It almost feels like California, with faded graffiti on crumbling walls and tanned surfers flaunting their sixpacks. But the sand is black, the ocean’s warm, the booze is cheap, and convertibles have nothing on scooters. This is Canggu — the Cali of Bali, a place where the summer is truly endless.
What is there to do in Canggu?
As a friend of mine put it, Canggu is an easy place to be. There are beaches for surfing, swimming, coconuts, and parties. There are endless Western cafes — point at any on the map, and it will have top-notch coffee and breakfast. At night the village is jumping, with glamorous beach clubs and hip speakeasies.
In other words, Canggu is worth a spot on your Bali itinerary — you may not get a lot of Balinese culture here, but it’s a good place to ease into your trip. Here’s what to do in Canggu to properly enjoy it.
1. Have breakfast whenever you want
Every time I woke up in Canggu, one thought and one thought only drove me out of bed: breakfast.
The variety of breakfast options here is absurd: you can get vegan waffles at Secret Spot, organic pancakes at Cafe Vida, a Paleo-friendly omelet at Motion Cafe, Eggs Benedict with truffle oil and mushrooms at The Avocado Factory, or bagels with hash brown and scramble at Milu.
All of those come with top-notch coffee, usually grown and roasted in Bali. And on top of that, you can get breakfast from early morning till evening. If this isn’t breakfast paradise, I don’t know what is.
2. Surf, or at least try to
There’s a reason every other guy in Canggu is shirtless and ripped: it’s a surf haven. There are surf spots for every level in and around Canggu, and the village is brimming with surf shops, schools, and rentals. So even if you’ve never tried surfing in your life, Canggu is the place to do it.
The water is warm, there are suitable beginner spots all year round, and the instructors know what they’re doing. My go-to instructor is Chok of Go Shred Bali — he’s knowledgeable, fun, and speaks good English. But if it’s your first time surfing and you just want a spontaneous session, there are plenty of surf schools on Batu Bolong beach.
3. Sip a coconut at a beach bar
One of my favorite things to do in Canggu is grab a spot at one of the shabby beach bars and sip a young coconut or a Bintang. Watch surfers shred and kids splash around in the waves, strike a conversation with the local bartender, stuff your face with banana pancakes and fruit — and no matter what, don’t reach for your phone.
4. Go swimming on Echo Beach
Surfing beaches aren’t always good for swimming, so you might be wondering if you can swim at Canggu Beach or Echo Beach. The answer is: it depends.
Canggu Beach is often too rough to even take a dip. The waves break right on the shore and have a lot of power, making it hard to get in the water. Echo Beach, with its shallower bottom, tends to be more gentle. Even when the surf is big, the waves will be breaking further away from the shore, so you can at least body surf in the foam. Head to Echo Beach in low tide, and you’re almost guaranteed an enjoyable swim.
5. Get a spa treatment for cheap
In the streets of Canggu you’ll hear “Massage?” about as often as “Taxi? Transport?” There are spas on every corner, and in cheap ones a Balinese massage can cost only 150K IDR (11 USD).
But what’s even better, you can pamper yourself in a fancy spa with flower petals, relaxing music, and gleaming bathtubs, and still pay less than you would back home. A full-body Balinese massage at ZIN Spa, for example, costs 270K IDR ($20), and you get a private cabin with views of the river. A hair treatment with a scalp, arms, and shoulders massage at Spring is 295K IDR ($21.50), and Tonic has weekly promotions, where you can get several treatments for around 500K IDR ($36.50).
6. Watch a sunset on the beach
The 6 pm traffic gets hectic in Canggu, but it’s not the daily commuters — it’s holiday makers and expats rushing to catch the sunset. Sunsets in Bali are something else, and because Canggu is on the west coast, it’s a prime spot for watching them.
To lounge around with a cocktail and a good playlist, head to La Brisa on Echo Beach or Finns on Berawa Beach — but keep in mind they get crowded at this hour. For a more relaxed sunset, choose Nelayan. There’s nothing there but graffiti-covered shacks, colorful fishing boats, and the ocean.
7. Party, party, party
Canggu has a party reputation, and while it’s not as rowdy as the nearby Kuta, it’s definitely buzzing. The party scene quiets down a bit during the week and in low season, but you’ll still get nightlife of various brands.
