Padangbai is a quiet fishing village in East Bali. When I visited back in 1993, it was very popular with divers and backpackers. The main attraction of Padangbai, is its rustic character. Bamboo guest houses, complete with cold water showers, wooden floors and mosquito nets, all for a low price.
Padangbai sits at the end of a road running off of the Klungkung-Candi Dasa main road. There is a busy main beach and 2 much quieter beaches. Padangbai has 2 other good beaches close by. The first, Blue Lagoon, is accessed by heading to the far left of the main beach and hiking 10 minutes up and over the hill, dropping down onto a white sand beach with a couple of warungs. This is a good place to snorkel and dive boats come here. You might want to hire a boat to take you snorkeling for safety. The second beach, Biastugal is also called Pantai Kecil (small beach), and is located on the other side of the ferry terminal. You can’t see it from the main beach, and the only way I knew it was there, was by taking the ferry to Lombok, looking back and seeing it.
Pantai Kecil is accessed by walking through town round the back of the ferry terminal, up the hill and down to the beach. From downtown it takes 15 minutes. Here you will find several warungs, a pleasant beach with yellow / white sand and some beach vendors. Pantai Kecil is eaisly the best beach in Padangbai and when I last went, the level of harrassment wasn’t too bad.
Balinese know how to turn paradise into hell, and the 2 steps they have taken towards this in Padangbai, are to have a 24 hour ferry port , and closely packed beach warungs. The ferry is deisel powered, so whenever its coming in or out, downtown Padangbai gets doused in deisel fumes. The beachfront warungs, crank out music at top volume, everyone playing a different tune, creating a madhouse effect, for tourists seeking peace and quiet. The fact that Padangbai doesn’t get many tourists, makes the local beach vendors, act like piranhas in the dry season.
I think the key, is being around for long enough that they know your face and leave you alone.
•Getting to Padangbai:
From Kuta take the Bypass to Sanur, turn right onto the Kusamba Bypass, to Klungkung, keep going east, unitl you see the right hand turnoff for Padangbai.
•Time to Padangbai:
From Kuta about 2 hours.
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•Boats to Lombok / Nusa Penida:
Boats to Lombok go every 90 minutes, 24/7. Boats to Nusa Penida leave from the middle of the main beach, next to Dharma restaurant, from 7am onwards.
Perama has an office on the main road leading to the ferry terminal, just before the police station. They operate from 7am-7pm (0363) 41419. Perama does trips to Lombok and Sumbawa, which run through Padangbai. Inquire at the Perama office if you are interested. Also the Perama bus heading for Tirtaganga and Tulamben on the east coast, can drop you off at Cekik. This will allow you to catch a local bemo to Amed and the beaches to the south if desired.
•Post office / internet / wartel:
These are available if basic. I tried the internet cafe close to the jetty one tiem and it was very slow. Dial-up connection, meaning 2 minutes to get Yahoo’s homepage. There are also a coulpe of places on the main beach with internet access, charging 350rp a minute, and upwards, for their services.
•The post office is located close to the entrance of the port, plus a couple of wartels (open from 7am-midnight), one of the main road, another on the main beach.
•Accommodation in Padangbai:
Most of the accommodation is along the main beach. You can get a cheap room for 50,000rp, with cold water, fan, double bed with mozzie net. Breakfast included. Accommodation is split between the village and the main beach.
Its all budget and some of the better places include:
Kembar Inn: Located in the village with some rooms having AC, hot water (0363)41364
Padangbai Beach Homestay: Smart bunglaows on the beach with cold water. 0812/3607946
Puri Rai: Large bungalows with hot water, AC, swimming pool. (0363) 41385
Along the main beach are dive operators. AquaMarine Diving has a nice page on the diving conditions in Padangbai.
There isn’t any, apart from sitting in a warung sipping a Bintang, or sitting on the beach chatting to locals.
Local vendors selling sarongs and local kids selling toys can be annoying. Often you will be the only person in a warung, the owner cranking on the flashing lights and music ‘just for you’.
As AquaMarine’s site says, currents are unpredictable. Best plan for snorkeling is to hire a boat, or even go with a dive group.
•Attractions in the area:
Restaurants in Candi Dasa – 20 minutes.
Tenganan Bali Aga village – 30 minutes
Sideman & Iseh rice terraces – 35 minutes
Besakih temple – 1 hour
Tirtaganga water palace – 40 minutes
Hike Gunung Agung from Pura Pasar Agung – 1 hour
Pura Goa Lawah – 20 minutes