As far as tourism is concerned, Candi Dasa was a sleepy fishing village until it was discovered by the hippie in the 60’s. The village is laid out along the main road, with guest houses, small hotels, warungs and a few bars. Back in the 1990’s Candi Dasa enjoyed more business than it does now. Flicking through a guide book from the early 90’s, it says “Candi Dasa is a nice, relatively unspoiled getaway if you want fine dining, few sellers, and nothing to do but soak up the sun by day, or go diving by day, and lull yourself to sleep with the sound of crickets and crashing surf by night.”
The village of Candi Dasa was actually a settlement going back before the 11th Century. The temple, which is located on the mountain side of the main road, across from the lagoon, contains a statue of Hariti, the Buddhist fertility Goddess. The old name ‘Cilidasa’ means ’10 children’ (Pan Brayut).
Basically what happened was that Candi Dasa got popular, the white sand beach drawing people from Kuta. Local’s destroyed the reef by using it for limestone for building. Without the reef, there was nothing to stop the ocean washing away the beach, so it did.
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Now what you have is a strip of tourist places, lined up on the main street. The view is as lovely as ever, with the green hills in the background, and there is a remnant of the beach left.
As my guidebook points out, Candi Dasa grew up around the lagoon, which lies next to the beach. The area that is called Candi Dasa now stretches to other villages, some containing high end hotels. The village of Manggis in particular, is home to a few luxury hotels, including the Amankila.