Forgotten Paradise

Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - / JOURNEY / - STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY IAN LLOYD NEUBAUER.

The largest of Bali's neighboring islands, yet curiously overlooked, Nusa Penida's untouched beauty is finally getting the kudos it deserves. Go before it's too late.

WHAT WAS BALI like in the seventies, when mass tourism had only just begun? The answer lies on Nusa Penida, a one-hour speedboat ride from Sanur in east Bali and the largest of the three “sister islands” southeast of the main attraction. The kaleidoscopic coral reefs surrounding the island have been visited by dive operators in Bali for more than 20 years, yet few, if any, ever made landfall.

That began to change when a 2012 National Geographic article describing Nusa Penida as “a biological and cultural treasure, basically immune from all the trappings of Western culture,” coincided with the meteoric rise of Instagram in Indonesia. The island’s towering sea cliffs, colorful marine life and sugar-white beaches made fantastic fodder for the app,

Dramatic sea cliffs dot naturally raw Nusa Penida.

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