Long before the first surfer ever rode a wave there, Padang Padang was a sacred place for the people of the Bukit Peninsula and Pecatu area.
The real name of the beach at Padang Padang is Labuan Sait, which means “small harbor” in Balinese. For as long as anyone can remember, fishermen have used the deep-water bay at Labuan Sait to anchor their small, paddle-powered fishing boats. You can still see a few of these traditional wood boats tied up on the beach at Padang near the lifeguard tower.
No one is quite sure how Labuan Sait came to be known as Padang Padang, which is actually a smaller beach just to the south, before Uluwatu. Many of the Pecatu locals believe that it started with one of the early bule (foreign) surfers to visit Bali. As the story goes, the bule was out surfing at Uluwatu on a big day and got swept down the coast by the strong current, past the real Padang Padang beach all the way to Labuan Sait.
As he paddled in through the channel, he was stunned to see the spitting image of a Pipeline barrel thundering perfectly across the reef. When he reached shore, he mistakenly thought he was at nearby Padang Padang beach. As time wore on, more surfers heard about the mind-blowing waves at “Padang Padang” and the name stuck.
For generations, the people of Pecatu have performed the annual Hindu ceremony of Melasti at Labuan Sait beach. The Balinese celebrate Melasti to cleanse themselves of any bad spirits by following their god from the village to the sea. When the Pecatu area celebrates Melasti you will see nearly 1,000 people marching for 7 km along the road. At the head of the procession is a statue of their deity held high, which the people follow all the way to the Pura Dalem Pengeleburan temple overlooking the beach at Padang, and eventually down to the sand at Labuan Sait.
“It must be a special beach for Melasti ceremony,” explains Wayan Somer, the head lifeguard at Padang. “No hotels, no restaurants. It must be peaceful, natural, green and no pollution.”
Somer was born and raised in the Uluwatu/Pecatu area. He claims many powerful spirits live at Labuan Sait.
“Labuan Sait is a very mystical, very sacred place,” says Somer. “Every day before I do my job, I must be praying. I work as a lifeguard here for 10 years and never have problem, never one drowning.”