como uma canggu bali

Como Uma Canggu, Bali: The original surfer’s paradise

31 Jul 2023 | |By Nick Savage

Bali has transformed itself from a slow-moving paradise into a polestar for wellness seekers, surf junkies and beach-club worshippers. But it was Como Uma Canggu that laid the first foundations

Neighbourhoods evolve at whiplash speed in Bali. The last time I visited the island in 2018, Canggu was still a sleepy surf village to the north of Seminyak, magnetising travellers looking for tranquil vibes, viridian green rice paddies and perfect beaches. Less than five years and a pandemic later and Canggu has experienced a sea change – and the Como Uma Canggu hotel is at its heart.

Hundreds of restaurants have sprouted along just a few square miles of dusty roads, drawn like the droves of surfers in bygone years to its ramshackle charm. Beach clubs and bars act as flames to Instagram moths; world-beating yoga retreats and vegan eateries ensure that they’re prepped for the camera lens. At the centre of it all is Como Uma Canggu, the hotel which, in many ways, put the neighbourhood on the international map when it opened its doors in 2018.

Uma Canggu marks the Como group’s third foray into Bali and highlights its ‘Uma’ concept, which is geared towards adventurous experiences in cultural hotspots. Perched above the volcanic sands of Echo Beach, surf culture is at the heart of the hotel, with a strong thread of chic opulence stitching it together.

Bali’s cultural touchpoints are felt throughout. ‘Mindful movement’ – the practice of reconnecting with one’s body – forms a core component of the Como Uma Canggu experience. The same applies to the traditional art of Balinese massage, which is practised in the Como Shambhala Retreat – a wellness sanctuary overlooking the ocean. Plus, of course, surfing has had an outsized influence on the hotel, which leads the industry when it comes to luxury properties offering coaching.

como uma canggu beach club

Como Uma Canggu’s ultramodern lobby is white-on-white, flanked by two stainless steel pillars. It’s soothing, and a little hypnotic. At a seamless check-in experience, staff members appear, as if from nowhere, to hand us wet towels for the equatorial heat. ‘Low-key luxury’ is a buzz phrase at Como. The theme pervades a total of 119 tranquil, tonal rooms and suites, surfside residences and penthouses, as well as 12 three-bedroom duplex penthouses with private rooftop pools and personal butlers.

Our one-bedroom residence overlooks an expansive lagoon pool. Sliding screen partitions divide one room from another, including a tidy kitchenette complete with cooker, refrigerator, coffee machine, and an array of snacks. The living room, meanwhile, is equipped with sumptuous sofas and an enormous flat-screen television; the en-suite bathroom is similarly apportioned, with a walk-in rain shower and swooping tub.

como uma canggu suite

The hefty Pacific swells and powder-white sands of Echo Beach are likely Como’s biggest assets, and ones that are taken advantage of; the hotel runs one of the most popular beach clubs in Canggu. In fact, upon arriving in Bali, a number of expat friends living on the island recommended, unprompted, that we meet there for sundowners. With both indoor seating and al fresco dining, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy coffee in the morning and cocktails as the sun paints the ocean gold before touching down beyond the horizon.

The design here splices South Beach elegance with Southeast Asian simplicity. The swimming pool is front and centre, hemmed in by softwood decking and row upon row of sun loungers. Show up early enough and you can nab one of the giant swings that dangle from the building, which can accommodate at least a couple of recumbent bodies. The poolside menu excels in health-forward Balinese cuisine peppered with European influence, such as a quinoa bowl with poached egg, marinated mushrooms, pickles, kimchi, broccoli and sesame – which becomes a breakfast staple.

como uma canggu pool residence

Evenings are for leaning into local flavours; we’re smitten with the organic beef short ribs in rich rendang curry sauce, accompanied by salak achar (pickled snake fruit) and steamed rice. The excellent tuna sambal matah, meanwhile, sees the fish stung with shallot, a spicy lemongrass sambal and kemangi lemon basil.

Onto those swells. Como Uma Canggu has partnered with Tropicsurf, a pioneer of ‘luxury surfing’. The company caters to every skill level from the greenhorn to the aficionado, and at its top level can create bespoke five-star travel experiences to catch once-in-a-lifetime waves. I am patently not at that level. In fact, during my visit the waves are a little too gnarly for anyone to surf; thus, I am relegated to the lagoon pool to brush up on the fundamentals.

como uma canggu penthouse

Push yourself hard enough on the waves and you’ll want to recoup with some self-care at the Shambhala Retreat, which offers an extensive range of treatments drawing from Bali’s millennia-old history of wellness. Caught kitty-corner in an awkward wave? You’ll be in good hands on the massage table. Meanwhile, the traditional Balinese wrap is a godsend for rheumatic conditions, and an all-over deep heat experience and Taksu massage really help to clear the system of aches and pains.

Como Uma Canggu also offers a plethora of wellness activities to get you healthy and centred, ranging from yoga and Pilates to more high-intensity endeavours like muay thai. There’s also a fitness centre – one of the largest in the area – for when you’ve hit the beach club a bit too hard. In spite of my depredations in this department, I actually left Como a few pounds lighter.

como uma canggu pool residence

Bali in general, and Canggu in particular, may be in a constant state of flux as an increasing number of digital nomads and expats flock to its friendly shores, but there’s something timeless about Como Uma Canggu. Its relationship with the water and Echo Beach’s famous waves, the way it draws inspiration from its island setting and local culture, and the pervasive sense of calm offers a wonderful escape from the strife and stress of modern life.

It’s a wave worth catching.

From £190 per night on a B&B basis,

Read more: Six Senses Thimphu offer slow luxury in the heart of the Himalayas