Bali is without a doubt the most magnificent place I’ve had the privilege of visiting. A never ending adventure into a paradise of fitness, surfing and amazing food. It offers everything from idyllic beaches, terraced rice paddies, exotic sunsets, upbeat energy and the beginning of life long friendships.
After a winter of working towards improving our fitness levels we decided to treat ourselves to an Ultimate Fitness holiday, to sweat, explore and relax in one of the worlds most epic destinations. Having spent two amazing weeks at Ultimate Fitness Thailand last year we thought we had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Oh how wrong we were! Ultimate Fitness Bali itself did not live up to our expectations. The classes were small and lacked lustre. The trainers while helpful and enthusiastic lacked expertise, drive and passion. What the camp failed to meet in training definitely made up for with its amazing characters we had the privilege to holiday with. There were people from every walk of life sharing one common denominator – the love of fitness. Training, living and socialising with one another for two weeks meant that we had formed a very tight bond and got to know each other extremely well.
Our package included membership to Crossfit Wanderlust for the two weeks. We had followed them on Instagram for quite some time and were becoming increasingly excited to train with them. After day one we were in awe! One of the main reasons Wanderlust is so effective is the proven fitness techniques they employ. Training is scaled for each individual, catering for all levels of fitness and knowledge. The coaches are unbelievable, extremely fun, knowledgeable, outgoing and supportive. Hands down the people are what made Wanderlust so insane. Expats, travellers, big hotshot crossfitters, locals and visitors. Due to the size of the classes most workouts required a partner which only added to our experience, always engaging with new people. Being one of the largest and best equipped training facilities on the island they offer a huge variety of classes from gymnastics to Olympic Weight Lifting, to Body 360, Metcon and CrossFit. We are now most definitely Crossfit converts!
Certain areas of Bali have been hugely influenced by tourism leading to vegan eateries, hip beach bars and cute cafes. Canggu is now the place to be, it’s one of the most up and coming areas due to its boho vibe and surfer culture. Spanning from north of Seminyak to south of Tanah Lot it has so much to offer. A hot spot for travellers as well as digital nomads seeking refuge close to the beach! Canggu is rugged in the most beautiful way possible. It’s surrounded by unpaved roads, one being the shortcut (google it). It is charming, characteristic and charismatic, composed of green rice fields for as far as the eye can see, filled with markets and friendly Balinease locals.
While Bali is tropical with high temperatures all year round the best time to visit is during dry season, May to October. Humidity levels are lower and rain is unheard of. That being said it’s the most popular time to go resulting in more expensive flights and it tends to be quite busy.
We chose the Deluxe Package on offer with Ultimate Fitness Bali, our accomodation, breakfast and lunch were included. This meant we didn’t have to worry about looking for places to stay. Speaking to other travellers we were informed that the main part of town is extremely popular, hostels, guest houses and hotels along Batu Balong. From here you are within walking distance of the best cafes, restaurants, shops and the beach.
Thing to do in Canggu
Rent a scooter:
Traffic in Bali is horrendous and is extremely wasteful of precious holiday time. Driving a scooter in Bali is chaotic and aggressive so it will take some time to get used to. That being said it is ‘the Bali way’ and very cheap at that. We rented a scooter for 10 days, the best decision we ever made. We explored somewhere different every day without having to sit in traffic or wait on Uber’s. It cost 50 IDR per day. A full tank of petrol lasted a week and cost 200 IDR. I can’t stress enough how important it is to wear a helmet. The amount of accidents is unreal. If you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself you can use the GOJEK app for an uber on the back of a motorcycle. This is also used to order food online, a very handy app to have.
Canggu is one of the most popular places for surfing in Bali. Batu Balong is a great spot for beginners. Echo Beach would be considered the main spot where famous surfers are known to be spotted regularly. Old Man’s, named after a nearby bar is a popular spot recommended for fans of longboards or mid level to experienced surfers. Boards can be rented on most beaches for 50 IDR for two hours, surf lessons can also be provided on request.
Horse riding on Canggu Beach:
Dare to jump on horse back and explore the rice paddies or gallop along the horizon of sunset. Bali Equestrian Centre is renowned for their experienced trainers and well kept horses. While we didn’t have time to explore this opportunity, friends of ours could not have spoken highly enough about their experience.
