Sanur is Bali’s oldest upscale resort area and is a mature beach-side town. Despite the abundance of restaurants and accommodation, it has a quiet and relaxed feel to it. In general terms, it is more expensive than Kuta but cheaper than Seminyak. Sanur tends to appeal most to middle-aged and older families, especially Europeans.
The Sanur area is sandwiched between the main Jalan Ngurah Rai bypass and the beach. One main route called Jalan Danau Tamblingan runs north to south through the town and it is easy to orient yourself with reference to this road.
Sanur is a 20 minute taxi ride from the Ngurah Rai International Airport, and a pre-paid coupon costs Rp 90,000. There are plenty of metered taxis all over the island who will be keen to take you to Sanur.
If you are driving yourself, this is one of the more staightforward areas of Bali to find as the main Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai is the western boundary of Sanur. There are many well signposted exit points from this main road into the heart of Sanur. Allow about 20 minutes driving time from Kuta or Legian, about 30 minutes fromSeminyak or Ubud and 10 to 15 minutes from Denpasar.
Sanur is well serviced by shuttle buses and bemos from the north and south and also from Denpasar’s Tegal terminal. The bus company Perama  has its Sanur office in Jalan Hangtuah, and offers difrect transfer here from Candidasa, Kuta, Lovina, Padang Bai and Ubud. Private shuttle buses run from most major tourist centres of Bali to Sanur; check local advertising and always book 24 hours in advance.
Boats from Nusa Lembongan arrive at the beach at the end of Jalan Hangtuah, and detailed schedules are given in the Nusa Lembongan article.
Jalan Danau Tamblingan, the main street in Sanur, has a number of outlets for car, motorbike and bicycle rental. A large number of metered taxis patrol the streets looking for passengers. Local bemos run with some regularity up and down both Jalan Danau Tamblingan and Jalan Danau Poso.
Sanur is also a great place to walk. Distances are not large, the streets are relatively quiet, and there is a splendid, paved beach front path which runs the whole length of the district.
Places of Interest
This is a town with a wealth of cultural, natural and historical attractions, as well as the obvious shopping and beach-related sights.
Sanur Village Festival
Each August normally peaceful Sanur sparks into life with one of Bali’s most colourful festivals. Now in its fourth year, the ever popular Sanur Village festival celebrates the town’s diversity in art, music and popular culture. This week-long event showcases fine art exhibitions, beach and adrenaline sports, musical performers and cookery demonstrations. One of the highlights is the annual kite flying competition which attracts competitors from all over Indonesia. Sanur Village festival, various venues, August 12–16, 2011.
International Kite Festival
The annual international kite festival takes place here every July. Traditional Balinese giant kites up to 10 metres in length are made and flown competitively by teams from different villages around Bali. The origins of this event are as a festival intended to send a message to the Hindu Gods to create abundant crops and harvests. Aside from the actual organised festival, from June through to August each year, visitors will see many giant kites being flown in this area.The Kite Festival is held at Padang Galak beach, just north of Sanur, east off the main Jalan Ngurah Rai bypass.
Le Mayeur Museum
Tucked away between five star beach resorts and seafront cafes is a charming art museum dedicated to the life and work of Belgian artist Adrien le Mayeur. He was one of the earliest expat artists to settle in Bali in the 1930s and his former home is littered with personal effects, paintings and photographs.
The house itself is a traditional wooden Balinese cottage which has been lovingly restored and features beautifully carved archways set in a picturesque garden. It should appeal to anyone with a passing interest in expressionist art or traditional Balinese crafts. The museum is located in Jalan Hang Tuah, Pantai Sanur, ☎: +62 361 286201, Open Sunday – Thursday 07:30 – 15:30, Friday 07:30 – 13:00, admission Rp 5,000.
Mangrove Information Center
Visit the well appointed Mangrove Information Center set in the huge 600 hectare mangrove forest which fringes the east coast south of Sanur. There are two different boardwalks through the mangrove forest. This center is doing great work in educating local schoolchildren as well as visitors, about the importance of mangrove forests and a good place to spend half a day for adults and children. The MIC, Suwung Kauh, M-Sa 8AM-4PM. Rp 50,000 entrance, Rp 50,000 parking.
