A primer: Surfing and Surf Camps in Canggu [Video]

18 May 2020

Visiting Bali is a rite of passage for all surfing fanatics, and Canggu is the “place to be” when it comes to hipster vibes, cool coffee shops, and epic waves. Whether you’re coming to Bali with very little experience under your belt or you consider yourself a surfing pro, there’s something for you in Canggu. 

Canggu, Bali offers the perfect setting for a fun beach getaway, but the real draw isn’t the trendy foody spots or the epic nightlife scene. It’s catching those early-morning waves as the sun rises over Berawa Beach or Batu Balong. 

With so much going on, navigating Bali’s busiest neighborhood isn’t always easy, but this guide to Canggu surfing can help.

 

Getting to Canggu

Before you can start surfing Canggu, you first have to get there. The route you take to get here depends on where you’re coming from, but let’s assume that you’re flying into Bali’s international airport. The airport - Ngurah Rai - is located south of Denpasar, so you’ll drive north past the capital and Kuta for about 45 minutes to get to Canggu. 

Once you get through immigration and you’ve officially arrived, you can get a taxi that will take you directly to Canggu. Try not to use the taxi drivers that are waiting outside of the terminal - they’ll do their best to rip you off. The cheapest fares are at the taxi counter that’s located in the airport before you enter the Duty-Free shop.

Orientation 101: About the Area

In the past few years, Canggu has become the go-to destination in Bali, and not just for surfers. It’s a fun place, but it’s not known for only attracting overly intoxicated Aussies like Kuta is. The vibes aren’t as hippy-dippy in Canggu as they are in Ubud, and many travelers say that this area is the perfect balance of all the elements surfing travelers seek. 

The real beauty of Canggu is that it is what you make it. If you’re looking for a laid-back vacay filled with yoga, healthy food, and early-morning surf sessions, go for it. If you’re more into the idea of late-night parties, beachside cocktails, and catching a few waves in between, then, by all means, go right ahead. 

There is one thing to keep in mind, which is that Canggu is by no means an under-the-radar destination. It’s filled with restaurants, bars, hotels, and the wave lineups can be unbearable for surfers who prefer peace and quiet. We’re not saying that Canggu can’t be scenic and peaceful, just that it’s one of the major tourist hotspots of Bali.

 

Cost and Budget

The official currency of Bali and the rest of Indonesia is the Rupiah (IDR), and 1 USD is equivalent to about 15,000 IDR. Some local establishments only accept cash, but most places in Canggu will happily accept credit card transactions. However, you can expect there to be a small fee each time you pay with a card. 

Withdrawing money from ATMs in Bali is pretty sketchy since there’s a lot of card skimming and ATM fraud that goes on here. Try to take some cash out at the airport before getting to Canggu, that way you know you can trust the ATM. If you need to take cash out elsewhere, try to avoid mini-mart machines and only use ATMs within banks and other trusted areas. 

In terms of how much you can expect to spend, this depends entirely on your budget and travel habits. It’s really easy to do Bali on a budget, but for this, you’ll need to stay in hostel dorms and eat at local warungs. A lot of travelers decide to go all out with luxury villas, high-end meals, and private tours - and this lifestyle will obviously cost you more.

 

Best Time to Visit 

Take a peek at any Canggu surf report and you’ll see that the best time to visit the area for surfing is during the dry season, which falls between May and September. This is common knowledge, so you can definitely expect crowded waves during these months (especially in June and July). 

If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, try to visit at the front or backend of the dry season (so late April or early October). The swells might not be as strong, but you’ll be able to catch a wave with less chance of other surfers getting in the way.

Waves and Surfing

It’s finally time to focus on the Canggu surf map and talk about the best waves in the area. There are 3 main spots in Canggu that are most attractive for surfers, including Echo Beach, Batu Balong, and Berawa. 

Echo Beach

Echo Beach is located at the heart of the Canggu surf scene. The waves here are blended with locals, digital nomad ex-pats, and tourists, and it’s no surprise why this area gets so much attention from all walks of life. The lava reef breaks and black sandbars definitely aren’t ideal for newbies, but it’s a great spot for intermediate and expert-level surfers. 

There are 3 main stretches of Echo Beach: Left, Sandbar, and Right (also called The Rivermouth). The most challenging of these is the Right stretch of the beach, which is located at the northernmost end of Echo. Some waves here run right into a shallow rock garden, so tread lightly. 

Batu Balong

The waters of Batu Balong are great for learning, which is why so many surf schools operate along this beach. There’s an area that’s perfect for beginners thanks to its consistent gentle shallow waves and ideal paddle to pop up conditions. 

Once you’ve mastered the basics, the area to the north is a bit more challenging (still good for beginners, though). After you’ve conquered that, the southern part of Batu Balong is where intermediate surfers go to ride the fast righthander. 

Berawa Beach

Berawa Beach is another solid spot for intermediate surfers who want to experience a variety of waves. There are 3 different breaks to choose from here, including a small barrelling righthander, a lefthander that’s perfect for long rides, and another righthander with a steep drop-in.

Best Surf Camps in Canggu

Kima Surf Camp

Kima Canggu Surf Camp is one of the finest surf establishments Bali has to offer. This operator opened its first location in 1995 and has been going strong ever since. They’ve got several locations throughout the island, including Canggu. It’s located in a trendy area, sandwiched between the best breaks of Echo Beach and Perenenan. 

“Away from the hectic traffic and tourist centers, you can completely fall into the eat-sleep-surf-repeat rhythm in the Canggu region with its many rice fields, only a stone’s throw away from the water.”

