A Random Guide to Canggu Bali

Less up itself than Seminyak, but not as bogan as Kuta, Canggu (pron: CHAN-goo) is the new ‘it’ place in Bali, but has still managed to retain its laid back vibe (for now). Canggu (or 'The Goo') has a big expat community, and it’s easy to see why.

Here’s a random guide to my favourite places in Canggu.

Things to do:

Yoga

Desa Seni is a ‘village resort’ that has an extensive timetable, with the classes divided between about five resident teachers, each with their own speciality. There are also a number of workshops throughout the year, where you can learn about everything from Tantra to anatomy to goal setting.

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One of the newer studios in the area is The Practice, a purpose built, two story studio which is the creation of two Australian expats. Melbourne teacher Octavio Salvado has brought his significant following here and he and his business partner have done a spectacular job of creating a stunning space.

Other options for yoga are Samadi, which is in a little village on the outskirts of Canggu and has two studios, as well as an organic cafe and accommodation, and The Chillhouse, which has a nice open air yoga studio with a couple of classes a day and good variety in the timetable.

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Surf

There are several breaks around Canggu, including Old Man’s, Berawa and Echo Beach. You can rent surfboards from the locals at the beach for about AUD$5 for two hours, or Pineapple House guests pay about AUD$60 for a two hour surf lesson with an awesome local guide, which includes pick up and drop off. And if you’re not into surfing, you can always just lay around on the beach, go for a swim in the (very) warm water or head down to watch one of Canggu's epic sunsets.

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Finns Recreation Club

Previously called Canggu Club, this place is a wonderland of excitement and offers everything a kid (or a big kid) could want to do. Finns Recreation Club has its own bowling alley, Bounce trampoline centre, waterpark, fitness centre, tennis centre and several pools. They also have a kids club and a day spa, so you can check the kids in, while you check out. But be warned, this place is not a cheap day out. At the time of writing, It’s AUD$35 for adults and AUD$23 for kids just to get in the door and have access to the pools and slides. Other activities will set you back AUD$10 each. One way to get around the exorbitant costs is to stay in a villa which has a membership to the Club.

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Olympic Pool

This is a bit of a hidden gem in Canggu, and a lot of people don’t even know it’s there. But for only a few dollars, you can have access to a full sized Olympic Pool, which is under cover at one end. There’s also a kids pool with water slides. They’re not quite the standard of the ones at the Canggu Club, but at a tenth of the price, it’s a much cheaper place to take the kids for some water fun.

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Where to eat:

Milk and Madu. A sweet, open air café with a relaxed vibe and great menu. These guys make some seriously awesome breakfast bowls. The eggs in the skillets are also delicious. And the salads are awesome (and safe to eat).

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Watercress. With the same owners as Milk and Madu, this is another cool café with a great menu. It’s on the main road, so it’s better to head towards the back for a table and some (relative) quiet. Watercress has heaps of organic and vegetarian options, and the salads are great. They also make some pretty decent coffee, with any type of milk you want.

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La Finca. Great tapas restaurant set in an ultra cool garden setting. The food is pretty great and is perfect for sharing. The staff are happy to explain the menu and make recommendations. They also have a red wine on the list that is actually drinkable, which is practically unheard of in Bali.

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Shady Shack. On the Echo Beach side of Canggu, the Shady Shack is a hugely popular outdoor café where guests sit on mis-matched wooden furniture among the greenery. The food is predominantly vegetarian, very healthy and spectacularly delicious.

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Banana Leaf. Like many of the cafes in Canggu, Banana Leaf delivers, so if you can’t be bothered leaving your accommodation, it’s a great option. It’s vegetarian food, and serves up some traditional Indonesian dishes, which don’t skimp on spice!

Peloton. Even though I'm vegetarian, vegan food doesn't usually excite me (cheese and chocolate are staples for me). But the food at Peloton is the exception. The salads, wraps and bowls are full of goodness and flavour, which can be a rarity in my experience of vegan food. They also serve a decent coffee, which comes with a cute little cookie on the side. And the smoothie bowls are insanely good. If you're going to give vegan food a go, this is the place to do it.

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The Creamery. If you’ve still got room after eating at all the other places, the ice creamery is a great way to round off a meal. They make the ice cream right in front of you, using cream and liquid nitrogen. The staff don safety glasses and the whole thing looks more like a science experiment than dessert, but the result is delicious. Also, next door is a little Indian restaurant which serves up awesome food that is super cheap.

