Last week we sojourned to Bali for five days to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. We stayed at Villa Laut at Padang Padang. Our driver told us Kelly Slater stays at this very same Villa. It made sense as soon as we arrived. It’s a leafy, bespoke villa (the bathroom is bigger than our bedroom at home) with remarkable outstretched views to the surf breaks that line Bali’s coast. It’s only a sleepy barefoot stroll from your king size bed to the balcony to see if there are waves worth tackling.
Over the five days I was lucky to sneak away for a handful of surfs thanks to MeMe (Finn’s doting grandmother). While Finn slept, Steven and I hung out in the salt water. With the Padang Padang surf break on our doorstep, we would smear ourselves in sunscreen, zipper on surf booties and follow the rock staircase down to the water’s edge where we would launch into the tepid saltwater. It’s quite a paddle if you have to access the point break from the beach, fortunately being guests of Villa Laut we were paddling for waves moments after leaving our room.
For me an enthusiastic surfer, it was the best point break I could of asked for to gain my confidence back since having Finn. A consistent supply of fat, slow to break waves and no surf rules or surf rage to be seen. On high tide beginner surfers would muster on the shore line for surf school accompanied by their studly, bronzed Balinese teachers. Like a school of fish they took to the waves flat-back on their foam surfboards. Echoes of Spanish, German and French tongues bantering back and forth. I really loved the vibe of this break where everyone was generous to share a smile and truly happy to be bathing in salt water and being dumped by white wash. For experienced surfers like my brother and Steven, this surf break was infuriating with its lack of surf etiquette. Toby (my brother) broke his brand new board, after a beginner surfer cut him off on a wave.
Every afternoon on dusk the ocean floor would reveal itself. Beach goers armed with cameras would tip toe across the rocks, sea fossicking and wading in shallow rock pools. The sea floor was spongy and covered in a seaweed that resembled limp iceberg lettuce. With Miss Finn harnessed into the Baby Bjorn we would watch the experienced surfers tackle the low-tide break where the waves crashed hard and fast.
Where ever we walked with Finn, she would attract adoring glances and cajoling from fellow travellers and the gentle, happy-go-lucky Balinese. I must say, travelling with a baby is such a lovely experience and brings out the best in people. The Balinese would come up and clap her tiny hands and ask ‘Boy or Girl?’ ‘How many months?’ They would point to her spiky mohawk and giggle. Soon Finn was entertaining an audience of clucky Balinese women who would smile, laugh and clap singing ‘Hello Baby, hello baby’.
At Padang Padang resorts cling to the cliffs edge threatening to topple into the water like a badly-constructed sandcastle. I loved watching the transformation of the beach from dawn to dusk and what the different tides brought.
On dawn each morning I would take Finn for a walk in her pram. My skin crinkled with sea salt, the sweet smell of incense perfumed the air and a musty haze hung on the horizon. White-socked, ribby cows spooked on their tethers when I wheeled past at a power-walking pace. Offerings lay squished out the front of driveways.
Padang Padang picks –
- To get a much-needed caffeine fix we would climb the hill to The Mango Tree Cafe
- Sitting cheek-to-cheek with The Mango Tree Cafe is a white-washed fashion boutique named ‘I Love Bali’. Its well worth a gander with cool, coastal print tee’s, maxi dresses and bikinis. While you’re there, check out the bathroom, very chic!