Bali Flashback: The Secret Beach – Pantai Putih, East Bali
There aren’t many places left that I haven’t set foot on, walked along, climbed, trekked or explored on the island of Bali. As I reflected on this last night, it occurred to me that so many of these ‘virgin’ places I had come across on my travels over the decades in Bali would by now been overrun with masses of warungs, losmens or the ilk to please the many travellers to the island. It appears to me that virtually every square inch of Bali has been exploited in one way for financial gain and this is fair enough providing it is done in an environmentally friendly way without robbing the place of its aestheticism. One place that came to mind that I haven’t returned to since I first visited it in 2003 is the ‘secret beach’ or Pantai Putih. Then, it was a pristine stretch of beach with crystal clear waters lapping on the shoreline and no other westerners in sight; a very small warung sold warm drinks, and fishing boats graced the white sand.
Six years is a lot of time and I can well imagine that the place has been inundated with various buildings to appease tourists. At the time I first visited the secret beach it was with an old friend, Nick O’Neil, and after finally finding the narrow ‘gang’ that leads to the beach, thanks to a very small sign that said ‘Virgin Beach’, the beauty of the place took my breath away. Most of the day was spent enjoying the warm waters, walking along the beach and talking to fishermen. I can recall thinking back then that it wouldn’t be long and the beautiful place would be lost to mass tourism. If on your travels to the east coast of Bali you want to visit Pantai Putih then just after passing through Candi Dasa you will see the sign on the right-hand side of the road. No doubt the sign will now be much bigger! If anyone has visited Pantai Putih recently then I would really like to know what it looks like now.