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My philosophy is to always experience travel destinations for myself rather than rely on the opinion of other travellers. What may not appeal to some could easily appeal to my tastes, because we all look for something different in a travel experience. This is how I came to spend some time in Nusa Dua, Bali recently. I’d heard good and bad things about it, such as: Nusa Dua was boring with little to do and the beaches weren’t that great. But I also heard it was upmarket, clean with lovely resorts and beaches. So I just had to experience it for myself and that is what led me to a week chillin’ in Nusa Dua.
Following six days on my Women’s Wellness Retreat in Ubud, I reunited with my husband and met up with another couple at the Melia Bali Resort in Nusa Dua. My first impressive was “wow” as we drove through a security checkpoint to access this Southern Bali paradise. The entrance is especially grand, adorned with a large fountain, beautifully manicured gardens and statues placed around the large roundabout. It was like a completely different Bali compared to the western side of the island. I felt as though I was entering a sanctuary where calmness, orderliness and cleanliness prevailed.
The name Nusa Dua means “two islands”, but really is just a strip of coastline on the southern side of the island of Bali with beautiful calm, white sand and pristine beaches. It is probably more renowned as an upmarket Bali beach resort and is not cheap compared to the rest of Bali.
The two Nusa Dua islands are actually joined to the mainland so you can walk out onto them both. The northern island is mainly all parkland and a launching spot for surfers surfing the reef break. Otherwise there is the Nusa Dharma Temple. The larger island of the two, Peninsula Island has a big entrance gate, two open recreational fields, a couple of pavilions and two monuments. There is also a blowhole here with a viewing platform with great views of the active volcano – Mount Agung.
The beachfront of Nusa Dua is lined with flash resorts and most of the beaches are for private use by their guests, however there are a couple public access beaches.
The most popular is the public beach between the Grand Hyatt Bali and Melia Bali Resort. There is also Mengiat Beach, to the south from the public beach, separated by the Grand Hyatt Bali. The resort’s beach area and facilities are not open to the public, but you are still allowed to walk there.
We stayed at the Melia Bali Resort, a large 5-star resort situated right on the beach with a small island adjacent. The entire property occupies 10.7 hectares of lush tropical gardens with an enormous lagoon swimming pool winding throughout the grounds.
The pool and beach areas have plenty of sunbeds with umbrellas, bar and food service if you desire and each day there are free organised activities to participate in. We did Yoga and a guided bike tour, but there is also Pilates, Aqua Aerobics in the pool, pool volleyball, cooking classes and much more on offer.
The rooms are traditional Balinese-style in teak timber decor, a separate ensuite bathroom and a small balcony overlooking the tropical gardens and lagoon. The resort also boasts 5 restaurants, 3 bars, a day spa and a coffee shop, but a word of warning – coffees were around $7 each and cocktails about $15 each, which is expensive for Bali! We purchased bottles of Bintang and Radlers (beer with lemon) at a small warung just around the corner from the resort, rather than drink at the resort’s bars.
The resort is within walking distance to the Bali Collection, an outdoor shopping mall with a wide array of clothing and souvenir stores, massage parlours, restaurants and a supermarket. We walked here most evenings and dined out at a few of the restaurants within the mall.
Apart from chillin’ around the resort’s pool and beach, you can hire watercraft either onsite or just outside the resort. We hired SUPs (stand up paddle boards) for a few hours, but you can also hire kayaks and surf boards and even have a surfing lesson if you so desire. There was a decent surf break beyond the shallow beach and most mornings there were plenty of surfers out here.
Shopping at the nearby Bali Collection was extremely good, but expensive by Bali standards. If you ventured outside the resort precinct there were cheaper market type shops in the village of Nusa Dua.
My favourite activity were our morning walks along the pathed beachfront where we got to have a look at all of the other exquisite resorts along the coastline. The 800 metre long Mengiat Beach, often referred to as Nusa Dua Beach, has clean white sand, calm waves, and is mostly uncrowded. Being the shared beachfront of notable resorts in the area, it’s well maintained. You can enjoy great swimming and even snorkelling near Pantai Mengiat’s coastline.
