Snorkeling in Padangbai, Bali

There’s a real traveller vibe about this little beach town that is also the port for the public ferry connecting Bali with Lombok and many of the fast boats to the Gilis. When not inundated by the travellers in transit, Padangbai is an attractive stop: it sits on a small bay and has a nice little curve of beach. A compact seaside budget traveller hub offers cheap places to stay and some fun cafes.

Should ambition strike there’s good snorkelling and diving plus some easy walks and a couple of great beaches. Meanwhile you can soak up the languid air between ferry arrivals and departures, which clog the narrow streets and incite general chaos. Padangbai is a small coastal town in eastern Bali, Indonesia near Candidasa. It serves as a ferry port for travel to Lembar on Lombok, The Gilis and other of the Lesser Sunda Islands. There are three main locations for snorkeling PadangBai, Blue Lagoon, Jepun and Ferry Channel.

You may see white tip and black tip reef shark, turtles, cuttle fish, frog fish, robust and ornate ghost pipe fish, frogfish, moray eels, garden eels, many families of puffer fish, porcupine fish, pipe fish, clown fish, banner fish, angel fish and so much of other reef fish.

Padangbai is characterized with its white sandy bottom and clear blue water unlike Tulamben and its black volcanic stones. It will take about 10-15 minutes jukung trip before we reach snorkeling site. Have no worry because a snorkeling guide will be on your side for this trip.

Other than the diving crowd, who might stay for three nights to check out the dive sites around Padang Bai, most visitors pass through en route to the Gilis and only spend the night if they really must. The majority of those travellers would have landed in Kuta, made arrangements with travel agents there and zipped right through Padang Bai without giving it a second look. That’s such a shame.

The best beach on Padang Bai is Blue Lagoon beach, where you can snorkel right off the shore and stop for lunch at a breezy beachside café. From Padang Bai jetty, head east and follow the signs to Blue Lagoon beach. It takes about 15 minutes to walk, or a zippy ride on a moped.

Padang Bai is the centre of Bali dive sites amongst serious divers. The dive sites are home to mesmerizing macro critters, and night dives in Blue Lagoon and Tanjung Jepun are pretty sweet we hear. Sharks, mantas and giant cuttlefish are an easy spot, but it’s the rare crustaceans, seahorses and tiny creatures that pull the diving crowds.

Dump the comfort zone of pre-arranged travel, and definitely break up with Kuta. You’ll be so glad you did. Just remember to go with the flow. If the boats are full one day, spend another night on the mainland. You might stumble upon something very, very special.

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