We spent around a week in the south of Bali, in the chilled-out, surfer town of Canggu whilst we were extending our visas in Denpasar. Canggu is north of Kuta and Denpasar was only a 40 minute drive from the visa office, but it’s far enough away to escape the hoards of tourists.
We stayed at an amazing hostel called Canggu Surfing House which was only a 5 minute walk from Echo Beach. The hostel had free drinking water, a well-equipped kitchen and we had a 4 bed en-suite dorm to ourselves with ridiculously comfy beds for about £7 a night.
Canggu is a clearly touristy, but in a nice, laid back, almost undiscovered way. There are loads of amazing restaurants, cafes, health food shops, yoga studios and beaches which surprisingly weren’t crowded – it seemed to have more of an expat/local vibe. The town is spread out over several long roads, surrounded by rice paddies, greenery and beautiful street art.
Finding veggie food was a doddle – everywhere had veggie and vegan options, smoothie bowls and salads galore. Most of the cafes and shops I saw advertised themselves as being healthy and sustainable e.g. not using MSG, plastic straws and palm oil. A few amazing places we ate were:
- Shady Shack – a veggie restaurant with delicious breakfasts, smoothies and burgers.
- Baracca – an authentic Italian, run by an Italian, with delicious pizzas and lots of vegan options.
- The Living Kitchen – a clean eating restaurant with an extensive vegan menu.
The town of Canggu was pretty quiet and the roads weren’t that busy so we decided to hire mopeds from our hostel for a couple of days to explore. Hiring the peds only cost us £2.50 per ped per day and a tank of petrol costing just over £1 lasted us for a day!
We headed north on the peds along the coast and on both days we managed to randomly find beautiful beaches with only a couple of people around, small villages and winding roads through rice paddies and over rivers.
Ste and I did have a rather hair-raising experience on ‘the shortcut’ – a narrow paved path that cuts through several rice fields in Canggu, which is a shortcut between Berawa and Batu Bolong. The path is fine for peds, but as soon as a car gets involved, or worse 2 cars it becomes a nightmare. When we went on the shortcut, we managed to time it perfectly for rush-hour, amongst a lot of cars and mopeds. Half an hour and a few near misses later we made it across unscathed!
Apart from amazing scenery, beaches and food, Canggu also gave us our first night out in a month (we’ve changed)!! We accidentally stumbled upon an opening for a Rip Curl shop with a live band, photo booth and very cheap beer. When that started to die down, we made out way down to Old Man’s Bar – a renowned place in Canggu on the beach. A brilliant live Indonesian reggae band was playing which was followed by a DJ. The place was packed with tourists/expats and a lot of locals. I can safely say that we tore up the dance floor in a big way! After too many beers, we stumbled back along the moonlit beach to our hostel.
Another great place we found was Pretty Poison – a skate park/cinema/bar. It’s set in an old looking house, surrounded by rice paddies with a large skate bowl in the back. On the night we went down, they were showing ‘The Punk Singer’ – a film about Kathleen Hanna, a feminist musician and pioneer of the riot grrl movement. Every Monday they show a different film for free so it’s worth checking out.
For the last couple of days in Canggu, we decided to treat ourselves to a luxurious Airbnb villa (en-suites and king sized beds for all of us!), complete with a private pool, fruit trees and an amazing kitchen. Travelling in a group of four means that it’s affordable to stay in such places, which we wouldn’t have done otherwise.
Canggu is somewhere where I could certainly see myself living for a few months and I’m sure I’ll be back in the not too distant future.