If you’re looking for somewhere with awesome Airbnbs, great bars, top sunsets, organic eats and ever-changing waves, look no further than the Canggu surf.
An introduction to Canggu surf
Ah, Canggu. Digital nomad mecca. The cool corner of the Bali south coast. Haven of yogis and laptop warriors. There’s lots to like in this part of the Isle of the Gods. Once upon a time this was the untrodden land beyond the chic resorts of Legian. It was a patchwork of rice paddies and fishing shacks and black-sand beaches. You’d be hard pushed to find any hint of that any more. Roasteries and organic vegan kitchens mingle with artisan bakers and lively sunset bars in the ever-growing web of narrow roads behind the shoreline. Canggu is booming.
One of the reasons for that is the Canggu surf. It’s not the best on Bali, that’s for sure. But, on good days, there’s lots going for it. A series of spots string their way up the coast from south-east to north-west, starting with Berawa near Seminyak and ending with the challenging reefs of Echo Beach. Variety is the keyword, because you get classic Bali rights off volcanic bottoms. You get glassy walls and A-frames that barrel. But you also get mushy lagoons were the surf schools of Canggu show beginners how to pop.
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This is part of our greater guide to surfing in Bali – check there for more information on the other awesome surf breaks on the isle of the gods!
Canggu surf at a glance
- Sandbar waves create great variety
- Great area for nomad surfers
- Some rare Bali longboard spots
- Crowds – you better believe it!
- Reports of pollution. Beware the Bali Belly
- Cliquey as hell
What’s in this guide to the surf in Canggu?
- An introduction to Canggu surf
- Where is Canggu?
- The best surf spots in Canggu
- Where to stay for surfing in Canggu
- When to surf in Canggu
- Surf shops in Canggu
- Where to eat in Canggu
There’s fantastic infrastructure in Canggu these days – or at least there is by Balinese standards. You can still expect mega jams on the roads in the morning and mid afternoon (when everyone’s returning from the waves). However, a HUGE selection of Airbnbs and great hotels help, surf schools and surf shops help to balance that out. Downsides include a growing localism attitude and kook slams on the beginner breaks. Still, it’s lovely here. We love it.
Where is Canggu?
Canggu is one of the main sections of the built-up south coast of Bali. Head north-west from Kuta and you’ll pass through Legian and Seminyak – both major hotel areas – before arriving. The transfer from the airport in Denpasar takes around an hour, but that’s mainly because the roads are usually clogged with traffic. You can book pre-paid rides to get there in the arrivals terminal. Fares should be about 225,000 INR (10-15 GBP).
The best surf spots in Canggu
Okay, so there are a few secret waves still be revealed in Canggu. We’re not gonna risk a scratched scooter to put them here. Hey, half the fun is scouting this lesser-known part of the Isle of the Gods to find them for yourself! However, there are three spots which lead the way for Canggu surf. They’re all popular, so expect crowds. They’re also all very different in shape, power and character. We’ve also thrown in another that’s lesser known but sometimes shows some nice walls.
Echo Beach Left
The farthest spot from the town of Kuta is also the most challenging wave in Canggu. A left-hander with plenty of kick as it rolls into shallow reef sections at mid and low tides. Expect short but fast rides through mini barrel sections when it’s overhead. On more relaxed swells, wax down the <6″ for the potential rippable walls. Hazards are underfoot rocks and rips. Some localism. NOT for beginners. Other peaks stretch up the beach too but these change with the sandbanks. Can be fickle so know what you’re doing.
Hate it or love it, Batu Bolong is Canggu’s most popular wave. We sigh at the sheer amount of people in the lineup some days. It’s simply not cool. Flying foamies and drop ins are the diet to expect. Rise for a dawn patrol and you could be rewarded with room for manoeuvre. Decently long rides come with the walling rights but there are also some peaks with fast lefts. Good for the longboard on slow days. Great for practicing ripping or sitting in the pocket. Underfoot is pebble and sand with some stone. The surf schools – and the crowds – will flock in the mid morning. There’s also an uber-beginner break just in front of Old Man’s Beach Club.
Berawa (Pantai Berawa)
The Berawa surf spot folds off an open river mouth and a series of underwater reefs down towards the south-west end of Canggu. It’s quite tricky to get to, so the crowds will thin out. However, be wary of coming just for the sake of it. The wave is deceptively slow peeling. In fact, the shoulder wipes fast and you’ll need to be able to handle hollow sections so you don’t get locked in. Berawa is one of the surf spots in Canggu for bigger swells because it can hold up higher. Rips and pollution are the bad side. Beware high tide – it’s just not happening then.
Hardly a soul goes here to surf, but it’s not a secret spot per se. It’s more that it takes more for Batu Belig to get working and surfable. Look for S-SW swells and nothing over a metre and you could be in for some neat walls with challenging drop ins over a sand bottom. You’ll never have a long ride here. What’s more, leave the swell pick up too much and closeouts are the norm. I think I saw one rental shack on the sand last time I was around (2019) – maybe.
Where to stay when surfing in Canggu
One of the upsides of the unceasing development that seems to be going on in Canggu is that there are now loads and loads of awesome hotels to pick from. We’ve chosen some of our faavourites. They’re cracking stays with a touch of that Bali luxury. But – crucially – they also offer good proximity to the best surf breaks up and down Canggu beach.
