Picture this: Monkeys greeting you on your way through a cave-framed staircase. A beach dotted with scenic rocks meets you at the bottom. Surfers ride some of the best waves in the world while you sip on coconut water.
That’s what you can experience by visiting Padang Padang Beach, Bali.
I spent two days beach hopping my way through the Bukit Peninsula. Padang Padang was my second favorite (read my guide on the Best Uluwatu Beaches to discover my all-time fave).
So, I’ll share the must-knows of visiting Padang Padang Beach, including why its name is a misnomer.
Will the Real Padang Padang Beach Please Stand Up?
Most tourists (myself included) arrive in Bali believing that Padang Padang Beach is the 100-meter stretch of beach where the movie Eat Pray Love was filmed.
And some locals believe the same.
It’s understandable, given that there’s a sign saying “Padang Padang Beach” beneath the beach’s other name, Labuan Sait Beach.
But Labuan Sait isn’t the true Padang Padang Beach.
Instead, the real Padang Padang Beach sits on the other side of the rocks that divide Labuan Sait Beach and Padang Padang Beach. If you head to this “real” beach, you’ll encounter fewer crowds and a beach about double as long.
The real Padang Padang Beach also goes by the name Thomas Beach.
But, understandably, many people interchange the names Labuan Sait, Thomas Beach, and Padang Padang Beach.
Since you likely arrived here looking for the beach where Eat Pray Love was filmed, I’ll use the name Padang Padang Beach to refer to Labuan Sait Beach. But I’ll also sprinkle advice about Thomas Beach throughout this article, should you wish to visit there too.
Additional Names for Padang Padang
If you’re scratching your head about having seen yet another name(s) for Padang Padang, you’re not crazy.
Padang Padang Beach also goes by the following names:
- Pantai Padang Padang
- Pantai Labuan Sait
- Pantai Thomas
Pantai means “beach” in Indonesian. And it’s common for Google Maps to use “pantai” instead of “beach” when you search for a beach in Uluwatu.
So, if you plug Pandang Padang Beach into Google Maps, don’t worry if it wants to take you to Pantai Padang Padang.
What Is Padang Padang Beach Known For?
Padang Padang Beach is known for being the filming site of Eat Pray Love. It’s also famous for curious monkeys and scenic rocks, making it one of the most popular Bali Instagram spots.
Arriving at the “real” Padang Padang Bali beach (aka Thomas Beach) is also known for being more off-the-beaten-path than Labuan Sait Beach.
So, Thomas Beach has fewer tourists than Labuan Sait Beach.
Location of Padang Padang Beach
Now that I’ve (hopefully!) cleared up the name debacle at Padang Padang, you’re understandably wondering—where is Padang Padang Beach?
Padang Padang Beach sits between Labuan Sait Beach and Uluwatu Beach on the northwest portion of the Bukit Peninsula. That’s the true Thomas Beach part of Padang Padang.
But the Eat Pray Love portion of Padang Padang, on Labuan Sait Beach, sits just east of Thomas Beach.
Here’s a map to help you visualize it.
Unfortunately, due to rocks and cliffs jutting into the water, it isn’t possible to walk from Labuan Sait to Thomas Beach via the coast.
But as you see in the map above, you can walk between these destinations by road. The walk from Labuan Sait Beach to the real Padang Padang Beach takes approximately 25 minutes.
Of course, driving is an option too.
How to Get to Padang Padang Beach
Getting to Padang Padang, Bali is easy as there’s a massive touristy arch at the entrance with its name. But parking is an issue due to how crowded the area is.
Below is a map showcasing the approximate times you can expect it to take you to arrive at Padang Padang Beach from popular tourist areas in Bali.
|Ubud to Nunggalan Beach||1 hour, 40 minutes|
|Kuta to Nunggalan Beach||55 minutes|
|Seminyak to Nunggalan Beach||1 hour, 5 minutes|
|Canggu to Nunggalan Beach||1 hour, 25 minutes|
Arriving at Padang Padang by scooter is ideal. You’ll get there quicker than by car, and parking is cheaper and (relatively) easier.
