When Siobhán Mac Court booked a tour to visit some of the most Instagrammable locations in Indonesia on her recent holiday, little did she know she would be left horrified by the reality of what she saw once she got there.
The 30-year-old, who hails from Ireland, hopped aboard the short ferry ride from Bali to Nusa Penida, an island 45-minutes southeast of Denpasar, to check out a number of scenic landmarks many of us have seen plastered all over Instagram.
However, instead of filling up her camera roll with enviable shots of a paradise island, a shocked Siobhán ended up turning her lense to the mountains of rubbish at the tourist hotspot, after being left completely appalled at the state of the seemingly five-star location.
“I’ve never felt so misled or let down by pictures online and reviews online,” Siobhán, who visited Kelingking Beach, Broken Beach, Angel’s Billabong and Crystal Bay, told Yahoo LIfestyle Australia.
“What you don’t see in the majority of reviews and in any picture online is the amount of rubbish all over this island, or the massive lines everywhere to even get a look of the view.
“But I was genuinely horrified by the amount of rubbish. I saw a cow standing in plastic bottles and wrappers up to her shins. I saw a heavily pregnant pig rolling in the mud to cool down, only to discover at a closer glance she was also rolling in plastic bottles and cups.”
Instead of trying to make her way around the island’s rocky roads herself on a bike, Siobhán decided to get on a tour bus of the area, where she claims she was ‘heralded like cattle from one Instagrammable spot to the next’.
“There were so many people. I don’t like guided tours or anything really touristy, this was the only thing we really needed to pay for someone to take us around because the roads were too bad for our bike, but it was actually insane,” she said.
Rubbish aside, Siobhán said the crowds on the seemingly tranquil island were ‘nuts’, with people ‘scrambling’ to get a picture at each location.
“There were literally hundreds of people at every spot, but only a messy queue with hundreds of people in it at Kelingking Beach beach to get down to it,” Siobhán said, referring to probably the most Instagrammable location on the whole island.
“I looked at the view for well under a minute I’d say, if even, maybe only 30 seconds. I was told by our driver I couldn’t go down to the beach because it would take two hours to get down and back up because of the queues and the driver wouldn’t wait for us.
“Heaven forbid you wanted to sit down and actually enjoy the view.”
Siobhán didn’t even bother to take any photos at the famous Angel’s Billabong because there was so many people trying to take photos there wasn’t even an inch of room for her to snap one herself.
“The photos people post are almost like a scam on this island. They don’t show you the hundreds of people waiting for you to move so they can get their ‘peaceful calm’ shot, nor do they show the filth or the fact you have to pay to see each of these areas,” Siobhán said.
Siobhán admits that she loves to capture memories when she travels and has over 20,000 photos on her iCloud, but she always tries to present a true representation of what she’s experienced on her Instagram account, which she doesn’t believe everyone else does.
To top off the entire day, Siobhán said the only way for her to get back to her boat was to wade across ‘dying coral’ that is ‘being completely destroyed by tourism’.
“This island is not ready for the influx of people visiting it, and needs an intervention big time before its ecology and beauty is completely destroyed,” Siobhán said.
“Others might not agree, but I’m just giving my honest opinion.”
Siobhán isn’t the only tourist to be alarmed at the sheer amount of rubbish on the island.
Australian man, Neil Pharaoh, had a similar reaction when he got to Nusa Penida, describing it as ‘one big rubbish dump’ which was ‘crowded beyond belief’.
Neil said the whole experience was a disaster, from the boat journey to the packed crowds and poor sanitation on the island.
“Sure there are a couple of amazing vistas shared with thousands, but the island is a putrid filth of a mess, everywhere you look is rubbish, poor sanitation and bad roads,” Neil said.
“I can imagine it was once a hidden paradise, it is now just foul.
“Trees in tourist areas are stripped for firewood, nature has been destroyed in all the 'iconic' destinations, and there is not a single part of the island not covered in rubbish.”
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