The beachside town of Sanur experienced a soar in visitor numbers over the Eid Al-Fitr weekend. Sanur port serves as the main transportation hub for boats to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan are popular weekend getaway destinations for both domestic and international travelers. Sanur Port runs a smooth operation and is experienced in dealing with high volumes of travelers.
This weekend saw record numbers of visitors hop on boats to the scenic beaches of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. A positive sign for the coastal communities and businesses of both Sanur and the Nusa islands whose income has been slashed due to lockdowns and travel restrictions.
The vast majority of travelers were locals from Bali with some who had traveled from across Java. Many were taking the opportunity to take their families away over the Lebaran holiday. The beach destination has plenty of accommodation to suit every budget and taste and is very family-friendly.
This massive influx of travelers came a somewhat of a shock to the system after two years of exceptionally low numbers of visitors due to the pandemic. The port operators and boat companies handled the situation well. Fortunately, the majority of tickers were purchased in advance of travel so they could plan their operation accordingly. Ticket vendor Jero Citra said that ‘the fleets of boats were tripled and all boats were out on the water’. He continued to say that ticket bookings continue to stay high until mid-May.
The average number of travelers heading to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan since Bali officially reopened in February, has been 900-1000 a day. During April numbers had crept up to 1300 a day. Over the Eid Al-Fitr weekend, traveler numbers jumped to 2,752 people. Although there were queues to board and disembark the boats, everything was conducted in an orderly fashion.
With international flight routes resuming a regular service, especially those from Australia, boat operators can bank on these increased numbers of travelers staying high for the next few months at least.
The record figure was confirmed by the Head of Sanur Port Operational Office from Benoa II Port Authority. Due to the high tide, the crossing point was changed to the dock in front of the Le Mayeur Museum rather than its normal site at the harbor gate. Although there were high numbers of travelers, crowds endeavored to stick to COVID-19 protocols. Passengers were reminded to wear their masks and maintain social distancing where possible. Sanitizer sprays were available and the terminal building undergoes regular disinfecting cleaning procedures.
The fast boat from Sanur to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan operates daily and there are a number of transit providers. Travelers can also access the Gili Islands and Lombok from Sanur Port, but the more direct route is to travel from Padang Bai. The crossing over the Badung Strait from Sanur to Nusa Penida takes just 45-minutes to an hour depending on conditions. With crystal clear and calm waters, and long sandy beaches, Nusa Penida is an iconic destination for both domestic and international travelers.
Indonesia is the largest majority Muslim country in the world. Though the majority of the Balinese population are devout Balinese Hindus, there is an increasing influence of Muslim culture on the island, especially during significant holidays like Eid Al-Fitr. The holiday marks the end of Ramadan, the month-long period of dawn-to-dusk fasting observed by Muslims around the world. The holiday is typically celebrated surrounded by family and friends.
Boat operators across Indonesia are under increasing scrutiny and pressure to operate within health and safety protocols. While the fast boats from Bali to Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Lombok, and the Gili Islands have been praised for their consistent safe service, in other parts of Indonesia there is much room for improvement. Over the Eid Al-Fitr weekend in 2018 a ferry crossing Lake Toba sank in poor weather.
The ferry was carrying three times the legal passenger limit and 190 lost their lives. This was a sobering event for boat operators across Indonesia and a reminder to always prioritize safety, especially in busy periods.