COMO Uma Canggu
COMO Uma Canggu is exactly the sort of high-luxury spot that Canggu is about these days. Slickly designed with a mix of modern and traditional Balinese elements, it opens onto Echo Beach’s surf breaks with a glimmering swimming pool and bamboo-shaded sun terraces. Rooms are Scandi cool with mod cons like flat-screen TVs. Some even have private decks right by the swimming pool – perfect for morning dips!
Aston Canggu Beach Resort ($$)
Sat right by Batu Bolong’s main entrance, this four-star hotel offers doorstep access to some of the Best surf spots in Canggu. it’s classic Bali seaside resort stuff – think a rooftop infinity pool and sleek contemporary design throughout. Cocktails in the deck up top at sunset are also pretty special.
Kos One Hostel ($)
Whoever said hostels have to look like hostels? Chic, cool, and downright luxurious Kos One channels a little bit of its namesake Greek island and mixes it with Balinese charm. The dorm rooms are beautifully done with pod-style beds, but it’s the curvy pool set between the emerald rice paddies outside that really takes the biscuit. It’s also a great place to meet and mingle with other surfers.
Step-by-step guide to planning your Canggu Surf trip right now
Step one: Book flights to the Canggu Surf…We use Skyscanner and only Skyscanner for this. The reason? We’ve always found it the best site for comparing deals from basically ALL airlines and somehow seems to offer deals that beat going direct.
Step two: Book your surf lodge. There’s Booking.com. That has consistently unbeatable rates for hotels and a nifty map feature that lets you check how close EXACTLY that hotel is to particular breaks. Or Book Surf Camps, which is the numero uno online booking platform for fully-fledged surf-stay packages.
Step three: Book surf lessons and other activities For advance booking, you can use GetYourGuide or Viator. To be fair, though, we usually just leave this until we’re there – it’s easy to book in person in most surf destinations.
When to surf in Canggu
Don’t worry, Canggu surf pumps all year round! There’s rarely a time when there’s no wave available. The real question is what sort of wave you’re after. How high? Punchy and strong? Day-to-day consistency? With questions like that there’s really two seasons in play:
The ‘monsoon’ in Bali actually refers to the wind, not rainfall. In fact, the time from Nov to March can actually be pretty dry. It is wetter overall, but showers tend to be quick and heavy. Most will burn themselves out overnight in most cases.
The monsoon season actually sees the power of the waves decrease on the Bali west coast. Most of the serious surfers will head over to Lombok or the far side of Bukit to chase barrels. Canggu surf December time is probably the lightest of all, with mush aplenty in Old Man’s for the beginners. Still, there are often big days you’ll need to beware of and hollow conditions are still known – this is Bali, after all!
Dry Season (April-October)
Dry season in Bali starts in earnest around April time. Surfers set their clocks to the moment the E-SE trade winds start purring, because that breathes life into breaks like Ulus and Padang Padang over in Bukit.
It’s also good news for Canggu surf, but not because of the wind. This is also the time that the dominant Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean S-SW come across, feeding high swells with long periods all over this part of the island. Keep those winds in mind, though, because they’re actually crossshore in Canggu so stronger days could be better at dawn before the gusts get up.
Surf shops in Canggu
Canggu has stacks and stacks of surf shops. Most of them cluster between the cafes and bars of Pantai Batu Bolong on the way to the most famous breaks. But there are also others scattered up as far as Jalan Raya Canggu in the north.
BGS Bali Canggu
Need a wax, leave with a wax and a flat white. That’s just how it is in this coffeeshop-surf shop mishmash in the depths of Canggu. Super chilled and super cool, the spot is all polished concrete and minimalism. The range of stock is small but well curated. Short boards, fish tails, leashes, and some surf fashion is the name of the game at BGS Bali Canggu.
Well-rated for board buyers, Kartel Boardstore offers a wide range of potential additions to the quiver. The catalogue contains models from famous shapers from Oz and beyond, along with some more affordable pop-out boards that you won’t be so scared about dinging on the reefs of Berawa surf spot. Of course, there’s also reams of fins, leashes, and surf apparel to get stuck into.
Best places to eat in Canggu
Canggu has risen to become one of the foodie meccas of southern Bali. look for some of our top-pick eateries in the blocks behind Canggu beach and you won’t be disappointed.
Duck under the trimmed hedgerows to enter Sprout and you’ll find yourself in a soothing interior of muted greens and whites. That’s the setting for arguably the best organic-health food stop in the area – and that’s seriously saying something in Canggu! Fruit bowls, buckwheat pancakes, and fantastic blended coffee roasts are the order for brunch. Don’t miss it.
Let’s make it simple – vegan eateries DON’T get any better than this! Changing the world one plant-based burger at a time, the folk here are passionate about all things cruelty free. Whet the appetite for a menu of breakfast burritos, hash browns, bok choy-soy salads, and seiten hot dogs. Ah god my mouth is watering!
Koloni can seem like a prime example of the sort of hipster coffee-and-food haven that’s now abundant in Canggu. However, we still think it’s a cut above the rest. The menu is a welcome fusion of Californian and Balinese flavours, which means poke bowls of grilled fish and beetroots topped with avocado. Seating is either in the cool greenhouse-style indoors or out between the blooms of palms and ferns.
This is part of our greater guide to surfing in Bali