Candi Dasa is a popular tourist focal point in East Bali. A relaxing — some would say sleepy — beach resort, with little beach due to some serious environmental errors made in its recent past. But don’t let that put you off!. In the centre of town, a pretty lotus-filed lagoon sits between the main temple and the sea — particularly lovely at sunrise or sunset. At the northeastern end of town, the road spurs to follow the coast as the main highway does a sharp turn continuing to Amlapura. This coastal area houses most of the local inhabitants of Candi Dasa, and a growing number of hotels — it’s a quieter option than the main road. The villages along the coast to the west of Candi Dasa are much sleepier, and here you’ll also find a small selection of accommodation. You won’t be in the middle of the action, but you won’t be too far away either.
The beach at Candi Dasa, or lack of it, is due to a sudden boom in development in the 1980s. Whether it was unregulated, or uninformed or just plain greed, a coral reef was removed to produce lime for cement to construct hotels. It allowed the power of the Lombok strait to erode the very thing people visited Candi Dasa for: the beautiful beach. We can only hope that this is a cautionary lesson for future unplanned development. Concrete sea walls now provide protection from further erosion, and result in waters being very calm and good for snorkelling along the wall. There are pockets of sand too, although some disappear altogether at high tide.
Virgin Beach, White Sand Beach, Pantai Pasir Putih, and Bias Putih are all names for the same lovely stretch of white(ish) sand within easy reach from Candi Dasa, itself having no real beach to speak of. We are calling it Virgin Beach, as that’s what’s on the brand-spanking-new official sign erected when we visited in early 2016 — it saves confusion, as there’s at least one Pantai Pasir Putih (White Sand Beach) on every island of Indonesia. Additionally, white is a misnomer — and virgins come in a wider colour range.
Snorkelling and diving
While the currents can be very strong and the water relatively cold for Bali, Candi Dasa offers a selection of snorkel and dive sites, with a plethora of dive operators and boatmen willing to take you to the hot spots.