Padang Bai, a popular port destination for cruises to Bali means “grassy bay.” This town on the east side of the island is usually seen merely as a necessary way-station by those who want to get on one of the ‘fast’ boats to popular destinations nearby like the Gilli Islands or Lombok. Arriving by cruise liner is the best way to go. Traveling via airline puts you through the ringer of the busy Denpasar airport on the south side of Bali. If you don’t want to hurry, go by boat and take some time to enjoy your surroundings; you will find Padang Bai to be one of Bali’s greatest treasures.
An Enchanted Realm
Home to stunning vistas, the Bias Tugal beach sits on the bay, a little slice of heaven serviced by a few low-priced warungs (colorful local cafés) and kept delightfully deserted most of the time by an obscured entrance that lies at the heart of an unused hotel project. All this secluded magic is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Bias Tugal was so prominently featured in the Julia Roberts movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. To get to the beach, drive up the road from the police station, get out at the old hotel entrance, then walk till until the sea is reached. The beach is a tropical paradise with reasonably priced warungs, cerulean waters and sugary sand like nowhere else.
The other highlight is the local reef, Tanjung Sari, where a diverse kaleidoscope of aquatic species frequents the shallow waters. Many visitors enjoy swimming as well, or surfing before enjoying the hospitality at one of the warungs nearby. Quiet and relaxed, the natural rhythms of Bali are at their most obvious here. Perhaps the biggest question is how to get there from here. One of the best ways to fully enjoy the splendor of Bali is to be sure you don’t spend half the time worn out from the travel it took to get there. This is where the various options for planning a cruise presents such an upgrade from airline travel.
Padang Bai’s gorgeous bay benefits from its position as a destination port for ocean-going travelers. It remains accessible but also just secluded enough to not be overwhelmed by the crush of tourist traffic that hits Bali in other areas. If you are thinking about taking a cruise, this gem in the crown of Bali needs to be on your list.