The waves on Canggu beach are so powerful and foamy one needs a surf board to join them – and one must know how to use it. Many do not, and it is entertaining to see the surfing students tumble in the breakers like colorful seaweed, arms and legs flailing.
At 11 am it was still quiet on the beach, which says a lot about the rhythm and culture here. Only now, nearing noon, are people finding their way down to the beach. The street I live on gets busy at around 8 pm and quiets down by 2 am. In the morning at 9 am it is still very quiet. Canggu is a party place for many it seems. Not like Ubud, where half the town wakes up with the sun for yoga and the other half heads to the market to buy fresh produce.
The beach here is several kilometers long, and littered with surf shacks covered in graffiti art. Surfboard rental shops, surf schools, and beach bars make up most of it. The shacks are still proper shacks, with weathered paint and leaky roofs. But give this place another 3-5 years and it will be different. Up the main streets one can find both plots of wasteland and glitzy lifestyle shops. Raw food restaurants and spas and a few yoga shalas give this place an “Ubud” vibe. Perhaps in five years this will be an Ubud for health conscious surfers. Or it will go down the same god-awful route as Kuta, Seminyak, and Legian. I hope not -although if one only walks some 15 minutes down South one finds Seminyak style bean bags and loud music from noon onwards.
Upwards and past the wave-battered Pura is Echo beach, which still has a surf shack feel: rickety, 2-storey beach huts with board rentals and low-key bars and warungs. Perhaps the choppy seas will help this place defend its surf feel from the worst beachgoer chaos.
But today it is only me, a fisherman, and a few surfers.
(Canggu, Bali, Indonesia; August 2018)