Your yin-yang guide to Bali
Once a hidden surf spot, Canggu is now a magnet for an eclectic mix of travellers from digital nomads to health-seekers.
“You should have been here yesterday,” taunts a mural at Old Man’s Bar on the Canggu beachfront, but the early birds are unperturbed as they head off for their morning surf with boards in tow. Old Man’s isn’t just the name of the legendary after-surf bar renowned for its insightful wall art. It’s also the name of the surf break in front of the bar, popular among beginners and experts alike.
While the writing on the wall might evoke missed yesterdays, Canggu is most definitely about today.
Not more than a decade ago, Canggu was but a small village hidden in the shadow of trendier Seminyak. Nowadays, “Gu” – as millennials call it – is more than just a hide-out for surfers escaping the overcrowded beaches of touristy Kuta.
The Canggu neighborhoods of Batu Bolong and Berawa are teeming with trendy cafés, restaurants, clubs, bars, and small boutique shops. Despite the raging pace of development, the area has maintained its rural charm. In Canggu the small entrepreneur is king.
The crowd in Canggu is as diverse as it gets, ranging from stereotypical surfers and bearded skaters to expats in search of their true self through yoga and gastronomy.
Canggu is a cross-section of all the characters you meet on social media. At the moment Bali is one of the most Instagrammable locations on earth, and Canggu seems to be among the trendiest hubs that bloggers can’t get enough of.
The whole area is packed with digital nomads working in cafés or getting sea and sand between their toes during those rare moments when their laptops are taking a well-deserved power nap.
Bintang & banana flour
The latest eco-friendly food trends are well represented on the local menus. There is organic, vegan, gluten-free, locally produced – basically anything you could imagine. Canggu even has the world’s first and only banana flour bakery.
After downing Bintang beers in Old Man’s or the Pretty Poison skate bar, there are several spas and yoga studios for weary revellers to recharge their batteries. And for those just looking for a chill day at the pool, there are luxurious beach clubs, including some that might appeal to travellers on a tighter budget.
A temple of enthusiasm
As the narrowish roads of Canggu are not really designed for pedestrians, often the easiest way to get around is a two-wheeled ride, be it muscle- or motor-powered.
Although scooters and motorcycles are a common sight all around Asia, Bali is home to a surprisingly vast number of custom bike shops. One of the oldest is the Australian-based motorcycle franchise Deus Ex Machina’s Temple of Enthusiasm. In addition to workshops for building custom bikes and shaping surfboards, the complex hosts a restaurant, bar, clothing store, art gallery, tattoo salon, and even a barbershop – everything a Gu-ite could possibly ever need.
Text Arttu Mäkelä
Photos Susanna Alatalo, Artem Bali, Alexandre Capt, Harvey Enrile, Bernard Hermant, Harry Mark, Pontus Ohlsson