Candidasa Beach is a little coconut town on the east coast of Bali. We always like to stay at Candidasa beach a couple of days when we’re visiting the Karangasem Regency.
The best thing is that not that many people know about Candidasa but it has some small-scale hotels, restaurants and there’s plenty of things to do and see.
It is the ideal hang-out for snorkeling, diving, hiking and driving through sleepy villages. We enjoy visiting beautiful nearby temples. And for us, it is also an ideal place to read a book with the sound of the ocean in the background.
So why haven’t many travelers discovered Candidasa Beach?
Candidasa Beach was already a piece of paradise in Bali during the 1970s. The palm-fringed golden beaches, beautiful diving spots, colorful fishing boats, and friendly Balinese people attracted many travelers.
Once discovered, the word spread quickly. Guesthouses and hotels were built to accommodate all those new travelers.
The local people from Candidasa needed construction materials to build their hotels. Unfortunately, they decided to use the reef to get it. They started to blow up the reef with explosives and hotel after hotel was built with what were once amazing fields of coral.
Now without the reef, the sea had free play. Bit by bit it took away the stunning golden beaches that this coconut village was so famous for. Once erosion took away the beaches it also took away its spot on the tourist map.
To bring Candidasa Beach back to life the local government has built several breakwaters to trap the sand. It will take many years for the beach to return to its former grandeur but in some places, you can already see the beach returning.
Nonetheless, it is still a nice little place to spend a couple of days when you are exploring eastern Bali. It also offers a good starting point to visit other gorgeous beaches such as Jasri Beach, Pasir Putih beach, Blue Lagoon Beach and Bias Tugel Beach in Padangbai.
There are many cultural things to do as well and you have plenty of opportunities to meet local people too. Here we have created a list of 19 Things to do in and around Candidasa Beach for any type of eco traveler.
1. Visit Pura Candidasa on Guungan Hill
The main cultural sight in Candidasa Beach is the Pura Candidasa, the village temple. In front of the temple, you can see drivers stop to place offerings and to get their blessings before they hit the road again.
Pura Candidasa is believed to originate from the 11th century. It is located across from the big lotus lagoon along the main road and is dedicated to the Gods Shiva and the fertility goddess Hariti.
Her statue in the temple is surrounded by children hence the name Candidasa which is derived from Cilidasa which in turn means ‘ten children’.
If you don’t have a sarong to wear you can rent one at the gate of the temple. For a great view on the lotus lagoon and the Bay of Amuk, you can take the stairs all the way to the top of Guungan Hill.
Best is to do this early in the morning when you’re still fresh and the sun is not as strong as it can be.
2. Gedong Gandhi Ashram-Lotus Lagoon
Next to the Lotus Lagoon in the center of town, you can find the Gedong Gandhi Ashram.
The Ashram was started in the ’70s by the late Ibu Gedong Bagus Oka and it is centered around the ideals of Mathama Gandhi. Here you can participate in yoga, meditation, lectures and follow a puja (prayer ritual) if you like.
The people at the Ashram are helpful and like to welcome you. You can eat vegetarian meals together and learn from their daily routines.
You can stay in simple huts between the lotus lagoon and the ocean. Just keep in mind that alcohol and smoking are not allowed inside the Ashram.
3. Visit Bali’s Mother Temple, Pura Besakih
The most important temple on the island of Bali is called Pura Besakih and it is a 56-minute drive from Candidasa. Everyday people from all over Bali come here to place offerings and pray to the Gods.
It is located on the slopes of the mighty Gunung Agung (3,031m) and is also the biggest of all the temples. Every village on Bali has a shrine here.
Even though you’re not allowed to enter this sacred temple you can still walk around and admire the architecture and cultural significance.
You might run into so-called guides once you enter the area. Politely decline their services. Just tell them you’re not allowed to enter the temple anyway. On the other hand, you can still walk around the complex and observe why this is the Mother Temple.
4. The original people of Bali, Tenganan
Just around the corner of Candidasa Beach, you’ll find the interesting village of Tenganan. Its inhabitants, called the Bali Aga are considered to be ancient pre-Majapahit Balinese (just like the villagers of Trunyan). They are the original inhabitants of Bali and they still live according to their own traditions.
The architecture of the village is also very different from the rest of Bali. The Bali Aga community are known for their unique ‘ikat‘ weaving fabric and palm leaf calendars. We prefer heading to the village in the morning before the busloads of visitors arrive.
5. Hiking around Candidasa
Candidasa is surrounded by mountains so you can also easily go hiking. There are a couple of great trails that take you through the rice fields and the mountainous terrain in the area. The hike from Tenganan to Macang and Ngis is a great way to explore the area.
And the Tenganan-Tirta Gangga trail is another good option. Start off at the temple complex at Tenganan and from there head for the forest. There is a stone wall that will guide you to a school in Gumung.
There are beautiful views on the rice fields from this village. Continue your walk by passing a dam, a shrine and by crossing a shallow river.
At the village, Kastala head towards the main road and walk to the village of Bebandem. From here you can continue your hike to the village of Budakling and after hiking along the country roads you will end at Tirta Gangga.
