This being my first visit to Bali, I can see why it is such a popular holiday destination. Bali really is a beautiful place, offering something for everyone. Travelling with a group of friends, we just wanted to visit a relaxing, down to earth part of the island, with options close by for good coffee, cafes and nice restaurants – but without the crowds. Canggu ticked all the boxes! However get here quick, construction in the area is ramping up, and before too long it may sadly lose its chilled out surfer vibe.
This is the destination where you can find awesome accommodation for all budget types. If you’re travelling as a group then the best way to get the Bali experience is by renting a villa. There are a huge amount of villas on offer – so best to decide where you wish to be located and then browse the options available in that area. New properties are being built constantly, so your best approach is to do your research online.
Requirements for our group: 3 bedrooms, private pool, close walk to the beach, located in the Canggu area. We ended up booking 4 nights stay at The Tamantis Villas and it couldn’t have been more perfect for us!
3 bedrooms with private open-air ensuite bathrooms (your shower is in a little courtyard garden!), a good sized private swimming pool, open air kitchen and living space, and a pool table. The staff were super helpful: we had breakfast cooked for us each morning, a free car shuttle service once daily (within the Canggu area), and ice-cold face towels upon returning to the villa. The staff also organised in-house massages for the 6 of us, at a very reasonable price ($15 SGD for a 1 hour Balinese massage!!). Needless to say we didn’t want to leave.
See / Do
1. Beach Clubs
One characteristic of Canggu beaches is that they have dark grey volcanic sand, and Canggu offers beach clubs such as Finns, and The Lawn, where you can take in the vibe of Canggu’s beach culture. If you prefer the more traditional white sand beaches, then you need to head south down the coast to the Bukit Peninsular. Its very easy to hire a driver for the day and they can either take you around various beaches and explore the region, or do as we did, opt for a leisurely day at a beach club.
We headed to Sunday’s Beach Club at Uluwatu (which was recommended as one of Bali’s best beach clubs) excited to make use of some of the cool beach activities that come included in the day pass price. Activities include kayaking, snorkelling, and stand up paddle boarding. Unfortunately for us, we chose a high-wind, high-tide day so we couldn’t make the most of what was on offer.
BUT all was not lost – it was still a beautiful place to spend the day – and for views such as these, it is well worth the drive down the coast. Tip: get there early to ensure you get first choice of the prime sun-beds which fill up quick.
2. Get your shop on
Have a spot of shopping on Batu Bolong (Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, Canggu) – there are some really nice women’s and men’s clothing boutiques so you could easily spend a couple of hours along this high street. When you need to have sit down and re-fuel, there are a heap of good dining options: Little Flinders Cafe and Crate Cafe are both known for great coffee, and Monsieur Spoon for their top notch French pastries.
3. Check out the Canggu beach culture
Check out the street art on Nelayan Beach, Canggu – I highly recommend a pre-sunset stroll along this section of the beach towards Batu Bolong Beach. Perfect for people watching – you will see the surfers out in the water, and the locals on the beach enjoying family picnics. The ‘street art’ is actually art murals painted on the old boat sheds lining the beach which adds a cool urban vibe to the beach. Depending on the weather you may also be rewarded with a beautiful pink sunset.
4. Become a yogi
There are quite a few options for yoga studios in the Canggu area. Prior to visiting I read a really helpful article from The Asia Collective which highlighted these three top choices: Desa Seni, The Practise Bali, Serenity Eco Guesthouse & Yoga.
Canggu is cafe heaven! We were lucky to have a few excellent options in walking distance of our villa.
Nüde: a 10 minute walk from the villa, this cafe has a really great breakfast and lunch menu, with views over the nearby rice fields. For those visiting for lunch they have some really tasty options: Falafel wraps, healthy salads, and black bun burgers. They also serve up good coffee & healthy light snacks (including raw energy balls – tastier then they sound!).
Ruko Cafe: another short stroll from our villa, which provided excellent strong coffee to really kick start your day. The space is uber creative, trendy, air-conditioned and offers a wide variety of healthy lunch options. Servings include BIG plates of healthy greens, creative salad combinations, and delicious wraps; with plenty of vegetarian options available.
Milk & Madu: a very popular brunch location in Canggu and for a reason. Plenty of options including healthy smoothies, chia puddings and fruit bowls, to breakfast burritos, eggs benedict, and toasties. You’ll likely need to visit more than once.
Drinks & Dinner
Old Man’s, Canggu located one block back from the beach offers chilled out surfer vibes, and is the perfect spot for sundowners. A great place to hang out with friends over some ice cold Bintang Beers, and a great place to just take it all in!
Lacalita Bar y Cocina, Canggu offers tasty Mexican food with VERY good iced margaritas in a casual environment. So good were the Margs, that I cannot specifically remember what food we ordered. What I do remember though, was that is was super tasty, and great for a larger groups dining together.
MamaSan, Seminyak. If you’re looking for a nice night out, then this restaurant is one to put on the list. A modern pan-Asian restaurant, with small sharing plates menu, you will want to arrive hungry. Every dish is creative, modern, and utterly melt in your mouth delicious, and the restaurant also offers a really good selection of cocktails and wine to accompany. Recommend making a reservation in advance as its a popular place.
Ulekan, Canggu serves up traditional Indonesian food in a beautiful restaurant setting. This was possibly my favourite restaurant of all, which is high praise given the quality and variety of options available. The quiet ambience of the restaurant, with its open windows and entrance way, allows the cool(er) night air to flow through. We were a larger group so were able to order a mixture of dishes to share. Highlights were the Gado Gado, charred barramundi fillet, the tempeh (my first time trying tempeh….LOVED IT), and the seafood coconut curry. We also ordered a Nasi Goreng to share but to be honest it wasn’t my favourite and we should’ve just opted for the local rice instead. All in all, amazing Indonesian food in a relaxed & beautiful space. I will be making a return visit!
Bar TuSu, Canggu. A funky cocktail bar just one block from Ulekan. We went in for a night cap to top off the great meal at Ulekan, and weren’t left disappointed. The space is detailed with bookshelves, old world lampshades and Chesterfield leather lounges. With seating over two floors, have a wander about before you select a little nook to settle into.
I definitely could have spent a couple more days in Canggu – it was such a relaxing place, and our villa was a great space to come home to at the end of a day exploring. If we did have more time, I would have liked another day with a driver to explore more of the Bukit Peninsular.
But it wasn’t all sadness upon leaving, it was also excitement for our next location – Ubud!