The Canggu guide, Bali
When you live in Australia it is actually possible to go to Bali for a long weekend. So we did, In May, for 5 days. It was my second time here but I must say that I almost couldn't recognise the area, which has undergone a huge transition with so many great spots popping up since my first visit 6 years ago.
Both times I stayed in the little neighbourhood of Berawa, between Seminyak and Canggu, an up-and-coming area attracting the cool crowd of surfers, expats and travellers from all over the world. And I totally understand why - hip cafes, stylish hotels (that you can actually afford), tropical scenery, beach clubs as far as the eye can see, and warm sunny weather.
Below I've put together a guide to some of the best places we discovered over our 5 long days in Canggu.
For the first 3 days in Bali we stayed at a beautiful villa in Berawa owned by Tim’s aunty and uncle, Jenny and Jamie. The newly built property includes a private villa (where the family and their two dogs live), plus two guest houses with a pool that they rent out via Airbnb. We booked the River Room - a large room with a private bathroom. We were the only guests at the time we stayed and had the pool, garden and lounge area to our self. It was basically like having our own villa! What I loved most about this place, was waking up to the sound of birds singing and the river running just outside the room. Pure bliss! Jenny and Jamie are super friendly - they gave us a lot of tips to the area and made us feel at home, even though we were very far from. Book the River Room via Airbnb. Prices from AU$80 per night.
After staying at Villa Sungai we moved on to The Slow, close to popular surf beach Batu Bolong in Canggu. There are 12 suites at The Slow, with views of either the beach or the neighbouring village. Four of them are located on the ground floor, each with their own private plunge pool surrounded by lush tropical gardens. The Slow is a super cool boutique hotel that is both modern and minimalistic, but with a really laid back vibe - making it the ultimate space to recharge. We booked one of the rooms with a pool, and trust me, you’ll never want to leave! Check out my full post on The Slow here for more details.
The Shady Shack
The Shady Shack is the perfect (vegetarian) breakfast spot for those who love a healthy start to the day. From the comfy seats at the veranda and garden you can enjoy the relaxing vibe, beautiful view, and fresh smell of the rice fields. As for the food, if you're a cheese fan just like me, the ‘Haloumi Bowl’ won't disappoint!
On Berawa Main Road, not far from Berawa Beach, you'll find Ruko Café. A perfect spot to grab a coffee or breakfast on the way to or from the surf. We tasted the burger and avo on toast, which both really hit the spot.
The Slow – Eat & Drink
Even if you're not staying at the The Slow, you can still eat in the all-day restaurant. It’s a cool, contemporary space filled with a stylish modernist interior and beautiful art. For breakfast, try the 'The Slow Breakfast' (scrambled eggs, house slab bacon, sweet corn cake) or the 'Nuts & Seed Toast' with avocado and soybean crush. I recommend coming back again for dinner, drinks and good tunes at night time.
Milk & Madu
This gorgeous little café is known for their delicious Australian style breakfast, fresh smoothies and some of the best coffee in Canggu. You can enjoy the food al fresco or in the shade by the wooden communal tables. Milk & Madu is a fave among the locals, and one to try.
You can't go to Bali without tasting some of the local cuisine. Ulekan focuses on traditional Balinese food in a modern environment. We loved everything about this place and came back twice in just 5 days! The food is really delicious (we ordered a chicken curry and the tender lamb), there's a great atmosphere and the staff are so friendly. After dinner one night, our waiter even gave us a ride home on his scooter (for free). That's what you call good service!
If you are craving tacos and strong margaritas, try out mexican restaurant Lacalita. Located just across from The Slow, it's a great alternative to the many European and Indonesian options in Canggu. Its dimly lit, with an american diner vibe, and well air-conditioned, which can be a nice break from a long day in the bright hot sun!
Finn's Beach Club
At the end of Berawa main road, you will see the impressive bamboo structure of Finn's Beach Club. Finn's is one of the biggest venues in Canggu with several decks and restaurants. You can easily spend an afternoon at Finn's cooling down in the swim up pool bar, and when you get hungry, you can satisfy your appetite with a pizza or a curry, all while enjoying the view of the ocean and listening to the resident DJ.
For a more laid back beach club vibe, head down to The Lawn Beach Lounge for a sunset drink. Grab one of the woven Balinese mats on the grass, or if you want something more comfortable, you can book the lounge beds by the (infinity) pool. DJ’s are playing slow/chill tunes all day long.
Walking into La Laguna is like stepping into another world! The first thing you will see is the colourful gypsy caravans along the pathway to the restaurant where you can get a Tarot card reading. The whole venue is quite bohemian and almost magical in a way. La Laguna has tapas on the menu - and the best drinks for sunset hour. I recommend getting there in time to see the sun set as the venue transitions to its dark and mysterious night-time alter ego.
The Naked Coconut
Join the locals and have a sunset Bintang at this little surf shack right on the beach, while you watch the surfers catching waves. It's nothing fancy, but there's everything you really need for a perfect sunset session; a beach bar, great tunes, good company and a front row view for those heavenly Bali sunsets.
Old Man's Bar
Old Man's is a popular place to hang out and grab a cold drink after a day of surfing... or chilling. It's really low key and it doesn't matter what day it is, it always seems to be busy and bustling with a cool crowd ready for a party. We couldn’t help dropping in here after dinner two nights in a row… but be prepared to wake up with a hangover!
Deus Ex Machina
If you are up for a little party and some dancing, head down to Deus on a Sunday night for drinks and good vibes. The evening often starts out with a live band playing in the back yard and then DJs to follow.
I didn't do much shopping in Bali, but I simply couldn't resist getting a couple of the beautiful handmade straw bags that I hope will get some use over the Summer. The round basket bag is from the Australian brand Ellen and James and is available in several colours. The Borneo shopping bag is from The Jungle Trader in Berawa.
The dark sand beaches around Canggu are not really for sunbathing, so if you want to spend a day on the beach I would recommend heading down south to the beautiful Padang Padang beach near Uluwatu. The waves though, are some of the best in the world so if you're up for surfing, Canggu is the place to be. There are areas for beginners too, and many surf schools to help you get up on that board. One of the most popular surf beaches is Echo Beach, just next to Old Man's and The Lawn.
In Bali, everyone drives a scooter (on the wrong side of the road if you' are European) and it can be a bit manic sometimes. If you go on the scooter yourself, just follow the traffic and you will be fine. Otherwise you can walk to most places and there are cabs everywhere too. Always bargain and agree on a price with the driver before you get in the car, as most of them don't use the meter.
Canggu is located on the coast of South Bali, just north of Seminyak. It's a 40 min. drive from Denpasar International Airport to Canggu and a driver cost around AU$20. If you're coming from Australia, look out for Jetstar offers, where you often can get cheap flights to Bali. Our tickets were AU$400 return from Sydney and the trip took 5-6 hours. From Europe you need one stopover and the flights normally take around 14-16 hours in total.
Don't forget to…
... relax and soak up the sun, go for a ride along the beautiful rice fields, stay hydrated, and drink a lot of fresh coconut water, enjoy the spectacular sunsets on the beach with a cocktail - or Bintang - in your hand.