The beachside clubs La Brisa and Finns attract a more glamorous crowd and often throw parties amid their many pools and bars. Mason, an upscale eatery, has a speakeasy in the back with cocktails and a pool table. So does Black Cat Mini Mart, where you’ll find the bar behind an inconspicuous door in a minimarket. Another local favorite is Penny Lane with its beautiful garden seating and interesting cocktails. And then there’s Old Man’s, a more casual club right next to Batu Bolong Beach. Nobody parties all night, though — surfers and yogi save their energy for morning sessions.
How to get to Canggu
Canggu is only 14 miles (22 km) away from the Ngurah Rai International Airport, the only airport in Bali. But don’t let that fool you: the roads are packed, and you’ll spend an hour or more getting to Canggu.
There’s no point renting a car to get to and around the village. You’d have a hard time parking and dodging all the scooters. I’d recommend booking a transfer or getting a Grab to Canggu, and then renting a scooter or using Gojek, a scooter taxi, once you’re there.
Book a transfer on Klook
I booked a transfer from the Denpasar airport to Canggu twice, and both times it was hassle-free. Once you’re in the arrivals area, find the Klook representatives with the sign on the left and show them your booking certificate. For $8.40 this may well be my cheapest and easiest ride from the airport.
Get a Grab
If this isn’t your first trip to Asia, you probably already have the Grab app. If you don’t — Grab is the Uber of South-East Asia, so download it before you go, because you’ll need it. It operates the same way Uber does, except you might have to pay cash if the app rejects your card.
Now, here comes the tricky part. Balinese taxi drivers are pissed about Grab: the convenience of the app and the lower prices are taking customers away from them. The taxi drivers at the airport are pretty aggressive and will follow you around, trying to prevent you from getting a Grab. Because of that, there’ll be some back-and-forth with the Grab driver as you decide on a safe pick-up point and the price. The app currently quotes me 377K IDR ($28), but you may end up paying more.
Where to stay in Canggu
Canggu isn’t big — only 40K people permanently live here. But it’s sprawling and not walkable, because there are barely any sidewalks. The three main neighborhoods, Batu Bolong, Berawa, and Pererenan are connected with narrow shortcuts. So pick your ‘hood depending on how good you are at riding a scooter, and how close you want to be to all the action
Batu Bolong: In the thick of it
If you don’t ride a scooter, the best place to stay would be Batu Bolong, the main area of Canggu. Batu Bolong street is one of the few streets with a sidewalk, so you can walk to multiple cafes, boutiques, and the beach.
📍The Ambara Bali – $26 per night
I stayed at this family-owned guesthouse for 2 months, and couldn’t ask for more. It’s clean, green, and quiet, with carved wooden furniture and flowers floating in the pool. The Ambara is just off Batu Bolong with its numerous breakfast spots, but you don’t hear the noise from the traffic at all.
The Ambara Bali is available only on Airbnb, so if you don’t have an account yet, sign up and get $62 off.
Canggu Shortcut, connecting Batu Bolong and Berawa, is hated in the nation for its permanent traffic jams and awful road quality. But once you cross it, Berawa is a less touristy alternative to Batu Bolong, with brunch spots that overlook rice fields, not the road.
Here are a few great places to stay in Berawa:
📍Sedasa Lodge, Standard Room – $33 per night
📍KOA D’ Surfer Hotel – $39 per night
And here are more places to stay close to Berawa Beach, in case you don’t like this one or it’s all booked. HotelsCombined will show you prices on all major booking platforms, so you can get the best deal.
Pererenan: Peaceful, for now
Pererenan feels more quiet and local, and it’s definitely a place where you can’t do without a scooter. The peaceful rice field views and the idyllic, uncrowded Pererenan Beach will make up for having to drive everywhere.
Here’s where you can stay in Pererenan for cheap:
📍Echoland Bed and Breakfast, Standard AC Room – $35 per night
📍The Hideaway Canggu, Superior Double or Twin Room – $50 per night
If these aren’t available for your dates, you can also look for places to stay in Pererenan by typing in “Pererenan” as your location.