A CRUISING COUPLE | AUGUST 3, 2015 11:00 PM ET
Photo via Flickr/infanticida
Padang Bai, Bali, is primarily known as a gateway to the magical Gili Islands and the ferries that shuttle travelers to nearby Lombok. But for those adventurers who are ready to slow down and experience a slow and quiet fishing village, Padang Bai warrants a bit of exploration. Before you pass through this seemingly unimportant town, here are a few reasons you’ll be glad you hung out for a few days — I know we’re glad we did.
Photo via Flickr/pacificklaus
One of the best ways to hang out in Padang Bai is to head underwater. We hired a charter and dove a few times alongside amazing sea walls. We spotted lionfish, eels, colorful nudibranchs and countless fish and corals on each dive. You’ll also have the chance to spot reef sharks, rays, pygmy sea horses and the world famous oceanic sunfish. The dives here are for all levels.
Top spots include the Ferry Channel or a nighttime dive in the Blue Lagoon. Our personal favorite was a drift dive where the current carried us along like we were watching an underwater parade.
Photo via Flickr/fups
After you’ve gotten a chance to experience the underwater life with your own eyes, indulge your taste buds as well! With so much abundant sea life it makes sense that Padang Bai would have stellar seafood. Many of the restaurants are right along the main road across from the beach. You may even see the fisherman bring their catch straight off the boat and into the kitchen.
You really can’t go wrong with many of the restaurants in town. The fish of the day is whatever happens to come straight off the boat, which could be anything from the morning’s catch of mahi-mahi to barracuda.
The Off-The-Beaten-Path Vibe
Far from the crowded beaches of Kuta and Jimbaran Bay, Padang Bai is a quiet and calm town. Most visitors will come straight from another part of Bali and jump straight on a ferry for the Gili Islands. Here you won’t have to worry about being haggled and your primary beach companions will be the local fishing boats that line the bay.
Unlike many other towns in Bali that have been completely overrun with tourists, Padang Bai still maintains an authentic charm. During our stay we happened upon a Barong ceremony in which the whole town attended while dressed in traditional robes and costumes. The residents were very excited to have us attend, and we made fast friends with those who were sitting around us. We had seen a few staged Barong shows before our arrival in Padang Bai. However, this was no ordinary ceremony thanks to a few special attributes that could never have been expected.
The Beckoning For Exploration
Photo via Flickr/petergarnhum
Once you’ve had your fill of the main strip, head to the hidden coves of The Blue Lagoon and Bias Tugal Beach. The Blue Lagoon is just over the hill from the left side of the main beach. It’s a great place for snorkeling and swimming. Bias Tugal Beach is the nicest beach in Padang Bai and the walk there will offer a view of Bali’s highest mountain, weather permitting. The current here is a bit stronger, but the long white sand beach is worth exploring. If you haven’t yet had your fill of temples, there are five in town, with Pura Silayukti on the east end of town being the most notable.