Discovering the still-quiet area of Canggu to reboot and revitalize body and soul through yoga, healthy eating and total relaxation.
“There used to be beautiful rice paddies just down this road,” said an Australian tourist to her friend as they strolled past me.
I was walking down Jl. Padang Linjong in Canggu and she wasn’t kidding.
This area just north of Seminyak on the west coast of Bali has turned from mere paddy fields just a few years ago into a bustling beachside ‘village’ where the hip tourist escapes from the Bintang-singlet-donning holiday-makers who have started to spread their wings from the overcrowded Kuta to Seminyak, just 10 kilometres south of Canggu.
Visit this area soon before all the beautiful rice paddies disappear and it becomes another Seminyak.
It took me some time to put my finger on Canggu, but after a bout of 10 nights in the area, I can best describe it as surfer-meets-yogi territory – thus a mix of Seminyak and Ubud – with the laidback feeling that Sanur offers. Big swells mean these waters are for experienced surfers, although many learn-to-surf schools exist. There are yoga studios and retreats a-plenty, plus vegetarian, vegan and organic eateries, making this the perfect health retreat in Bali.
To navigate the area, rent yourself a motorbike or bicycle and think of Canggu as several small roads off of Jl. Bypass Tanah Lot and Jl. Raya Canggu, which each find their way to the sea. The main little roads are Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong (which ends at Batu Bolong beach), Jl. Raya Semat, Jl. Raya Pantai Berawa and Jl. Pantai Berawa, and Jl. Padang Linjong (which ends at Echo Beach).
The most happening of all the beaches that Canggu has to offer are Batu Bolong and Echo Beach, which sit less than a kilometre away from each other. The rocky ridges and dark volcanic sand of this area may not be as enticing as pristine-white sandy beaches, but don’t let the black stop you from coming back; the vibe here is chilled out and the swells pull in surfers from all over the world.
On Pantai Echo, beachside restaurants barbeque up fresh seafood while tourists and locals alike sip on Bintangs, sitting on colourful bean bags as they watch the even more colourful sunsets. The problem, is not only bean bags are scattered on the beach, as litter can also be found. This should be addressed before it stops tourists from returning.
Further north, away from the bass lines of Echo Beach and Batu Bolong’s bars sits Seseh Beach, the right choice for those wishing to escape the crowds. There are some stunning villas here – Sejuk Villas being right on the beach – but these are quite pricey, so for those on a budget, grab a motorbike and head here for the day – just remember to bring food and drink as not one store exists…yet.
And that’s the thing with Canggu; it’s developing at the speed of light, and the incessant sound of the power saw can be heard nearly everywhere you go. So, if you’re looking for some quiet time, make sure you check with the hotel before you book to see if there are any renovation works in the area, as this could quite easily steal your chill.
Yoga for yogis
Most places you stay in Canggu will put you within 10 minutes of the beach, which sets it apart from Ubud. Canggu is home to a number of excellent yoga studios, the most notable in the area being Samadi Bali on Jl. Padang Linjong, Desa Seni Yoga on Jl. Pantai Berawa, and Serenity Yoga on Jl. Nelayan.
Samadi is set amongst greenery with a delicious vegetarian cafe serving a mix of western and Indian delights, and yoga is done over a pond, so the sound of trickling water can further centre you. Classes cost Rp.120,000 and in the mornings you have the chance to experience Mysore style, a class where students practice the self study of Ashtanga under the watchful eye and aid of the instructors. Samadi also offers yoga for surfers.
Desa Seni Eco Resort provides yoga and meditation classes set in peaceful, lush green and immaculately landscaped gardens with happy-chic-meets-traditional decor to further inspire you and make you feel good about the world. Classes cost Rp.120,000 and include complimentary tea. Organic food can be found in the restaurant, so you’ll be sure to eat well after you work out.
Serenity Yoga is located behind Alkaline restaurant, and although the yoga studio may not be as naturally inspiring as Samadi or Desa Seni, classes here are very popular at Rp.100,000. Mysore, YinYasa and Ashtanga for surfers are also available. Try the vegan cheesecake with a chai tea at Alkaline afterwards.
Spa it up
After a morning of intense surfing or yoga, what better to do than visit the spa for some much-needed R and R? There are plenty of options available in the area, with most hotels offering in-room services, but do make the effort to visit Therapy Spa at the end of Jl. Padang Linjong, just before you hit Echo Beach.
Behind this non-assuming white-walled facade is a world of extremely well-trained therapists ready to bring you into deep relaxation with “the best massage in Bali”, as voted on Tripadvisor.com. Try the cream bath (head, shoulders and arm massage), the one-hour reflexology, and the Balinese massage, but make sure to book, as it understandably gets very busy here during high season.