Get lost in the markets/boutiques:
Love Anchor is a small popular market in the heart of Canggu. It sells everything from clothing to homeware. Old Man’s hosts a market which is on the last Saturday of every month from 8am-3pm. Canggu is filled with beautiful boutiques. If you are travelling on a budget DO NOT ENTER! The clothes are fabulous but tend to be on the pricier side.
Book a spa treatment:
No visit to Bali is complete without immersing yourself in the world famous Balinease massages. The very best and most popular amongst the fitness fanatics is AMO spa. An intricate affair of pleasure, relaxation and pain all combined! All massages are carried out in private rooms, you pick the sex of your therapist, the preferred pressure and the scent of your oil. Other facilities include ice baths, saunas, steam rooms, beauty therapy and hairdressing. It was the equivalent of 50 dollars for 2 people.
Visit Tanah Lot Temple:
Tanah Lot Temple is a popular landmark for tourists. You definitely won’t escape the crowds here. Often referred to as the temple of the water, this ancient Hindu shrine is perched on a rocky base in the middle of constant crashing waves. A mere 20 minute scooter ride from Canggu and most popular at sunset with many tour buses arriving for their final stop of the day. It’s important to note that you cannot access the temple grounds, the locals lead you to believe you can. However, the views are simply amazing. Like everywhere else there is also a tourist village with stalls selling souvenirs and clothing.
Catching a beautiful sunset in Canggu is essential. There are numerous spots to do so. Old Man’s – Batu Balong Beach is one of the most popular destinations. You can purchase everything from fresh coconuts to beer or corn on the cob. Echo Beach, the Shack was a favourite of ours, immersed amongst the locals spotting sight of surfers riding their last wave of the day.
Hit the Beach Clubs
Finns Beach Club:
A huge club on Berawa Beach. We found this place to be slightly pretentious boasting 6 bars, 2 swimming pools, a restaurant and spa. The rental fee for a day bed starts at 500 IDR. There are different parties on each week including international DJ’s.
The Lawn is by far our favourite beach club. It has a chilled boho vibe. It is a day to night venue with a relaxed atmosphere and delicious food.
Potatoe Head Beach Club:
Potatoe Head Beach Club located in Seminyak is a must visit place, the ambience, the music and food in totality is not to be missed. Ensure you book a bed in advance, it’s extremely busy with up to a two hour waiting time.
La Brisa, a bar and beach club on Canggu’s Echo Beach offers beachfront cocktails and shabby tropical vibes. It’s a popular sunset hotspot and is home to breathtaking decor.
Climb Mount Batur
As far as wake up calls go, trekking Mt Batur at sunrise was 100% worth it. In fact it was one of the highlights of the trip. After doing our research Dee a friend of ours booked the tour. In the early hours between 2 and 3 am we were picked up from our accomodation and taken to the foot of the volcano. We met our tour guides, were equipped with flashlights and began our ascent.
A rocky path to summit a 1717m high volcano. A relatively easy climb starting at 1000m hiking throughout the night. There are several paths up and dozens of companies offering organised tours and private hikes with experienced guides. This is, after all, one of the most popular activities to do in Bali. While Bali is associated with tropical temperatures this is not the case on top of Mt Batur. It’s freezing cold! Be sure to bring something warm to wear. Above the clouds the sky is still dark, then the emerging show of colours began. In fascination we all watched on while the sun began to slowly rise – an array of shades that only nature could display. It was breathtaking.
The sun had risen, the flashlights were off and breakfast had began. The guides boiled eggs from the steam of the volcano and provided bread and banana sandwiches. Dirt bike taxis are on hand for a hefty fee for those who struggle to complete the summit. The descent began, we passed some wild monkeys raring for a photo opportunity. Beware they will steel your belongings and drink your water! The way down is not as easy as you would think. Don’t let the locals fool you – they run up and down in flip flops.
The entire experience was nothing short of magical, worth every step of the way.
Take a day trip to Ubud
Ubud Bali’s inland jungle is extremely popular with tourists and for good reason, an abundance of culture immersed with friendly locals.