If you’re into some high adrenalin charged adventures then you’re able to partake in water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, wakeboarding, fishing charters, scuba diving or snorkelling. These activities are located at Tanjung Benoa beach in the Nusa Dua area.
About a 20 km drive from Nusa Dua is Bali’s earliest beach resort, Sanur. Here we found a long stretch of beach with colourful jukung fishing boats resting on the sand, a relaxed beach vibe and market stalls lining the beachfront. The waters of Sanur are protected by a long string of offshore reefs, creating large, warm, shallow, safe lagoons that are perfectly clear and excellent for swimming, snorkelling and a whole array of water sports. There are also consistent waves beyond the reefs good for surfing.
The great thing about Sanur is that there is a paved beachfront walking or cycling path that stretches some 5 km from Jalan Mertasari area in south Sanur, north to the main beach at Jalan Hangtuah. We strolled along this path for a few kilometres taking in the the beach and many boats in the calm waters.
The leafy main street Jalan Danau Tamblingan is lined with art galleries and restaurants. While the boys indulged in a massage, we girls had a stroll along the main street where we found a lovely homewares store and a few more upmarket boutiques, plus the usual market stalls selling the same clothing and souvenirs.
Sanur is also the departure point for day trips out to Lembongan and Nusa Penida Islands. One of the main objectives of our drive into Sanur was to book a boat and tour out to Nusa Penida Island.
It was a very early start for our booked tour to Penida Island. A driver picked us up from the hotel and drove us to where the fast boats depart from on Sanur Beach. It was chaos, but eventually we boarded our boat and were off on our 45 minute crossing to Nusa Penida Island.
Nusa Penida is a relatively undeveloped hilly island, southeast of Indonesia’s island Bali, renowned for some very photogenic sights and also for great diving and snorkelling.
Once we disembarked at the jetty in Nusa Penida we were met by our private driver called Wahan, who looked like a teenager, but was actually 26 years old. We were soon to discover that although he drove like a racing car driver, he knew the narrow rough roads of the island like the back of his hand. There were many moments on the drive across the island where all you could do was close your eyes and say a silent prayer! In a nutshell – the roads on the island are terrible!
We bumped and bounced along the winding and severely corrugated roads that barely had room for two cars passing, for what seemed like hours to our first stop at Kelingking Beach. Wayan explained that we were getting here early before the tourist buses arrived.
Kelingking Beach is a relatively new discovery, only discovered in 2003 by a few tourist divers who reached the beach by boat. Nowadays, Kelingking Beach is probably the most Instagrammed spot on Nusa Penida and you will understand why from these stunning photos. The cliff face above the little secluded beach underneath is the perfect vantage point or if you’re brave you can descend down the narrow steep stairs to the sandy shores. But beware as it is not safe and it’s an hour round trip down to the beach.
Our next stop was at Broken Beach and Angel’s Billabong, which are both next to one another so you can access them from the same walking path that loops around. Angel’s Billabong is a natural rock pool that is replenished at high tide. You can walk down the stairs into the pool if you so wish.
Broken Beach is a natural archway that was once a large cave that collapsed to reveal the crashing blue waves from the Indian Ocean beneath. The actual beach is spectacular and only accessible by boat. We noticed there we were many dive boats moored along the coastline in this area, obviously full of tourists on dive trips.
After we left Broken Beach we headed back across the island stopping for lunch and a dip in a swimming pool at a small holiday resort. With tummies full we tumbled back into the car for a short drive to Crystal Bay, the last stop of the day.
At Crystal Bay, divers enjoy one of Bali’s best dive sites, with pristine coral reefs and Mola-Mola fish (also known as oceanic sunfish) and large manta rays. But it is also a beautiful white sandy beach perfect for a swim and sunbake on one of the sunbeds lining the beach. But you have to eat or drink from one of the warungs to get the use of one of these!
Our day trip to Nusa Penida came to an end and although there was a lot of driving involved on atrocious roads, we enjoyed seeing some of the sights of this beautiful island.
Our week in Nusa Dua was like a dream and I don’t think I’ve ever been more relaxed than I was here. Although the slower pace and the lack of cheap bars, shops and warungs, may not suit some travellers to Bali, I found it to be quiet, safe and luxurious. I’m sure I will be back for another visit one day!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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