Bali really needs no introduction. It is one of the premier tourist destinations in the world having an amazing combination of spectacular beaches, striking volcanoes, picturesque rice paddies as well as an incredibly rich and vibrant culture and an open and friendly people.
Bali receives thousands of visitors from all over the world every year, and as a result is relatively easy to get to with direct flights from most parts of the world to Denpasar airport, and most things that you would need are readily available including good medical care, and most western goods and services.
The majority of tourists to Bali stay within 30 minutes of the airport either at the huge self-contained 5 star hotels that hug the beach at Nusa Dua or in the heavily touristed areas along Kuta & Legian beach which is the centre in Bali for surfing, shopping and partying.
In the past few years visitors have increasingly found their way first to Ubud, which lies among the picturesque rice paddies in the foot hills of the massive volcanoes in the centre of the island, and latterly to East Bali (where Candi Dasa is situated) which has similar spectacular mountain views as Ubud, but also has access to beaches and some of the best diving in Bali, if not in South East Asia.
Villa Talia Vashti is less than 5 minutes drive away from Candidasa - the gateway to East Bali. Candi (pronounced "Chandi") is only one and a quarter hours away from the heavily developed Kuta/Sanur area of Bali, but it can at times feel like stepping back in time to a more relaxed and less hectic time.
In recent years however while development has come to Candidasa, it retains its relaxed easy going charm. There is now however a good variety of different hotels and restaurants in Candi and the shops provide most tourist services such as good restaurants, internet access, tours and trips, diving and car hire. Candidasa is however still thankfully entirely free of the hard sell that you find in the Kuta/Sanur/Nusa Dua/Legian developments or increasingly in Ubud.
Basically Candidasa is a place to do a bit of shopping and then sit in a restaurant, order some good food in pleasant surroundings and take in the view across the ocean to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida or across the rice paddies to Gunung Agung looming in the distance. We like it which is one of the reasons of course why Villa Talia Vashti is where it is.
If however you want happy hours in packed bars and then to party until late into the night, or if you want streets of designer clothing shops full of western goods, or large markets full of goods for tourists then to be honest you are best getting out of Candidasa and taking a taxi to Kuta/Legian or Ubud for the day, which is easy enough.
In recent years eating out in Candidasa has become more and more varied with increasing numbers of great restaurants, far too many to list here. While you will find the food at Villa Talia Vashti the match of most any restaurant here, if you fancy a change of scenery one night then there many options that you can try in and around Candidasa.
Lotus Garden - Sea front restaurant on the main road just as you enter Candidasa. Good views, laid back atmosphere and fresh lobster. Good place to wile away a long lunch, but a little spoiled now with the building of a car park between it and the sea. http://www.balieats.com/full.cfm?id=157
Dewata Agung - Typical traditional Indonesian and Balinese cuisine, with nice views out across the Candidasa lagoon. Free Balinese Legong dance shows every evening.
Water Garden - Good western run restaurant. Although a bit close to the road, the food is always reliably good and the ponds are very relaxing and absolutely full of massive Koi carp.
Vincents - More westernised bar/restaurant towards the eastern end of Candidasa on the landward side. Fitted out with modern art and laid back jazz music playing in the background and with a wide selection of wines and beers. One of our favourites.
Alila Sea Salt Restaurant - A typical huge 5* Laid-Back hotel, but the restaurant is surrounded by a relaxing lotus garden and is a great place for an expensive splurge, with interesting Balinese dishes, and fabulous ice creams (we recommend the Dark Chocolate Sorbet and the Honeycomb ice cream). http://www.alilahotels.com/manggis/dining.asp
Aman Kila - If money is no object then try out the "super Laid-Back" hotel Aman Kila. Given the prices however the food is disappointingly unimaginative and unimpressive. Alila is far better in our view, and the service at Aman Kila is poor as well, primarily as the hotel is really not set up for external guests coming in, so paying your bill takes upwards of 40 minutes with walks to the reception to sort it out. This hotel however is meant to be the secret get-away for royalty and film stars, and last time we were there the King of Morrocco had block booked the entire place. Pierce Brosnan is also meant to be a regular visitor. Enjoys exactly the same views as Villa Talia Vashti, but thre is no white sand beach, nor any snorkeling, just pebbles.
Garpu at the Rama Hotel - Ku-de-Ta comes to Candidasa! Well almost... Modern and stylish minimalist decor, and direct seafront location mean Garpu has a lot going for it. Unfortunately the prices were so eye-wateringly expensive that after we had had a couple of beers at prices that made the swanky Seminyak icon that is Ku-De-Ta look like a cheap warung, we decided not to splash out between US$16 and US$26 for a main course meal to sit in an almost empty dining room except for the few hotel guests that hadn't summoned up the initiative to go out and hunt for a better value location. Still this is a welcome addition to Candidasa, and with a live band at weekends as well, Garpu could well be a more modern alternative to the Alila Sea Salt restaurant for an expensive splurge directly on the seafront.
Rendezvous at Alam Asmara Dive Resort - Another new beachfront restaurant, with a contempory theme and feel. Quite different to the Garpu though, with very reasonable prices and food that turned out to be surprisingly good and well presented. Definitely a good place for a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner. Joins our list of favourite restaurants in Candidasa.
Pondok Bambu - Another hidden restaurant in a villa complex on Candidasa's main street. Wind your way past the ponds and rooms, and eventually you will find a traditional looking restaurant directly on the sea-front, with a separate bale for larger parties. Prices are reasonable, but service is best described as relaxed, and the food is really just your normal Balinese restaurant type-fare i.e. good solid fried rice and fried noodles, but the Western dishes are all a bit odd and straight from the freezer. Still this is a good place to grab a cool drink and take in the sea breezes if you are out shopping in Candidasa.
Primary amongst these is Candi Beach Cottages, a large "cottage style" hotel which is part of a Laid-Back hotel chain and has all the typical facilities that you would expect to find in such an establishment. Candi Beach Cottages is right now (July 20150 going through a substantial upgrade including the addition of several very expensive one bedroom villas) and so we are still waiting to see what restaurant/bar facilities emerge, although I expect (and hope) that they will be large swanky and expensive.
Next along the beach is the Anom Inn. This has a reasonably pleasant restaurant with an extensive menu and pleasant sea views, but the only time we have been there it was rather empty so we did not actually give the food a try.
Further along is the Amarta Hotel and Restaurant. The bar/restaurant here has a laid back charm with sand on the floor underneath huge bench tables and atmospheric lighting and music - a great place to relax and have a few drinks. Serves good value Asian and European cuisine. There appears to be a strong European connection at the Amarta with German specialities on the menu as well as a good selection of Western, Balinese and Indonesian dishes.
Although Villa Talia Vashti is actually only a couple of hundred metres away from Mendira beach, we can no longer just walk to the beach as we used to due to villa developments in between, but you can still easily walk to the restaurants and hotels at Mendira Beach by means of an easy and pleasant 5 minute walk through Mendira village.