From fusion restaurants to traditional Indonesian digs and Bali beachside institutions, here’s where to head when you’re in Canggu.
The cool crowd is hanging out these days at Canggu (pronounced Chang-goo) which, five years ago, was a barren patch of Bali save for its die-hard surfers, romantic rice paddies and the odd warung or two.
In a breezy bale with the sounds of the ocean outside and Javanese music inside, learn to cook Indonesian food at the Hotel Tugu with chef Ayu. Select three main dishes and one dessert to cook in this two-hour class, which focuses on Javanese and Balinese cuisine, and at the end of class, you can eat your creation for either breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Even more fascinating, guests here can also partake in a drink-making class with traditional herbs and spices used for healing and rejuvenation. For drinks of a different kind, partake in sunset cocktails at Tugu’s Ji Terrace by the Sea before retiring to Ji at Bale Sutra restaurant for dinner.
One of Canggu’s newest kids on the block, Billy Ho is the latest offering from Bali’s celebrity ‘street food’ chef Will Meyrick. This open-plan restaurant features a customised leather wall designed to resemble Sumatran roof shingles on one side and a black-and-white mural by an Indonesian street artist on the other.
Dine under a ceiling of black bamboo, grown on a Java farm, and perch under lamps of original fishing baskets on recycled leather seats. Seating 80, the cuisine takes its inspiration from Korea, Japan and Indonesia. If you eat nothing else from this generous menu, try the sensational smoked eggplant. And should you find yourself in neighbouring Seminyak, check out Will’s flagship restaurant Sarong for some fabulous Indian-inspired food.
The Savage Kitchen
This is a dual personality dining spot with bite.
By day, The Savage Kitchen plays on being a ‘wild food concept’ where guests can construct their own plates by selecting from a series of eggs, bread and sides for breakfast, plus more hearty dishes for lunch.
By night, the same venue calls itself a ‘refined dining experience’ serving even more substantial dishes such as the 600-gram Black Angus rib eye. Whatever time you arrive, expect organic, locally sourced produce.
For a true taste of Indonesia, check into the elegant Hotel Tugu and one of its traditional timber homes on stilts. A spiral staircase leads to your lofty accommodation with wrap-around verandah, wooden floors, four-poster bed and antique furniture.
From here you can see and hear the ocean of nearby Canguu Beach or slink into your sunken tin bath. The hotel’s towering lobby snatches centre stage with its five-metre wooden garuda statue, and is ideal for traditional cultural performances.
One of Canguu’s enduring accommodation options, it’s been here for 21 years, and offers 21 rooms and two suites, a 313-year-old Chinese temple and is designed to resemble an Indonesian village.
Mention Canggu and the word villa comes to mind. Yes, all the cool kids are seeking out a villa experience and the adults-only Ametis Villa is one of the more popular experiences. Stay in a Premiere, Imperial or Grand villa, all with private pools, relax in the Ruby Spa, and dine at the adjacent Billy Ho restaurant. You’ll also have your own private butler to assist with every creature comfort.
COMO Uma Canggu
Perched on the edge of Bali’s south coast, the luxury COMO Uma Canggu is a destination in itself, featuring accommodation, dining, wellness and a beach club in one. There are 52 rooms and suites, 55 one- and two-bedroom surfside residents, and 12 three-bedroom penthouses.
The COMO Beach Club likens itself to a traditional surf shack with a modern twist, serving dishes fashioned from fresh, regional ingredients, while the Glow Juice Bar is about ‘grab and go’ salads, snacks, smoothies and juices.
Embrace wellness at COMO Shambhala Retreat which focuses on Asian-inspired therapies, classic beauty treatments, Pilates, yoga a gym and Bali’s first Jungle Sports Studio.
Finns Beach Club
Down a rustic road flanked by rice paddies and construction sites that signal Canggu is really on the move, you’ll find one of Bali’s most popular beach clubs. Finns Beach Club, which has just celebrated its third birthday, does not charge an entry fee nor minimum spend, unless you wish to hang out on a daybed or party platform, in which case your fee is 100 per cent redeemable on food and drink. Its iconic infinity pool overlooking the ocean is a drawcard here, but there’s in fact four swimming pools, nine bars and five dining options.
The party beds, in the middle of one pool and one of a kind in Bali, house up to 10 people and even include phone charging cables. Finns VIP Beach Club boasts an adults-only pool plus perks such as free water, tea, coffee, face mist, sunscreen, juice, fruits and cold towels. There’s also a rooftop boar, new VIP lounge, spa area and treatment room. Just five minutes away by shuttle, you’ll find Finns Recreation Club with everything from a gym, yoga room, lap pool, sports bar, co-working space and the Splash Waterpark.
Learn to surf
There are almost as many surf schools in Canggu as there are beach breaks which is just as well, as the waves here are pretty gnarly. Head to Batu Bolong Beach and Nengah Private Surfguiding for the 100 per cent Balinese-owned school by Nengah himself.
Boasting over 20 years of surf experience and trained according to the International Surfing Association curriculum and guidelines, all of Nengah’s team were born and raised in Bali, so know a thing or two about the surf conditions here.
It’s a Bali beach institution and a visit to Canggu wouldn’t be complete with a sticky beak at Old Man’s, which is akin to a beer garden back home. Open from 8am to 1am, you can start with breakfast, sail through to lunch and then glide through to dinner. There are plenty of bands and events on offer here, and every Friday free beer for those who participate in a beach clean-up.
The writer travelled as a guest of Wonderful Indonesia