The most beautiful place in Bali - Nusa Penida + Swimming with Manta Rays!
Next time you're in Bali, do yourself a favour and make sure Nusa Penida is on your list. This place is seriously special and being a lot less touristy than the popular Gilli Islands it's a win win!
The entire day, I just kept thinking wow...this place is stunning.
We booked a day trip with Discover Nusa Penida. There was a few different tours and even locals would offer to show you round for the day in your own personalised tour so it was a bit tricky to know which option to go with. Scrolling through all the trip advisor reviews it became clear that Discover Nusa Penida was the way to go. We opted for the Manta Mix Tour to get a bit of everything. Now the day wasn't cheap, it cost about $240 USD, but trust me, you certainly get your money's worth. And in my opinion, what's the harm in paying a bit more for an incredible experience? Not only did we get to go snorkelling, swim with Manta Rays and see the best spots on Nusa Penida, we also got lunch, a private car, transfers from our accommodation on Nusa Lembongan and the most amazing staff that clearly love what they do everyday. They made the day so memorable and it was by far my favourite day of our entire trip!
The day began at 8am when we were picked up from our accomodation and taken down to Bali's version of a marina where the boat was waiting to transfer us to Nusa Penida. A short boat ride later we arrived on the island and were taken to the company's office where they kept all the snorkel gear and other equipment. Fitted with our own masks and fins we were off, out on the water to find some Manta Rays.
I was quietly a bit nervous, I didn't really know much about Manta Rays at all, except for the fact that they can't hurt you. I just knew that swimming with Manta Rays was high on my bucket list and Bali seemed like the perfect place to tick this off. Even though I have lots of snorkelling experience I find I can sometimes feel a bit uneasy in the water if the clarity isn't very good and I can't what's around me. Luckily there wasn't a lot of wind and with Bali's clear unpolluted waters (hopefully it stays this way in years to come) visibility wasn't an issue. The staff also made you feel incredibly comfortable, as they do this everyday they have heaps of experience and always put safety first. If the conditions are too rough, they won't let you go in the water. They also kept the groups small, there was only 4 of us on our boat which allows your tour guides to keep a close eye on you. One stays in the boat and one is in the water with you, telling you where to swim to get the best view of the Manta Rays.
As we approached our first spot, I quickly threw on my fins and mask, set the GoPro on record and waited with baited breath. My nerves had disappeared by this point, I was excited to get in the water. Our tour guide spots a Manta in the water and yells "Manta, Manta. Go, go, go!" and he's in the water in a flash. Adrenaline kicking in, I jumped in the water without even thinking about what would happen once I was in there. When the bubbles cleared I see a gigantic Manta Ray swimming straight at me. I didn't have time to move out of the way, so I just kind of froze, not really knowing what was going to happen next. To my astonishment, the Manta sensed me in the water and then swopped right under me. It was absolutely incredible, I honestly couldn't believe my eyes. It was at this moment I developed a huge appreciation for these gentle creatures. The way they moved in the water was so graceful, you couldn't help but not be afraid of them.
We stopped at a few more spots and we were so lucky that we spotted Manta Rays at all of them! Next on the agenda was snorkelling at Crystal Bay. Now as I said earlier, I've done quite a lot of snorkelling and it makes me so sad to see how all the coral around the world is dying. I wasn't really sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the thriving coral at this spot. If your picturing the coral in Finding Nemo, well unfortunately it wasn't quite this bright. I'm still waiting for the day where I will find coral like in Finding Nemo! These days, that's quite a big ask but I still remain hopeful! We saw lots of different types of fish which was exciting. When I was in Thailand we saw lots of fish, but it was all the same fish (like the yellow fish emoji) so it was cool seeing a bit of variety.
After Crystal Bay it was time to head inland to visit the sights on the island. The first stop being Angel’s Billabong and Broken Beach. I’d seen photos on Instagram but these places are far more stunning when you see them with your own eyes. We were lucky enough that we got to swim at Angel’s Billabong, something that our guide said doesn't happen at the time. He only tells people it’s safe to swim on a calm day when the tide is out. This can actually be a very dangerous place, even though you wouldn’t think so looking at the calm water in the photos. Our guide was explaining that when people get to close to the edge and a freak wave hits, people get washed out sea and unfortunately loose their lives. In fact our guide was actually telling other tourists that were to close to the edge to get back, of course not all of them listened…sometimes there are more important things than getting the perfect pic for the gram.
Broken Beach was at the same location as Angel’s Billabong, just a short walk away. It’s easy to tick off these two places if you’re running short on time. I couldn’t believe how blue the water was here! Such a perfect view. And our tour guide, bless him, knew all the perfect spots for photos and was quite happy being our personal photographer for the afternoon.
Soon it was time to head to the last spot of the day, and the one I was personally looking forward to the most, Kelingking beach aka the Dinosaur Head. It did not disappoint. Like many of the other places we saw that day, photos do not do it justice. It was possible to walk down to the beach and swim in the crystal clear waters but unfortunately we didn’t have time. After seeing the faces of some people who had just finished walking back up I was actually quite glad we gave it a miss, especially in the 30 degree heat! There’s a loot of stairs to climb. I even overhead one girl say “I’m not sure if that was worth it”.
After snapping some pics and taking in the view we headed back to the van to make our way back to our accomodation on Nusa Lembongan. Then we ended our day with some cocktails and way too much food. The perfect end to the perfect day. I would 100% do it all over again and not change a thing.
To see the Manta Rays in action, check out my vlog from this day on my channel: