“Canggu is where everyone wants to live these days: it’s hip, beautiful, interesting, and still relatively cheap.” thebrokebackpacker.com
Bali is one of my favourite places on planet earth ranking highly on my travels to date. We first visited this little Indonesian paradise island back in 2015 (read about that trip HERE) so it was exciting to revisit again in 2022. This time we stayed in Canggu which we hadn’t previously explored.
After being completely shut down for visitors during the pandemic, Bali is now fully back to life and teeming with travelers. Canggu is the new ‘hip’ destination to stay, an up-and-coming area of the island surrounded by rice fields that offers everything from hostels to high-end villas. The downside of this once sleepy fishing village becoming so popular is that it’s become a victim of its own success with heavily congested traffic filling its narrow streets.
Canggu is at the top of a tourist ‘strip’ along the Western coast with the upmarket Seminyak to the south followed by Legian, known to be somewhat sleazy but not as seedy as its neighbour, Kuta that’s popular for surfing and divey nightlife. Canggu is well-known for its abundance of good cafes, restaurants and beach clubs, visitors are literally spoiled for choice. This part of Bali has embraced cafe culture to the max and long lazy breakfast/brunches are served all day, everyday at trendy cafes and coffee shops who offer fresh produce at amazing prices. Everywhere we tried offered great coffee, epic Bali/açai bowls/smoothies, delicious fresh fruit and coconuts and more surprisingly amazing sourdough bread.
Echo beach attracts surfers and it’s home to the popular bohemian hotspot La Brisa beach club. La Brisa is the place to chill and enjoy the music, bar bites and sundowners. Grab a comfy seat on the main deck and enjoy a front seat view of the surfers and the epic Bali sunsets. La Brisa hosts a large market every Sunday (more info below). On the other side of Canggu towards Seminyak lies Berawa, the black sand beach that’s also favoured by surfers as it’s less crowded than other areas. Berawa also has lots of cafes, restaurants, bars and is home to the popular beach club, Finns.
Top places to try in Canggu:
Copenhagen Cafe is a minimalist, Nordic inspired cafe serving delicious options for breakfast, brunch and lunch as well as good coffee. It’s super popular so don’t be surprised if you have to queue for a table. The concept is simple but effective, choose items from the tick box menu to make up your own bespoke brunch board. Choices include eggs, smashed avo, açai bowls and sourdough toast. Danish influences can be found with delicious cinnamon buns, rye bread and salmon all featuring on the menu. The cafe is also on the local delivery apps so you can enjoy coffee, banana bread and cinnamon buns delivered to your villa (perfect when it’s the rainy season). Jl. Canggu Padang Linjong No.71a, Canggu. Open daily 6am-6pm. www.instagram.com/copenhagencanggu/
Crate is one of Canggu’s busiest breakfast spots. Set in a rice field along a quiet road near Batu Bolong, the huge converted warehouse has an industrial vibe with concrete floors. It’s not just a cool cafe but also a lifestyle concept store with a retail area and gallery.
Wall-mounted boards showcase all the food options. The large menu offers chia dishes, super bowls, brunch, brekkie, smoothies, smoothie bowls, munchies (baked goods), toasties, juices, fresh coconuts and coffee. It’s worth a visit if you can secure a table. Jl. Canggu Padang Linjong No.12. Open daily 6am-5pm. lifescrate.com
Rise and Shine is a small cafe serving coffee, juices, breakfast and lunch. There’s not many tables so you might have to wait at busy times. The smoothies are really tasty here. Jl. Canggu Padang Linjong No.71a www.instagram.com/riseandshine_bali/
T.M.O Coffee is a small roadside cafe offering coffee and breakfast. Great smoothies and lots of hot breakfast options and sides to build your own bespoke dish. Lunch menu includes burgers and salads. Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong 48, Canggu www.instagram.com/t.m.o_coffeebali
Mad Pops – Dairy-free gelato in all the classic flavours and a few unusual ones. Perfect for an after dinner treat or as a refresher in the hot and humid weather (located opposite The Common Cafe).
Mason is both aesthetically pleasing as well as serving delicious food and cocktails. The Mediterranean-inspired menu offers many housemade dishes using locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. The chef specialises in wood fired grilling, smoked meat and seafood dishes and in-house curing, fermenting and pickling.
