Beach

Visiting: Ko Lanta, Thailand

Photo by Majestic Bar

Thailand’s coast conjures visions of calm, turquoise waters, white sand beaches lined with palm trees, and exotic islands offering beach bungalows, cheap drinks and delicious food. But which is right for you? This was the question we asked ourselves as we readied for a trip to the Thai islands. Though we had heard plenty about Phi Phi, Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Samui, it wasn’t until we stumbled upon a glowing review of Ko Lanta that we felt we had found the island just for us.

Klong Nin Beach, Ko Lanta

WHY KO LANTA?

Ko Lanta is famed for its long, quiet beaches overlooking the tranquil waters of the Andaman Sea, its gorgeous sunsets, chill vibe, and refreshingly undeveloped shores. A short boat trip from Phi Phi, or a van ride from the mainland, Ko Lanta is popular with couples, families and expats looking for some distance from the party scene. While those who seek it can still find nightlife, Ko Lanta’s wild landscape is its real draw, and a beacon to those who value the healing power of nature.

GETTING THERE

Ko Lanta Yai, also known as Ko Lanta, is the larger of twin islands off the west coast of Krabi Province. Ko Lanta Noi, the smaller, less populated of the two, is closer to the mainland. These islands along with fifty others comprise Mu Ko Lanta National Park, offering exploration, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving adventures. Ko Lanta used to be quite difficult to reach, but a bridge completed in 2016 connecting Noi and Yai has improved accessibility.

We traveled by boat (on a backpackers budget) from Phuket, Thailand, and booked our trip through Phuket Ferry, paying a few extra dollars for a shared ride from our hotel to Rasada Pier (much cheaper than taking a taxi).

On the way.

Our 4-hour trip from 'Phuket to Lanta’ started by sailing directly into a storm. But by the time we approached Phi Phi where we were to change vessels, the sun had emerged to shine brightly onto the island’s mystical limestone cliffs and azure waters. As we approached Maya Bay, however, the rain returned forcing us to surrender as it soaked our luggage, and us, while changing boats. Despite the sudden downpour, we made our connection and for the rest of the journey enjoyed the scenery, watching the densely forested Ko Lanta Noi and Yai, each lined with a mix of pine and palm trees, come into view. We passed a long sand bar leading to the mainland, under the newly built bridge, and with our bags in tow, climbed to shore at the colorful Saladan Pier.

Saladan Pier.

While onboard, we had arranged a shared ride to our new digs, and after paying our entrance fee to the island ($2 each), shuffled into the back of a covered pick up truck with eight others, piling our luggage on the floor between us. At Klong Nin Beach (or MOO 5 on Google Maps), we exited the truck onto a dirt road and headed for our bungalow already knowing we had made the right choice.

 

LET THE FUN BEGIN

 

TRANQUIL WATERS

Much of our time on Ko Lanta was spent soaking up rays, swimming in the gentle sway of the Andaman Sea, and talking for hours while we played in the waves. We ran, did yoga, and took long walks on the beach exploring the coastline. It felt wonderful to just be. Listening to the rock of the waves was so relaxing, and at night we occasionally glimpsed glowing fish and plankton as they wove through dark waters.

Good to Know: At times we thought we were being stung in the water, but never saw any evidence of stinging sea creatures, nor did we emerge with any marks or adverse effects. After a hard rain, the sensation disappeared for the rest of our stay.

 

EXPLORE KO LANTA BY MOTORBIKE

We’d read ahead that another of Ko Lanta’s highlights is its fresh pavement. Despite being relatively undeveloped, motorists can enjoy easy cruising on straight, smooth roads that roll up and down the island’s hills, making it simple and fun to explore.

We rented a motorbike for just 200 Baht (about $6), and filled the tank to the brim for less than another $5. Then we were off to eat lunch at a precariously perched cliff side restaurant, discover hidden beaches, gorgeous views, and some of the island’s natives: monitor lizards and naughty macaques.

 

SNORKELING AT THE NATIONAL PARK

We enjoyed a lovely day of snorkeling Koh Ha and Ko Rok at three locations in Mu Ko Lanta National Park, plus lunch on the beach and a fun boating experience. For a view into our day at sea, check out our snorkeling article and video

Koh Ha

 

WHERE WE STAYED

We fell in love with Ko Lanta, and ended up staying for twenty glorious days. The first half of our trip was spent at The Hut, a group of rustic bungalows directly across the street from Klong Nin Beach found on AirBnB for $15 a night. Run by a French and Thai couple, Pat and Louise were wonderful hosts who made good company and truly helped us when we were in need (like chasing down our bank card after it was eaten by an ATM at 711).

