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When traveling to Bali, you’ve got several options on where to stay. You can join the crowds in the popular beach areas of Kuta/Legian, head to the rice fields of Ubud, relax in Sanur, or chase waves down in Bukit. One part of Bali that’s becomingly increasingly popular with travelers – especially surfers and digital nomads – is Canggu.
For a long time, the area now known as Canggu was nothing but rice paddies. It’s located north of Seminyak and a bit south of Tanah Lot temple. With the rapid development of tourism in south Bali, however, many of these paddies were paved over to build villas. They’re not all gone, though – rice paddy views are still a large selling point to tourists and prospective expats. Canggu doesn’t have much of a town feel, as it’s quite spread out.
There are several beaches in Canggu, such as Berawa and Echo. They mostly have grey or black sand, and thus are not as popular with the masses. Thanks to its more relaxed vibe than the other beach towns nearby, it became a popular spot for surfers. The breaks here are a bit more challenging than in Kuta or Seminyak, and there’s far less competition for them. You can also boogey-board here, but beware that the waves can really toss you around. It’s possible to rent both kinds of boards up and down the beaches here.
Canggu may be a popular destination for tourists, but the area is still very much Balinese. You’ll see the colorful canang sari offerings in the sand, several temples, and ceremonies going on all the time. That being said, most locals don’t live in the area that has been built up for tourism.
With the new digital nomad phenomenon, Canggu capitalized by opening several cafes, co-working spaces, restaurants, and bars. While Ubud is still the go-to place for these co-working, location independent folks, Canggu is getting more and more attention. If you have the chance to work remotely from Bali, why not try out both towns? That way you get to spend some time in the rice fields as well as at the beach!
When it comes to places to eat, drink, and party, Canggu has no shortage of options. You can find your standard warungs serving up classic Indonesian fare for super cheap. For local cuisine but a slightly nicer atmosphere, you can visit places like Warung Duku to enjoy gado-gado and pepes ikan.
If and when you get sick of the local stuff, you can find just about any kind of cuisine here. One great place to go for a nice meal with friends is Thai Spice. Of course they’re known for their Thai food, but they often do special menus on Sundays. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxed Sunday Funday.
When it comes to Canggu bars, there are a few major players. Old Man’s is located right on Batu Bolong beach and makes the transition from chilled out restaurant to bumping bar on a daily basis. Shower the salt and sand off from a day of surfing and join the party.
Every Sunday night, the Deus Ex Machina bar is packed to the rafters with people grooving to the live music, cold Bintangs in hand. It’s a Bali institution and something you should experience at least once.
If you’re looking to be close to the waves and to meet other travelers, there are several great hotels and hostels here. One such place is the Koa D’Surfer Hotel, which has a great rooftop chill area with a pool.
Hotels are fun and all, but if you’ve got a group you might as well rent out your own villa. There are tons of options in Canggu, and they can actually work out to be cheaper. The villa pictured above only cost us around $60/night with two bedrooms, a huge living room, a private pool, and a larger shared pool. Split three ways, that’s even less than a hostel!
Whether you’re just traveling to Bali for a short vacation or are looking for a place to stay a while, Canggu is an excellent choice. It’s far less crowded than the other south Bali beach towns and it attracts a good crowd. Rent a villa, a motorbike, and a surfboard, and you’re good to go here! While I never lived in Canggu, I always enjoyed heading over there to spend a day on the beach or a night out on the town. Perhaps next time we head to Bali we’ll follow all the other digital nomads and set up shop there.