Monday, August 13, 2012


Last visited August 2012

Canggu (say it with a Ch) is traditionally a fishing and rice growing area just north of the Tuban-Kuta-Seminyak tourist strip. But things are changing fast. The best surf in the south west away from the Bukit peninsula has attracted many wax-heads over the past 20 years and more recently the area has become a focus for both expats and frequent visitors to buy or lease a villa. Plus resort developers have not been slow to open new accommodation. Better hurry - pretty soon Canggu will look like today's Seminyak (which looks like Kuta did 15 years ago - and not too different from Kuta today. I stayed in Seminyak 20 years ago - no surprise that it was very similar to the present Canggu except the surf wasn't as good).

Canggu is little more than 10km from Kuta by road but because of horrendous traffic you will not do it in much less than 40 minutes before about midnight. Add another 15-20 to the airport. Voyager Boutique was charging 160k idr (approx $us16) for an airport drop-off in August 2012 (modified Google Earth image).

JPS-Jalan Pantai Sentosa  JBB-Jalan Batu Belong  JPB- jalan Pantai Berawa  JN-Jalan Nelayan
1 - large general store  2-morning market  3-water park  4-Deus ex Machina  5-Betelnut cafe  6-ATM
7-Echo Beach/Sea Sentosa  8-Canggu Beach  9-ATM  10-Canggu Club  11-back route to Seminyak/Kuta  S-main surf breaks

Canggu Beach where Jalan Batu Belong hits the sand, looking south -those large white buildings are just past the main Kuta beach area. Seminyak is about 4km down the beach, Kuta 8km. Apart from the beachfront tables this area has a bunch of very inexpensive warungs with fine meals and cold drinks.

Not to mention surf-board hire, surf-wear sales etc.

Unlike the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak strip, Canggu has a series of rocky mini-headlands which have caused sand bars to build up further offshore than normal, resulting in better than average surf. However I was a bit perplexed - the curve of the beach means the dry season south easterlies are not off-shore like further south but parallel to the shore which leads to fairly sloppy conditions. Wet season prevailing winds would be on-shore causing even sloppier stuff. A local confirmed the best time to get surf is early morning before the wind gets up. The swell was pretty small when I visited but the local told me that when it gets big and the wind is right there is a very fast wall to surf. I reckon the conditions I saw would be ideal for learning and novices - there seemed to be no shortage of dudes out in the breaks and shooting around the lanes on motorcycles fitted with board outriggers. Plenty of locals surfing too like this dad and son. Quite a few locals are excellent surfers.

When the tide drops those mini-headland areas become good regions for fossicking. 

Those along-shore winds mightn't be the best for the surf but are great for kite-surfing.

Canggu Beach looking north. Note the sand colour - tends to black when wet. You won't write home to mum about beach quality. That's the temple at Echo Beach on the next mini-headland - might be clearer if you click image to expand.

Just past the temple is the Echo Beach warung area. Even more warungs and beachside tables than at Canggu Beach to the south. Great spot to grab a beer and a beachfront seat to watch the surfing. The far headland is about 3km from here with a series of mini-headlands and small beaches between. I walked up in about 30 minutes but some sections would be difficult towards high tide.

On the far side of the headland is the famous Tanah Lot temple. Takes another 10 minutes to walk around the headland to this spot about 400m south of the temple. Some big traditional Bali style resorts behind the headland.

20 years ago I rode a bicycle from Sanur thru Denpasar and down Jalan Batu Belong to Canggu Beach. There was little else but paddy fields from the main north-south road down to the beach. Now maybe only 40% of the paddies are left, much less so than Google Earth is showing at the time of writing - their image must be a few years old. The influx of surfers, expats and tourists seeking a new beach destination away from the crowds of the Kuta strip has seen a flurry of development. It is self-generating - these people are demanding good restaurants and shopping experiences, schools for their kids (I know of a travel-forum operator who has recently moved from Sanur to Canggu's near neighbour Umalus because the general area has English language schools - in his case at Seminyak), western type clubs and entertainment. I recently read an article in an Aussie newspaper about Western Australian iron ore miners settling their families in Canggu and flying in on a 7 day on, 7 day off basis - Bali is closer to the Pilbara than Australia's eastern states and less expensive - plus the winters are nicer than anywhere south of Bundaberg. The Pilbara is hot much of the time, but dry and dusty, miles from the coast and the cost of houses, living astronomical. Even to a truck driver making $aud150k (add 5% for US dollar equivalent). So fly in fly out is popular.

This existing road thru one of the biggest undisturbed paddy areas was being topped with these fancy pavers in early August 2012. Only developers can afford to do this in Indonesia - looks like we will soon have a line of villas along this strip.

There is no shortage of signs as above. Canggu and Seminyak to the south must be the villa capitals of Bali.

There are dozens of villa developments like this. 

