Being a country girl at heart and having lived on Gili Air, Indonesia for 15 months, I’m not a lover of crowds or traffic, but I do like a place to chill with a nice atmosphere. So I like Canggu.
Canggu is located on the south west coast of Bali, Indonesia close to Tanah Lot, Kuta and Seminyak.
With its bohemian-come-surfer vibe, the area is growing popular with digital nomads. With enough gluten free, smoothie bowl cafes to suit yogis, and plenty of meat feasting establishments to give Aussie surfers the sweats.
Like to party? Canggu delivers, but isn’t completely over run with tourists (yet!).
Let us show you why we enjoyed this part of Bali, and 15 of the best things to do in Canggu.
In contrast to Gili Air, Bali has scooters and traffic everywhere, it’s bumper to bumper. Over the last 20 years, Bali has become a very popular destination with tourists, firstly Kuta then Ubud then Seminyak.
Canggu is now on the up, so when it was mentioned to me as an alternative, I had to give it a go.
Canggu is on the west coast of Bali, Indonesia, about 20km from Denpasar airport. It’s 11km north of Seminyak, and 15km north of Kuta. Bear in mind the traffic whenever you travel. A 30 minute journey can often take twice as long.
What I discovered, is that you don’t need to visit anywhere else in Bali when you are Canggu. It ticks all boxes … and more. Beaches, Surf, Party, Rice terraces, Yoga, Temples, Chic cafes, Organic healthy eating, dirty big lamb burgers for meat overloads, Street Art and lovely Sunsets.
Here is my list of the 15 best things to do in Canggu.
There are five beaches around Canggu; Batu Balong, Echo Beach (Batu Mejan), Berawa, Perenean and Nelayan. Take your pick or visit all, but do note they are made up of black sand. We also went to Batu Belig in Seminyak, where big waves were crashing into the shore.
The two main beaches are Batu Balong (Canggu Beach) and Batu Mejan (Echo Beach).
Canggu has plenty of surf spots, so if you’re a surfer, grab your board and head for the highest waves. Most scooters for hire have surf board racks.
If you want to learn to surf, the best place is Batu Balong beach. It has two breaks with a sandy bottom so you won’t hurt yourself when you fall off (notice I say “when”). There are plenty of places on the beach to hire a board or take a lesson. If you want to take surfing to the next level, you can stay in surfer accommodation and buy a surf/stay package.
Cost: 50,000 IDR for 2 hours board rental, or 350,000 IDR for a 2 hour surf lesson
There is a lot of street art in Canggu. New murals are popping up daily, then some are painted over. Searching for street art is a fantastic way of navigating your way around a new area, taking you to places you may not have usually visited. There is so much art here, we ended up using some murals as a point of reference. If you love street art, you will love Canggu.
“The Shortcut” is a small, bumpy, pot-hole road between Batu Balong and Berawa Beach. At the Batu Balong end is Cloud 9, a lovely café serving healthy, organic food all day. For breakfast one morning, we enjoyed eggs benedict with spinach overlooking a green field (and the busy road).
Whilst scootering around, you will undoubtedly pass many rice terraces, so pull your bike over and stop. That’s the beauty about Canggu, you can easily do this. Who doesn’t want that quintessential Bali Rice Terrace photos for their Instagram profile
Old Man’s is the hipster hangout in Canggu. It’s an uber-cool, super relaxed all day venue, brilliantly situated for one of Bali’s best surfing beaches. If you are on the hunt for street art, one of the most famous pieces is on the outside wall. Basically, it’s a must-visit.
Visit any time of day or evening, but sunset is a good time, between 5-6pm it serves happy hour 2-4-1 drinks.
For people on a budget, after sunset drinks, go to the scooter car park underneath the venue where you will find a few local Warungs selling cheap, tasty local food.
Every Thursday starting 7.30pm, at the luxury Tubu Hotel a few metres up from Old Man’s is a cultural evening. Although entrance is free, if you drink or eat here, the bill is subject to 21% tax and service charge.
The best dinner tables are around the stage, but for these you will need to book. You can turn up, but will be seated further away from the stage.
Examples of cost: Soup starter is 75,000 IDR, Nasi Gorang is 120,000 IDR, a Large Bintang 75,000 IDR.
If you want to just have a drink or a taster of what the evening has to offer, there are a couple of sofas at the back of the room.
During our time here we watched the Barong dance and listened to traditional Gamelan music, other traditional dances include Rejang, Topeng Arsawijaya and Baris Gede dances.
After all that scootering, fancy a dip in a pool without getting knocked over by a wave? Head to Ashton Canggu Beach Resort at Batu Balong beach.
Sunday is a good day to do this! Between 3-6pm they serve unlimited cocktails for 300,000 IDR per person. Park your scooter in the free underground parking lot, and take a lift to the 5th floor. There is a bar, a few sofas, swings, lounge chairs both inside and out of the pool which has a “Love Canggu” sign displayed above. This hotel is above a sports bar which shows AFL games all afternoon (if this is your thing).
There are two markets on Sundays, and you can easily go to both.
Samedi Organic Market is open 9am – 2pm with local stallholders that are frequented by expats. There are stalls selling fresh produce, coffee beans, essential oils, hand-made accessories, jewellery and some clothing. There is plenty of food to sample; home-made cheese, focaccia, fruits, vegan brownies, chutneys etc, we couldn’t resist buying a home-made quiche.
In the yoga courtyard at the back is a reasonably priced vegetarian café. It’s a lovely place to sit and order a light snack, soup, smoothie or just a coffee. They suit all dietary requirements (dairy, nut, vegan, gluten).