Our bungalow was cute and simple with an adorable porch adorned with a festive hammock. The interior was sparse – a bed, mosquito net, and bathroom – but you don't need much to be content on Ko Lanta. Though we did miss AC on hot nights, the room came complete with a ceiling fan. Some more plusses: the Internet was great and Louise’s home cooked Thai dishes were delicious. We often sat in the open-air restaurant working at bamboo tables sipping smoothies or iced coffees and petting Pong, the resident dog, and his cat friends before heading to the beach in the afternoon. (We worked while we traveled.)

Good to Know: A nearby mosque delivered calls to prayer on loudspeakers throughout the day beginning at dawn and even on the beach. It was strange at first to hear chanting coming from the palm trees, but easy to get used to. Helpful to know if you're a light sleeper!

The Hut Lanta.

After extending our stay at The Hut, we eventually caved to our desire for AC and moved down the street to Lanta Nature Beach Resort where we snagged the cheapest room they had for about $25 per night. The hotel had 50 rooms compared with The Hut's 10, certainly making it less personal, but our room was at the back of the property close to the jungle, which created a feeling of privacy, and our AC worked great. The hotel’s beach access, restaurant, small pool, and rooms spread across both sides of the main road created a nice ambiance. We loved eating breakfast overlooking the beach and dipping into the ocean between bouts of work at the hotel restaurant. An added bonus was booking a day of snorkeling directly through the hotel.

Lanta Nature Beach Resort

 

FOOD & DRINK

We spent most of our time on Klong Nin Beach, which offered a variety of restaurants, bars and shops. These were our favorites around the neighborhood:

Majestic Bar – With lawn chairs on the beach offering ocean views of gorgeous sunsets, Majestic Bar had tasty drinks and the longest happy hour of the restaurants we visited. The staff was very sweet and always welcomed us when we returned. The bar doesn't serve food, but partners with the restaurant next door, which delivers snacks and meals to your table while you dip your toes in the sand. Get there early for prime seating.

Rasta Baby – Overlooking the beach, Rasta Baby had happy hour specials at sunset, tasty margaritas, live reggae on Friday nights, and a cozy, cool atmosphere featuring pillows on the floor, tiny bamboo tables and buoys hanging from the ceiling. The bohemian shop in front offered beautiful handmade bags, crystal and shell-adorned necklaces, clothing and more.

Richey’s – Also on the beach, Richey’s had great Thai dishes that were some of the cheapest on the water. The atmosphere was warm and had more of a family vibe.

The Monkey Buziness Cafe – This cute café selling coffee, tea, ice cream, sweet treats and some savory dishes has outdoor café seating decorated with vintage coffee bags and a store inside selling locally made crafts. The Old School Iced Coffee was our favorite.

 

CONCLUSIONS

Ko Lanta was so much better than we could have ever imagined. It was the perfect island get away, and one of the most relaxing places we’ve been.

Have you visited to Ko Lanta? Tell us what you thought!

 

SNAPSHOTS

Snorkeling in Thailand: Koh Rok & Koh Ha

Thailand’s shoreline is known for its picturesque ivy speckled cliffs and gemmy aquamarine tide ideal for water adventures like scuba diving and snorkeling.

During a month long stint on Ko Lanta, an island in the Andaman Sea off of Krabi in eastern Thailand, we experienced an unforgettable day of snorkeling at Koh Ha and Koh Rok, part of Mu Ko Lanta National Park (comprising the southern tip of Ko Lanta and several small nearby islands).

A strip of Ko Lanta's shoreline.

Walking up and down Klong Nin Beach, our stomping grounds for the month, we discovered a plethora of tour companies offering snorkeling and scuba packages of all varieties almost everywhere we turned, each featuring day trips, overnights, and a seemingly inexhaustible list of islands to choose from for an excursion.

After doing our own research, we identified Koh Ha as our top choice for a day on the sea: a group of five limestone islands jutting out of the ocean to form an aqua lagoon, and booked a tour of three snorkeling locations, including lunch at the national park. The full day out cost 1,800 Baht each (about $55 a pop) and was absolutely worth it.

The strait between Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai.

