For foreigners in Bali, living in the Canggu area has become increasingly popular over the last few years. I remember when I first started exploring the Canggu area just three years ago, there was no traffic, only small roads and rice fields as far as the eye could see. It is (unfortunately, some might say) not like that anymore, but, it is still an awesome area to live in, or even just to visit for a day, a week or even for longer periods. It is an especially popular place for expats to live with their families for extended periods.
But how is the surf!?
There are basically three places to surf in Canggu: Echo Beach, Berawa Beach and Old Man’s/Batu Bolong Beach
To get to Echo Beach most people use the so-called shortcut through the rice fields. It is a simple small road that takes you from the Berawa area to Echo Beach much faster than if you were to drive all the way via the main road and then down to Echo Beach. This shortcut used to be a dirt road, but about three years ago it was upgraded into a proper road, which was nice for a while as it made it much easier to drive on. However, that didn’t last long, as then more cars started using the shortcut resulting in long queues during some times of the day (especially when the surf is pumping at Echo Beach). The road is actually not meant for cars, but because you can save a lot of time by using it, cars tend to use it going both ways – which can result in huge queues. However, once at Echo Beach, the journey to get there is soon forgotten.
At Echo Beach you can surf either the reefs to the right or those to the left or even the beach break just in the middle of the beach. In general, the waves are powerful (way more powerful than at Berawa and Old Man’s) and the spots must be considered as being best suited for intermediate surfers. Having said that, you can get some great long right or left waves on a good day. The beach can be popular though and the reefs can get easily crowded on a good day, and as the take-off spot is relatively small, you might have a lot of competition getting a wave. If you prefer less competition, you can always surf the beach break, which is always less crowded. Waves here can give you great rides and can be powerful, but they are not as long as at the reef spots.
After a surf at Echo Beach, there are plenty of small warungs and bars to enjoy a cold Bintang and a cool sunset.
Berawa consists of one long beach break with a couple of small scattered reefs. Most surfers tend to surf the break just in front of the road, but you can easily escape the crowd by surfing a little more to the right or left. The waves are generally less powerful than at Echo Beach. I personally prefer the right spot, as it is less crowded making it easier to get some waves.
There is a small cosy pop-up bar at the end of the road where you can enjoy a coconut or beer after the surf. There is also a huge new place being built, which most people say is supposed to be a new “Potato Head” kind of place, which is a fancy but very nice place in Seminyak.
Old Man’s/Batu Bolong Beach
When coming down to Old Man’s Beach, you have to go through the same “shortcut” you take to Echo Beach. There are plenty of places for parking there, so you will have no problem parking at the beach. It is a black lava sand beach, and when standing in front of the Old Man’s restaurant you will be looking out at the spot called Old Man’s. Just to the left of this spot is Batu Bolong, which is always a little smaller.
Old Man’s/ Batu Bolong must be considered the easiest of the three spots in Canggu to surf. It has a very fat wave with little power – making it good if you are a beginner with a longboard. You will have plenty of time to get in the right position, paddle a little to get it and then to get up on your board. The waves are long and can barrel when big. Most people choose to go right, but you can also get some good waves going left. When going left, the wave tends to be a little shorter though.
Because of the fact that the waves at Old Man’s and Batu Bolongen are so good and easy, these spots are always crowded. They also tend to attract a lot of beginners, especially at the Batu Bolongen spot, which can make it dangerous being out there. Don’t expect to get waves entirely for yourself. Most of the times you charge for a wave, there will be 3-4 other surfers doing the same without really knowing that there are rules about whose wave it is or consideration of who should get up first. This means that you have to take care not to hit someone or to be hit by someone! Also you have to be prepared to expect a lot of “party waves”, i.e. waves with more than one person on it.
If you are the more experienced surfer who tends to get annoyed if it is too crowded, it might be a better option going to Berawa or Echo Beach for a surf. However, if you can hit this spot when it is not crowded (which is very unlikely), this spot is one of the best north of Kuta.
After a surf, you can go to Old Man’s for a beer. Also, every Wednesday they host huge parties.
This post is written by a good friend of Vilondo villas – Rasmus Sørensen, owner of Sørensen – www.soerensencph.com