I love working from home but this week I felt like crawling out of my skin. When Saturday rolled around, we did some last minute planning, packed a bag and drove the motorbike to Canggu.
About an hour drive from Ubud, you can find Canggu, a sort of “surfer’s paradise” of Bali. You’ll know you’ve arrived by the motorbikes outfitted with surfboard racks and shirtless, tanned drivers with tasseled hair. Girls in jean shorts and bikini tops are chatting outside of wooden paneled cafes and almost every building is sporting graffiti art of a deeper meaning.
The town is spread out so you’ll need a motorbike to get around. Everything is surrounded by either beach or rice fields and life here has no sense of urgency (the waiter at the hotel restaurant even asked me why I was eating so fast. He wanted to know what I had to go do.)
If you’re planning to visit Canggu, make sure you’re ready to relax. Here’s what we did….
Where to Eat in Canggu
This Warung popped up on all the Top 5 lists for where to eat in Canggu. It’s buffet style, has meat and vegan options and is cheap too. The pumpkin curry was suggested and I have to agree that it’s worth adding to your plate.
Also up there on the list, this restaurant was filled with expats and tourists “oo-ing and ah-ing” over the Mexican dishes and cashew nut butter smoothies. The food came out in five minutes after ordering which was perfect for making a concert we were late for. Josh loved his Mahi Mahi tacos but I can’t say the same for my veggie fajitas. I did however have a brief love affair with their vegan chocolate/strawberry Popsicle which I urge you to try even if you love cow products.
Right across from Bu MI, this café specializes in more healthy fair. They have detox juices, gluten free options, meat, Paleo pancakes and a vegan section on the menu. Purple and white flowers sit in old medicine bottles on the tables, a florescent orange elephant head watches you while you eat, a giant magic mushroom sits on the shelf by the clean glasses and art work occupies the empty stretches of wall. I had a vegan fruit bowl with coconut cream that while good, was severely overpriced, like most of the items on the menu.
Where to Stay in Canggu
We stayed at the Koa Surf Hotel and it completely lived up to its rad photos online. The design team here really knew what they were doing and the surf board headboards, oil barrel furnishings and surf inspired art work is what makes the place so interesting.
Actually, that’s not the only thing. The place looks brand new, has a rooftop pool and bar, bean bag chair lounges and high tech elevators. They also have a restaurant that doesn’t have many vegetarian items on the menu but does have a lovely staff that was willing to make something vegan for me anyways.
What to do in Canggu
Go to Deus Ex Machina
Clearly a passion project, Deus Ex Machina looks like the result of someone who had earned enough money to buy a venue and curate it with all of their favorite things. A section sells men’s clothes and accessories while right across the aisle is a display of vintage motorbikes for sale.
Attached to the shop is a restaurant and café (they sell vegan gelato) and on the other side is a small art gallery with rotating exhibits. The compound has a barbershop, a skate ramp and a back yard with a lounge. The day we went, they were putting on an event with live music, free wine and tapas but each day of the week they have an event scheduled (Tacos and Tattoo Tuesdays sound pretty awesome.)
Hang Out at Pretty Poison
This bar may not look like much from the front, but it’s all party in the back. It is a mix between the grungy basement of your drummer friend’s parents’ house and the backyard of a bunch of California skateboarders who split the cost of a suburban house and drained the pool to board in.
This particular night, there were two Balinese punk bands playing and the place filled up with 20-somethings, watching skateboarders roll into the pool, grind the sides and occasionally hit spectators with their boards during misjudged turns. A large projector played skate videos on a screen behind the pool and I couldn’t decide whether to watch that, the real skaters or the dreadlocks, crop tops, pant suits and silk screen t-shirts of the fashionable crowd.
Go to Echo Beach
Sand, sea and little to no shade, Echo Beach is just a beach. However, it draws in a whole lot of life from the visitors and locals who use it. Seasoned surfers disrupt the horizon while newbies are further in, taking lessons from the locals. Seemingly doubling as a dog park, puppies escape from their owners with dangling leashes, digging up dead fish in the sand and wrestling with dogs twice their size.
Children are flying kites, fisherman are hoping for dinner, couples eat grilled corn by the rocks and young graffiti artists are adding new pieces to the old wall.
Take a Surf Lesson
I’m not very good with sports that involve boards so I decided to skip out on the surf lesson. However, Josh organized a lesson from a stand of locals right on Echo Beach. It cost him about 350,000 RP and lasted for two hours with a local instructor who has been living and surfing in Canggu his whole life. Josh came back from the lesson completely worn out but telling tales of how awesome it was. I think I might try it next time.
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