Padangbai is a popular place to stay for travelers who are on their way to or from Lombok. There are also public boats leaving regularly from here to Nusa Penida. The village is located in a lovely bay, with the large ferry terminal and a long beach surrounded by green hills.
A large part of the population are fishermen, indicated by the large number of boats along the beach. The water here is too polluted to swim in, but not far away there are nice and clean beaches, like the white Pantai Kecil only 15 minutes walk southwards.
North of the town, in the “Blue Lagoon Bay”, is a beach which is great for snorkeling, with lovely corals and fish. 10-15 minutes with boat from Padangbai, in the large Amuk bay, there are several diving spots. Closer to Padangbai, only a few hundred meters from the beach, is the Pura Jepun reef with a large variety of fish. You can rent boat and diving equipment in Padangbai.
Some visitors enjoy Padangbai so much they settle down here for a while, and consider it as a better alternative than nearby Candidasa. You can not expect to find any fashionable hotels or restaurants in this area, which is popular among backpackers who like to meet other travelers and exchange their experiences from traveling in Asia.
There are several reasonable priced hotels and restaurants close to the beach, especially the seafood is both cheap and fresh. There is a small Muslim society around the mosque near the harbor, here you can buy other kinds of food.
To visit Padangbai coming from the south you turn right about 15 km northeast of Goa Lawah, then continue 2 km to the coast. If you’re planning to go directly to Lombok there is a ferry leaving every second hour from 02.00 to 20.00, the crossing takes about 4 hours. The price is reasonable, even at first class which includes air-condition. You should keep an eye on your belongings on the ferry, theft is known to occur.
The hills around Padangbai are great for hiking, on a clear day you can enjoy the view towards Nusa Penida and Gunung Agung. The village is also close to Tenganan, a traditional Bali Aga village. If you’re heading further east from here there is a nice beach between Padangbai and Candidasa called Balina, where you can swim or join a local boat to go fishing.