Life is guud in Canggu. That was going to be the title of this post but then I realised that not only is it corny but probably terrible for SEO. No doubt starting a post this way is too. Anyway..
Life really is good in Canggu. I’m on my 3rd full day in this coastal neighbourhood of Bali and my daily routine looks something like this:
- Rise to the sound of birdsong, jump in pool for dip
- Head to hipster brunch spot for bowl of awesomeness – like Nalu’s breakfast bowls
- Get a bit of work done in a café or co-working space
- Wander home, drop into a yoga class or (more often) a spa for some sort of indulgent treatment at ridiculously good prices
- Catch up with Canggu based blogger Carolyn from Breathing Travel for sun downers at ocean front bar Old Man’s
- Feast on Nasi Goreng for the same price as a bus fair in Sydney
Sounds good right?
Canggu is a gorgeous part of Bali. It’s a unique area in the sense that it offers ocean (with great surf), rice paddies (that are wonderfully calming) and you can even see the shadow of mountains in the distance. On the main streets of central Canggu (of which there are 3 that run parallel down to the beach) there are cool cafes, a handful of spas and boutiques, and a range of villas and hotels with drop in yoga classes.
At present tourism seems to be pretty well balanced with local life. Between many hotels there remains fields – some with crops, others with cows – and you can wander the streets without being hassled to buy or do a single thing. Due to a fear of mopeds I’ve walked everywhere and the few times I’ve been asked if I’d like a taxi it’s been done after wishing me well. “I’m here if you need me tomorrow,” one told me this morning before waving me on my way.
I’ve stopped many times on my solo expeditions to take photos of the scenery without feeling like I was a bother – a man passing on a moped ducked out of my way when I was shooting this morning. It’s not at all intimidating to walk around on your own as a woman here and that’s not something I can say honestly about some places I’ve been in Asia.
There are signs of change in Canggu though. There’s lots of construction going on – two big name resorts are due to open on the oceanfront in the coming years -and I fear that may tip the tourist/local balance slightly. I’m a little surprised they would want to open beachfront hotels here to be honest as I have to admit the beaches are a little less appealing than I was expecting. Canggu is on the coast of Bali that has dark volcanic sand and due to the recent weather the shore was looking dark and dirty on my visit. I haven’t been for a dip but enjoyed watching the surfers and exploring the temples along the seafront instead. The surf is apparently great here, with breaks for all levels, but I’ve been very content chilling in my pool access room at Frii Bali Echo Beach and haven’t missed the beach at all.
Canggu suits visitors looking for somewhere chilled to base themselves while they learn to surf, practise yoga or lead the idyllic digital nomad lifestyle. Like Ubud, Canggu has its own co-working space, Dojo. Boasting faster Wi-Fi than Hudub (the staff tell me), private meeting rooms and a pool for when you want to brainstorm in a deckchair, it’s a pretty awesome place to call your office. Next door is Nalu Bowls selling all sorts of deliciousness and it’s a short walk or scooter ride to likes of Crate, Betelnut Cafe and Deus Ex Machina when you want a good coffee.
Canggu won’t suit all visitors though. My sister in law asked if I thought it would be good for families and I had to reply no in all honesty. Many roads are still unpaved – they turn into big swamps after rainfall – and there are no pavements, most people here travel by moped. With the exception of a nearby waterpark there’s little for families to do in Canggu itself, the only children I’ve seen are those of local expats or business owners.
But for solo ladies like myself it’s bliss. The prices are more reasonable than what you’d find in the likes of Seminyak and Kuta and there’s none of the Kuta crowd here either. I don’t mean to offend anyone by this statement – I’m sure there are nice parts and nice people in Kuta but take this story for context. The other evening Carolyn and I met some Aussie lads who had come to Canggu from Kuta and they regaled us with the stories of fines they’d received from police, massages they’d been conned into having (a 50k Indonesian Rupiah treatment turned into a 500k treatment after unwanted upgrades of a scrub and manicure, among other things!) and tattoos they had (jokingly?!) had etched on intimate places. My fear is that this is the only side of Bali some Aussies (in particular) may know. So I urge them to get here to Canggu and see it a bit differently!