Getting to Thomas Beach is slightly trickier. You’ll need to head towards Suka Cafe. From there, turn onto the dirt road until you arrive at the Lulu Warung.
You can park your scooter beside this warung and walk down the dirt path to the beach. The climb down the limestone cliff only takes about five minutes—much shorter than many other beaches in Uluwatu and equivalent in time to Labuan Sait Beach.
Does Gojek/Grab Operate at Padang Padang Beach?
Gojek and Grab can drop you off at the entrance to Padang Padang Beach, but they can’t pick you up there.
This is a common scenario among many popular tourist areas in Bali. The local taxi drivers want to charge tourists outrageously high prices for a ride, so they place signs banning Gojek and Grab from doing pickups.
Luckily, it’s easy to bypass this rule since there’s such a limited area in front of the ticket entrance to Padang Padang.
I walked a handful of meters toward the bridge and hopped on my Gojek scooter from there. Even so, my Gojek scooter driver was in a hurry to get going as I struggled to snap on my helmet.
The entrance fee to the Labuan Sait Beach portion of Padang Padang Beach, Bali, is 15,000 IDR per person.
That’s the highest fee of all the Uluwatu beaches I visited during my travels. But it was worth every rupiah.
There’s no entrance fee to enter Thomas Beach. You’ll notice a difference in the quality of the path leading to this “real” Padang Padang Beach. And it’s a lovely difference for those who enjoy getting off the beaten path.
Parking At Padang Padang Beach
The cost of parking at Padang Padang Beach is 2,000 IDR per scooter and 5,000 IDR per car.
The benefit of parking at the Labuan Sait area of Padang Padang Beach is that you’ll be a short walk across the road from the entrance booth and the entrance to the staircase leading to the beach.
Yes, it’s a crowded area for parking. But locals will be there directing traffic and collecting the parking fee.
In contrast, Thomas Beach doesn’t have a parking fee, and you won’t find anyone to help you park. Unless you look like you’re struggling with your scooter—the Balinese are generous with lending a helping hand.
The Hike to Padang Padang
If you’re coming from Green Bowl or some of the other beaches in Uluwatu, the steps leading to Padang Padang Beach will feel like a walk rather than a hike.
The steps are also unique from anything you’ll find elsewhere in Uluwatu—you’ll pass through a narrow cave, and monkeys might entertain you along the way.
Even at the cave’s narrowest point, there’s a small slice of open ceiling where you can see the treetops. Nevertheless, people with claustrophobia likely won’t love the experience.
It takes less than one minute to walk through the cave portion of the staircase if you’re walking right along and don’t have to wait for others to pass through the narrow passageway.
The walk from the Padang Padang ticket booth to the base of the beach takes approximately five minutes. It’s an entirely downhill journey.
So, Padang Padang Beach isn’t a good fit for people with limited mobility or those who aren’t comfortable getting a mini-workout in hot and humid weather on the way back to their vehicle.
Furthermore, the steps can get slippery when it rains.
Keep in mind that these arrival details are for the Labuan Sait portion of Padang Padang Beach. If you’re visiting Thomas Beach, you can also expect it to take about five minutes to walk from the parking lot down the cliff to the base of the beach.
However, the path at Thomas Beach is a combination of dirt and steps. And you won’t pass through a cave.
Padang Padang Beach’s Amenities
The Labuan Sait portion of Padang Padang Beach has several amenities, including:
- Restroom at the ticket booth and beach
- Surfboard rentals
- Bars/warungs (small, local restaurants)
In contrast, Thomas Beach has the following amenities:
- Surfboard rentals
- Beach chair and umbrella rentals
- Snack stands and warungs
The bars, warungs, and snack stands at Padang Padang and Thomas beaches are basic. So, if you want a fancier dining or drinking experience, I recommend heading to the Single Fin beach club at Uluwatu Beach.
Things to Do at Padang Padang Beach
If you’re ready to see Padang Padang in person, below are the most popular activities to do there.
