I think (aka, I know) I’ve done a very atypical thing here by coming to Canggu for a restorative holiday. The general consensus is that this is a place to come if you want to see and be seen, party away the days into the nights, beach bathe to the tune of the surrounding beach-bar beats, shop, or generally just keep about town.
What’s been really cool for me is to come to this place and make it “my own” in the sense of curating an experience that is what I was wanting, and not what is prescribed by the perception of the vibe here itself.
I came to Canggu last time I was in Bali but knew I hadn’t had enough, so when I found myself with a week off work and desire to flee the scene in Perth – I decided I needed more of the cafe and restaurant culture here, and I’m so glad I came.
Here’s a food-lovers + chilled-out-old-persons (that’s me) guide to a relaxing few days in Canggu:
Day 1: Check-in + Dine-out
I landed a bit late, but knew exactly where I wanted to go when I got in that night. I’d loved it from last time, and was drawn directly back.
Fish Bone Local had to be the spot with their ultra cool vibes, delicious menu, sustainable and ethical practices, amazing service, and strategic proximity to my accommodations, ha.
A pleasantly warm welcome from my new fave bartender, Agus, and a delicious meal paired of course with a couple cold Bintangs – the signature seal of appreciation for exactly where I was in that moment. Perfection.
Day 2: Eat, Yoga, Eat, Repeat
One of the main purposes of this trip for me was to wind down and re-connect with myself, which I felt was necessary and possible only with the help of an open-air yoga studio off the ocean.
I chose The Practice and I’ll be honest – though the style of yoga here was not my overall favourite, I’m glad I did it as they offered me something I’ve not experienced before, and I was able to enjoy more once I settled into it.
I was averaging about two classes per day which was the perfect amount to still ensure I had time to explore the neighbourhoods (and work on my tan, of course).
Breakfast at Canadian-Owned Gypsy Kitchen + Bar was the obvious first choice as soon as I discovered the home-grown connection, and that they also have a location in Montreal! I’ll visit the CDN version once I’m back to the homeland.
Then lunch at Mason. Mason is the sister restaurant to Fish Bone Local, and is equally as impressive with such intense attention to detail from the decor, to the menu to the flatware and branded M. plates – I was so impressed! Admittedly expensive by Bali standards, but when you can do what they did with a cauliflower and crudo, well, you can have all my money. Treat yourself and make it a date night with yourself/travel partner/stranger you met along the way.
After lunch I felt like I was in need of some sun and surf though I have to say the crowded, hazy, black-sand scene of Batu Bolong just really wasn’t working for me. I wanted sun, but I also wanted a bit more of a relaxed vibe, so back to The Lawn I went for an iced coffee and chill-out with my amazingly helpful and entertaining book in hand, “Everything is Fucked. A Book about Hope” by Mark Manson.
(More on that here).
Dinner on day-two was simple. A deliciously essential Tofu Buddha Bowl from The Mocca Cafe. There is a welcome addition of roast pumpkin to so many dishes here and it’s everything I could hope for and more! The Mocca, though nothing to really rave about, was easily the place I visited the most. For coffee, a hydrating coconut, dinner, lunch, dessert – I found myself popping back time and time again to enjoy their open-air rooftop dining space which was never too busy and provided a little private oasis for when I was overwhelmed by all the options and choices in a place like this.
A quiet night, some blogging, some reading and I successfully avoided the party-scene (happily, I might add).
Day 3: Up with the Sun
After a solid rest, I was up around 6:30AM and ready to explore, so I ventured near The Loft with the intention of posting up, but turns out I much prefer their location in Uluwatu. I stumbled across to a cafe called The Common instead. YUM. I made a few tweaks to a Benny on the menu and it was absolutely delicious. They also have a breakfast special where you can order your main dish + coffee + fresh juice for 100K IDR (approx. $10 CDN) which serves as the perfect day-start or hangover cure for those in need.
A quick cruise up and down Jl. Batu Bolong with a couple off-shoot turns and turn-arounds, and this led me to my next fave hot spots: lunch at La Bandida because even in Bali, I have to get my mexicana fix, and dinner at Leroy’s New Age Vietnamese.
Woowww this place. La Bandida is equal parts beautiful and delicious.
Leroy’s I loved instantly because it was so “Toronto,” that’s really the best way I can describe it. Small and cozy, kind of dark but cool vibes. The food is on point, the service attentive, music to vibe to – loved it.
If I lived here, these people would know me and all of my adopted stray dogs by name. Just sayin’.
And home! Though not without first catching the sunset and okay, ONE beach-side Bintang didn’t hurt. Maybe two.
Day 4: Surf and Sun
Because a trip to Canggu isn’t complete without at least an attempt to ride a few waves, I booked in with Baruna Surf Culture for a bit more of an exclusive experience. Old Man’s is BUSY and Echo Beach is not for a beginner like me, so to pay a slight premium to get off the beaten path with an organized group like this was the winning ticket. They offer 2:1 or 1:1 lessons, but the first option was just fine by me and allowed me to meet some really cool people to share in the experience with as well.