- Kima Surf Camp, Canggu

Every Kima package includes surf guiding, yoga sessions, airport transfers, surf video analysis, daily breakfast, and more. They cater to every surf level, but they recommend that complete beginners sign up for the 3-day (or longer) Learn to Surf package. 

  • Language: English
  • Surf Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: From 200 USD (3-Day Package)
  • Website: https://kimasurf.com/canggu-surfresort/

Dreamsea Surf Camp

Dreamsea is a great choice for surfers who crave comfort, style, sustainability, and a touch of luxury. This camp prides itself on the fact that every accommodation option is a little bit different from the last, so you’ll get an authentic experience no matter if you stay in either a private suite, a twin room, or a shared dorm. 

“At Dreamsea we want to share our philosophy, to connect people from all around the world to each other, to nature, and to the cultural life and traditions of the place.”

- Dreamsea Surf Camp, Canggu

Dreamsea offers camps all over the world, but the one in Canggu is the main jewel in the Dreamsea crown. Guests can take their pick from a variety of offered activities, including yoga classes and surf guiding/lessons. One of the best parts of this camp is the onsite restaurant, which specializes in a fusion of local and international flavors. 

  • Language: English
  • Surf Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: From 540 USD (8-Day Package)
  • Website: https://dreamseasurfcamp.com/canggu/

SurfWG Bali

SurfWG is all about offering its guests an endless summer experience through fun times in and out of the water. Whether you’re hoping to improve your skills or you’re starting from scratch, SurfWG has got your back. This Canggu surf camp is a great choice for budget travelers who don’t need luxury to fully embrace this surfer’s paradise.

“Unlike other surf camps in Bali, we are still sticking to our principles. We want you to feel at home and enjoy your holiday to the fullest.”

- SurfWG Bali

If you choose to go with the SurfWG Plus package, you’ll get all the benefits of a luxury camp - just without the luxury rates. A WG member will pick you up and drop you off at the airport, you’ll get the chance to explore Bali, and you’ll get 3 days of beginner-level guidance completely free of charge. 

  • Language: English 
  • Surf Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: From 30 USD (Nightly Rate)
  • Website: https://www.surfwg.com/

Wave House Surf School & Camp

Wave House is a Canggu surf hostel that has a restaurant, pool, and tropical garden. They a full day of activities on the itinerary for guests who like to get out and about, or you can chill at the house in between surf lessons. However you choose to spend your time here, you’ll have easy access to the best Berawa surf spots. 

“Wanna catch the best waves and travel through amazing places? We created the best conditions for your holidays to help you surf, relax, chill, and see around!”

- Wave House Surf School & Camp

  • Language: English 
  • Surf Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
  • Cost: From 57 USD (Nightly Rate)
  • Website: https://wavehousebali.com/

Other Stays 

The surf camps covered above are all great options for staying in Canggu, but they’re certainly not the only ones. There are TONS of Canggu hotels, villas, hostels, guesthouses, and Airbnbs to choose from. Many travelers opt to live in luxury in Canggu villas, some of which have killer views over surf beaches or rice terraces. 

If you’re not into the idea of staying a dedicated surf camp, you might consider booking with one of these popular Canggu accommodations: 

  • Vassani Stay - Comfy boutique apartment that’s a quick scooter ride to surf spots
  • Desa Seni - A resort that’s dedicated entirely the wellness and spirituality
  • Eco Gypsy Houses - Cool bohemian vibes in a tranquil setting
  • The Bali Dream Villa - A chic resort nestled between rice fields and Echo Beach
  • Surf Motel - Great location, just minutes from Echo Beach surf spots

Where to Eat and Drink

The long list of Canggu restaurants is actually one of the biggest attractions in the area. There are some truly amazing places to eat, ranging from local warungs with heaping plates of traditional Balinese food to trendy health food cafes.

The best advice you can take is to try as many different restaurants as possible. You’ll likely fall in love with the first place you have a meal, but do your best to move on and give other establishments a try. To get you started, here are a few of the most recommended places to eat in Canggu: 

  • Canteen - A retro breakfast and lunch hotspot with good food and good vibes
  • The Shady Shack - A mellow cafe with a creative vegetarian/vegan menu
  • Crate Cafe - Smoothie bowls galore and scenic rice terrace views
  • Nude - Clean food options for a healthier body, mind, and soul
  • Moana - A Polynesian restaurant that’s all about the seafood

When you’re ready to gravitate from eating to drinking, you’ve still got plenty of options. The most popular bar in Canggu is undeniably Old Man’s, but other hotspots for cocktails and conversation are Pretty Poison, The Lawn, and Sandbar. 

Other Activities

Looking for more things to do in Canggu aside from surfing? There’s a lot to keep you busy here (like eat, drink, party, shop, skate…) but try your best to explore other parts of the island if you get the chance. It’s called the Island of the Gods for a reason, so go out and explore the volcanoes, waterfalls, and other areas like Ubud, Seminyak, and Kuta.

Random Questions

Is Canggu the best surfing destination in all of Bali?

It depends on who you ask, but a lot of surfers will say yes, Canggu is the best. Maybe it doesn’t have the best waves in all of Bali, but it’s got a lot going for it in other aspects. However, if you’re looking for expert-level waves, you’ll want to check out the Bukit Peninsula area. 

What’s the best beginner-friendly wave in the Canggu area? 

The most mellow and beginner-friendly waves can be found at Batu Balong (also called Old Man’s Beach). There’s a flat reef-bottom here with soft, gentle breaks that’s ideal for newbies with longer boards.