Sometimes know as Secret Beach, this attractive white sandy beach is no longer unknown, and is quiet easily reached by road from Padang Bai. Its real secret is that no one seems to know its official name. Pantai Bias Tugel is referred to as Pantai Kecil (Little Beach) or more often, The White Sand Beach — not to be confused with White Sand Beach (Pantai Pasir Putih) near Candi Dasa (now officially Virgin Beach).
Pantai Bias Tugel is a lovey secluded beach on which to while away a day. Golden coloured sand is peppered with traces of volcanic black. Grains are large, but it’s still soft underfoot, although not squeaky. Volcanic cliffs fuse into a rocky shoreline wrapping the headlands at each end of the beach. A few rock pools are interesting for kids to poke about in.
The wide bay is overshadowed by a large unfinished and abandoned hotel project (worth an explore). The sand is fringed with a line of beach warungs who rent out snorkel gear (50,000 rupiah) and can sell you a cold Bintang (large 40,000) or young coconut and grill a fresh fish. Beach massages can be had for 80,000 rupiah for an hour, and the occasional seller will offer you a sarong or tourist doodad. Unfortunately, there is the inevitable rubbish, but the local authorities seem to be making an effort — there are signs (in Indonesian) informing of fines for littering, and rubbish bags are nailed to a couple of trees. Let’s hope it catches on.
Pantai Bias Tugel is good for swimming although currents can be strong, particularly in the afternoon. You can snorkel off the beach, but not as easily as at Blue Lagoon Beach. Locals informed us that morning is better for snorkelling, mostly due to the aforementioned currents, and it’s a good place for spotting turtles. Although there’s not a lot of shade, it’s good for a bit of sun worshipping — there’s one or two trees further up the beach, and if you get too hot you can take refuge in one of the sheltered warungs. So, roll out the beach mat, soak up the rays and enjoy the interesting toing-and-froing of the ferries from the port and other passing sea traffic.
The official entry point to the beach has a ticket booth and an entry fee of 2,000 rupiah per person to help keep the beach clean. Parking is 5,000 rupiah.
To reach Pantai Bias Tugel — head south from the ferry terminal along the road that passes the Post Office. Continue steeply uphill for 750 metres, turning left at the signposted intersection. Five hundred metres later the road will lead to the ticket office. From there it’s a steep walk down a narrow path to the beach. Ojeks can drop you from the port for 20,000 rupiah, otherwise it’s a hot uphill walk from the harbour and will take about 30 minutes.
Alternatively, an unofficial shortcut (which previously was the only way to access the beach) is a better option if you are walking. From the harbour, follow the Post Office road for 200 metres. Not far past Bamboo Paradise a rocky path appears on the left. A barrier bars access, and when we tried to enter, a bunch of local kids warned us that it was the wrong way, but dad came to the rescue and said it was fine to walk that way. Along the path are several forks to either side, but we just followed our nose for about 300 metres down to the beach. From the ferry terminal, the entire walk should not take more than 15 minutes.
On the way back an interesting diversion is an abandoned hotel project. It’s officially off limits, but that didn’t stop a number of tourists and locals exploring when we visited. From the ticket booth at the official entry point of Pantai Bias Tugel, walk back down the road to Pura Subak Abian Padasan, a small temple. From there a path to the left will eventually get you to the project. The walk is very pretty as there is an abundance of bird life and butterflies. The towering ghost-like construction sticks out like a sore thumb on the headland. Inside it can be a little disorientating among the maze of bare cement corridors. Once you find your way to what would have been a rather upmarket hotel room, the commanding views out to sea are worth the detour. Great for photos, particularly at sunset.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 3rd March, 2016.