Candidasa – Heard of it?
Set well away from the hustle and bustle of mainstream tourism is Candidasa. Bali’s eastern regency of Karangasem is an exotic royal Balinese kingdom of forests and mighty mountains, emerald rice terraces, mystical water palaces and pretty beaches. This dramatically beautiful area is often dubbed the “Real Bali”, where life goes on as it has for generations. Yet with the welcome addition of modern-day comforts and temptations including lavish spas, some top-rate restaurants, and a luxury holiday villa unlike any other.
Tirta Nila Beach House
Situated right beside the sea in the quiet village of Candidasa, Tirta Nila Beach House is an excellent base from which to explore this scenic and historic region and its many highlights. Designed to accommodate and fulfil the needs of a family on holiday, Tirta Nila 4-bedroom Bali villa is immaculately maintained and blessed with spectacular views.
The villa is characterised by a blend of contemporary tropical architecture and island-inspired décor with quality furnishings, elegant and comfortable bedrooms, ample living and dining spaces, and a full team of staff.
Here, you can enjoy all the facilities you need, including a 15-metre swimming pool and seafront terrace, a relaxation pavilion, and a private man-made beach elevated above the sea. Play volleyball in the soft golden sand; snorkel in the clear waters of the sheltered sea lagoon immediately in front of the property; or relax poolside, where you will be cooled by gentle sea breezes. Stay at Tirta Nila Beach House and you will never want to stay anywhere else!
Pasir Putih Beach
Six kilometres to the east of Candidasa, you will find the hidden beach of Pasir Putih, meaning ‘white sands.’ Fringed by a coconut grove and flanked by green headlands with a sheer cliff behind, you will feel like you have stepped back in time. The tranquil ambience, complete with the simple grass roofed eateries, is reminiscent of the Bali of the 1970s.
If you would like to witness the marine life under the ocean without having to get wet, take a ‘Voyage of Fantasy’ in a real submarine. Accommodating 36 passengers with 2 pilots, the submarine will transport you on an unforgettable journey to a depth of 20 metres under the sea to explore the colourful coral reef. This is a great activity for families with young children.
Bali Safari and Marine Park
Those looking for an interactive animal experience can make a day trip to Bali Safari and Marine Park. Where a safari journey in a specially-designed tram offers a unique adventure that will take you through jungle terrain past roaming Sumatran tigers and elephants to the hippos and cheetahs at Lake Manyara. Make sure you have lunch at the Park’s Tsavo Restaurant where glass windows are the only thing between you and the lions.
The hiking around Candidasa is superb, and the villa staff can arrange for a local guide to escort you. Very few tourists know about Bukit Asah near the village of Bug Bug. Here, a gentle two-kilometre walk brings you to a hilltop outlook blessed with a beautiful panorama of the sea, the coastline and neighbouring islands. Longer hikes will take you through forested land and rice terraces. Along the way you will see many Balinese farmers working in their fields, and you can explore local villages.
At the peaceful 700-year-old walled village of Tenganan, the residents practice a time-honoured lifestyle based around ritual and ceremony. Many of the houses function as shops and workshops where expert craftsmen and women perform their centuries’ old skills.
Traditional ‘ata’ vine baskets are laid out in neat rows upon the ground, and artists display their lontar carved books. Inside the workshop homes, you can see and purchase the famous, highly valued double ikat textiles. The women will demonstrate the weaving process using small looms.
The picturesque water palace of Taman Ujung was built in 1919 by the last Raja of Karangasem. Resting in the vast pool is a series of intriguing, romantic pavilions linked by bridges, archways, and a shaded avenue of mango and frangipani trees.
Also built by the water-loving Raja is Tirta Gangga, a fabled maze of spine-tinglingy cold bathing pools and basins, spouts, tiered pagoda fountains, stone carvings and lush gardens showcasing a blend of Chinese and Balinese architecture.
Fine Dining in & around Candidasa
Many of the restaurants in Candidasa offer a free pick-up and drop-off transport service. Including the wonderful Vincent’s, where you can relish romantic dining in a gorgeous garden, high quality international cuisine, superb service, cool and colourful artwork and lazy jazz music. La Rouge Restaurant is another charming restaurant, which will surprise you with its visual texture and sumptuous fabrics. Tables spill out into a candlelit garden, while the menu presents Western, Balinese and Indian food, with lots of seafood, and a blackboard of daily specials.
There are two restaurants at the spectacular Amankila Resort in nearby Manggis, each located poolside on different levels with compelling vistas. The philosophy here is to source the best local products, the best seafood, vegetables, fruit, indigenous herbs, spices, and premium imported ingredients, and combine them with Indonesian and Balinese cooking techniques.
Bali Asli is a restaurant and cooking school, near Amlapura. It is one of the island’s best, serving traditional Balinese food created from homegrown ingredients and cooked in an authentic Balinese-style kitchen on wood-fired, mud brick stoves, which allow the real flavours of Bali to shine.