We had an early start today at 6 AM in order to catch the ferry over to Nusa Penida Island at 7 AM. I booked the day trip directly with Putu which includes the roundtrip transfer from our villa to Sanur Harbor, the roundtrip ferry ticket, lunch, and private drivers at Nusa Penida to take us to our 3 must see places: Diamond Beach, Rumah Pohon Treehouse, and Kelingking. There are organized tours as well but those usually separate into different regions of Nusa Penida so there’s no one tour that goes to all 3 places. The tour was expensive at 6.2 million IDR for 8 people by Bali standards.
Once we arrived at Sanur Harbor, Putu went in and got us tickets and badges. They color coded the badge to know which ship to board, we just followed the crowds to the boarding dock. When we boarded the ship, it was almost full so we had to split up to two different ships arriving around the same time. The boat ride wasn’t too bad, it had no AC and they opened the windows for the sea breeze to come in. They also hang those fragrance bags to eliminate the sweaty odor I guess!
The boat ride was around an hour, I did took my seasick pill just in case, it was pretty calm that day. Once we arrived, we found our drivers waiting there with my name plate. Since they only have the normal size sedans on the island, we were split into two cars. We confirmed our itinerary with them, the three must sees, we were on our way. The first stop was Diamond Beach, it took an hour to get there as it’s further out from the harbor and the road conditions there were terrible!!! No wonder it took so long to get from one place to another! I did nap during the bumpy ride, I was so sleepy from waking up so early.
The parking lot at Diamond Beach was packed with tourists! Our drivers paid the admission fee (included with the tour price) which include a small bottle of water. I found a lot of places provided water which is a great idea due to the heat. Our drivers walked us to the views of the beach down below….no, we are not interested in going down because the coming back up those stairs would be hard and time consuming.
He said this is the photo spot and took our photos with our phones. We immediately realized that he is not a good phone photographer unlike the ones we had at Bali swings and the waterfalls. Perhaps, our expectation was too high since we are into photography? Those photos were taken by ourselves with our DSLR camera.
This photo spot wasn’t as great, the best spot was the on the stairs walking down.
Loads of people were walking up and down so to get good photos require some luck and wait. Here is an example of the photo taken by our driver….too much of the cliff side and that wire/pole is too distracting.
This should be the angle, photo taken by Peter with my DSLR:
Diamond beach is really picturesque with the cone shaped rocks and the shades of blue. If you continue to walk down more there is a swing and bird’s nest photo spots but we didn’t make it that way down and turned back. It was sooooo hot!!!
The next location is Rumah Pohon Treehouse which is near Diamond Beach…maybe 5-10 minutes away. Our drivers paid the entrance fee and once we walked in, there was another booth to charge for the photo spots and combo packages. In addition to the original Instagram famous treehouse, they made a few bird nests and panorama photo spots, everything is so artificial and commercialized in Bali! We just want the original treehouse and that costs 75k per person.
It felt like a long walk to the treehouse under the hot burning sun, our guide said to meet us there and he walked really fast. I realized why when we got there….he got our queuing number so we didn’t have to wait for that long. We waited for 15 minutes or so, luckily, there was a “tent” and benches. They timed each person and each couple have 2 minutes for photos so you have to be fast LOL!!! Next, next, next, next….reality versus Instagram:
Jason went first, he used a minute, he said save an extra minute for me 😀 The photos below were taken with our DSLR camera since our guide wasn’t great at taking phone photos so my priority was my camera photos than the phone.
Next, we did our couple’s shoot:
Then, my turn!
The view was incredible, it certainly lived up to its hype, and no wonder it became Instagram famous. To give you some history, the owner built 3 treehouses and rented them out as Airbnb, one night was less than $80, very basic with a bed and shared bathroom that you need to hike up to the main building to use the bathroom. That one treehouse with the awesome view became Instagram-famous and you need to book at least a year in advance to search for that exact treehouse. Before the pandemic when I was planning my first trip to Bali (but got canceled), I booked that treehouse just so I could be there during sunrise and sunset for photos and planned to stay overnight at a nearby real hotel. They allowed visitors to photograph that treehouse, outside only, from 9 AM to 5 PM (if I remember correctly) for a small fee. After the pandemic, they turned the treehouse just for photos and they make so much more money by charging admission and photo spot fee!!! I don’t blame the owner, I would too, less work and more profit!
A closer view of the beaches underneath the cliffs:
After the treehouse, it was time for lunch. The tour included lunch and of course, they took us to a mass-produced restaurant with a basic menu like fried rice, fried noodles, and a drink. I was thinking of getting a watermelon juice but I saw their watermelons were left open and tons of flies there so urg……I ordered a Thai fried noodle while the rest of the group either ordered Indonesian fried rice or fried noodles. Haha, theirs came out in no time, and luke lukewarm so those were batch-made. My noodle came out last, it was steamy hot and the taste wasn’t bad so it was freshly made hahahaha. Thus, never order the basics from those restaurants because they are batch-made 😉
After lunch, it was an hour’s drive to our last spot – Kelingking Beach (aka T-Rex Beach). This was the most crowded spot!!! There was an admission fee and no photo spot fee. Does this look like the head of a T-Rex?
This was how crazy it was, the tour guides climbed up the trees to photograph their clients.
I don’t think the angle was that great…..photo from our guide of us:
I recommend walking down a few flights of stairs to get the best angle and no line. However, there were people constantly going up and down those stairs so you might need to wait for the best photos.
We did not dare to walk all the way down to the beach, we will not survive our way back up those stairs. We saw a guy made his way up from the beach and he was burned…badly!
After a few more photos, we walked back up and our guides dropped us off at the harbor for our 3 PM ferry back to Bali – Sanur. We tipped each of our guides 50K. We waited under the hot burning sun for like 15 minutes to board our ferry, gosh, it was brutal with no shades!
After we got back to Bali, Putu was there to pick us up and drop us off at our villa. The guys were craving for Chinese food so they found a Chinese restaurant in town – Golden Monkey Restaurant. We went there early so they could be done with dinner and get back to the villa for their massages (yes again because it was so cheap) at 8 PM.
The beef fried noodle was okay:
The dim sum was okay too…
The pepper beef with the right amount of sauce:
On the other hand, the beef sizzling plate was lacking flavor:
The spring rolls was too oily:
The egg tofu sizzling plate was better than the beef sizzling plate:
I was so craving for stir-fried veggy!
The peking duck was the most disappointing and a waste of money…..it wasn’t roasted duck, it was fried with oil. The wrap was not even fully cooked, the scallions were cut so big that it was not suitable for wraps sigh!
The sweet and sour chicken/pork? wasn’t crunchy.
I haven’t try the wonton soup, they said was good.
The roasted pork (char-siu) was tasteless…
We ordered so much food and cost $165.70 with added 10% tips. I wasn’t impressed but edible at least. It was good to have a change of taste to “cool off” from the hot spicy Indonesian food.
Was Nusa Penida worth the price and time? Yes, even though the sites were super commercialized but can’t deny the awesome views. I like Diamond Beach and Rumah Pohon Treehouse the best. Kelingking was okay, but the crowds made it less enjoyable.