Our package explored Koh Ha and Koh Rok, consisting of the islands Koh Rok Nok and Koh Rok Nai, which are popular for their shared crystal clear strait, the potential for sea turtle sightings, and spotting large monitor lizards patrolling the shore.

Have a look at our video for a view into the adventure, and read on for more details about our tour followed by snapshots at the end of this article.

Our tour began early, with our bright green boat (as advertised in the brochure) set to pick us up on the beach in front of our hotel at 8:00 AM. But as things sometimes go in life, the boat was late and the pick up turned out to be farther down the beach than we were told (lost in translation?), but we made it.

Once aboard, the boat began to immediately experience engine trouble causing us to turn back to shore where we waited for the crew to complete the necessary repairs: about 45 minutes. Some guests left during this time, but we didn’t mind sitting on the beach waiting it out. Meanwhile, the friendly captain assured us that the crew would extend our trip, affording our group the same amount of time at the islands as promised during booking. This turned out to be exactly as he described and we enjoyed a full day out on the water. When all was fixed, we returned to the boat and headed toward Koh Rok.

Two of the cliffs comprising Koh Ha.

The speedboat took about an hour splashing over the waves, and soon we were sailing between the tree-covered islands that form Koh Rok's lagoon. Eager to get underwater, our caravan of 15 jumped in to explore what the site had to offer. We dove two different points, swimming amongst tropical fish, a group of small clear squid, over colorful, textured coral patches and spiny sea urchins waving in the current.

We stopped for a pre-prepared lunch on the island, which also offers camping, and enjoyed more snorkeling off the beach, reveling in the opal waters, and digging our toes into the most powdery sand we’ve ever felt.

The national park at Koh Rok.

After lunch, we were back on the boat ferrying to Koh Ha for more snorkeling amongst beautiful plant dusted cliffs jutting out of the sea. A protected cove roped off to warn ships from entering offered sightings of more tropical fish, enormous clams, coral reefs, and bright blue and pink starfish.

An hour or so of fun and play later, our troop piled back into the speedboat and shipped off to Ko Lanta with satisfied smiles on our faces, arriving back at our hotel just before sunset.

A boat moored at Koh Ha.

This journey into the ethereal, mysterious and otherworldly universe of the sea remains one of the most memorable during our travels in Asia. It’s these kind of experiences that can deliver a renewed perspective and awe for the ocean, its incredible creatures, the importance of this ecosystem, and the diversity it contains.

 

SNAPSHOTS

What’s In the Water?

Our Global Waste Problem

& What We Can Do About It

A trash pile on the shore of Balangan Beach in Bali, Indonesia. Heaps like this are burned routinely as one of the most common forms of waste management on the island.

A trash pile on the shore of Balangan Beach in Bali, Indonesia. Heaps like this are burned routinely as one of the most common forms of waste management on the island.

It’s awesome to see that this year’s Earth Day was all about plastic pollution awareness, microplastics, ocean degradation and waste management issues. We encountered this problem daily while traveling through Southeast Asia in 2017, and it was eye opening. What struck us most – outside of the kind people we met, the gorgeous scenery, warm cultures and inspiring relics we had the fortune to explore – was litter, practically everywhere, and namely: plastic.

We first encountered the monster in Bali. It was my birthday. We had just landed 24 hours prior after flying across the world from Boston to Denpasar, surviving a harrowing lightning storm and the joys of three consecutive flights. We rested up and set off to spend our first day exploring the Island of the Gods. Months earlier, I had declared to my husband that all I wanted to do on my birthday was swim in the Indian Ocean, and I had been imagining the moment ever since. So, we set out to make that happen.

Denpasar is the main international airport in Bali, and a stone’s throw from the famed surf haven, Kuta Beach. We left our hotel and strolled through the busy downtown, past store after store brimming with cheap boardwalk style souvenirs. We’d read ahead of time that Kuta is known as a westernized party town, but also learning that it’s a surfer’s paradise, we planned to spend a few days there before heading off to quiet Canggu. We’d also read that travelers to Kuta have a reputation for being a bit “trashy,” but what was really trashed, it turned out, was the beach!

We got to Bali during rainy season (we arrived in January – the wet season is October - April), which partially accounts for the exorbitant amount of waste we discovered scattered across the beach as far as you could see. The sand was littered top to bottom with all manner of garbage: straws, plastic bags, flip flops, food wrappers, bottles, cups, broken glass, beer bottles, and plenty of other unidentifiable debris. We were more than a little grossed out, but still determined to take a dip in the ocean. It turned out that meant swimming through a sea of garbage. All the same types of waste found on the beach, and more, floated by, swirled around, and flowed in and out on every wave making it actually impossible to be in the water without having trash touching some part of our bodies.

