Never say Never Part 2: Luxury in Seminyak – Party in Canggu and Beach Hopping through Nusa Penida

Note: This post is the continuation of the story of the brief time I spent in Bali. In this final half, I recount my time exploring the south coast. Keep reading to find out about the three days I spent partying in Canggu, getting pampered in Seminyak, and beach hopping on the beautiful island of Nusa Penida.

The first half of these posts talked all about how and why I ended up in Bali, and I talked all about the three days I spent in Ubud attending a Russian tech conference and exploring the interior of the island.

Now, let’s continue where we left off. As you know, after the day tour I took of the central region of Bali; my driver took me straight to the south coast, where I would spend my final time on the island.

South Bali

The south coast of Bali is by far the most popular region for tourists on the island. This is not only where the airport is located, but the region also encompasses the greater Kuta area, which now stretches several miles west to include the small towns of Legian and Seminyak. Kuta proper is known for its nightlife.

South from the airport is quieter and mostly upscale living; this includes the areas of Jimbaran and Nusa Dua. As you go along the coast, north of Seminyak, you begin to approach Canggu and Tanah. These towns are much more rural, but not for much longer. There is lots of development going on. Before, the areas between towlines were forests… Now, you don’t know where one town starts and the other one ends.

Goodbye Ubud, Hello Seminyak/Legian

My first night in the south, I spent it in Seminyak, an area that is one of the most-visited parts of the island, by far. Seminyak has a much more laid back and luxurious atmosphere than nearby Canggu, and the beach, in particular, is much quieter during the day.

The area is also known as the spa and boutique shopping capital of Bali. Naturally, I had to experience the true essence of my surroundings, so I booked my self a night at the W Hotel (the five-star brand of Marriott – one of my favorite hotel chains). The W is a bit more modern than other Marriot hotels, so I ended up with a really nice suite right on the beach.

W Bali – Seminyak – Finally a decent hotel again

Despite it being a rather short stay (one night), I still managed to enjoy the hotel amenities to the fullest. On the first day, just after check-in, I went to the pool for a swim before getting a fantastic little massage at the spa.

That evening I went to a Statenloss event we organized for all the state-less (non-rainbow nomads) on the island. There was a really nice turnout, around 20 of us gathered at a lovely cafe near Seminyak and had a wonderful evening.

NOOK – Staatenlos Meetup with Wiener Schnitzel in Bali -)

After the meetup, a few of us decided to go to a nice burger joint for some grub. And I found myself joy-riding on the back of a motorcycle again, this time with a girl as the pilot. It was us, and two other guys speeding through traffic, driving adventurously to our destination.

While we were having dinner, it started pouring rain heavily, so we just stayed there for a bit and waited it out. When the rain finally ceased, I took a taxi to my hotel, and they left on their bikes to continue partying somewhere else.

W Bali – Seminyak – Lazy pool and spa day

The next day, I enjoyed the hotel amenities a little more and then moved south to my next hotel in Legian. This is a beachfront town in South Bali, located north of Kuta and south of Seminyak. Before the rapid growth that has taken over Bali, the twins of Seminyak and Legian were actually separated by green areas. Just like in the entire south, those green areas have now been taken over by development, creating a seamless transition between town lines.

For my one night stay in Legian, I stayed at the Stones Hotel, also a beautiful luxury hotel. The beach, however, was not that nice. Even though it’s a soft and sandy beach with epic sunsets, I actually enjoyed the black beach in Canggu much more.

The Stones Hotel – Legian Bali – Testing out different Marriott hotels. Even if a few days in Bali, I need to change places daily -D

THE STONES Hotel & Entertainment Center – I don’t mind all those vegan bee enslavers as long as there is still good availability of Wagyu steak. Here Bali really gets a like from me -)

After checking into the Stones, I had lunch, worked a bit, and had a short walk on the beach before heading out to meet some of the Statenloss people from the night before for sunset drinks. We met up at Echo Beach in Canggu.