Pura Blanjong or Blanjong Temple
The most notable temple in Sanur which contains a major, important inscription on a stone pillar called the Prasati Blanjong. The inscription tells of a Javanese king who visited Bali in the 10th century and installed what was probably Bali’s first formal government. This is Bali’s oldest known artefact. Blanjong Temple is located in Jl Danau Poso, Blanjong (just south of Sanur).
Serangan Island Turtle Conservation Center
Visit the Turtle Conservation and Education Center here and learn about current conservation initiatives. This island used to be the centre of the Balinese trade in turtle meat until the practice was banned. Conservatory center is in Turtle Island (about 3 km south of Sanur, reached by turning east off the main Jl Ngurah Rai bypass), ☎ +62 813 3841 2716. 9AM-5PM daily. Donation is accepted.
As well as shopping and eating, there are plenty of photo opportunities while walking along the splendid 5km beachside paved path. The local night markets are a sensory delight, with plenty of food options.
Day trips to Nusa Lembongan
The most popular short range excursion from Sanur is a cruise across the Badung Strait to the tranquil island of Nusa Lembongan. It is surrounded by pristine coral reefs and has beautiful white sandy beaches and has become a mecca for scuba divers and surfers. The pace of life is markedly slower than even Sanur and although a day trip is feasible a couple of days are needed to really soak up its peaceful atmosphere.
It is a tiny island that can be traversed on foot in under three hours and features mangrove forests, seaweed farms and a couple of fascinating temples to explore. There are scheduled daily services leaving each morning between 09:00 and 10:30 operated by the Sanur boat cooperative which leave from the beach just north of Jalan Hang Tua. Perama Tour (Jalan Hang Tua no31 tel: +62 (0)361 287594) also has a daily service. Prices are from rp60,000 to rp80,000 depending on the departure time and it is also possible to charter a boat at any time of day.
What to Do
There are still a lot of things to do in Sanur eventhough this beach village is mainly known for it’s laid-back atmosphere…
Sanur Beach Activities
On any given day on Sanur Beach you can see people fishing, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, parasailing or simply wading towards the reef searching for colorful shells and playful tropical fish. Colorful jukung outriggers dot the horizon and the scene is perfectly idyllic all year round.
Surfing in Sanur Bali
The surfing here is not great by Bali standards but there are reasonable breaks about 1km offshore during the northwest wind season (about October to March). In that period you will have no problem locating the breaks — just follow the locals. Boards can be rented on the beach for Rp 100,000.
Swimming at Sanur
Swimming is the prime water activity in Sanur. The lower tide, clean and cool water are some of the reasons you might choose to swim in Sanur over Kuta or any other beach in this island, not to mention its smaller crowds and safer waves. Swimming in Sanur is safe for minors as well as for adults. Aside from Sanur Beach, southern Sanur’s Sindhu beach is also the site of an excellent salt water lagoon.
Blessed with many varieties of marine organisms and reef bed aquatics, Sanur is recognized as Bali’s second best diving spot. Its translucent water provides a playground of high quality for the enthusiasts of water sports, especially snorkelling and diving. One is bound to find wilder waves at Keramas Beach to the north of Sanur.
There are three main dive sites in the area: Penjor Reef, Channel Point and Jeladi Willis, all offering sights of a rich variety of marine life. Interesting creatures such as Mantis Shrimp, seahorse, blue ring octopus and more will present a feast to your eyes. A vast diversity of coral growth including large table corals also exists in its sparkling waters. Refresher course participants and novice drivers will find this to be a great dive location as it is ideal for a quick and easy dive for fascinating encounters.
Sanur’s shoreline is more than enough for kite hobbyists, but for die-hard fans the annual Bali Kite Festival at Padang Galak beach should not be missed. This three-day event covers Padang Galak with animal figures, giant fish, birds, and other traditional-shaped kites. It creates an artificial screen, which the sun can shine through, showing a vibrant and colourful animal-shaped cloud.
Balinese traditional kites are very big: with an average diameter of six to eight metres it takes a team of more than twenty people to fly it. In 2008, teams from 12 countries took part in this festival including Indonesia, Australia, Russia, Taiwan, New Zealand, The Philippines, Malaysia, Germany, The USA, Japan, India, and China – between them there were more than 700 kites. The festival usually takes place in July and it has been held since 1978, so don’t miss this 31st year.