Beach goers wade past mounds of trash after a beach clean up in Kuta, Bali, to enjoy some of the island's best surf. During the rainy season, garbage washes ashore in Bali after it's swept in from other nearby islands. Beach litter is further compounded by the island's waste problem, in which garbage is frequently left on roadsides near waterways, eventually seeping into rivers and streams that lead to the sea.

Beach goers wade past mounds of trash after a beach clean up in Kuta, Bali, to enjoy some of the island's best surf. During the rainy season, garbage washes ashore in Bali after it's swept in from other nearby islands. Beach litter is further compounded by the island's waste problem, in which garbage is frequently left on roadsides near waterways, eventually seeping into rivers and streams that lead to the sea.

We didn’t last very long, and struggled with seeing other beach goers playing Frisbee, swimming and surfing as if nothing was wrong.

How could we let this become the new normal?

We all knew that trash on the beach wasn't dumped there by some malicious company, or left behind by any one person or elusive malcontent. It couldn't possibly. So, that meant it wasn’t really anyone’s trash, but it was everyone’s. Ultimately, we couldn't pretend we weren’t swimming through the contents of a trash bag, and exited the ocean dejected, near tears.

We walked a little further down the beach, but just seeing more of the same, headed back to our hotel disgusted, disturbed and heartbroken by what we'd seen washing in and out of shore.

That night and the months that followed we poured over stats on ocean pollution, litter, and waste management programs in Southeast Asia. What we discovered both through our experience and research was that organized waste management and recycling programs were sorely lacking in the region. Not coincidentally, a 2015 report from the Ocean Conservancy found that China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are the five countries responsible for half of all plastic leaked into the ocean globally.

An insightful mural at Old Man's in Canggu, Bali.

An insightful mural at Old Man's in Canggu, Bali.

Our research also confirmed resoundingly that throwaway plastics are a serious problem. The type of trash we saw most often from the beaches of Bali, Indonesia, and Borneo, Malaysia, to the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Phuket, Thailand, was food packaging waste: candy wrappers, straws, chip bags, bottles, drink pouches, and so on. They were everywhere.

These flimsy pieces of plastic aluminum composites are some of the most difficult to recycle because there is little market for their reuse. There are innovative companies out there like Terracycle who collect these items and turn them into new products, but these types of solutions are not yet the norm, and in some cases it can still cost the consumer to recycle, making these services inaccessible to those with lower incomes.

Hard to recycle plastics aside, we learned that recycling programs in high volume, tourist heavy regions of Southeast Asia are few and far between. Further research revealed that developing countries often lack the resources and infrastructure to provide widespread waste disposal services in general, which has in turn led to a lack of local knowledge on how to recycle properly.

As a result, in many parts of the developing world trash is either left on the side of the road in open basins or in plastic bags that are shredded by dogs, cats, monitor lizards and other hungry critters prior to collection, dropped into waterways, brought to illegal dumps, littered, or burned. Burning garbage as a way to eliminate it was the most frequent disposal method we saw. Families, farmers, and business owners alike all practiced it. The smell of burning plastic was a constant and familiar scent throughout our travels across the region. That smell hurts on so many levels and definitely isn’t good for you.

Trash awaiting collection on the side of the road in Bali is perched precariously beside a water run off that leads directly to the Indian Ocean.

Trash awaiting collection on the side of the road in Bali is perched precariously beside a water run off that leads directly to the Indian Ocean.

While these disposal methods would still pose environmental problems even if most of our waste were biodegradable, the majority of trash is inorganic. Plastic can take 400 years to decompose, and burning plastic mixed with household trash releases harmful gases such as dioxin and furan that are highly toxic to humans.

All this said, we see a clear and positive shift in recent times where more people the world over  are tackling this harrowing issue; from articles in the mainstream media to viral videos revealing the plastic epidemic and it’s toll on our oceans. In 2018, we know that ocean pollution is the result of our global failure to effectively dispose of waste, and with that realization we also have the opportunity to make lasting and powerful changes. 

Of course, in the areas most affected, people have been combatting pollution for years. Today, it seems these issues and the organizations fighting to alleviate them are finally getting the attention they deserve.

