Destination Canggu: The Insider Guide

Destination Canggu: The Insider Guide

Posted by Kristian Laliberte on

Your definitive cheat-sheet to Bali's bohemian hotspot  

“Is this the new Tulum?” It’s a question that’s been feverishly asked with clickbait regularity ever since New York magazine published its’ high-key savage takedown of the once-sleepy Mexican resort. Of course, the answer depends on what version of Tulum induces nostalgia. If you’re searching for that sweetspot (pre-walking around-without-stumbling-into-influencer-shoots, post-sewage/hippie camps situation), our nomination lies on the West Coast of Bali. Welcome to Canggu (or, as the surfer expats call it, The ‘Gu), a buzzy-bohemian spot that’s palpably cool but still — if we’re lucky — a couple years away from Coachella-level peak-gentrification.



Past the eye-watering prices of Semiyak and the frat-tastic party that won’t quit Kuta, Canggu melds Greenpoint vibes with a hang-ten sensibility, happening beaches and bars, and the whole farm-to-table yoga thing — all served with a side of spirituality and #nofilter sunsets (best dosed with a hibiscus cocktail).



Head there before everyone else does — Onia has you covered with a design-conscious cheat-sheet of where to stay, eat, shop, and play.

The Hotel Hotlist

The Slow


Canggu’s pioneer design hotel — situated in the thick of the town’s hopping main street —  is the de facto hangout of the international haute hipster set, with slick concrete and spare lines, a worth-the-Spotify-follow piped-in soundscape curated by cult L.A. band Allah-Las and the owner’s Insta-friendly collection of cutting-edge contemporary art (hello, Mr Andre). Bonus Points for the spare concept shop featuring a mix of elevated streetwear and straight-outta-a-shelter-mag pottery, plus a swinging Indonesian restaurant with perhaps the most stylish cocktails this side of the '20s. When evening hits, order their signature rum punch and head to the rooftop to watch the sun (slowly) go down. 



Mandala: The House


Sprawling over 6,000-square-feet, this private villa (there's room for you and nine of your best friends) — designed by superstar Spanish architecture firm SUKYF — was named one of Elle Decor's "World's Most Beautiful Homes" for good reason. Actually, several of them. First, there's that cinematic glass-bottomed infinity pool and swim-up bar. We're not sure what to pick for a close second — we're torn between the 360-degree views of Bali's signature rice paddies (surf breaks are only minutes away), the personal chef, a sunken living room done up in moodboard-worthy teal paint, or the "secret" library. As one guest told us, this home was "built for rockstars."

Como Uma


The latest addition to the if-you-know-you-know hotel group COMO, it can't be long before location scouts for the new James Bond movie franchise cast this sexy Echo Beach-fronting resort as a next-level meet-cute for the spy's new girl. If you're feeling more bougie than boho, book one of the duplex penthouses (pictured, above), where private butler service comes with your own 10-meter pool. 

Where To Eat

The Mocca 


A shabby-chic (but make it tropical) aesthetic backdrops this cafe (above, left) tucked down a side street from the main drag. Come for the feel-good friendly staff (the kind that remembers you the next day), stay for the purple vegan breakfast pancakes...then come back again to have some of the most epic crispy pork belly you've ever tried. 



Enso Sushi


This surprisingly sleek new spot (above, right) offers surprisingly affordable Japanese cuisine (pro-tip: save even more between 5-7pm daily for Happy Hour pricing). Mr Bobby mans the bar, where ice-cold Yuzu Sodas go down real well with Tuna Garlic Tataki. 



Deus Ex Machina


Owned by the Australian surfer-biker-skater brand of the same name, which describe this restaurant-cum-concept store surrounded by rice paddies as "the place where motorcycles and fine-dining collide." Prime tattoo-watching, especially accompanied by that Tomahawk steak for two. 



Peloton Supershop


No relationship to the workout machines, though bikes double as wall art (the owner's father rode professionally) at this nexus of Canggu's healthy, plant-based culinary landscape. While vegan food-bloggers snap going-on-the-feed posts all around you, focus on the Moonshine Morning smoothie bowl or Jackfruit Tacos. 



Starter Lab


Bali's not exactly the place you'd expect to find a temple to carbs, but this baguette-sized bakery (pictured above) has become the darling of the international bread set (yes, it exists) — so popular, in fact, that co-owner/baker Emerson Manibo, an alum of Per Se and Tartine, just opened a second outpost in Singapore. If you're a sourdough junkie or want to get addicted, get there early (like, 7am early) before it invariably runs out. 