And a couple of big apartment developments like Sea Sentosa at Echo Beach. This is an Australian backed development - one bedroom with ocean views $aud500k, two bedrooms from $900k and penthouses at $3m. Tell them they're dreaming - these are Sydney prices for similar apartments in the beach suburbs. Sydney has some of the dearest real estate in the world right now. The Bali deal is on the typical 50 year leasehold (with a 50 year option) whereas nearly all Sydney's are permanent title. And Sydney beaches blow Canggu out of the water. Note that prices for very attractive looking villas back from the beach at Canggu were much more realistic - $aud 250k can get you a nice place.

A number of expats in the newspaper article mentioned the attraction of the local Canggu Club which has sports, a gym and western style eating. 

There is no shortage of good places to eat. This is Betelnut cafe which has big servings of yummy local and western food at prices not too much more than the warungs down at the beach. We ate here several times. Food is organic for all you trendoids. Another 5 minutes closer the beach is Ulu Thai restaurant - prices a step up but still very inexpensive by western standards. Quality and presentation a step up too from the budget stuff I'm used to in Thailand. Has to be a couple dozen similar places to these within a few square km.

Then you have this funky place which seems to be rolling a whole bunch of expat wants into the one business - check the sign.
 Deus ex Machina  - say Deyus ex Makkina according to Lady Tezza who was a Latin swot in her youth when not practising juvenile delinquency. She tells me the literal translation is 'God out of the machine' - go figure. But a great place to spend some time.

Part of the showroom. There were also bicycles for sale, surfwear and other clothing, art, music, a trendy cafe area* with prices similar to Ulu Thai - and out the back some accommodation, plus bays repairing and rebuilding motorcycles like this, fixing surfboards and framing artworks etc. If Betelnut had trendoids this place had the uber cool. I felt way out of it.
Canggu seems to be the vintage bike epicenter of Bali - with lots of these 80s/90s Japanese machines fanging around - all seeming to be rebuilt in stripped-down naked bike style. Cool.
* a week after I returned from Bali an Aussie Sunday paper travel supplement mentioned Deus Bali at Canggu as one of the half dozen or so new cool places to eat on the island. It also mentioned the impact of the Eat Love Pray set (Julia Roberts wanabes) on dining/shopping etc in places like Canggu, Seminyak, Ubud and Jimbaran.

 DeM is not the only outfit restoring bikes - this small workshop on Jalan Nelayan was turning out similar stripped down restorations along with general motorcycle repairs.

When Lady Tezza tags along I try to get something above my usual backpacker standard, but not too expensive. A perusal of the booking sites' prices and reviews led me to pick Voyager run by two South African guys, Don and Justin. This small place didn't disappoint with beautiful rooms and grounds, helpful laid back hosts, great staff and a quiet location about a 1km 10 minute walk from the beach. Plenty of nearby shops and restaurants and one of the biggest sections of remaining paddy across the road.

The exterior of our Standard semi-detached villa - the second least expensive of the 5 rooms in the place (note: the cheapest room is wheelchair accessible). It is set in a small garden area adjacent the pool - dark brown tinted glass gives a real classy look.

Inside nicely colour coordinated, tasteful furnishings, comfy king sized bed, aircon, refrig, jug. Out of picture frame at top is a loft area which would be ideal for storing surf boards etc. Bathroom continues tasteful theme - has a big stock of towels and a funky outdoor shower area and tub. 

Pool not big at about 8m but ideal to laze in. Enough sun lounges for the size of the place. No restaurant - the pleasing inclusive breakfast (big bowl of fruit salad and yoghurt or fruit juice, eggs on toast or pancakes, big cup of tea or coffee) was served in a small kitchen area at rear left - for other meals there is a good selection of restaurants close by - Betelnut is only about 4 minutes, Deus ex Machina 6 etc. There are also plenty of small family owned shops within close walk. The hosts provide a really good map which shows the locations of these and much more.

I thought the "Creative" part of the place's name referred to the imaginative artistic design but there is more - a Guru Room where guests can do recording, mixing, mastering etc of music, videos, advertisements, documentaries and similar. Don is an experienced producer with many Balinese contacts if you don't bring your own backup. The guys were pre-recording with a funky looking babe bluesy singer when we stayed but the Guru room must have good soundproofing because noise did not trouble us - I'm a bit sensitive to such things.
Check this and other resort features a

I shot this from the small lane which runs east of Voyager Boutique resort - note this is the lane I picture up-page being re-paved for at least 500m of its length. This is a nice image to click-expand.



stuart mcdonald said...

Not sure if yr talking about me, but we moved from Sanur to Umalas - kid's school in Seminyak :)

Good writeup & cheers from Georgetown!

tezza said...

Oops, the old memory fails again. Thing is I get confused with all those little village areas just north of the Tuban-Kuta-Seminyak strip. Umalus googles like an okay place to be based - kinda like Canggu, but closer to the facilities of Seminyak - and maybe with fewer surfer dudes and tourists wizzing around the place?
Anyway I modified the text to correct the mistake.

Georgetown. Haven't been to Penang for 15 years hence I don't have a page. But a real interesting place. Have a good time.

Louise said...

I want to go there and try snorkeling there it was really interesting to me.

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kohsamui said...

Such a nice place, i want to visit it once in my lifetime.

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Charles Bird said...

Similan Islands

Phimaphot ComEDU said...

your pic are big happy when I see it, so nice....
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