East Bali – A new exploration of ‘old Bali’

Rice paddies in East Bali


Anon and I have been to Bali six times, but have never explored areas outside Ubud. This trip we left the airport and headed straight to East Bali to explore and stay at Batu Bela, Villa Campuhan, Ahmed, and Candidasa. We had a magical week.

The general area is known as Karangasem.

We  booked  into a small hotel on the coast north of Amed called Batu Belah for three nights. The hotel is about a 3 hour drive from the Airport, a detailed blog about the hotel will follow.

Then we moved to Villa Campuhan for four nights, a ten minute drive north of Candi Dasa; again this will have its own several blogs.

We have not had a great deal of joy on the one or two occasions we have spent in the South – Kuta, Legian or Nusa Dua. So when friends told us the East was what Kuta was like in the 70’s I think we imagined long stretches of white sandy beaches. The beaches on this coast are all black volcanic sand, the one exception Is Pantai Putih “white sand beach” or “virgin beach” …….. original. It’s a rough drive to a beautiful little beach between two headlands just north of Candi Dasa. Beware the rips tho.

We didn’t spend much time in Candi Dasa but it looks like a sleepy little village with many restaurants and hotels, laid back and lovely.

Discovered in 1970’s as the next big thing in Bali, however as the facilities developed  the beach eroded – unthinkingly offshore barrier-reef corals were harvested to produce lime for the cement in the orgy of construction that took place – So now – a beach resort with no beach.

Described by the tourist bumff as “The Real Bali” the drive north offers many more natural attractions than any other parts of Bali and is dominated by the brooding presence of Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano Mt. Agung.

The quiet roads do meander through spectacular rice terraces and tropical forests.

If you are interested in the Bali Aga you can visit the closed, religious community of Tenganan. In this tiny society clothing has always been central to ritual, so it is here you see the painstakingly fashion “Geringsing” or Double Ikat cloth” being made. Be-aware tho that this is now a tourist destination, you will be given a guide who will most likely take you to his home in the hope that you will buy some fabric from his household.

Amed is less than and hour to the north of Candi Dasa. This is a collection of small fishing villiages. Maybe you have to be a diver to appreciate the charm of Amed – there are many world war 2 shipwrecks and coral reefs on this part of the coast – but for me, above sea level it looks like bad development out of control. Dirty black beaches and a mish mash of accommodation clinging to the Cliffside.

The drive along the coast from Amed to Amlapura  clings to the side of the cliffs through little fishing villages and is a lovely way to get an idea of the different areas of Bali – it is too dry for rice so depends on corn as the staple.

After our brief stay we left (sadly) Villa Campuhan to head over to Ubud for the remaining three weeks. The drive to Ubud via Sideman is something not to be missed. This is where you do get a true understanding of the REAL BALI.

Leave yourself some time, this is not a drive to be rushed.

A couple of highlights of this stay in the east will have their own blogs ……..


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