It turned out the trash heap we discovered in Kuta isn’t necessarily the norm year round, but is commonly found during the rainy season when waste left on roadsides is swept into rivers that flow out to sea where it mingles with garbage that washes up from nearby countries and islands. In response to these widespread issues, many organizations are dedicated to reclaiming Bali’s beaches, improving waste disposal services, and educating locals on how they can help. The country has even introduced a plastic bag ban beginning this year.

When we returned to Kuta three weeks later, we headed back to the beach with the intention of documenting what we saw there in January. To our great surprise, there had been a massive beach cleanup. Instead of trash littered across the sand and waves, we saw huge piles of neatly collected garbage lined up and down the beach, awaiting disposal.

It was an incredible feeling to know that all that garbage was once floating freely in the Indian Ocean, and heartening to realize that with awareness and passion, a positive impact can be made.

We feel that if we are to improve the situation, it’s important to know the facts so that we can take responsibility for our actions. In the spirit of Know Stone Unturned, the remainder of this article explores some of the data we collected through our research on this topic, and offers a list of 10 easy ways you can combat plastic pollution with every day choices.

Care for a swim? One rubbish pile among dozens lining Kuta Beach after a massive clean up in February 2017.

Care for a swim? One rubbish pile among dozens lining Kuta Beach after a massive clean up in February 2017.

THE STATS: THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTIC

  • The adult human body is composed of 60% water. Without it, the average person will die in just 3-4 days. Yet, 1 in 9 people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, while 1.8 billion people drink water contaminated with feces.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population will be living in water stressed areas by 2025.
  • For millions of people around the world, the solution to unsafe drinking water is the plastic bottle. Even in regions with access to potable tap water, consuming bottled beverages, usually out of convenience, has become the norm. But our global addiction to ready-made and ‘disposable’ goods is only serving to further foul our waterways.
  • Ironically, producing a bottle of water takes about 6 times the amount of water contained by the end product.
  • In the U.S. alone, the production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil every year. Billions of those bottles then go un-recycled. In fact, 20 billion plastic water bottles wind up in landfills or are incinerated annually.
  • While much of the global waste problem lies in the lack of waste and recycling services in developing countries, developed nations like the United States have just as poor a recycling record. It’s no secret that the U.S. is the biggest producer of waste worldwide. Americans generate nearly 625,000 tons of waste per day, yet our recycling rate is only 35%
  • Even more critical than the lack of services and the dominance of throwaway culture, is our broad disconnection from water consumption and waste production. Water coming out of the tap feels infinite, while trash picked up curbside seems like it’s got a place to go that we never need to think about. Of course, that’s just not true. For all the water on earth, 97% is contained in our oceans, leaving only 3% to fresh water sources (much of which remains in the polar ice caps). And while the oceans absorb about 40% of CO2 emissions, marine plants produce 70% of our oxygen.
  • Life on earth is in many ways sustained by the ocean. We now have eight million tons of plastic finding its way there annually, and that number is increasing.
  • It’s estimated that by 2025 the ocean may contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish, and that by 2050 we can expect more plastic than fish swimming in the ocean. That’s thanks to the nearly 300 million tons of plastic produced each year, 50% of which is produced for single use.
  • Ready for this: more plastic was produced in the last decade than over the course of the last century.
  • Once out at sea, plastic pollution causes serious harm to marine life and birds that either get caught in webs of trash or ingest plastic thinking its food.
  • While it takes hundreds of years to decompose in water, releasing toxic chemicals in the process, plastic breaks down into small pieces called microplastics that are commonly ingested and absorbed by fish, whales, birds, mussels, sea turtles, and many other walks of marine life. Although some species of fish can expel microplastics, most marine animals cannot. For them, ingesting plastics causes a false feeling of being full, which is often fatal.
  • Like eating seafood? You might want to know that every year fish in the North Pacific Ocean ingest 12,000 – 24,000 tons of plastic.
  • As the chemicals found in plastics and metals move up the food chain, they eventually surface in the grocery store, at restaurants, and ultimately on our plates.
  • At this point, the long-standing effects of ingesting microplastics and the chemicals they release are unknown. What we do know is that what affects one area of the food chain affects the entire food chain, and humans are at the top.
 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE: WHAT WE CAN DO TO REDUCE PLASTIC POLLUTION

Water, like air, is constantly cycling. It doesn’t belong to any one person, company, country or town, but to us all. In the same way that water belongs to all of us, so does water pollution. Luckily, everyone can reduce his or her plastic consumption by consciously using less plastic. It’s that simple!