6. Scuba diving & Snorkeling around Candidasa Beach
For those who prefer to go scuba diving or snorkeling then Candidasa is also the place to be. There are some excellent spots such as Tepekong Island and the Mimpang Islands, the tree rock islands in front of Candidasa’s coast.
This dive site has several walls and a good variety of sea life. There is even a shark junction so you will likely see numerous sharks and sometimes even manta rays or the Oceanic Sunfish. Visibility is 30+ meters.
7. Snorkel or dive at the USAT Liberty Ship Wreck
All of the dive schools in Candidasa have tours to the USAT Liberty Ship Wreck of the coast in Tulamben village. This ship was bombed during WWII and was towed by two naval ships to Tulamben to get the cargo out.
In 1963 Mount Agung erupted and the USAT Liberty Ship Wreck toppled beneath the water. Now you’ll find an amazing underwater world and visibility is very good. Try to come here as early as possible. It is one of Bali’s most popular dive spots.
8. Snorkel At the Blue Lagoon in Padangbai
If you prefer to jump into the water with your snorkeling gear on, then you can do so at the Blue Lagoon (also called Pantai Kecil) in Padangbai. This is a 16-minute drive from Candidasa Beach. It’s located on the other side of Padangbai’s Luhur Silayukti Temple.
The Blue Lagoon is located at the end of the main beach west of the ferry terminal. Just follow the signs to Blue Lagoon Beach and you’ll soon find the parking lot. From there you have to climb some stairs.
You can bring your own or rent gear on arrival. There are also some warung (local restaurants) where you can have some lunch. Visibility for snorkeling is usually very good and the water is shallow.
9. Bias Tugel Beach at Padangbai
Bias Tugel Beach is also located in Padangbai and you can find it east of the ferry terminal following a small road until you see the sign ‘Bias Tugel’. From here it’s a short walk on the dirt track so best is to leave the car or motorbike behind.
Once you arrive on this beautiful beach you’ll find a couple of warung and sun loungers. It is possible to swim here but only for the advanced. There are strong currents and there’s no lifeguard to save you.
10. Sip coconuts at Pasir Putih, Bug-Bug
A 20-minute drive from Candidasa near the village of Bug-Bug you’ll find Pantai Pasir Putih (meaning white sand beach), also called Virgin Beach.
The road from Bug-Bug village to the beach is a little bumpy and you can park your motorbike or car under the palm trees once you arrive. It’s a great little beach where you can easily spend the day on one of the sun loungers while sipping a coconut.
Here you also find some warungs and there are even some souvenir shops. Swimming can be dangerous because of the strong undercurrents so this beach is mainly for dipping your toes.
11. Surfing at Jasri beach
Jasri Beach is one of the hidden surf secrets in the east of Bali. You might be lucky and have the entire beach to yourself. But the word is out and now more and more surfers are joining. Of course, the numbers are totally different compared to the popular surf beaches in the south of the island.
Jasri Beach is the next turn after the road to Pasir Putih. The beach is black volcanic like many beaches and it’s rocky. Best is to bring proper shoes as you might cut yourself.
The waves at Jasri Beach are right-handed and are ideal for experienced surfers. I don’t recommend learning to surf here when it’s your first time.
12. Sorga Bali Chocolate Workshop & Factory, Jasri
Sorga Bali Chocolate can also be found in Jasri and here you can book a 30-minute workshop (2 days in advance) where you’ll be able to make and decorate your own chocolate.
During the harvest season, you can also have a look at how they produce the product from fruit to a chocolate bar. All of their ingredients are locally grown and organic. They make over 12 different kinds of chocolate and their main focus is on dark chocolate. Also ideal if you love truffles and ice-cream.
13. Visit the Lempuyang Temple
The Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang (Lembuyang Temple) is located on the slopes of Mount Lempuyang. It is one of the oldest and sacred temples in Bali. The complex is made of seven temples with the most important one at 1058 meters.
This temple has become one of the most visited temples in Bali because of Instagram. Here people pose in front of the ‘Gate to Heaven’ while a Balinese photographer will keep a mirror under the camera. It looks as if you’re walking on water with a view of Mount Agung in the background.
Travelers who can’t live without Instagram are willing to wait more than three hours for this shot. If you get up early and arrive before 10 am you probably only have to wait 30 minutes.
Tip: Watch out of the grey long-tailed macaques when you’re climbing all the way to the top because they love to steal your sunglasses or bags.
14. Visit Tirta Gangga’s Water Palace
This water palace was built in 1946 by the last King of Amlapura, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut. There are several fountains, water channels and there’s even accommodation on site. He used this solely as a retreat in the weekends.
During the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 is was destroyed. It has been restored and you can even swim here. There’s the upper and deeper pool or you can go to the lower pool. They ask for a small entrance fee but it’s definitely worth it.
15. Visit Taman Uyun Water Palace
This was the first water palace of the last King of Amlapura and was in decay for many years. Now it has been restored and it is a great place to wander around. They have planted various tree species in the garden and also typical Indonesian vegetables and fruits.
On one side you’ll have a view on Mount Agung and on the other side, you’ll have a view on the ocean. You can buy some food for the fish which is an ideal activity for little kids (grown-ups like it too).