Pantai Legian, Bali – This feels more like Indonesia

If you’ve never been, the whole waterfront in Canggu is lined with bars that have a lovely set up for sunset entertainment. We enjoyed the view from one of these places and after sunset moved on to La Brisa for dinner and drinks. La Brisa is one of the most popular spots on the island, and dinner was lovely.

La Brisa – Nice Beach Club

Canggu 101

First, you should now that Canggu proper is a small village on the beach about 20 minutes north of Seminyak. However, the name ‘Canggu’ is generally used to refer to a larger coastal stretch of around 5 miles that runs north the village of Berawa (just north of Seminyak) to the village of Cemagi (just south of Tanah Lot) taking in Batu Bolong Beach, Echo Beach, Nelayan Beach, Pererenan Beach, and a few others along the way.

The area is surrounded by terraced rice paddies and its most famous for the beaches mentioned above and their strong surf. The whole region was once a predominantly rural area, located away from the beaches. Still, like the rest of the tourist hotspots on the island, it’s being developed fast and is now a traffic-clogged suburb of Denpasar.

Nelayan Beach (Fisherman Beach) is where you can still get fresh fish, lobsters, prawns, etc. every early morning. Five minutes walk between Berawa Beach and Batu Bolong Beach.

The beaches in Canggu have dark grey or black sand and rolling waves. For this reason, most tourists don’t like these beaches to chill or casually swim; they are more popular amongst surfers. I actually really liked their dark sand and the sunsets.

Discovering Canggu tonight

The greater Canggu area is a super popular destination for expatriates who choose to live in Bali. A large number of villas owned by expats are located in this town. I enjoyed Canggu and would consider coming to spend some time living in the area.

Nightlife Canggu

After dinner and a few drinks, I tried to meet up with a friend of mine who lives in Canggu, but he had to work. So instead, he sent me partying with two of his roommates. We left La Brisa and went walking around town; I really enjoyed seeing the area and getting a real feel for the nightlife in Canggu. Eventually, we ended up at a local disco called La Favella.

Old Mans – Thanks to Daniel for successfully convincing me that Bali is not only for rainbow nomads but also cool serious entrepreneurs. Will write about that in detail at the end of my stay

It’s a huge place with several rooms, each with different “atmospheres”. The whole site has a very prominent Brazilian theme. There is even a mock Christ the Redeemer statue in the main hall. The place was great, it had good music, good people, good drinks and it was jam-packed.

La Favela Bali – Nightlife is quite fun here

Actually, since this was back in January – when there were still multiple daily flights from Wuhan to Bali bringing hundreds of Chinese tourists on the island – I am pretty sure I caught COVID during this trip to Bali. Either at the Russian conference or partying in this club. I was a little sick mid-January, and I am quite convinced it was from getting COVID either in Bali or Singapore right after.

After the nightclub, I went back to my hotel to have a quick nap before having to get up super early to explore the island of Nusa Penida.

Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is the largest of three islands off the southeastern coast of Bali, the others being Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. I only got to visit the main island, but I’m sure one day I will return to conquer the rest.

The day trip I took to Penida turned out to be super friendly. I booked a private tour with a cool Indonesian guy who showed me all the main sites of the island. As you’ll see from the photos he took, he also played my Instagram photographer and took some awesome pictures of me.

Kelingking Beach – Almost felt like an instamodel today…

My day started bright and early, taking a fast boat across from the main island to Nusa Penida. My driver picked me up at the harbor and took me to see the island on his jeep. We saw all the main attractions, driving along the coast of the island.

I really enjoyed my day discovering some outstanding beaches. Right off the bat, we went on a one hour drive to see Kelingking Beach. A secluded, white sandy beach with turquoise waters enclosed by a steep cliff. To get to the beach, you have to go down lots of really steep steps and then up again to get out. I didn’t make it all the way down, we got to about halfway and took these photos from there.

Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida – good morning

Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida – No doubt, one of the most scenic beaches on the planet

As you can see, the place is exceptionally scenic. And is it just me or these cliffs look like a t-rex dinosaur?

