Words & images by Natalie Bannister
If you’re planning a trip to Bali, make sure to include Canggu on your itinerary. 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.
Canggu 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. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, self-care, or connections with fellow travellers, Canggu has it all. It’s one of my favourite parts of Bali. Indulge in the local cuisine, ride the world-class waves, or simply unwind at beach bars while enjoying breathtaking sunsets over the Indian Ocean. Here is a comprehensive guide to all the amazing things you can do in Canggu, Bali.
Savour – Where to Eat & Drink in Canggu
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 (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
Sleep – Where to Stay in Canggu
There are very few big 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
Experience – Canggu Must-Dos
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.
Shop: 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
Every Sunday, the La Brisa Farmers Market transforms the hipster hang-out spot by the beach into a lively and bustling marketplace. Visitors can browse through a variety of stalls offering organic products, handmade clothing, fresh fruits and vegetables, and much more. The market is set in a beautifully decorated location with stunning sea views, adding to the overall charm and appeal of the experience.
Do: 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.
If you’re looking for a unique experience in Canggu, why not try your hand at pottery at Nusa Clay Club? This independent pottery school, run by Susan, offers classes for all skill levels. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of working with clay and using a potter’s wheel in a hands-on environment. It’s a great way to kick off your stay in Canggu and try something different!
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.