Bali’s Three Little Secrets

Little Beach Padang BaiI have been coming to a trifecta of beaches in a little town called Padang Bai for quite a few years now.  It has always been my place of refuge when absolute relaxation, peace of mind, and beauty were all I was after. Unlike other places in Bali, Padang Bai has remained in an almost static state for as long as I can remember. It is not a destination town but more a thorough-fare for those transiting to other islands. Fortunately the secrets of Padang Bai had remained just that. On this return visit I was hoping for the same but had my doubts that reality would not live up to my expectations.

In 1997 I was so seduced by this little fishing village and outpost of Balinese life that I captured my thoughts in a journal. Below is what I wrote;

Padang Bai is a small fishing village, which happens to have the most picturesque bay in Bali, in my opinion of course. It lies directly opposite the island of Lombok making it the entry/exit point. Even though the tourist traffic through this little haven is staggering,  most people arrive then leave within a few hours and Padang Bai remains relatively unspoiled.

The village consists of three beaches.

The Blue Lagoon to the north, the main bay that butts up against the town, and Little Beach to the south. All three are spectacular in their own way.

Blue Lagoons draw is a reef boasting iridescent blue waters, coral formations, and tropical fish as magnificent as any I have seen. To float on the ocean surface allows you a bird’s eye view of an undersea world pulsating with life and color.

The main beach is calm and deep, and the waters are teal in color; invitingly warm.  The shoreline is pristine with golden white sands.  I would describe the setting as quaint in a way you would expect from a village on the coast of a small island. Colorful traditional two-man fishing outriggers stretch from one end of the bay to the other. Small children with shimmering black skin play in the water.  A jetty where men constantly unload bags of cargo then place them high onto a waiting truck some fifty feet away. It is slow going but then who needs to be in a rush when you live in a small village on a tropical island where nothing has to be any place at any particular time.

Little beach, the quintessential tropical island beach paradise. Very small as the name implies, but perfect. From its majestic palms, to its gleaming sands, to its ever-changing tidal activity, to the huts at the edge of the jungle where delicious Nasi Goreng can be purchased for next to nothing.

In the morning the sea fills you with a sense of security and comfort. The waves caress you, gently nudging you to shore then tugging you back out. By afternoon these affable swells have transformed into giants whose sole purpose is to crush and grind.  

The crashing of the waves and the subsequent flooding of all bags, towels, shoes, and clothes deter no-one from their relaxation. People exit the water scraped up, bruised, and bleeding yet still smiling and laughing. 

 Little beach is a great place to be … just to be.

As I said,  I wrote all that back in 1997 and even though a few more buildings exist now and a few more tourists have found out about Padang Bai, the vibe remains exactly the same.

It seems little is about to change…perfect.

For photos of Indonesia click here.

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27 thoughts on “Bali’s Three Little Secrets

    1. It’s not going anywhere so I hope you get a chance to get down there. I am sure you will have no trouble finding good dining experiences to write about. All the best.

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    1. It is certainly rare to find a slice of paradise that has had the longevity of Padang Bai; not sure how much longer it will last but will keep my fingers crossed.

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  1. Hey there. Bali is just about my favorite place on the planet, and it’s where my wanderlusting started way back in ’94. I will never tire of visiting, and I know that one day I will live there. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Hi Tim. Your travel adventures are always a pleasure to read, and this post is no exception. I’ve certainly heard of Bali’s beauty, and your photos are a testament to that. It’s reassuring that these spots of paradise have preserved their charm and splendor after all these years.

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  3. Every place I’ve heard of that is called Blue Lagoon is deserving of the name. If I ever see any commercials on Indonesian tourism, I’ll think you were involved. Descriptions like yours are fitting for both books and films.

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  4. Your pictures are just stunning! I can feel the breeze and hear the waves crashing on the beach. How interesting that the very thoughts you captured in 1997, are virtually the same now and that so are the beaches! Sounds like a slice of paradise…

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  5. I like the beginning and ending of this post Tim. Your place of refuge when u need peace of mind, and little is about to change in this place. Change sometimes disturbs our own comfort and we are forced to accept it, but should this always be the case? Why should there be change when what I am seeking is as it is? Yes let this place remain as it is, why change it when it is so perfect?

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  6. Oooh. This sounds perfect. The beauty in your images is calling to me. It is wonderful that it hasn’t changed its vibe in 17 years! All 3 beaches sound fantastic and your descriptions are extremely enticing!

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  7. I really enjoyed pictures of Padang Bai. We have a hotel in Kashmir named Blue Lagoon 🙂 . It is really true that we always run from cities for peace of mind and try to get closer to nature. I loved the way you have described almost everything about small beaches in a short but in an excellent way. Pictures are also soothing. Here in Saudi Arabia there is a beach with white sand… its name is RAICE…. I don know if spelling are correct 🙂

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  8. I don’t think there is anything more relaxing than a quiet beach town. Padang Bai looks beautiful. I think hanging around a place like this helps you put things in perspective. Maybe it helps reduce some anxieties you might have about things that in fact aren’t that important.

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    1. Most people do Jacquie and for that make it to the town it is usually just a brief stop as they move on to other places. Staying once everyone has gone is when the magic happens.

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  9. Hi Tim – Reading this provided a real sense of calm, especially reading about Little Beach. How wonderful that in this hurry-scurry world, places like that still exist. Thanks for sharing, again.
    Lenie

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