Relaxed Candidasa is the perfect escape for travellers weary of the hustle and bustle of some of Bali’s more chaotic tourist hotspots. This quaint seaside town lies on the east coast of the island, and it features plenty of luxury villas, hotels and guesthouses to suit all budgets, nice restaurants and a few laid-back bars. Although the beaches here tend to be quite rocky with just a few small strips of black sand here and there, the sweeping views of the coastline and surrounding mountains are beautiful, especially at sunrise when the light sparkles off the water and traditional fishing boats bob on the waves.
The beaches in Candidasa are nothing to write home about, but there are a few gorgeous white sand bays just a short drive away including Pasar Putih (White Sand Beach) to the north and Secret Beach in Padang Bai to the south. A trip along the coast will also reveal small fishing villages, black sand beaches and lush hills tumbling down to the sea.
For culture hounds, Puri Candidasa is interesting for its two small temples devoted to the gods Shiva and Hariti, however, for a real taste of history and culture the village of Tenganan is a must-see spot. Just a 10-minute drive from Candidasa, Tenganan is a Bali Aga village, which means that the inhabitants can trace their lineage to the original Balinese who were here before the largely Hindu population arrived from Java in the 11th century. The village is famed for its textiles, in particular the handmade double ikat gringsing pieces that are both sacred and striking.
Most people come to Candidasa to switch off next to the sea, but for those who enjoy being in the great outdoors there are plenty of activities to fill your days. Diving and snorkelling are popular here, as are fishing expeditions, hiking trips through the rice paddies and mountains, and cycling tours on winding roads. Candidasa is also a great base to explore the water palace of Karangasem, the holy springs of Tirta Gangga, the mother temple of Besakih, and the colourful port town of Padang Bai.
Cooking classes are also a great way to pick up some culture and new skills. We highly suggest the unique cooking experiences at Bali Asli where you get to gather your food like a local by fishing in a traditional boat, foraging for herbs and veggies in the foothills of Mount Agung or harvesting your own rice. Upon your return you cook up exotic Balinese dishes using traditional cooking methods, and end the day with a feast fit for a Balinese raja. Alila Manggis also has excellent cooking classes using fresh produce from their organic garden and traditional Balinese recipes.
If you’re looking for all-night parties and non-stop action, Candidasa is not your place. Sleepy is probably the best word to describe the ambiance here, and although there are some great places to eat and drink, the town tends to shut down after 11pm. The tranquility of the town is best suited for those looking for some serious R&R in a scenic setting.