Candidasa or Candi Dasa is a small village located on the east side of Bali. The drive from the airport takes approximately 90 minutes. The drive from Ubud is about the same. It is a very relaxing place but the pros and cos of Candidasa pretty much cancel each other out.
Beachside hotels and villas line the seaside of Candidasa. Most have gorgeous gardens with a pool that overlooks the ocean. Some of the hotels are very much in need of repair. Many of the hotels appear to have been built 10 to 30 years ago and have not been maintained.
The place we stayed was chosen for the infinity pool overlooking the ocean. The pool was beautiful and we used it a lot as the beach wasn't particularly inviting. There was very little beach sand, it was mostly stone beaches with hundreds of crabs going about their crabby business. Quite pretty but not very comfortable for lounging around. But that's ok, the pool was lovely.
The room, on the other hand, felt like it hasn't been properly cleaned for many years. The bed was comfortable enough if a little musty, the shower kind of worked, and there was a fridge to use. The cupboards and walls, on the other hand, were in desperate need of a good clean and a coat of paint (the walls, not the cupboards). The air-conditioning and wifi worked really well though.
I am not sure if the other hotels are like this in Candidasa. While we wandered through a few other hotels we didn't go into any rooms. Judging by the exteriors however it looks like many are failing to perform basic maintenance and even failing to keep their buildings watertight with visible water damage being very common and some rooms having been obviously abandoned (windows smashed, roof collapsed, interior left to rot). It's true that you get what you pay for but make sure to do your research before booking that beachside villa. Ideally go and physically see the room before committing. I'm not suggesting that anyone would try to put you in one of the abandoned rooms but it would be nice to avoid those that are on their way to ruin.
Out the front of the beachside hotels is the main road of Candidasa. It is extremely busy, noisy and dusty. Cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes drive very fast along this road, so crossing the road can be an experience just in itself.
The footpaths are ok. Not too flash and not too horribly bad. People tend to park their scooters, leave their rubbish, and hang out on the foot paths so there is a lot of walking on the main road.
But not to worry. If you are in need of transport, as there is not shortage of private car owners who will try to get your attention by yelling and clapping at you from across the road. In some cases they will actually dash through the speeding traffic just to talk to you. Transport is not hard to get.
Perhaps renting a bicycle would help here but then you have to worry about all the petrol powered vehicles screaming past.
Along with the drivers wanting work, staff from all the restaurants and spas line the streets trying to get your attention. So many restaurants, so few visitors make the staff go crazy. I understand this. I would want to get customers in just so I had something to do instead of sitting around all day.
The constant attention from drivers and restaurant staff normally doesn't bother us too much but Candidasa is a very small place with very few tourists and there are many touts for each tourist. For the locals sake I hope it gets busier than it was in February. The volume of hard sellers to tourists can make it a little tiring to walk anywhere. Each time we stepped out of our hotel there was a long row of expectant faces stationed along the street, all looking at us.
They're only trying to make a living but it makes going for an evening stroll less than pleasant.
We did have some very good meals while hanging out in Candidasa. Props goes to Ari's Aussie Burger and Hot Dog Stall down at the southern end of the main part of Candidasa. Gary, a local Australian icon, has a little restaurant serving, you guessed it, Aussie Burgers and Hot Dogs. Very very tasty, highly recommended.
Another place, that we never got the name of, was a little warung (restaurant) about 30m across the road to the right of the Natia Beach Resort. The food was very cheap and very delicious. Lunch would often cost us 40,000 IDR, around AUD$4, for the two of us. This typically consisted of a Gado Gado, Mie Goreng and two juices. Really should have got the name of this place. Just look for the place that has a menu showing lemon juices for 5,000 each. Bargain!
Once you're in Candidasa you can go snorkelling or diving only a few hundred metres from the shore. The famous White Beach is a short drive away. We never got there. We chose to be lazy and lay by the pool instead but we have heard that it is one of the best beaches in Bali. One day we will get there.
A few kilometres up the hill from Candidasa is the famous Bali Aga village at Teneganan. This is an original Balinese village that tourists, both national and international, can walk through and experience the life of the original Balinese.
It is a lovely village that can only be visited during the day. It is closed to outsiders after dark. Outsiders are those who are not of Teneganan descent. The village follows the original Balinese culture. If you choose to marry someone from outside of the village, you must move out.
Teneganan Village is an interesting stop. There is ample opportunity to buy various hand-made products including scarves, sarongs, and traditional Balinese calendars. Basket weaving can be seen in action also.
Beyond the beaches, diving, snorkelling and visiting the traditional village, there really isn't much to do in Candidasa. You could take a yoga class or three but otherwise you will have plenty of time to just sit back and read.
Candidasa, for us, as long-term travellers, really isn't the place we would want to spend a lot of time. It is nice enough but we would get very bored very quickly. We both found that after our fourth day of working in the morning, going out for lunch, coming back, swimming and laying by the pool reading our books, going out for dinner, and back to our room was a little too same same for us.
We would revisit though, just to see this famous White Beach and to have another Aussie Burger and Hot Dog. Nom!