We managed to see Ubud in one full day trip from Canggu. It’s also possible to do from Seminyak and Uluwatu. Many tourists spend a few days here, however, I’d recommend 2 days maximum as it’s very highly populated. The easiest way to see Ubud for a day is with a private driver. We hired Maddie through @Puturv.bali on Instagram. Anyone planning a trip to Bali needs to get in contact with him. We learnt so much about the culture and nature of Bali. You can hire a driver for a particular tour or you can dictate where they take you. Have a plan and be assertive. Leave early to avoid traffic. We were picked up at 6am and our first port of call was the Tegallalang Rice Terrace as it becomes quite unbearable later on in the day. We had the whole rice paddies to ourselves. Having a driver meant that we did not have to contribute to the forced donations every few metres while moving from terrace to terrace.
Next to the paddies was bursting with markets – be willing to haggle. Its full of boho homewares, infamous straw bags, spices, clothing and fresh fruit. Haggling can be tough, be polite, yet firm. A rule of thumb is to never pay more than half of the original asking price. However, this is much easier said than done!
Satria Agrowisata Coffee Plantation was a short journey away. Home of Luwak coffee, one of the worlds most expensive and low production variety of coffee. It’s made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Luwak (a small tree climbing animal) and then passed through the digestive tract, infused and defacated by enzymes before being pooped out. After ‘poo hunters’ gather this dung they are thoroughly washed, dried, lightly roasted and brewed. To be honest it didn’t taste half bad – cat poo chino! After learning about the production we had a chance to sample numerous blends of coffee and tea. A guided walk around the lush jungle setting led us to the Bali swing.
The Bali swing is popping up on everyone’s Instagram feed lately. It’s more than just a swing, it’s a playground for adults. We were presented with safety waivers and taken towards the swing. Everything is taken care of in a very professional, yet fun manner, you are well secured by a harness and waist strap. The view from the swing is phenomenal.
Instagram literally runs the show when it comes to the infamous Bali swing, nests and bamboo look outs. You can spend as long as you like within the grounds taking photos. Come the end of this experience we never wanted to take another photo again. The employees and tour guides photographing every moment , directing us to within an inch of every photo! The green forestry is stunning and it’s a surreal feeling to be swinging above the trees.
Another awesome place to visit near the swing is the Bali Monkey Forest. A sacred forest of Hindu temples and tranquil rivers where you can meet and feed free roaming Balinease monkeys. Home to 700 monkeys, this forest is visited by over 10,000 tourists a month. The entrance fee is 80 IDR. The monkeys are used to people roaming through day in and day out, however, it’s no secret that people have been bitten. Just remember to be careful and take precautions.
-Don’t look the monkeys in the eyes, it’s seen as a sign of aggression.
-Don’t touch the monkeys, if they climb on you, remain calm and enjoy the experience.
-Do not torment the monkeys, they will bite you.
-No visible belongings, don’t wear your sunglasses or jewellery. Keep your bag closed. They will steel your things.
The monkeys are cheeky little divils. Do as the grounds keepers ask. Keep your distance.
Tukad Cepung Waterfall is unbelievably unique, a must see. It’s becoming a hotspot amongst tourists. The walk to the waterfall took 15 minutes, steps down to the river, some ducking and diving through rocky areas before wading through a knee high river. After years of erosion the waterfall cresses over a wall into a beautiful canyon. If you’re lucky enough to be chasing waterfalls on a sunny day then you’re in for a treat. The rays of light that shrine through are breathtaking.
Where to eat in Canggu
Bali cuisine alone makes the visit worthwhile. The options are plentiful. A few of our favourites:
Milk and Madu – A local outdoor cafe especially popular for brunch. Famous for their stone bake pizzas. We celebrated a friends birthday here and they could not have been more accommodating.
Crate Cafe – Every time we tried to eat at crate cafe the queue was never ending. On our last day we endured the wait which was well worth it. A quirky space located just off Batu Balong. No printed menu, just whatever is printed on the board that day. Huge smoothies and all day breakfast, what more could you ask for.
Betelnut Cafe – An open air rice field view with rustic interior. The feeding ground of Canggu. Salads and wraps to die for.
Motion Cafe – Healthy vegan and paleo menu filled with fitspo bloggers, no wonder with their high protein menu and customised meal plans.
Nude Cafe – Healthy body, healthy mind is mirrored on their menu as well as their mantra on the wall: ‘Everything is better nude’. A variety of gluten free, vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Bali is known for its expansive forests, monkey friends and volcanic mountains, iconic rice terraces and beautiful beaches. It’s an amazing destination to get fit, workout, wind down, relax, explore and focus on your wellness while having the time of your life. It caters for everyone from beach bums to highly active individuals.
If you haven’t been to Bali… GO!