Things to Do
Clearly the main thing to do at Villa Talia Vashti is to relax and enjoy the villa and the snorkeling and the beach and let the staff look after you. If however you are interested in getting out and about and experiencing Bali then there are loads of things to do if you want to. Bali is blessed with an amazing culture and history and the people are very friendly and welcoming particularly in the less touristed east side of the island where Villa Talia Vashti is located.
The villa also has easy access to some of Bali’s most important historical attractions as well as its more modern attractions, in particular scuba-diving. While you can make use of the agents in Candidasa to set up tours, sometimes it is better just to hire a car and guide/driver and just go. The staff at Villa Talia Vashti will of course be there to help arrange things for you should you need it.
Diving & Snorkeling
Bali is a great place to dive, and most of the best and most easily accessible dive sites are in the East of Bali close to Villa Talia Vashti. Candidasa has many agents who will arrange trips and equipment to enable even the most inexperienced divers to be able to enjoy these sites and our staff our happy to help arrange a trip should you wish to go.
For Beginner and Intermediate divers, probably the best dive is the Liberty Wreck at Tulumben which is less than 45 minutes drive from Villa Talia Vashti. Lying on a black sand bottom, you can pick your depth on the wreck which lies as shallow as 3m, and goes as deep as 30m. The fish life on the wreck is amazing, and personally I love the atmospheric swim-thrus that you can do. Watch out also for some of the smaller creatures that can be found on the wreck including sea horses (on the fan corals on the deeper edge of the wreck) ghost pipefish and at least two different varieties of garden eels in the shallow lying sands inshore of the wreck. The wreck is also great for snorkelers as well.
There are also however excellent dives close to Padang Bai (less than 15 minutes from Villa Talia Vashti) and Amed (about 40 minutes away). For more advanced divers some of the best diving in Bali can be had at the small islands that you can see directly offshore from Villa Talia Vashti (Gili Tepekong, Gili Mimpang & Gili Biaha) that can easily be reached by boat direct from Candidasa.
For more advanced divers there are some fantastic dives off Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan (the large islands across from Villa Talia Vashti). Although the currents can be strong and it requires a 40 minute boat ride, it is all worth it to see giant sting rays, eagle rays and particularly manta rays (off manta point) as well as in summer one of Bali's most well known sights the amazing giant sun fish.
For more detailed information on dive sites in Bali see http://www.divesitedirectory.co.uk/indonesia_bali.html#overview
Some of the best snorkeling in Bali can be found just out in front of the Villa. The protecting coral reef means that currents never get very strong, and the depth is never more than a couple of metres which is ideal for snorkeling. There are several great sites with pristine coral including a fascinating stag coral community with many thousands of small fish directly opposite the villa. As well as the colourful fish and corals we have seen loads of interesting and unusual creatures such as scorpion fish, blue spotted rays, lobsters and razor fish. Turtles are common, sometimes huge ones! and also barracudas, nudibrachs, and various eels including starry eels and harlequin snake eels. On the outer reef I have seen giant Jack fish more than 100kg and huge schools of parrot fish.
Alternatively there is also some more great snorkeling only a short drive away, including Blue Lagoon (15 minutes); the Tulumben wreck (40 minutes) and Amed (40 minutes). If the sea is too rough for snorkeling in front of the villa, it normally means that the sea is flat calm at the latter two sites.
Snorkeling equipment is available to use free of charge at the villa.
Villa Talia Vashti is situated a few minutes walk from the traditional village of Mendira, and there are regular ceremonies and festivals in the village often involving the staff from the villa, as well as in the other traditional villages in the surrounding countryside. Just check with Ketut the Villa manager what is going on, and he will make all arrangements for you to attend.
There are a myriad of ceremonies in every village in Bali, but there are also major ceremonies that are celebrated by the whole island such as Galungan and Nyepi, and in particular at the two most important temple complexes in Bali which are Besakih and Goa Lawah, both of which are close to Villa Talia Vashti. Also watch out for the spectacularly beautiful funeral ceremonies (Ngaben) that occur throughout the year, but are most common in the dry season.
Goa Lawah - Bat Temple
An amazing cave temple and home to literally thousands of bats (plus a fair few snakes that eat the bats!). Less than 15 minutes drive from Villa Talia Vashti and easy to find as it is on the main road to Denpasar & the airport.
Besakih - The Mother Temple of Bali
Beautiful temple in spectacular location high on the slopes of Gunung Agung. A scenic drive which takes approximately 1 hour from Villa Talia Vashti. The temple has now taken action against the touts and enforced guiding that used to be a problem, and is now a much more pleasant place to visit.
