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,
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
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.