CANGGU: a coastal town about an hour drive from Ubud, Canggu has a laid-back surfer vibe, an Australian-influenced dining scene and tons of adorable cafes and shops.
Shady Shack: a super cute vegan/vegetarian café where you can enjoy your fresh veggies while sitting in the shaded outdoor garden area. All the food is as Insta-worthy as it is flavorful. I recommend ordering a few of the bowls to try/share and of course, ordering some raw, vegan dessert for the table 🙂 Not everything is gluten-free, so make sure to ask your waiter if you are avoiding gluten.
Made’s Banana Flour Bakery: such a fun place to visit! Made’s Banana Flour Bakery is the world’s first banana flour bakery—and everything is 100% gluten-free and celiac friendly. The flour they use in all their baking is made from green bananas, which are high in resistant starch and nearly sugar-free. Plus, the banana flour actually serves as a prebiotic to feed your microbiome and heal your gut. The bakery offers breakfast, but is very tiny, with limited outdoor seating, so I suggest stopping in for some takeaway goodies and breads for the day. Try a bunch because the brownies, banana bread, and cinnamon buns are all amazing, and didn’t last us long..
Crate Café: an Aussie-inspired café, Crate serves ‘brekkie’ all day. Casual and often crowded with surfers & shoppers, you can stop into Crate anytime for a flat white, chia pudding, smoothie bowl or some of their famous smashed pea/avocado toast (gluten free toast available!).
The Lawn: a beautiful beach lounge + restaurant, The Lawn offers tons of outdoor seating overlooking the beach as well as a pool accessible to guests. Day beds are available to rent for around $70 USD and are a great option if you want to spend the day rotating between the pool, tanning and beach—plus it is the perfect vantage point to watch a beautiful Balinese sunset. The menu includes lots of snacks for grazing through the day, as well as more entrée lunch and dinner options, and the bartenders will mix + muddle you cocktails using fresh tropical fruit—or you can opt for one of their kombucha cocktails instead.
Betelnut Café: another cute health-food option with Asian-inspired dishes. Go for one of their big salads, veggie curries or try the beetroot burger (gluten free bread is available). They also have coffee + breakfast options.
Café Organic: true to its name, and #gardengangstas hashtag, Café Organic is another vegetarian café that uses fresh, locally farmed produce in all their dishes. A health-food haven, they serve smoothie bowls with all the superfood toppings, kombucha, matcha lattes, bottomless salad bowls and vegan ice creams/ice pops to satiate your sweet tooth.
SHOP: Canggu has lots of really cool, unique boutiques with items made in Indonesia (or Australia) so not readily available in the US or for order online. Unlike Ubud, the shopping is more upscale and unfortunately there isn’t room for bargaining 🙂 Prices are still very reasonable. Be sure to check out:
Lost in Paradise
YOGA: Canggu has one main yoga hub—aptly named The Practice—where you can fit in your flow before a day at the beach or in town. The studio is beautiful and has ample space for lounging between classes to read, relax and enjoy complimentary tea. All the classes are divided between sun + moon flows so you know exactly the strength of the practice, and after effect (energizing vs. relaxing).
STAY: the best part of our Canggu visit was our stay at the Pantai Indah Villas, a truly gorgeous property.
The villas are family-owned by the lovely Mike and Natalie and offer 5-star service including a nearly 24/7 staff to prepare you fresh breakfast (eggs, gf toast, fruit for us), accommodate all your daily needs + requests, schedule any surf lessons or day trips and connect you with their driver, Made. The staff is kind, caring and truly become like family members as you get to know them over your stay. They take such pride in their Balinese culture and want you to experience it as well. A beautiful pool, partial outdoor kitchen + showers and multiple sundecks provided the perfect place to mix relaxation with daily exploration.
One of the highlight of our trip was when the lovely ladies of the villa cooked for us. If you decide to stay here, it is a must to have Ketut and Komang cook for you. The food is flavorful and delicious, using traditional Balinese spices and made with such love—definitely some of my most memorable meals from the trip!
NOTE: the Pantai Indah Villas are not located in town and you can walk 15-20 minutes by beach into town during the day but I would not recommend this at night! Otherwise, the villa driver will easy transport you to and from town.
Lunch at the villa.
Taking a dip at our villa.
If you opt to stay closer to the downtown area, The Slow Hotel is newly-opened in Canggu with cool, modern rooms and a chic restaurant/bar area for dining or grabbing a drink. Good vibes and delicious food. Book in advance as the boutique hotel fills quickly!
Lunch at The Slow.
