Besides following a traditional Balinese cooking class for the first time, I also stayed in Candidasa for the first time ever. A few years ago, I had made a lunch-stop here while travelling to Amed for my PADI diving course, but I had never stayed in this area before.
Candidasa is a remote, quiet, and sleepy area in the southeastern regions of Bali. There is not much happening there, which can be a good or bad thing depending how you look at it. It’s especially a fine area to stay in if you are planning to do some diving, as you’ll be strategically located between various popular diving sites in south and east Bali. Unfortunately, I had a bad flu at the time I was there and couldn’t dive at all as it would be quite risky. The town of Candidasa is also not far from the little harbour at Padang Bai from where the (fast) boats to Lombok and the famous Gili Islands depart.
We stayed at a hotel named Puri Bagus. It was a decent stay, but my mom and I did think the hotel felt dated in its design, the service, and the facilities offered. However, it was fine for a few days. The beds were comfortable and the bathroom was pretty sweet. We had another one of those lovely outdoor showers (like in Tandjung Sari Hotel in Sanur) and a bathtub that was half outdoors. I discovered that I really like outdoor showers. They feel so natural and refreshing. Can’t get enough of them.
The main street of Candidasa, where most of the restaurants and cafes are situated, was a bit too far to comfortably walk by foot. So, instead, we had our evening meals and breakfasts at the hotel’s restaurant. The setting of the restaurant, right along the sea, was great and the food was pretty decent overall. I do think the restaurant management should work on a better music selection. Reggae, techno, ‘60s oldies, The Gypsy Kings, and classical music just don’t mix very well. It’s so random. The restaurant is also a bit too small to accommodate a full hotel. Management should do something about that, because you do not want to eat in the other restaurant, which is in a really drab location on the second floor above the lobby.
There is no actual beach at Candidasa, the coastline consist of either some black volcanic sand or large rocks. Swimming there is at your own risk and can be quite dangerous with some strong currents that can suddenly swell up. Luckily, Puri Bagus has a pretty good and deep (4m) pool. If the high tide coincides with a beautiful warm day you might find a lot of local people playing in the sea near the hotel around sunset. You could also opt to rent a little boat and go to various snorkelling islands and remote beaches as a day or half-day trip. These activities are easily arranged with the local people near the hotel.
Overall, I did like staying at Hotel Puri Bagus because I could get some rest recovering from my cold and flu, and we had a relaxing time there, but I would not recommend staying here unless you are either diving in the area, or you are making a trip through the eastern parts of Bali. There is just not much to do over there, which admittedly, can also be a very positive point for some people. If you’re looking for a getaway place with more to do, you could opt for Ubud instead.