The second market is The Love Anchor market, located next door to Love Anchor bar in a covered area. They sell clothes, wooden art, handicrafts, silver jewellery, soaps and souvenirs.
The ancient art of Lontar engraving is lost on most tourists, but when someone takes the time to explain to you how it’s made, well, it’s just beautiful.
In the Love Anchor market was a family stall selling these wonderful drawings of Balinese scenes, calendars and bookmarks. He knew we weren’t going to buy as we told him from the start, but he said he loved to talk to people about his family’s business, and passion for this lost art.
Lontar leaves are soaked for days to remove the chlorophyll, then brushed to remove any debris such as small insects, and boiled with a herbal potion to give flexibility and durability to the leaf. The leaves are then pressed for 10 days, to ensure the surface is as flat as possible. Then the slow, meticulous process of engraving begins. Using a small, sharp iron tool to create the design, the design is rubbed over with a dye to give it colour.
Just 30 minutes away from Canggu is one of Bali’s most famous Hindu temples. Pura Tanah Lot which means “Land in the sea”. It’s a small 16th century temple perched on a rocky outcrop, cut off at high tide.
Cost: 60,000 IDR entrance plus 3,000 IDR parking
With an estimated 68 yoga places in Canggu, it’s super easy to find a yoga studio. Healthy living and Canggu go hand in hand. Highly recommended is Desa Seni Yoga (Berawa Beach) which run daily classes suitable from beginners up to advance. As a resort they offer spa and massages, but also run yoga retreats. Cost is 140,000 IDR per class.
At The Practice, Batu Balong Beach, you can do yoga in an outdoor hut surrounded by beautiful landscapes. They run six classes daily which focus more on traditional Tantric Hatha Yoga, so emphasis is more on the spiritual aspect. Cost is 140,000 IDR per class.
Aside from the usual keep fit gyms which can be found in Canggu, there is a climbing gym. Bali Climbing provides an open air gym with the usual equipment, but is also a bouldering gym; a form of rock climbing performed without using ropes. They run classes, help with specific training, and offer instruction for beginners to experts. There’s also a healthy café to replace the lost fluids and food you will undoubtedly have burned off.
Cost: 1 hour gym access: 75,000 IDR, 2 hour full access: 150,000 IDR, 1 hour climbing class 200,000 IDR.
We caught a few sunsets when we were in Canggu. Old Man’s at Batu Balong is good, and at Finn’s Beach Club on Berawa Beach you have a lovely view of the crashing ocean.
However, Echo Beach Club was the best place we found to watch the sunset. There are a couple of Warungs next to it serving great local food as well, so Echo Beach ticks all our boxes.
It’s always Bintang time in Bali, but when the sun has set, some people like to keep the party going. Canggu caters to those who enjoy the nightlife scene.
- Old Man’s is a popular start point and you will find a range of people from backpackers to families to ladies dressed to kill.
- Finn’s Beach Club is slightly more expensive but the beachside view and infinity pool are worth the extra price tag.
- Sand Bar on Wednesday and Sunday; but I have been heard it can get pretty rowdy.
- Pretty Poison has one of the best vibes in Canggu with party nights on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
- If you like Rock n Roll, head to Gimme Shelter, live bands every Wednesday and Saturday, and Open Mic every Monday.
Our self-catering accommodation was Purnama Guesthouse, a simply furnished room in a quiet leafy courtyard off a main road. Facilities included a shared small kitchen if you wanted to make yourself coffee and breakfast in the morning, and a fridge to store your cold beers and food. It was an excellent choice for peace and quiet, it’s just a shame the bed was just a little too soft for both of us.
It was an excellent location close to everything we wanted to see, and within walking distance of Batu Balong Beach. Next door was a small supermarket, and they also hired out scooters.
Hiring a scooter in Bali
Officially you need an International Driving Licence in Bali and throughout Indonesia. Everyone hires a scooter, and hire place don't check if you have a licence. If you don’t have one, you could be fined if you are stopped by the police.
Do note that there is a difference between a fine, and a policeman asking for a “money” not to give you a ticket. The official ticketed fine is around 40,000 – 50,000 IDR, but a policeman may try to ask for a few thousand. Don’t pay. Insist on having a ticket, otherwise you are contributing to police corruption.
ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. Don’t risk your life for a day trip. Yes you will see people posting on Instagram not wearing a helmet with a “sorry Mum” and laughing emoji thinking it’s cool. It’s not. Admittedly the driving pace is slower in Canggu than the rest of Bali, yes you will have “helmet hair”, but honestly, is it really worth the risk? Tourists fall off/accidentally knocked off daily in Bali, don’t be one of the death or injury statistics that are constantly published.
Bali travel information
Location - Bali is an island in Indonesia.
Language – English is widely spoken, but Bahasa Indonesian is the official language.
Currency – Indonesian Rupiah, £1 = 18,000 IDR
Wi-Fi – Available in most places; hotels, homestays, beach bars and restaurants
Climate – Tropical with two seasons; Wet/Monsoon is October to April, Dry is April to October
ATM’s – There are plenty of ATM’s all over Canggu and Bali.
Visa - A 30 day visa is given at the time of arrival in Indonesia (not for all countries, check with your embassy).
Airport – Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, is located 13km south of Denpasar.
Religion – Predominantly Hindu, but also Muslim. Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world.
Have you been to Canggu? How many of these things have you done? What was your favourite thing to do? Tell us in the comment section below!
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