True to its laid back sophisticated image, attractions in and around Candi Dasa are relatively low key. The simple pleasures of sunbathing, scuba diving and a little water sports fun are the order of the day. The resort stretches for several miles and it is not difficult to find a stretch of golden sand all to yourself. As a former fishing village Candi Dasa has a fair bit of history to explore, not least its ancient Hindu temple which is said to date back to the 11th century.
Get out and about and you will discover some wonderful natural scenery such as the emerald green rice fields of Iseh and Sideman or the imposing Lempuyang volcano.
Just a brisk walk away is the fascinating ancient village of Tenganan, which is a must for the lover of traditional Balinese culture. Another worthwhile side trip is to the royal water palaces of Tirtagangga and Ujung; both of which are deservedly popular highlights on the tour bus circuit.
Candi Dasa has gained an international reputation as a centre of culinary learning and, together with its many tasty eateries, is home to two celebrated residential cookery schools. The Candi Dasa area of eastern Bali also has a handful of upmarket holistic retreats offering spiritual and cultural workshops.
Scuba diving at Candi Dasa
The resort is a good base for divers with several challenging deep water sites located nearby at Gili Tepekong and Gili Mimpang. These pristine coral reefs are teeming with exotic marine life such as manta rays, sunfish and reef sharks. Currents can be strong and it is best suited to intermediate and experienced divers. Candi Dasa is also a good place to arrange dive trips and live-aboard cruises to Bali’s finest dive sites at Amed, Tulamben and Pulau Menjangan and also to Lombok and the Gili Islands.
There are several dive operators based in Candi Dasa offering PADI Open Water and specialist courses in a number of European languages. Yos Marine (website:www.alamasmara.com) is one of Bali’s best dive companies and also provide water sports equipment and snorkelling trips.
Located just two miles north of Candi Dasa, Tenganan village is Bali’s most historic settlement and offers up a fascinating way of life. This tiny walled village compound is the only place in the world where the famous ‘Geringsing’ double woven cloth is produced which is highly prized throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Village life revolves around a busy calendar of festivities combing both Hindu and ancient animist rituals and most are completely unique to this village.
Barely a week goes by without a colourful event of some description. There are dozens of traditional weaving shops where you can browse for original Geringsing sarongs. You may be shocked by the prices of this coveted cloth, but some of the most complex handmade designs can take over three years to complete!
Tirtagangga Water Palace
A short drive northeast of Candi Dasa is the scenic water palace of Tirtagangga, located among picturesque tropical landscaping and rolling rice paddies which are so iconic of this part of Bali.
It is one of east Bali’s most popular attractions and features graceful bathing pools, fountains, a water tower and royal palace. Constructed in 1946 by the last king of Karangasem regency, it is beautifully preserved and is a scene of pilgrimage and ritual bathing for many Balinese.
Visitors can also take a dip or mess about in paddle boats and throughout it exudes a serene and sacred atmosphere with visitor tend to crave. (Tirtagangga Water Palace, Ababi Village, Karangasem, Open: 07:00-18:00 (daily); admission: rp 20,000 entrance fee)
Beaches in Nusa Dua
There are golden stretches of sand along the entire Candi Dasa coastline, however much of it is narrow and there are nicer beaches at either end of the resort. Travel a few minutes west to Balina Beach which is the area’s main centre for water sports and features fast moving breakers crashing over deserted white sands. It is perhaps the most alluring spot for sunset cocktails or a romantic beachfront meal.
In the opposite direction is stunning Pasir Putih Beach, a largely deserted 500 metre stretch of pure white sand. It has good snorkeling and there are great views across the ocean to the offshore island of Gili Biaha. Uniquely, Pasir Putih is sandwiched between two glistening volcanic black sand beaches which are equally as picturesque.