Blacksand Brewery


"Why can't I get a decent beer in Bali?" Apparently, it was a question that led extreme surfer Mattia De Bitonto to found this just-opened hops-spot (pun intended) at the top end of Canggu. Powered by a thirst for local craft brew and a bar to call home, De Bitonto assembled a crack team to run our kind of beer garden. Here for the food menu (calendar in the Sunday Night tapas), unreal prices, and an IPA worth the flight. 





Open 'til late, we like this modern and minimalist Australian eatery from the dudes behind the much-lauded Fishbone Local (also in Canggu) for its' mission statement — "using carefully sourced, quality ingredients to make good food from scratch, by hand." That includes signature cheese, pickles, and charcuterie (fennel and chili salami, anyone?), plus wood-fired realness in the form of, say, slow-cooked lamb shoulder.


The Neighborhood


Outstanding coffee (that tumeric latte for the win), natural wine, and apolished-boho aesthetic? Check, check, check. This new community-driven daytime restaurant — next to Berawa beach — sources local ingredients for super-fresh, super-delicious dishes like Beetroot Fritters or Mango Panna Cotta.

When You Want To Party

Pretty Poison 


The crowd at this skatepark-cum-drinking-den-cum-rave (go easy on the shots — they also offer up $25 tattoos that you might regret) probably wore Supreme pre-designer collabs. The massive skateboard bowl is the 'grammable star of the show, if the ride-or-die patrons gave a damn about something as mainstream as social media. 





The owners claim this heaving underground (legitimately) club is ushering in a new phase of Canggu nightlife. It's not that grandiose a statement — before Vault, there was no real spot for straight-up dancing, especially the kind of crystal-clear surround sound House music needs. It closes when it closes, sometimes past sunrise, which is just fine with us. 



The Lawn


The flirting scene is game-on at our favourite Canggu beach-club. Settle in to a nap-worthy daybed overlooking black sand and the Indian Ocean or take a dip/make a friend in the infinity pool, then get ready to boogie (the Friday night parties are legendary) when the sky turns the color of cotton candy and the speakers go way up. Pro-tip: The Espresso Martini infused with Balinese arak packs the good kind of punch. 

Shopping + Wellness  


Cove Island Essentials


Part of the bustling Berawa Beach retail scene, swing by this dreamy concept shop (pictured above) for write-home-about homeware. Pastel-shaded ceramics, rattan bags, kilim rugs, and pretty beach towels compete for attention with the clean concrete floors, custom arched display nooks, and one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.



Bold And Bright 


A kitschy-cool aesthetic sets the tone at this storefront where local and international tattoo artists deliver some of Bali's best inked-in designs . Ask for Adi — he lives up to those glowing Google reviews. 





Ostensibly a healthy-eats, all-organic cafe, we dig their side project, appropriately called "The Other Project," which offers slow-made home pieces like speckled-grey pottery and subtly printed linen pillowcases. 


The Practice


Practice makes perfect: Live in your Dharma fearlessly — that's what the flexible folks say at this world-famous (they even have a virtual edition) open-air yoga studio (pictured, above). There's a lot on tap here, from daily meditation and asana sessions to teacher training programs and free presentations. Pro-Tip: Book a Yoga Nidri spot with Jonas, then hit the magical garden with a glass of chilled tea for maximum inner-bliss.



Desa Sensi 


A yoga "village" that's a step or five up from some of the backpacker-approved stretching spots. That's not necessarily a bad thing; This zen-inducing resort, faithfully modeled on a typical Indonesian village (the whimsical wooden cottages were taken and reconstructed from all over Bali), could inspire an Eat, Pray, Love-type transformation c/o its' focus on holistic well-being, from produce sourced from the backyard vegetable garden to a Merapu Svaasthya spa. Don't leave without doing a "Melukat" ceremony — a priest washes you in holy water to purify the body and soul for benefits that include preventing "bad luck, havoc, and sickness." We haven't gotten the flu since. 





This architecturally inclined prestige day spa — part of Kiwi founder Ina Bajaj's high-end Asia-Pacific mini-wellness empire  —  bills itself as part of Canggu's transformation from "bohemian hideaway" to "a tropical playground for the jet set." We hope that's optimistic, though no complaints re: the Raw Facial (ask for a treatment with Widi) and Hair Rescue.



S2S Fitness


If you like your workout on the hardcore side, this CrossFit spot delivers the right fix. For a real tone-up, join the legions of jaded SoulCyclers who trek here for its "Fitness Holiday," a cult all-around multi-week health experience — best enjoyed solo —  that has inspired more than a couple New Yorkers to quit the city and/or wear harem pants. 

The Perfect Beach

Batu Bolong 


If riding fat waves — or single surfers — is your thing (beginners, Enjoy Wipeout delivers expert-led lessons), you'll never want to leave The Gu's most popular stretch of sand. Watch the action — or get into the Beer Pong and pepperoni pizza scene — at OG beach bar Old Man's.

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