The eastern Bali is about the rich volcanic landscape and thriving communities around the majestic Mount Agung and nearby sea. A journey along the Ida Bagus Matra bypass will allow you to make stops at Rendang village to visit Besakih temple, at Padangbai to see Silayukti Temple and Bloo Lagoon village. One will experience the ancient Balinese village at Tenganan, relax at the Candidasa tourist hub and finally dive and snorkel at coral rich shore off AMED and shipwreck at Tulamben.
Rendang Village and Besakih Temple
Rendang village is nestled at the foot of Mount Agung, which erupted in 1963. Today, the landscape is blessed with fertile soil and natural beauty. Rice Paddy and other crops grew marvelously beside the Telga Waja River. A lunch or tea is recommended at Mahagiri restaurant which is situated at the finest spot of the village. From there, one can experience the magnificent panorama view of the Mount Agung quietly guarding the enormous green rice fields in the valleys below.
Pura Besakih, the ‘mother temple’ is just outside the village. Besakih temple traces its origin back to 8 th century and is the largest temple complex on the island of Bali. Besakih began as an ancient terraced sanctuary for worshipping the god of the volcano, Gunung Agung. Over the years, the complex was enlarged to about 30 temples and hundreds of shrines. The most important temple is Pura Penataran Agung Besakih with its many multi-roofed meru (pagodas). Only worshiper can enter, but visitors can circle the center walls to glimplse inside and for spectacular views beyond.
Legend recounts that the god Indra created the holy spring of Tirta Empul near Tampaksiring by piercing the ground. It is still believed to have healing power, and throngs of people from all over Bali visit the pools for ritual purification. The temple is a lovely place with lily ponds and springs spouting from mossy walls.
Padangbai is where travelers can catch daily ferry to Lombok Island. It is also home to the Silayuki Temple built by the same holyman who built Tanah Lot. Bloo Lagoon beach is a great spot for snokelling and fishing. The harbor village in Padangbai offers a colorful and twinkling nightlife with charming seaside cafe. En route to Padangbai from Besahih temple, there is Tirta Ganga, a maze of pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden and stone carvings and statues. Strictly, the name refers to the water palace built here in 1946 by the Raja of Karangasem.
Tenganan and Candidasa
Tenganan is one of several ancient villages where Bali Aga, the original Balinese people live. The village is located amidst the hills of East and West Hills. The Bali Aga maintains a strong tradition and can only marry someone within their own village to be recognized as a true village citizen. The village was surrounded by an old brick wall. The Tenganan people preserve strong and distinct craft traditions such as basket seaving, lontar and weaving of double and single ikat. The most famous double Ikat is called Tenun Pageringsingan, which means ‘no ill’. Various religious ceremonies of mystical spirit such as ‘Pandan War’ take place in Tenganan every year.
Not too far away north to Tenganan is Candidasa, a popular tourism town. With nice restaurants and hotels, Candidasa is a good starting point for exploring the east of Bali.
Diving at AMED and Tulamben
As a result of the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung, the northeast region of Bali is known for its black sandy beaches. The rich minerals from the lava create a rich environment for the development of coral system that supports a diverse marine life.
Driving from south to North, traveler will first pass the seaside village AMED which means ‘salt’ in Balinese. Amed is known for fishing and sea salt. This little charming village is good for water activities.
Further north, the US liberty shipwreck in Tulamben is one of the most popular dive sites in Bali. With beach access, it is also one of the safest shipwreck diving sites in the world, even suited for beginners. The shipwreck was hit and sank in 1942 and now lies on a black sand shelf that slopes from 6-30 meters. The shipwreck is covered by a striking array of coral reefs and an abundance of various fishes including Sweet Lips, surgeon fishes and many more. It is also common to see the schooling of Big-Eye trevally. Sometimes, diver can spot the great Barracuda.