I loved everything about Mason. The contemporary space, the cuisine, the cocktails and the attentive service. The sharing starters are a perfect way to try lots of flavours and there’s fab vegetarian options too which is always a win. Jl Batu Bolong No. 83, Canggu. Open daily from 12pm. masonbali.com/canggu/
Las Ramblas is a small, contemporary streetside spot serving Spanish sharing plates and fruity sangria. The food was fresh and delicious and the service was great. The Mediterranean tapas menu had numerous options including Spanish chorizo and Serrano ham, chicken skewers and garlic prawns. The cheese board served with fresh sourdough was top notch. Did I mention the sangria? It was so good! There’s also a daily happy hour. Padang linjong n° 55, Canggu. Open daily 3pm-11pm. www.instagram.com/ramblasbali/
Pali is a traditional warung serving authentic Indonesian food with a rice field view. Local dishes on the menu include Nasi Campur Rendang (rice dish with meat), Nasi Goreng (fried rice), chicken skewers and Sumatran curry. Padang Linjong, Canggu. Open daily 12pm-9pm. www.instagram.com/pali.bali
Penny Lane is a swanky place with a vintage vibe. Large artworks, chandeliers and botanicals vive for your attention as you make your way to your table. There’s tapas and cocktails for those looking for a lighter bite, burgers and seafood for mains or superfood salads for the more health conscious. They also serve breakfast. Jl munduk Catu, Canggu. Open daily 8am-12am www.pennylanebali.com
The Common Cafe is the spot for fresh, tasty organic food available for breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee by Milk & Madu. The Australian restaurant’s motto is ‘we like it clean, green and healthy’ reflected in the farm-to-table menu that offers nutritious dishes like salad bowls, açai Bali bowls, smoothie bowls and cold pressed juices. We went for dinner and enjoyed the Mexican tacos and quesadillas. Jalan Batu Bolong No.65 Canggu. www.thecommonbali.com
Sa’Mesa was the best meal we had in Canggu. It was not just a superb Italian feast but an all-round fun, foodie experience. It’s an innovative group dining concept based on the idea of an Italian grandmother who used to invite anyone and everyone to dinner. Diners share long tables where you meet travelers from all over the world echoing the restaurant’s motto, ‘Come as strangers and leave as friends’.
We had a great evening with a copious amount of food, drinks, singing and a general party vibe. Perfect for groups of friends, families and solo travelers looking for a fun night and meeting people. The feast offers a variety of sharing dishes that keep arriving throughout the night, no two nights are the same with the chef always surprising diners. It’s pricier than the average Canggu eatery but worth a visit if you can get a booking (you must book in advance). Jl. Tanah Barak No.1e. Open weekdays 6pm-11pm, weekends 5.30pm-12.30am samesabali.com
If you are looking for Balinese textiles and trinkets, Canggu is the place along with the more upmarket Seminyak boutiques and hippy chic in Ubud. Shops and stalls offer a variety of boutique island brands to cheap touristy souvenirs.
Love Anchor is an indoor bazaar selling everything from beachwear to macrame wall hangings. The market stalls are filled with textiles, homewares, baskets, clothing and jewellery. Vendors are open to haggling (pay cash if possible to avoid charges on credit cards) but check all the stalls before you buy as many sell the same items at varying prices. Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong No.56 Canggu www.instagram.com/loveanchorcanggu
La Brisa Sunday Market is a weekly weekend market held at La Brisa beach club to support local farmers, suppliers and small businesses. There’s organic produce, baked goods, natural body & skin products, zero waste items and upcycled fashion to name a few options. Shoppers are asked to bring reusable shopping bags. Sunday 10am-4pm. La Brisa Bali, Jl. Pantai Batu Mejan, Echo Beach, Canggu www.instagram.com/labrisabali
Not only is Canggu a great place in itself but it’s also a good location from which to explore other areas of the island. Scooters are available everywhere or there’s affordable private drivers bookable for day trips. We went to Sunday’s Beach Club located in Uluwatu, the Sacred Monkey forest in Ubud, Tegallalang Rice Terrace as well as Ku-De-Ta and Potato Head beach clubs in Seminyak.
If you are planning a visit to Canggu choose accommodation that allows you to be able to explore the area on foot to avoid the insane traffic although the lack of pavements does make it tricky. We booked our villa, The Wāve Bali, via Airbnb which offered so many stunning properties for all tastes and budgets.
Canggu takes something from all the island’s different areas and combines them to offer visitors a memorable experience. There’s cool cafes, coffee shops and restaurants like Seminyak, healthy options and paddy fields akin to Ubud and surf beaches and beach clubs like the more coastal areas.
Unless otherwise stated, all views and photos on this page © Jo Brett 2022. All rights reserved. Additional Sa’Mesa photo used with courtesy of www.facebook.com/samesabali