Where to drink:

Finns beach Club. Canggu’s first major swanky beach club to rival its neighbours down the coast in Seminyak, but still retains Canggu's more laid back style, being constructed in bamboo. Finns has several different areas to drink cocktails right on the beach. There’s also an outdoor pool with beach cabanas that you generally have to book ahead. They also serve food, either as bar snacks or in the sit down restaurant under a very impressive light installation...

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The Lawn. The newest addition to Canggu’s beach club scene, the Lawn is a pretty laid back place where guests can sit on mats spread around low tables on the grass. There’s also a small outdoor pool where you can sit, cocktail in hand and watch the sun slide down into the ocean. Space in the restaurant and upstairs platform is at a premium, so get there early if you want a seat.

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La Laguna. The first of Canggu’s sunset clubs, this unique venue is still the place to be seen, and is a selfie hotspot at sunset. The grounds are gorgeous, dotted with lanterns and, weirdly, old stage coaches. The décor is very eclectic, and could be based somewhat around a Moroccan theme, but it’s hard to tell. They have a nice cheese plate, but unfortunately no decent wine to go with it. The menu for us vegetarians is pretty limited, but the cocktail list makes up for it.

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Where to stay:

Desa Seni - More like a village than a resort, it is the perfect place to unplug and retreat from the world. The village resort is made up of more than a dozen traditional Javanese houses, which were shipped over in pieces and reconstructed on the property. You’re literally staying in an antique.

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The whole place is built around a central salt water pool, which guests laze around sipping out of coconuts. Most of the produce for the restaurant is grown on the property and the food is as fresh as it gets. Desa Seni has two yoga studios, where you can take both public and private classes. (For a full article on Desa Seni, click here).

Right next door to Desa Seni is Villa Desa Roro, which has a very similar feel, but offers a whole lot more privacy. There are three separate villas which can easily accommodate a large family or group of friends. The master suite is enormous, with a huge canopy bed, lounge area with big flat screen TV, and even its own massage table. The bathroom is also huge, with a freestanding bath, and there’s a walk in wardrobe and office area too (although it would be pretty hard to get into work mode here).

Definitely NOT in work mode!

Definitely NOT in work mode!

The villa features four other bedrooms, two large and two small, each with their own bathrooms. The two smaller bedrooms are within their own villa with a common lounge area, while the bigger ones are in the main building which also houses the kitchen, dining and communal area. The villas are built around a stunning central salt water pool, which in turn is surrounded by immaculate tropical gardens.

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On the other side of Desa Seni is the Pineapple House, a cute little guesthouse which has five rooms spread over two neighbouring villas. The rooms can be rented out separately, or you can book the whole place. The Pineapple House offers surf and yoga retreats, or you can stay on a BnB basis. The whitewashed woodwork, tropical greenery and chill out areas give the whole place a really relaxed vibe.  It’s particularly popular with solo female travellers, and the staff are excellent and able to accommodate (just about) every request. Their breakfasts are also delicious and are different every morning.

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On the other side of Canggu, just five minutes walk from Echo Beach, are the Echo Beach Townhouses. The three townhouses offer complete privacy, situated at the end of an unpaved laneway and surrounded by high walls. The villas are three or four stories high, and offer great views over Canggu from the top level. Ours also had a pool table, full kitchen and outdoor pool.

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The Chillhouse offers several different types of accommodation, including separate bungalows surrounded by amazingly lush gardens. It’s a great place for solo travellers to hang out, as there’s a communal restaurant where everyone has dinner together. There are also two pools and some massage rooms on site, meaning you rarely have to leave the grounds if you don't want to. It’s simple, down to earth accommodation, but like many places in Bali, the tropical climate attracts plenty of mozzies and mould!

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Tugu Hotel is traditional Indonesian accommodation at its best. The property is like a big art gallery, full of statues, paintings and artefacts. The individual bungalows have their own little pools, surrounded by stonework, with a little wooden gate leading out to the lush gardens.

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The indoor/outdoor bathrooms have koi ponds, so you can watch the fish swim around while having a shower. The rooms are large, with huge comfortable king sized canopy beds. The Tugu has a gorgeous tropical pool with water features cascading down, and its proximity to the beach makes it the perfect place to go for a morning surf, or to enjoy the sunset.

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Notes:

Bali is a fairly safe destination, but things can still go wrong, so I always buy travel insurance through Fastcover. You can get a quote here.

Canggu is about a 15 minute drive north of Seminyak, or a 45 minute drive from Denpasar airport (depending on traffic!)

One of the down sides of Canggu is that it’s difficult to get around on foot, because it’s so spread out. The best way to get around is on a scooter. See here for tips on how to ride a Scooter in Bali.

The best months to visit Bali are June, July and August when it’s driest, although avoid school holidays if you’re not travelling with kids.