That said, unless you’re a surfer, keep in mind that Padang Padang isn’t a spend-the-entire-day-at-the-beach kind of place. If you want to kick it in the sand all day long, I recommend Thomas Beach, which is about double the length of Padang Padang.
1. Surf Uluwatu’s Waves
Uluwatu is famous for its excellent surfing, so Padang Padang Beach is a popular place for surfers.
The best time to surf at Padang Padang Beach is from June to August, during the heart of Bali’s dry season. However, you can also encounter large swells—and, equally important, fewer surfers in the lineup—in the shoulder months of April, May, September, and October.
Low tide is the most dangerous period to surf at Padang Padang beach. The coral bottom becomes more exposed, increasing the chances of a life-threatening surfing injury.
So, aim to enjoy the Padang Padang surf at mid-tide, when more water offers a buffer from the coral but the waves still have good form.
As a whole, the waves at Padang Padang Beach are typically best for intermediate to advanced surfers. If you’re hoping to attend a Padang Padang surf school as a beginner, head to Thomas beach.
The waves at Thomas Beach often offer a gentler introduction to Padang Padang surfing.
You can view this Padang Padang surf report to help you plan when to hit the waves.
2. Level Up Your Photography Skills
Padang Padang Beach is one of the best places in Bali for photography. Best of all, you won’t have to wait in the long lines that you often find at swings over the rice terraces.
That said, I recommend arriving at Padang Padang early for a better chance of snapping photos with fewer people in the pictures.
It’s common for people to stay at Padang Padang Beach for sunset, so don’t expect the crowds to wean as dusk sets in.
Should you partake in the sunset watching from there, be sure to have a flashlight app installed on your phone—you’ll need it when climbing the steps back up to the parking lot.
3. Watch Surfers
If you’re not already a surfer and a Padang Padang surf camp doesn’t sound up your wave alley, watching surfers is a great way to pass your time at Padang Padang Beach.
I recommend bringing a pair of binoculars for ease of surfer watching. The Padang Padang waves break quite a ways out in the water, so they’ll give you better viewing.
The safest way to watch surfers is from the sandy shore.
But you could also consider watching them as you swim in the water. Just use your best judgment—the day I visited Padang Padang, the water was so still it looked like glass.
That’s not always the case, though.
4. Observe Monkeys
Monkey sightings are common at Padang Padang Beach. You’ll see signs around warning you to be careful of them and to guard your belongings.
Personally, I’ve never felt that monkeys were a threat to my belongings anywhere in Bali. I believe much of this has to do with me not carrying food or anything that crinkles.
So, try to get rid of anything that sounds like plastic (AKA, food to the monkeys) before you hike down to Padang Padang beach.
Furthermore, while the monkeys are fun to watch and are seemingly friendly, never get too close to them. These are wild animals and can get aggressive if they feel threatened by your presence.
I don’t want to scare you from enjoying the monkeys at Padang Padang, though. They’re a highlight of many people’s trips, and rightly so.
To increase your chances of seeing monkeys, don’t visit Padang Padang Beach shortly before, during, or after it rains.
Monkeys don’t like rain. And my experience is proof in the banana, for I arrived right before a downpour and didn’t see any.
5. Sip Coconut Water
There are a few small bars and restaurant stands to the right of the staircase and a small Hindu temple when you arrive at the base of Padang Padang Beach.
If you haven’t tried a young Balinese coconut yet, this is your chance.
The young coconuts aren’t as sweet as older coconuts. But they have more water since most of it hasn’t converted into the white fleshy part we eat.
You can also grab a snack or small meal at Padang Padang Beach.
Of course, the prices are higher there than if you buy them a few streets back from the touristy area. But it’s a small price to pay for having the Indian Ocean as your backdrop.
Understanding Bali’s Trash Problem
Some people walk away from Padang Padang Beach feeling disheartened by the amount of trash on the beach.
It’s easy to blame careless tourists and locals for causing it. But the reality is that most of the trash blows in from offshore.
The Guardian reported that 60 tons of garbage wash up on nearby Kuta and Legian beaches each day during monsoon season. I didn’t make a typo—that’s an everyday occurrence, according to their report.