Below are 10 tips on making the switch.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase from this website, helping to support our work at no additional cost to you. We only link to products that we believe in, and truthfully review all products we’ve used.

Klean Kanteen Bottles

1. Say No to Plastic Bottles

The average American uses 173 plastic water bottles each year, but you can avoid this with a reusable canteen. Insulated bottles like Klean Kanteens keep drinks icy cold or toasty warm for hours. The stainless steel interior is easy to clean, too, so you can use it for a variety of beverages. We've had ours for several years, and you can see that they have held up and are well loved.

Photo by PhotoDreamWorldArt

2. Bye, Bye Plastic Bags

Did you know that 100 million plastic bags are used every minute, but usually for only 15 minutes before they’re tossed? There are so many reusable bags out there to help curb the waste. We love those that fit easily in your purse, backpack, or pocket, like Baggu. Their design minimizes fabric waste, and can be shipped back to the company for recycling at the end of their lives.

Home Made Produce and Bulk Food Bags

3. Ditch Plastic Produce Bags

Go the extra mile by foregoing plastic produce bags found at most grocery stores. Check out Life Without Plastic’s food bags for bread, produce, rice, etc. They even have one for your sandwich! I started making my own produce bags out of excess fabric, old shirts, etc. You don’t need a sewing machine for this fun project and they’re a great gift to give, too!

Plastic Drinking Straws and Cups

4. Avoid Plastic Drinking Straws

500 million one-time use plastic straws are thrown away every day in the U.S. You can combat this by choosing a re-useable option when you need one, and letting restaurant staff know you don’t require a straw with your drink. Durable metal straws are a great fit for individuals and restaurants.

Reusable Mugs

5. Opt for a Reusable Mug

Bring a reusable mug to your favorite coffee shop. Often times, brewers give discounts for bringing your own cup! It's easy to find reusable coffee mugs these days, which is great. Klean Kanteen has a good option here as well, including a coffee style lid. If you’re not in the market for another canteen, a re-usable mason jar lid works, too.

 

Abeego Plastic Free Food Wrapper

6. Switch to Plastic-Free Food Storage

Plastic food containers are unhealthy for the environment and humans, too. Research continues to show that chemicals in plastic food containers can leach into food, especially when heated, and have been linked to hormone disorders, diseases and even cancer. Life Without Plastic’s online store is a great resource for food storage containers. We’re obsessed with their plastic free food wraps: pliable, compostable, beeswax wrappers that replace wasteful plastic wrap.

Microbeads Flushed Down the Drain

7. Cut Out Microbeads

Microbeads are non-biodegradable microplastics found frequently in personal care products ranging from toothpaste to face cleansers. Sewage systems are unable to filter them, which means they ultimately wash into our oceans where they become unrecoverable and are often absorbed by marine life. Beat The Microbead lists the products that do and don’t contain them.

Plastic Food Packaging

8. Avoid Packaged Foods

When you need a snack on the go, opt for munchies that aren't pre-wrapped in plastic. (A challenge, we know!) Generally speaking, non-packaged foods are healthier for you, anyway. So this is ultimately a win-win.

I'm A Trash Hero

9. Talk About It

Talking about these issues and sharing the facts is critical to making change. Make a post on social media, tell your loved ones why you recycle, show off your reusable bags at the grocery store. All these things get people thinking, and when it comes to sustainability, awareness is key. Spread the love through the word.

Reduce Reuse Recycle

10. Last But Not Least...

 

 

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE...with Reduce being the key word! Encourage others to do the same, from friends and family, to your workplace, apartment complex, town, and local school system.

CONCLUSIONS

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth said it best when he explained,

“The pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution:

millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner space.”

These words truly speak to the essence of global pollution. If we want to remain a healthy species, care for our world, and offer future generations the beautiful earth we enjoy today, we must become conscious consumers. If shortsightedness is the greatest challenge of our times, then we need to start playing the long game. Change will not arrive by someone else’s doing, but from our own.

The tail of a humpback whale and accompanying spray off of Boston Harbor in New England.

The tail of a humpback whale and accompanying spray off of Boston Harbor in New England.

