A local woman makes her morning offerings along Batu Balong beach, as surfers carve up the famous Canggu waves.
A local woman makes her morning offerings along Batu Balong beach, as surfers carve up the famous Canggu waves.

Surfer’s Paradise: Canggu

In Holiday Reviews - Asia, Holiday Reviews - Bali, Islands & Beaches by The H4C Team

Morning surf checks, midday yoga, afternoon Bintangs and sunset cocktails are all part of the daily ‘grind’ in the chilled-out beach haven of Canggu. This charming area of Bali is actually a series of main drags – including the original and most populated centre of Batu Balong, where all the major shops, bars and restaurants are located, and the less crowded enclave of Berawa – all interspersed with rice fields, beautiful little boutiques and relaxed restaurants.

This corner of Bali tends to attract a mix of barefoot beachcombers, mad-keen surfers, fresh-faced health addicts, and digital nomads who figured out long ago that this right here is a little piece of nirvana, for a week, a month or a year: a place to find the slow in a fast-paced life.

Immaculately curated, The Slow offers an ‘immersive experience’ for its guests.
Immaculately curated, The Slow offers an ‘immersive experience’ for its guests.

Savour

There are very few resorts here, so people tend to stay in private villas or boutique hotels – such as The Slow in Batu Balong, the passion project of fashion designer George Gorrow (of Ksubi fame) and his model wife, Cisco Tschurtschenthaler, which brings an element of arty, sophisticated cool to the old village vibe of Canggu. Every element of The Slow is curated to please the aesthetic, from the edgy art on the walls and the on-site store stocking Gorrow’s new menswear line, to the unspeakably chic artisan style of the rooms, the music piped throughout the hotel (a soundtrack – adjustable via in-room dials – crafted by Los Angeles-based Reverberation Radio), to the health-focused food served up in the bistro. Our hot tip: hit up the Sunday brunch from 11am-3pm, washed down with the house special, the Bloody Alice, for the perfect balance of naughty and nice. theslow.id

Canggu offers its own impressive cache of oceanside bars and beach clubs (this is Bali, after all!), with The Lawn a standout for its location overlooking the beach, seated picnic-style set-up on the grass, and in-demand lounges where you can sip on signature cocktails while the sun sinks behind the horizon. Make your way into the always crowded) pool and head straight for the swim-up bar to keep the good times flowing. Bookings are essential here. thelawncanggu.com

La Laguna’s pretty folk-gypsy style is a perfect fit for Canggu’s modern bohemian crowd;
La Laguna’s pretty folk-gypsy style is a perfect fit for Canggu’s modern bohemian crowd;

La Laguna (lalagunabali.com) on the shores of Berawa Beach has long been the go-to destination for modern bohemians, with its vintage wooden gypsy caravans popping up on countless Instagram feeds. At the time of print La Laguna was under renovation, so in the meantime, head to its creators’ latest quirky-cool destination at Echo Beach in Canggu, La Brisa, which takes the signature style of their first establishment and gives it a beach club twist. Rustic Spanish cuisine with a seafood focus and cocktails served under swaying palm trees entice you to settle in for golden hour. labrisabali.com

You could also easily hang from morning to midnight at the bamboo beach hangout of Finns Beach Club, which is set on absolute oceanfront looking directly over the famous waves of Berawa. You’ll need to plan ahead, as daybeds can be booked no less than 24 hours in advance, but it will guarantee you a long, lazy day of swimming in the stunning 30-metre pool, complete with its own swim-up bar and underwater speakers so you don’t miss a beat from the resident DJs. finnsbeachclub.com

Settle in for a posh picnic at The Lawn and enjoy its prime beachside position and swish, wet-edge pool.
Settle in for a posh picnic at The Lawn and enjoy its prime beachside position and swish, wet-edge pool.

Experience

Given the idyllic, laidback vibe of Canggu, it’s no surprise that a community of expat designers and creatives have chosen to make this their home away from home. The good news for travellers? They’ve brought with them some amazing boutiques and shopping options that will satisfy the most serious design nuts and fashionistas.

For modern exotic decor, head to Bungalow Living in Berawa (it’s a Balinese institution now!). You’re guaranteed to find a little slice of the island to bring back home with you when you pay a visit to this delightful boutique/gallery/cafe – I can never resist stocking up on a few of their exquisite wares. bungalowlivingbali.com

Salty hair and sun-kissed skin is the order of the day in Canggu, where the surfing spots range from pro to novice-friendly and stretch out along five kilometres of beachfront. There’s plenty of surf schools at the ready to teach beginners, while advanced boardriders will no doubt find their own kind of paradise.

Surf’s up! Whether you’re a pro or a noob, Canggu has a wave for you. Hire a board at Batu Balong Beach and paddle out on your own, or book a few beginner lessons at one of the many surf schools in the area.
Surf’s up! Whether you’re a pro or a noob, Canggu has a wave for you. Hire a board at Batu Balong Beach and paddle out on your own, or book a few beginner lessons at one of the many surf schools in the area.

Fall in love

This little fisherman’s village offers an alluring brand of escapism, a mix of quiet urbanism (think: vibrant street art, trendy coffee houses and skate parks) and old-school vagabond Bali.

All images by Natalie Bannister