Padang Bai sits in the heart of East Bali in the regency of Karangasem, surrounded by hills and on the edge of a small but very busy bay. The main purpose of the town is to service the Bali/Lombok ferries, which arrive and depart throughout the day and night. Consequently, a constant stream of traffic transports people and goods to and from the town.
Away from the port lies a small beach which is home to countless fishing boats. From these boats arrive the meals that many restaurants along the beachfront serve each night. Many fish dishes cost around 40,000 rupiah, somewhat more than other meals, but it is well worth the minimal extra to try some of the freshest fish you may well ever eat. Styles vary, but generally involve the grilling of tuna, barracuda, mahi-mahi or snapper.
Aside from the seafood, Padang Bai offers some stunning diving and snorkelling opportunities. Much of the diving is arranged through dive shops along the beachfront whereas snorkelling can be undertaken by simply walking to Blue Lagoon beach and renting the necessary gear from the beach vendor. Another beach to the west of town offers an even better beach experience and is virtually deserted aside from a few vendors who will make sure you don’t go hungry or thirsty.
Padnag Bai is located about two thirds of the way from Sanur to Candi Dasa down the end of a spur that runs off the main coastal road. There's plenty of accommodation, but most choose to stay in Candi Dasa.
Internet facilities are available at a variety of shops and hotels around town. The going rate is 200 rupiah per minute and speeds vary dramatically dependent on the time of day, weather and a range of other factors that one cannot foresee — be sure to check the router is actually plugged in — it helps.
An ATM is located just outside of the ferry terminal entrance and the post office is just to the west.
By Adam Poskitt