Canggu, Bali – Where to Eat, Drink, Play & Stay

Indonesia

Canggu is home to one of the premiere surf beaches in Bali, a vibrant but laid back community with much more of a small town feel than its populated neighbors, Seminyak and Kuta. Only 45 minutes from the airport, here, you’ll find temples, rice fields between city blocks, cows grazing on the sides of the road and the white egrets that follow them, pass roosters, hens and chicks, and meet many dogs. The community is quite international, reflected in the many restaurants and shops around town, and artists abound. Enjoy a walk through the streets or down the beach and you’ll discover a burgeoning graffiti scene of beautiful and thought provoking murals. We loved Canggu so much we visited twice, for a total stay of over a month. Below is a list of our favorite places.

 

Old Man's

Old Man's Entrance Canggu Bali

At Old Man’s on Batu Balong Beach you’ll find a happening bar and restaurant open from 7 am til late offering a varied menu from breakfast to dinner including western and Indonesian dishes. The food is great, but the atmosphere is the real draw. The bar is open air, colorfully decorated with cheeky murals to catch your eye from every angle, and the staff changes the seating arrangements daily, keeping it fresh. There’s always entertainment at night, too, from live music to ping-pong and even organized drinking games, if you’re into that. Happy hour is the jam. You’ll see almost everyone carrying two drinks each, and it can get pretty crowded once the sun goes down, so if you want to ensure yourself a table snag one early. You can rent surfboards in the parking lot during the day, too, and shower off at the restaurant when you’re done at the beach.

 

Betelnut Cafe

Betelnut Cafe Facade

Betelnut is a health conscious café offering delicious bites and superfoods. The smoothies are particularly tasty. We loved the dragon fruit betelnut smoothie and the chunky monkey with cacao. This is the kind of place where you can get apple cider vinegar and wheatgrass shots. The smoothie bowls and salads are some of their signature dishes, along with their divine array of cheesecakes. You can hole up here to work from your laptop, too. There’s two floors, an air conditioned space downstairs, and a covered open-air deck with more seating upstairs. For dreamy, drool-worthy food pics, check out their Instagram.

 

Roti Canai

Roti Roti Canggu Bali

Roti Canai is a cafe styled around the roti or chapati, an Indian street food that is similar to nan bread. The café creates sweet and savory crepe style sandwiches, serves a great curry, and has Teh Tarik, a traditional Indian tea that uses condensed milk as a sweetener. The original, hot or iced, is quite tasty. You can get alcohol here, too, if you like. This is the most affordable restaurant we found outside of the local warungs, which we highly recommend, too. The dishes are only a couple of dollars each. To review the menu, click here.

 

Love Anchor

Love Anchor Canggu Bali

We found Love Anchor after wandering into their weekly Sunday Market selling jewelry, clothing, sunglasses, and more at bargain prices. The namesake bar and restaurant offers happy hour everyday and serves up the best margaritas we had in Bali (no ice!). The bartender who goes by Johnny Cash is a character, too. This reggae bar has a pool table, foosball, and an upstairs terrace with hammocks and pillows sprawled out on the floor. The food is Italian, offering mainly super yummy pizza and sandwiches. After happy hour, the prices on the drinks get steep, so mind your watch.

Something to be aware of: Months after we returned to the States, a hack on our bank accounts was traced to an ATM at the plaza, which we used during the Sunday Market. Bank detectives said it was likely a memory film had been placed on the keypad, allowing hackers to gain access to both our pin numbers (and likely those of hundreds of other shoppers). We were fully refunded, and don’t think this had anything to do with Love Anchor or its employees, but urge travelers to use caution whenever using random ATM’s. A good tip is to use ATM's at bank locations during business hours whenever possible.

 

Serenity Eco Guesthouse & Yoga

Serenity Eco Guesthouse_Buddha and Bayan Tree

Serenity is the perfect all in one place to stay in Canggu. Here, you’ll have a dozen yoga classes a day, and the Indian Ocean at your fingertips. The guesthouse is located at the end of a quiet street five minutes from the beach. The onsite health conscious all organic Alkaline Café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the guesthouse has dorm rooms and privates at reasonable rates. Perfect for surfers, yogis, and anyone else looking to detox, eat well and chill out. You’ll meet lots of awesome people, too. The staff and guests are truly great.

Read our full article on Serenity, and watch our video for an inside view of the guesthouse.

 

Batu Balong

Strolling on Batu Balong Beach Canggu Bali

The Indian Ocean is a force! We visited during the rainy season and the surf was very strong. Eight-foot waves greeted beach goers at the shore, making being knowledgeable about what to do if you get caught in a rip tide an important skill. For surfers, the beaches are laid out from beginner to advanced. Beginners should surf at Batu Balong, intermediate surfers at Old Man’s, and for the advanced, Echo Beach. 

