Candidasa is a fairly quiet town on the east coast of Bali, if you don’t count the morning crow from the roosters or the consistent drone of scooters passing through. Compared to the craziness of the southern Bali, it is a relaxed coastal town with a few decent restaurants, several budget-range guesthouses, some mid-level hotels, a few luxury villas and hotels, and the exclusive and opulent Amankila resort within close proximity.
Don’t expect to find long, beautiful beaches in Candidasa; at most, there are a few narrow strips of sand in front of some of waterfront villas and hotels. Unfortunately, damage was done to the reef that protected the beaches here back in the 1980’s. Steps have been taken since to undo the damage, and there is hope that more beaches will return. Snorkeling and diving remain quite good, however; I have been happy snorkeling right from the land, or taking a jukung — a local fishing boat — out to the three rock islands seen from shore.
There are two decent beaches within a short drive or boat-ride away: Pasir Putih, or more widely known as White Sand Beach (aptly named) and Blue Lagoon — but beware the aggressive female touts at Blue Lagoon. Show any interest and they will not leave your side until all funds are depleted. I speak with experience.
The location here is central for reaching Amed for superb diving opportunities or the quick drive to Padang Bai where one can catch a boat to Lombok or the Gili islands. It is also near Tirtagangga, a water garden belonging to the royal family of Karangasem and considered a cultural destination in Bali.
We just returned from a week at an amazing private villa with it’s own beach — during low tide — just a 5 minute drive from town. Citakara Sari translates as “Essence of the Arts”, but I think it should be called Little Slice of Heaven. It’s actually 3 villas that can be rented together or separately. Included in the price is staff, breakfast, car and driver to take you into town, and a manager on-site who can make any arrangements for you such as a private yoga instructor, massages on site, boat with captain, etc.
The villas are filled with beautiful Balinese antiques and gorgeous Indonesian batik and ikat fabrics, which please my eye much more so than the myriad of luxury villas all cut from the same cloth of modern-tropical-style popping up all over Seminyak and it’s environs.
Our days here more or less followed the same schedule: long morning walks through the surroundings followed by breakfast on the porch overlooking the gardens and sea; a friendly game of tennis on the court behind the villas, or some snorkeling directly from the beach in front of the property; a long scooter ride followed by lunch in town; mandatory nap or quiet time with a book in the heat of the midday; swim-time in the substantial infinity pool; possibly a late afternoon massage provided in an open-air room built just for this purpose, complete with gurgling fountain, garden and fish; sundowners on the deck or by the pool to watch the glorious sun setting over the mountains; and concluding with another scoot into town for dinner at Vincent’s — our favorite restaurant in town.
We deviated from the schedule now and then with some scuba diving, an unsuccessful fishing excursion, a complimentary boat ride to a snorkeling spot near Blue Lagoon, a long but exciting scooter ride through rice fields and bustling villages for lunch and a stroll at the water gardens of Tirtagangga. We also made friends with two stray puppies, whom we christened Bear and Spot. You can read about them and how we helped them receive medical attention and find a foster home here.
CANDI DASA RECOMMENDATIONS:
- Villa Citakara Sari in Mendira Beach
- Villa Gita — We stayed in Villa Gita in 2011. It is also a lovely private villa right on the water, designed in a more modern style. The location is great for walking to the center of Candidasa for restaurants and shopping.
- Amankila luxury resort — Stunning, exclusive property on the outskirts of Candidasa.
- Alila Manggis boutique hotel — another plush hotel, not as exquisite as the Amankila, but alluring nonetheless. Also on the outskirts, but not far from the center of town.
- Vincent’s restaurant — Our favorite for both food and setting, though not inexpensive. Beautiful lounge area, and gorgeous candle-light dining in a garden setting.
- Lotus Seaview restaurant — Lovely sea views from this large restaurant that serves decent mostly Indonesian fare.
- Lezat Beach Restaurant — Seaside restaurant with fabulous views and very good food.
- Hungry Crocodile restaurant — We only had delivery from this restaurant. Decent enough. Wished we had gone there on Saturday night for the live band.
- Joglo restaurant — We actually did not dine here as intended because we kept returning to Vincent’s, but it did come recommended by our villa.
- Bali Bubbles dive shop — good operation; we are still alive to talk about it!
Have you been to Candidasa? Let me know what you think of this quiet Bali town in the comments!