Candidasa - East Bali
A tidy, well-kept, three-km-long European (mostly Italian, French, and Scandinavian) tourist retreat. For many visitors, Candidasa is the perfect blend, everything one would want in a seaside resort-reasonable accommodations, variegated dining, interesting sea sports, warm-water bathing, tranquil nights.
It is a slow and friendly place, where you can pass the hours with locals on the streets and beaches, or find someone to take you fishing, snorkeling or gambling. Walk, read, soak up the sun, and let the crickets and crashing surf lull you to sleep each night.
Candidasa also makes an excellent base for trips to all over east Bali: Tirtagangga, Kusamba, Goa Lawah, Klungkung, Bangli, and eastern mountain towns like Putung and Iseh. For a scenic land tour, rent bicycles or simply walk the gorgeous hill country above town. Visit nearby Tenganan to shop, and for a fascinating look at the ancient rituals of a traditional society.
The name Candidasa is derived from 'Cilidasa' meaning 'Ten Children.' A shrine in the eastern part of the village, on a hillside under a cliff, looking out over a spring-fed lotus lagoon emptying into the sea, was founded in the 11th century. At street level is a statue of the giantess Hariti, a fertility goddess, surrounded by her many children.
Childless couples often come to the temple seeking help from this goddess. A long flight of steps leads to the upper level of the temple, which contains an old 'linga'. Its 10-tiered gateway is one of the few instances of an even-number employed in religious architecture.
On the beach, there is a tide, just like on a normal beach. At high tide predatory waves pound the seawall, chasing beachcombers to higher ground. At low tide, the beach west of the lagoon is only eight meters wide and you can walk as far as 50 meters on the shelf (wear sneakers) and observe rock pools and reef life. During all but the rainy season, the water is crystal clear. Cement walkways and sitting pavilions surround the inland lagoon at the east end of town-the beautiful lagoon, with its tepid water, is also the village bath.
To prevent further erosion, huge horrendous T-shaped concrete breakwaters were built. Because the currents caused by these stone piers are unpredictable, swimming is not advisable. Sunbathing is best on the seawall. Take in views of the rocky Batu Manggar islet offshore, the lighthouse off Padangbai's headland, the looming island of Nusa Penida, and neighboring Lombok. Watch the wind and rain chase fishing craft across the sea. On calm days you can swim out past where the waves break, over the fringing reef about one-quarter km.
Candidasa's offshore islands, only 30-45 minutes by boat, offer incredible snorkeling. Off southwest Candidasa, the tiny outcrop of Pulau Kambing-also called Pulau Tepekong-has magnificent coral reefs frequented by a startling array of fish in every size, shape, and color, including small, harmless reef and white-tip sharks.
The island, which measures only 50 by 100 meters, has very steep sides, with no beaches. The water is clear, with visibility up to 10 meters; first-class skin-diving. The northern end of the island is generally shallow, with the top of a southwest sloping wall starting at a depth of 10 meters.
The east end of the island contains many caves, submerged pinnacles, and table coral. The south side is deeper, the top of the reef beginning at about 22 meters. The best section is known as The Canyon, lined with giant boulders, plunging to a depth of more than 30 meters.
Because of the strong downward pull of the current, it's been nicknamed The Toilet. The best time to go is early in the morning when the water is clear and there's little wind. An offering on the beach to the gods is a prerequisite before setting off. Hire a motorized 'jukung'; once you clear the fringing reef it's only a 15-minute ride.
Two other islands in the western side of Amuk Bay are Pulau Biaha (also called Likuan) and Gili Mimpang (also Batu Tiga or Three Rocks)-both present difficult conditions to even experienced divers. There are sharks around, the water is cold, the underwater currents are strong and unpredictable, and waves crashing into the islands create an undertow. Best to go only with professional divers who've been there before. Excellent snorkeling in the vicinity.
One of the best-kept secrets of eastern Bali is brilliant Pasir Putih, 500-meter-long white-sand beach to the northeast. Ask a fisherman in Sumuh village (east of Candidasa) to take you there, or take a 'bemo' to Perasi where a path leads past 'sawah' to the coast. After 2.5 kilometers, you reach a small temple where the path forks. The left takes you to several black-sand beaches, while the right takes you down through coconut groves to Pasir Putih. Great views of rocky headlands and offshore islands.
Organized trips are best in Candidasa's often-dangerous waters. For instance, a fisherman will take you out just 30 minutes to see dolphins leaping and swimming-surrounding you. Good swordfish (lumba-lumba) fishing, too. Out at sea, it's an impressive view of the hills and Gunung Agung behind Candidasa.
Getting There and Away
From Klungkung or Padangbai take a 'bemo' headed for Amlapura. If traveling from Denpasar, first take a minibus to Batubulan Station, then catch another minibus to Candidasa (many stops along the way). Both long-distance and local minibuses and 'bemo' travel constantly up and down the coastal road between Amlapura and Klungkung from 05.00 to 19.00.
Shuttle buses to Ubud leave five times daily : § to Sanur, Kuta, and the airport, 0930 and 1000 § to Kintamani, only at 0800 § for Lovina, 08.00 and 12.00. Candidasa is about 2.5 hours from Bali's airport.