One of three Water Palaces built by the last Raja. Cool springs feed bathing pools and ornamental lily ponds full of massive Koi carp. On the way you will pass spectacular rice paddy scenery and great views of Gunung Agung (the biggest volcano in Bali). Tirta Gangga is just over 20 minutes from Villa Talia Vashti on the way to Tulumben.
Amazing medieval village, with no roads, only a central square surrounded by ancient houses. Home of the "Bali Aga", an original community, surviving from the pre-Hindu time, which strictly adheres to a traditional life of ritual and ceremony. Famous for sacred hand woven Geringsing-double ikat cloth and for crafting music instruments such as Genggong, a bamboo harp and Gamelan Slunding and iron metallophone orchestra. Only 3km from Villa Talia Vashti and Candi Dasa and really interesting. The most famous ceremony is the Perang Pandan, a unique & colourful Bali Aga ritual held in Tenganan Gerinsing, usually around June/July.
Once the centre of the most powerful Balinese Kingdom, Klungkung is famous for the finely detailed paintings portraying vivid scenes from heaven and hell on the walls and roof of the Court of Justice. Only 20 minutes from the villa.
Small inland town pleasantly set amongst some beautiful rice paddies with regular festivals and ceremonies and a strong claim to be the cultural heart of Bali. Despite the increasing numbers of tourists, Ubud still retains its charm. Ubud is an attractive hour's drive through the hills and rice paddies from Candi Dasa.
Ubud is an attractive hour's drive through the hills and rice paddies from Candi Dasa, or alternatively why not also stay part of your trip in Villa Kalisha, our sister villa which is only a short drive from the centre of Ubud.
Bali Safari & Marine Park
Bali Safari & Marine Park is an easy 30 minute drive from the villa. I think this is probably our kids favourite place in the world, and with very good reason. Exceptionally well run, reasonably priced for what you get, which is a great safari experience, quality aquarium, huge cultural show involving hundreds of people, elephants, ducks and more and a fun park and so much more. You can also have (a rather expensive but worth it) lunch just metres from the lions who are on the other side of a glass wall, and the glass goes below the lake so the kids can see all the fish as well. We tend to go for the whole day and take swim stuff so the kids and relax and cool off in the kids pool area at the end of the day. Highly recommended for kids and adults alike. More details at http://www.balisafarimarinepark.com
Fishing & Boat Trips
Padang Bai (15 minutes drive from Villa Talia Vashti) is the jumping off point for ferries to Lombok, and boats across to the relaxed islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. There are also nice small beaches either side of the small town featuring good snorkelling and diving. Day trips for fishing, diving or just going to a nice beach can be arranged at reasonable prices from the jukung (local boat) that is always moored at Mendira beach just a few minutes walk from the villa.
Yes apparently only one of three places in the world where you can take a trip on a real submarine. Less than 10 minutes drive from Villa Talia Vashti, the tour operators will pick you up for free, and the submarine takes you down to 30m before steering along the same reef in Amuk Bay that lies in front of Villa Talia Vashti. Although it is expensive at US$80/person including a buffet lunch, it is great fun especially for kids, which is great as under 5s go free, and other kids are just more than half price. You can also dive with the submarine, something I have planned to do, but not got around to yet, but it looks like great fun, and being able to wave at your kids inside the submarine would make it even better for the little ones.
Trekking & Hiking
There are numerous opportunities for trekking and hiking around Bali and Candi Dasa in particular, from gentle walks to more challenging treks into the hills around Candi Dasa with great views of Gunung Agung. Most companies in Candi Dasa can arrange this for you if you want, and we particularly recommend the walk from Tirta Gangga to Tenganan, which takes 4 hours or so but is easy enough for the kids to do. For the even more active amongst you the Bali Marathon is held every April in Candi Dasa.
Balinese Cooking Course
It is possible to experience either a two-day or a half-day course to learn Balinese cooking at Bali’s original and most famous cooking school the Alila Manggis, which is only a 5 minute drive from Villa Talia Vashti.
Organising your own personal massage at Villa Talia Vashti is great, but if you want a full on spa experience, then the Alila is just 5 minutes away and offers a full on pamper session for pretty reasonable prices – recommended for a splurge.
Most of the agents in Candi Dasa can arrange a number of different activities including White Water Rafting; Mountain Biking; 4WD Excursions; day trips to Lombok or even Java as well as trips to other sights in Bali. There are a number of specialist yoga retreats in the Candidasa area, and several are only a short walk from the villa, and so we can arrange this for you as well if you are interested.