A few things to be aware of: The strong tide can also churn up trash from nearby islands, along with whatever garbage gets washed downstream (especially during the rainy season). Beach bums should also be ready to fend off vendors if you choose to lay out on the sand between Batu Balong and Old Man’s (a popular place to rent boards, relax, and buy food and drinks from the warungs). Locals selling jewelry will approach you one after another to buy their wares. Some of the ladies will even wake you from a nap to try and sell you something! You can avoid this if you choose to sunbathe on the southern side of Batu Balong, where abandoned concrete huts covered in graffiti line the beach. This stretch was typically secluded. Despite these tiniest of drawbacks, we absolutely loved this beach and have the fondest memories of our daily sunset strolls, and actually befriended some of the ladies most often seen slinging bracelets (we also bought some).

 

Surf & Swim Wear

Surf Boards Old Man's Canggu Bali

If you’re looking for swim wear you’ll find many options in Canggu, but if you’re searching for something sporty you’ll probably want to check the surf shops. For ladies, most swimsuits are pretty skimpy and the waves are quite strong. I wanted something I could trust would stay on my body. We got our swimsuits at Good Hood, and a surf shirt at Board Riders, which had a large selection of surf and skate wear, far more options than any of the other shops we checked in the area.

 

More Local Jams

The salt and peppered stones of Pura Batu Bolong overlook the wild surf of the Indian Ocean in Canggu.

The salt and peppered stones of Pura Batu Bolong overlook the wild surf of the Indian Ocean in Canggu.

Last but not least, here are a few other recommendations from around the neighborhood, some key phrases in the mother tongue, and details on local cuisine you might want to know before your trip.

Around the Block:

  • Yogi Cha – Our favorite yoga teacher in Bali! We highly recommend taking classes with Charlotte if you have the opportunity. Follow her on Instagram for an up to date class schedule. If you’re not visiting Bali soon, you can still practice with her on YouTube.
  • Dojo – A co-working space with a café and classes for entrepreneurs at Echo Beach.
  • Baba Yaga Tattoo Studio – They specialize in black and white ink in many styles.
  • Pretty Poison – A skate bar boasting movie nights, live music and art shows.
  • Gimme Shelter – A smoky rock and roll bar near Serenity Eco Guesthouse.

Speak the Language:

In Bali, two languages are primarily spoken, the traditional Balinese and Indonesian, also called Bahasa Indonesia. Most locals know both (many people also speak English), but it's always nice to make the effort to speak Balinese when in Bali! Here's some phrases you'll use often.

Balinese

  • Hello = Om Suastiastu or just Suastiastu (pronounced phonetically -- Om SwASti AStu)
  • Thank You = Matur Suksma or just Suksma
  • You’re Welcome = Suksma Mewali
  • Good Morning = Rahajeng Semeng
  • Good Afternoon = Rahajeng Sanja
  • Good Evening = Rahajeng pPeteng
  • Good Night = Rahajeng Wengi
  • I’m Sorry = Ampura
  • If you’d like to learn a few more key phrases in Balinese, click here.

Bahasa Indonesia

  • Hello = Halo or Hi
  • Good Morning = Selamat Pagi
  • Good Afternoon = Selamat Siang
  • Good Evening = Selamat Sore
  • Goodnight = Selamat Malam
  • Thank You = Terima Kasih
  • You’re Welcome = Sama Sama 
  • Good or Great (can be used when describing food or other objects) = Bagus!
  • I’m Sorry = Maaf
  • This video will teach you how to say hello and goodbye in Indonesia with proper pronunciations.

Local Flavors You’ll Find Almost Anywhere

  • Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng = Fried Rice (Nasi) and Fried Noodles (Mie, pronounced ME) with egg, chicken or shrimp (or all of the above). You can find these delicious meals for as low as $2 at the local warungs.
  • Gado Gado = A salad of slightly boiled, blanched or steamed vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, boiled potato, fried tofu or tempeh (tempeh originates from Indonesia), and rice crackers with a peanut sauce dressing.

 

Enjoy Your Visit!

Canggu Bali Ornate Door

With its surf culture and backpacker vibe combined with a strong yoga and wellness scene, Canggu is a truly special place to soak up the waves, smiles and sunrays Bali has to offer.

 

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