I 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.
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