Kelingking Beach Nusa Penida

After Kelingking, my guide took me to see some of the most famous temples on the island, and after, we went to another beach [broken beach] where there is a notorious lookout point on the edge of a cliff. It is basically a cavern with a massive hole in the middle that fills with ocean water when the tides roll in. Broken Beach is one of the most picturesque locations on the whole island. Check it out.

Broken Beach – A nice little island

Broken Beach – Also quite scenic

Simply Stunning

Next, we went to Crystal Bay – a charming ocean cove with a sandy shoreline, big waves, and some snorkeling spots. We chilled there for a little bit while I swam around and did some snorkeling.

From there, we went to have lunch at a local restaurant near Manta Point. This is an area of the island where you can see lots of manta rays. I didn’t see any that day, but my friend who visited the island just a month after I did, went diving with a bunch of 10 feet mantas in this very spot.

All in all, I managed to enjoy the landscape, Nusa Penida is a really scenic island with towering cliffs and beautiful beaches.

By the end of the tour, I was exhausted. We were supposed to see some more things on the way back to the port, but I fell asleep, and the same thing happened on the boat ride back. After all, I was functioning on only three hours of sleep.

My last night in Bali

Thankfully I managed to get some sleep on the way back because that same evening, as soon as I got back to the main island, I went to dinner with my friend who couldn’t hang out with me the night before. He is this 20-year-old eCommerce millionaire friend of mine who was intent in showing me that Bali is not only a playground for vegan yogis.

So, we went to this butcher steakhouse near Canggu. It actually turned out to be one of the best steakhouses I have ever visited, the ribeye steak I had was easily one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Boy N’ Cow – Wow. Really one of the best cuts I ever ate. 280g of finest 60 day dry-aged Wagyu beef perfectly cooked medium rare

After dinner, we went to his villa to hang out and have a chill night. We had a simple and relaxed evening at his place. We took some of this typical Indonesian drug, which, by the way, is totally legal. It’s called Kratom. It comes from a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family. It’s native to Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, and other South Asian countries like Indonesia.

The drug has both a stimulant and a sedative effect. I found it to have a very similar effect to weed. The ingestion is similar to that of Kava, a drug that I encountered in Polynesia – also legal.

To take Kratom, you have to mix the plant extract with water; it has a very bitter taste – not easy to drink. Furthermore, you have to drink a lot to feel the high. I enjoyed the trip, it was pretty sedating, and it came with a pleasant tingly feeling in my mouth and my body. I should note that this was my first time trying this drug.

We spent the rest of the night simply catching up and having a really nice conversation that lasted for several hours. We were there with his villa mates (one of them was the guy I was partying with at La Favela the night before) and their girlfriends.

This was my last night in Bali, and this guy wanted me to feel the love for the island. He wanted to show me the Bali of average entrepreneurs and not the Bali of the rainbow nomads. To his credit, he did a pretty good job.

He introduced me to his flatmate, who took me out for an awesome night of partying. He took me to the best steak house I’ve ever been to and definitely showed me that there are other cool things to do and cool humans to hang out with on the island, besides my unicorn-loving friends.

In conclusion, I quite liked Bali even though I didn’t discover too much of the island, basically just some of the interior, the south, and Nusa Penida. I’m really looking forward to the volcanoes and the northern coast, which should be quite a different atmosphere than what I’ve already seen on the island.

On my next visit, it would be good to rent a car or even a scooter – since I’m now a bit more comfortable – and take 5-7 days to explore the rest of the island. I’m happy to say that the six days I spent in Bali driving on the back of scooters really helped me get over my fear. Since I’m not traumatized anymore, I could see my self taking on that mode of transportation next time.

All in all, it wasn’t as bad as imagined. In fact, I enjoyed my time there, and I am looking forward to visiting again and seeing what else the island has to offer. This without mentioning all that is left to explore in the surrounding areas like Lombok and Komodo islands. So, I can confidently say I will definitely be back.