Padang Bai: The Forgotten Paradise
Padang Bai may not be as popular as the busy Kuta and Sanur as Bali’s top tourist destinations as people go to Padang Bai only to catch a port to Lombok. Therefore, not so many people know that the tiny port town also has lots to offer, especially to divers and snorkelers.
It takes 90 minutes drive from Ngurah Rai Airport to this small lovely place with a pre-paid coupon costs Rp. 365.000,-. From Kuta and Legian, it take about 1 hour to 90 minutes drive. Alternatively, you can take Perama shuttle bus from several tourist spots such as Kuta, Sanur, Ubud, Candidasa and Lovina. Make sure you book in advance. For cheaper option, bemo can be found in Batubulan terminal, Denpasar. From Lombok, it is easier to get ferry to Padang Bai as ferry is available 24 hours a day. The trip usually takes about four hourse (but can be longer in poor weather) and costs Rp. 36.000,-. Despite the affordable price, the ferry is clean and comfortable and there is a private room for tourist ( you pay for an extra Rp. 50.000,-).
There are many friendly diving centers in Padang Bai where you can start experiencing the beauty of Bali’s underwater.
- Water Worx Dive Center
This dive center was opened in 2011 and run by two expats who have been in Bali since the mid 1990s, David and Wolfgang. Both are experienced dive guides and dive instructors for various dive operators in Bali and Lombok.
If you want to explore some dive sites in Bali, you can come to the center in the morning or they will pick you from the hotel where you are staying. This center offers a pick up service from your hotel in Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Kuta, Sanur and Ubud for a small surcharge. The prices include transfer from Padang Bai or Candidasa to the dive sites such as Blue Lagoon, Gili Mimpang,Gili Tepekong, Gili Selang, Manta Point and so on. The prices that include rental equipment are slightly higher than the prices including tanks, weights and belts.
In addition, this diving center in Padang Bai also offers a wide range of dive courses, conducted by experienced and certified instructors. For beginners, you can choose whether you can take Introductory Dive Course in Tulamben (US$ 85 for 1 dive or US$ 115 for 2 dives) or in Blue Laggon (US$75 for 1 dive or US$ 105 for 2 dives). However, the prices do not include the course manuals so you have to purchase it in order to get the certificate.
- Geko Dive Bali
This is one of the most recommended diving centers in Padang Bai, you can check on tripadvisor.com. There are various attractive packages, such as Fun Dive (for professional divers only) and PADI Diving Course. For Dun Dive package, you enjoy 3 days dive starting from Rp. 1.985.000,- to Rp. 2.655.000,-.
This center also helps you find accommodation, from budget hotel to most exclusive, there are many choices that suit your need (as Geko Dive Bali does not offer accommodation directly). Additional info, this center is committed to protecting environment and local community empowerment.
Hope this information help you enjoy your dive experience in Padang Bai. Happy diving!