ULUWATU: located at the literal south-western tip of Bali, Uluwatu is a beautiful beach town with white sand beaches, surfing and home to one of Bali’s most important and well-known temples. If going for a day-trip only, start the day with a tour of the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple—be sure to walk down the cliff for breathtaking views. When you’ve had your cultural fill, head to Single Fin beach club and bar for a mid-day poké bowl or acai bowl from the Nalu Bowl outpost located at the club. While you eat, enjoy Single Fin’s awesome beach views and all the daring surfers catching waves. After refueling, head to the local Padang Padang beach to tan and chill. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent surfboards for the day and paddle out—or just lounge on the white sand and sip on a fresh coconut. While Uluwatu has a small handful of cute restaurants and bars, Single Fin is by far the main hub and best place to return to for a happy hour cocktail and sunset views. On Wednesday and Sunday nights, Single Fin offers live music + dancing! A day in Uluwatu was glorious—and filled with beach, bowls, and a mid-day massage, but I would recommend spending more time—at least one night—in Uluwatu to fully experience this cool beach town.
Grab a pop on your way down to Single Fin.
GILI ISLANDS: the Gili Islands are a bit of a trek (key to travel light here!) but their picturesque beauty makes it worth the journey. My time was spent on Gili Trawagan – the most popular Gili Island – and traditionally more of a ‘party island’ though you can opt to stay on the more quiet, chill side of the island as I did. If you just want to relax, I would also recommend exploring Gili Air, a slightly calmer island 10 minutes by boat from Gili T.
GETTING THERE: depending where you are coming from, travel to the Gili Islands will take most of your day and requires a bus ride to one of the fast-boat pick up locations. Definitely opt for the fast boat as it is a 2.5-3 hour journey, even by fast boat, and can be choppy at times. Once on the island, you will need to take a horse-drawn carriage to your hotel (this made me a little sad but there is literally not another option). After a long day of travel, treat yourself to a dip in the ocean and a ginger-infused juice (or cocktail) upon arrival to quell any motion-sickness/nausea. You made it to paradise!
Desa Dunia Bedia: an authentic Balinese beach resort on the calm, chill side of the island. The staff will greet you with a refreshing blended fruit juice (as many places do in Bali) before showing you to your freestanding villa. Each villa/room has a beautiful wooden porch, antique Balinese furniture and an outdoor shower and toilet. The Desa Dunia is steps from the beach and offers daily bicycle rentals. No matter where you stay, be sure to rent bikes as the best way to explore—it takes less than an hour to leisurely bike the entire island! Between the jungle terrain and gorgeous beach views, bring your camera with you and be prepared to stop for lots of photo opps along the way.
Casa Vintage: is your go-to spot for eating, luxuriating, and if you’re in the mood, shopping. Located right on the beach, Casa Vintage has lounge chairs, as well as restaurant seating. The Caribbean vibe is felt from the food—lots of jerk spices and curries—to the staff, who welcome you into their family by calling you brother or sister. Stop by for lunch and then move to the beach chairs and sip on refreshing fruit juices, smoothies or cocktails.
Gili Teak: another great beachside resort, restaurant and hang out located just next to Casa Vintage.
Gili T Night Market: sadly we didn’t have a chance to visit the night market, but I am told this is a must-visit at night if you are curious to explore different stalls of street vendors for the local flavors of Bali!
SEMINYAK: located a convenient 30-minute drive from the airport, Seminyak makes for a perfect stop-over when in transit to your next destination or (in my case) en route back to the airport at the end of the trip. While Seminyak itself is more of a party scene with less of the cultural influencer as other parts of Bali, there are still some great accommodations worth exploring.
We spent our final night at Katamama, a boutique hotel in Seminyak that celebrates local artisans throughout Bali. Each room is impeccably designed and decorated to showcase the art and design of the region. The indoor/outdoor hallways, and abundance of foliage at every turn, oxygenate the space and keep you connected to nature, and you feel worlds away from Seminyak’s party vibe. Thoughtful touches- such as your choice of a craft cocktail poured in your room- along with welcome cookies + donuts (for the non gf peeps) make you feel immediately at home. After a delicious, relaxing dinner downstairs at Movida, the Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant, you can retreat up to your room for a complimentary hot tea, indulgent bath using the array of bath products, and then cozy up in a cool linen robe. *All the products + snacks + decor featured within the rooms are available for purchase in the Katamama gift shop (we tried to buy the Canaan robes as a final souvenir and they were sold out!).
Breakfast at Katamama.