Nusa Dua is a mass tourism enclave. The Balinese are actually restricted from entering Nusa Dua including the beaches, which are meant to be public by law. Most of the hotels are managed by western hotel groups but owned in part or full by members of the Suharto family via anonymous jakarta based proxy companies; their father’s regime murdered thousands of innocent Balinese and requisitioned this land and elsewhere at knock down prices by abusing compulsory purchase legislation.
Pluses: The company of thousands of other deluded tourists who believe they are experiencing Bali and the false feeling of comfort all their combined bleating brings.
Minuses: Overpriced restaurants, shops and bars. Overrated accommodations. The vast majority of your tourist dollars leave Bali. The realization that many of the hotel staff are Javanese. The realization that every Asian guest to a man staying at the same resort as you does so at a vastly lower room rate (probably 50% lower); the real rate before it gets hyped along with the actual quality of the hotels.
Amed is actually comprised of a number of villages on the Eastern coast of Bali. Once a destination for hippies and backpackers eager for the delights of a thatched bungalow in Bali’s hottest (temperature wise) area, now home to a large and often exceptionally good low to middle price range number of bespoke hotels and villas. Very little to do besides relax, dive and snorkel, the land here is very poor which means there are very few palm trees to shade the ground from the scorching sun. Amed is not only the hottest but also driest part of bali, which does make it a good choice for tourists during the wet / low season, although expect humidity.
Pluses: A generally unspoiled area of Bali with very few rowdy tourists and no hawkers, etc. A good base for scuba and trips to some of the more remote areas of Bali, including the Water Palace and handmade cloth producing areas famous for songket and ikat. Very laid back, very quiet. Clear calm sea waters with frequent dolphin pod and whale school sightings. Very good locally caught seafood restaurants.
Minuses: A long way from the shops!
Candidasa is an area of small villages collectively known as Candidasa. Favored by those who want to avoid the excesses of Kuta, the corporate generic nature of Nusa Dua and the hawkers of Sanur and Lovina. Some shopping and a smattering of restaurants mean guests are not totally beholden to their chosen hotel. Most of the cheap beachfront bungalow operations have now been bought out by group hoteliers.
Pluses: Much more laid back than Kuta and much cleaner sea water than Sanur. Fairly tranquil if, and it is a big if, you are not on the noisy dangerous main road. Candidasa is an excellent base for one of the most picturesque areas of Bali and where much of the traditional arts, crafts and fabrics are made. As long as you do not require long stretches of sandy beaches, Candi has some very good ocean views if you chose your hotel right.
Minuses: There is not much of anything in “Candi” and it has one of the most eroded beaches in Bali, to the point the beach is nonexistent in most places. Blame this on the selfish construction industry a few years ago who thought it would be a great idea to use the coral reef for cement to build the local oil tanker terminal. If you need an example of why it is important to be pro-Balinese and environmentally friendly, Candi beach (or the void that now replaces it) is it.
- Tanjung Benoa
On the peninsula up from Nusa Dua, what used to be a fishing village but has now given over to hotels and water sports while still retaining some balinese authenticity. A long strip of often seriously eroded coastline, due to the fact they stripped the sea of the coral reefs for cement to build hotels only to see the sand wash away as a result. Not a bad place to come and relax by the beach (what there is of it) however.
Pluses: A good choice of hotels many owned by Balinese. Prices generally much lower than Nusa Dua and with some authentic restaurants to chose from. Sea breezes normally make the climate ideal.
Minuses: The other side of the peninsula is a well known illegal effluence dumping ground (together with a huge sewerage treatment plant) which causes problems when the wind is from the wrong direction and also encourages disease carrying mosquitoes.