Candelaria is approximately 42 km (26 mi) from the capital town of Iba. It is nestled at the foot of the Zambales Mountains in the east and lies along coastline of the South China Sea in the west, with a total land area of 33,359 hectares (82,430 acres), making it the third-largest town in terms of land area in Zambales. This municipality is known for Uacon Lake, the cleanest lake in Central Luzon, and for its numerous beach resorts.
During the pre-Spanish era, Candelaria was unsettled forest land. It was then a sitio of Masinloc, one of the oldest towns of Zambales. Settlement by Sambal from other parts of Masinloc, who found Candelaria an ideal location to live, played an important role in how this sitio became a town separate from Masinloc in 1870.
The name of the town could have come from the name of the wife of the first Alcalde Mayor, who named the town after her as a birthday gift. There was also a story that the Spanish first saw many candles in this place and called it Candle-Area, a place of many candles; this story is anachronistic, however, as "Candle-Area" would have been an English rather than a Spanish name. It should also be noted that candelaria is also the Spanish word for Candlemas. As the years passed, it was customarily called Candelaria.