Because Padang Padang Beach collects an entrance fee, it’s a relatively cleaner beach year-round than other beaches in Uluwatu. That includes Thomas Beach.
So, if you’re wondering, “Where is the cleanest beach in Bali?” Padang Padang is one of the cleanest.
But it’s all relative, and it’s heavily dependent on whether you travel during the dry or rainy season.
What to Bring to Padang Padang Beach
If you’re ready to head to Padang Padang, Bali, below are some of the items to bring.
- Beach towel
- Small bills for purchases
- Bag with a zipper (monkey prevention)
- Flashlight (if you stay for the sunset)
- Water shoes
Water shoes are only necessary if you plan on swimming. Although Padang Padang has sand when you first arrive there from the staircase, it soon gives way to a sharp coral bottom.
Furthermore, sandals with a good grip will be useful if you want to climb on the rocks.
Places to Stay Near Padang Padang
You won’t encounter Padang Padang, Bali accommodation directly on the beach. However, countless choices, from homestays to 5-star hotels, are located a stone’s throw away from the entrance to Padang Padang.
Padang Padang Breeze is a great homestay option, especially if you’d like to be within walking distance of Thomas Beach. Alternatively, The Room Padang Padang is a budget, nomad-friendly accommodation close to Labuan Sait Beach.
If you want an upscale hotel near Padang Padang Beach, consider Anantara Uluwatu.
And these are just the tip of the “surf wave.” Countless accommodation options exist near Padang Padang Beach, Bali, so it’s a matter of personal preference.
FAQs About Padang Padang
Do you still have questions about visiting Padang Padang? Read on to see if I answer them here. If I don’t, leave your question in the comments section at the bottom of this post and I’ll do my best to help.
Is Padang Padang Beach safe?
As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe visiting Padang Padang Beach alone. Many people were around, and I found the Balinese men to be respectful everywhere on the island.
That said, the staircase down to Padang Padang can get slippery, making a serious injury possible, particularly through the dark and narrow portion of the cave.
Furthermore, the waves can be rough at Padang Padang and the coral is sharp. So, you should only enter the water if the water is calm or you’re a strong swimmer.
Can you see monkeys at Padang Padang Beach?
It’s common to see monkeys at Padang Padang Beach, Bali. The monkeys are wild, but they hang around the area because people often feed them.
Please don’t participate in feeding the monkeys. They don’t need help finding food, and it can get intimidating with them circling you for more when the food you’re giving them runs out.
When is the best time to visit Padang Padang Beach?
The best time to visit Padang Padang Beach is in the morning before most tourists arrive. Padang Padang is a small beach, so it doesn’t take many people to make it feel crowded.
Is Padang Padang Beach nice?
Padang Padang, Bali, is a nice beach during the dry season. Less trash arrives on the shore that time of year, leaving the water better for surfing and swimming.
That’s not to say that Padang Padang Beach isn’t nice during the monsoon season, as locals clean the shore frequently. But it’s impossible for them to stop the garbage that washes in from other areas.
Is Padang Padang Beach good for swimming?
Padang Padang Beach is sometimes good for swimming, but it isn’t guaranteed. It often has strong waves, and a sharp coral bottom means that it’s easy to cut yourself.
Is Padang Padang Beach good for beginner surfers?
The Labuan Sait portion of Padang Padang Beach isn’t ideal for beginner surfers. However, you can sign up for a Padang Padang surf school lesson, depending on the wave conditions.
Generally speaking, the waves at nearby Thomas Beach are a bit better for beginner surfers.
Beaching It in Uluwatu
Regardless of what name you want to call Padang Padang, Uluwatu’s beaches are some of the most scenic in all of Bali.
As I mentioned earlier, feel free to leave a comment with any questions you have. And once you visit Padang Padang, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Would you go back again? Do you have anything that you’d add or change to what I shared here?
Don’t forget! Head to my article on 11 of Uluwatu’s best beaches for other ideas on Bukit Peninsula beaches you can explore.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She's an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she's befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on solo female travel and wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister.