you scared about the Nusa Penida Roads? Or have you already conquered them? Share your experiences below!
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