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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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
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
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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.