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If you’re looking for a more relaxing holiday in Bali, the seaside town of Candidasa is a great place. It’s pronounced CHAHN-dee-dah-sah, so don’t go telling the locals you want to visit “Candy-dasa.” Although there is some delicious chocolate in the area. More on that later. By basing yourself here, you can explore traditional villages, do some trekking, visit the Virgin Beach, and go out for some excellent snorkeling or diving.
The town of Candidasa has been around for a while – it’s thought to have existed as a fishing village since as early as the 11th century – but it didn’t get on the tourist radar until just a few decades ago. The name in Balinese literally translates to “ten temples.” One theory about the name is that it actually used to be called Cilidasa, meaning “ten children.” This is because the main temple has a statue of the fertility god Hariti that is surrounded by ten children.
When development came to the area in the 70s and 80s, the coral reef was mined in order to get lime to use for the construction of new hotels. Doing so removed the barrier that had protected the beach, which was soon washed away. Concrete walls were constructed to prevent further erosion, but the damage has been done. Let’s hope this serves as a warning about the dangers of rushed development and its impact on the environment.
Candidasa is located just off the main road on Bali’s east coast, about 90 minutes from the airport. There’s a beautiful lagoon in the middle of town that’s full of lotus flowers. It lies between the main temple and the sea. Along the main road, you’ll find most of the hotels, restaurants, and shops that cater to tourists.
From Candidasa, it’s easy to visit Bali’s stunning water palaces – Tirta Gangga and Taman Ujung. Both are former palaces that are full of pools, flora, and fauna. They’re incredibly scenic, peaceful places to explore. You could easily visit both in one day or you can space them out over your visit.
While there’s no longer much of a beach in town, it’s still a good place to do a bit of snorkeling. There are three small rocky islands nearby, which offer great snorkeling and diving. Just be warned that the current can be very strong here and is thus only recommended for very experienced divers. Trips can also be arranged to visit Amed or Tulamben.
Don’t let the lack of a beach here get you down, as one of the best beaches in Bali is just a short drive away. Pantai Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach) – also known as the Virgin Beach – is one of Bali’s best-kept secrets and a great place to spend a day. Enjoy the crystal clear waters, white sand, and swaying coconut trees as you munch on fresh fish from one of the warungs here.
Just a few kilometers outside of town, you’ll find the village of Tenganan. This is the most famous Bali Aga (Original Balinese) village, where the people have maintained an ancient culture. All of the tour guides and travel agents in town can arrange a trip here if you’re interested. Just be warned that it is quite touristy and you’re expected to pay a fee to enter the village.
That’s right, Bali is home to Charly’s Chocolate Factory. It’s a short drive from town, and is well worth it for a cup of the delicious cold chocolate. They’ve also got a giant swing that offers amazing sea views if you’re brave enough to try it out.
For traveling to Candidasa, you’ve got a few options. You could always take a cab all the way there from the south, but that might be costly. The Perama shuttle buses head out here from most of the major towns in Bali as well. You could also just rent your own wheels and get yourself there. A great idea is to make Candidasa a stop on an East Bali trip in between Sanur and Amed. Give yourself a week or ten days to visit all three for a nice vacation. There are plenty of choices for accommodation and dining in the town to suit a variety of budgets and travel styles.