My last (aka only other) surf lesson went down at Bingin Beach in Uluwatu, so since I’ve gone twice, can I actually say I’m a surfer now?
Back in the afternoon, I was beat but in the best way. Ready for yet another killer meal I scoped out The Shady Shack. It’s exactly how it sounds, a not-so-little beach shack restaurant serving up bomb.dot.com vegan eats and sweets. This is one of those places that is good any time of day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee + a treat – and it’s ALWAYS packed, so be prepared you might have to wait depending on timing.
It was an early night given I had a 3AM wake-up call for the next day – I needed some sleep before getting up to go visit the dolphins at Lovina Beach during sunrise!
Day 5: Living that Tourist Life
Admittedly, 5 days in Canggu is a lot, unless you’re surfing for the most part. I quickly realized this on Day 2, and decided I needed to make an escape and explore some more of this beautiful island. I didn’t have enough time to go back to the Gilis, or head to Nusa Lembogan/Penida, and though Ubud was appealing, I’ll revisit here another time. Tegallalang was my first thought but the tours are exactly the same to ones I’ve done before and so the discovery of Lovina Beach and the promise of being able to boat-ride alongside hundreds of wild dolphins in the morning felt like exactly everything I didn’t know I was looking for.
And so it was. These guys were FAST and they would surface and jump as if they were here to play and race with us (that’s what I imagined in my mind anyways). Pods of 8-12 would appear and retreat, then another grouping, and another. It’s incredible to think what else is going on in that great big ocean when these groupings of dolphins were there, and then they were gone – nowhere to be seen even though mere moments ago they were literally RIGHT beside you.
The tour I booked into also included what turned out to be an absolute highlight of the trip for me – a trek to a stunning waterfall in North/Central Bali.
I love when this happens – typically it’s the places you know nothing about, or didn’t realize you had any desire to go that pop up to make your day. Of course this is a lesson in expectation and anticipation which I could ramble on about, but I’ll spare you. For now, I’ll simply mention that of course there are endless numbers of waterfalls to explore and to have touched even just one of them was so special for me.
Banyumala Twin Waterfalls is apparently a bit lesser know, as evidenced on arrival when I had the place essentially to myself.
Getting here was super easy along a surprisingly well-paved path until you reach more of a forested trek (like a rain forest with offshoot falls soaking the path in a few spots along the way), but incredibly easy – it’s maybe 15 min to get in and out from the car-park (it’s the road in that you have to worry about to be honest).
The tour was fairly non-descript from here on out – afterall, how can you possibly top that gorge? But a local lake-side lunch, photo-shoot at Wanagiri Hidden Hill (lol this place was beautiful but also ridiculous) and of course no trip to North Bali is complete without a coffee tour/tasting, so tacking that on, I was lucky enough to enjoy mine this time in a tree-top setting.
The drive home was long and given I’d been up since 3AM with very little sleep the night before, it was everything I could do to keep from shutting my eyes, even though I’d just pumped myself with caffeine and sugar.
SO a quick refresh at my homestay, sunset at Echo Beach and dinner again at Leroy’s because, Soft Shell Crab Bao, like whoa.
Day 6: Soaking up the Sun
…and trying not to cry. Such is life – all good things must come to an end, and my time inevitably came to enjoy the final hours of this beautiful place before catching my flight back to Perth.
La Brisa is one of the best discoveries I made while being here. It’s SO pretty. Yes, it’s a “scene” but I tucked myself pool-side with an iced coffee and it was honestly perfect. Not too busy, though don’t get me wrong, this place gets packed! But it was the perfect afternoon setting to relax and grab a bean bag or cabana coupled with a few refreshing dips in the aquamarine, tiered infinity pool.
Oh and I got a tattoo that afternoon so I was limited to my sun and water exposure, haha.
Lunch at La Bandida because I was being nostalgic and re-visiting all my fave places, as well as a final coffee to-go from Gypsy with a promise to see these guys again soon back home.
And THUS concludes what I dubbed my #balieatingtour2019. I hope whenever you go, you find all your own faves, and maybe we’ll share a few of the same.
Honourable mention goes out to The Avocado Factory, Essential, The Secret Spot and I Am Vegan Babe, along with the following, because, I’m only person who can only eat so much, so here are the spots I didn’t personally get to but want to scope out for next time:
– Moana – fish + fresh seafood
– La Baracca – traditional italian + pizzeria
– Dandelion – local specialties
– Lena’s Kitchen – local specialties
– Milk and Madu – everything amazing – I think – haven’t been yet but looks unreal, haha
– The Raren Guest House – JL. Pantai Batu Mejan No.99
– The Farm Hostel – further from the beach but looks like a super cool stop-over
– DreamSea Social Club – I’m going to splurge and for sure stay here next time #treatyoself and likely do their surf camp as well.
I’ve said it before in my previous post about Bali the Beautiful, but my best advice is to just get there, walk and wander, lose yourself and I promise you’ll in turn find your way to something amazing!