Massages & Spas
A day at any of the spas in Sanur is exactly what you would expect during your stay in Bali: full service treatment steeped in Balinese tradition. Take advantage of any opportunity to enjoy a spa during your stay, the cost here is at least half what you would pay in North America or Europe. All major hotels have in-house spa facilities and there are also several well established independents in Sanur.
- Mandurah Spa, Jl Danau Tamblingan, ☎ +62 361271502
- Puri Esthetic, Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai 209, ☎ +62 361 286542.
Along Jalan Tambligan and Jalan Mertasari there are lot of souvenir stalls selling wooden masks, sarongs and photo albums made of banana leaves. The seller mentions a price at least 50% higher than the original value so bargain hard; it’s all part of the game. Along these streets you’ll also find boutiques with so called ‘fixed’ prices and offer good value for money. The situation is almost the same as Kuta but with very few hawkers. Many products are on offer in the shops and nice restaurants.
- Hardy’s Grosir, Jl Danua Tamblingan 193, ☎ +62 361 28191. 8AM-10:30PM daily. This is Sanur’s main supermarket, and a good place for stocking up on regular items.
- Gudang Keramik, Jl Danau Tamblingan, ☎ +62 361 289363. 10AM-8PM daily. This is the outlet for seconds of the famed Jengala Ceramics company (main showroom in Jimbaran). Their standards are very high and you may not notice why some of these items are classed as seconds. Some superb bargains to be had in everything from decorative vases to flatware.
- Nogo Bali Ikat Centre, Jl Danau Tamblingan 104, ☎ +62 361 288765 , M-Sa 8:30AM-9PM, Su 9AM-8PM. Specialises in the very best quality woven ikat fabrics from Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. If you are looking for cheapies, don’t even think of going here. If you have an eye for quality though, this will be right up your alley. You can purchase fabric by the piece, made up as clothing or homewares, and examine their very impressive genuine antique collection.
At the northern end of Jalan Pungutan, just before it hits Jalan Danau Tamblingan, there is an art market, sometimes referred to as Sindhu Market. This is a one stop shop for all manner of Balinese handicrafts, sarongs, t-shirts and knock-offs such as sunglasses. A similar set up can be found at beachfront Art Market at the end of Jalan Hangtuah. Take the foot path leading north which weaves through a maze of stalls and the odd cafe.
What & Where to Eat
For very cheap local food try the Night Market at the northern end of Jalan Danau Tamblingan where it meets Jalan Pungutan.
- Abian Boga Restaurant, Jl Kesuma Sari No 5, ☎ +62 361 284174. 10AM-10PM daily. Grilled seafood accompanied by a Balinese dance performance. Great service too with a local hotel pick up and drop off. Mains Rp 30,000-60,000.
- The Bali Pub, Jl Danau Tamblingan (just north of Hardys, opposite Circle K). Owned by a former Masterchef UK contestant. Serves Sunday roasts, steaks, western and Balinese dishes. Live music after 8PM.
- Cafe Batu Jimbar, Jl Danau Tamblingan, ☎ +62 361 287374, Every Sanur expat’s favourite cafe hang out. Good deli food and passable coffee. 8AM-10PM daily.
- Kayu Manis, Jl Danau Tamblingan (north end of Jl Danau Tamblingan), ☎ +62 361 289410. 11AM-10PM daily. Western and asian fusion cuisine at great value prices. A favourite with both travellers for the price and foodies for the quality of the meals.About Rp 40,000-70,000 per entree.
- Massimo, Jl Danau Tamblingan 228, ☎ +62 361 288942. 11AM-10PM daily. The superb home made gelato here is the ideal treat after a hot day wandering in Sanur. Also excellent pizzas and pastas at this authentic south Italian owned and run restaurant. About Rp 100,000 per head.
- Smorgås Café, Jl Danua Tamblingan/Pantai Karang II, ☎ +62 361 289361. Perhaps the best coffee shop in Sanur. Homemade sandwiches, pastry and quiche. Owned by Swedes and they make their own gravlax.
- Stiff Chilli, Jl Kesumasari 11, Semawang Beach (right on the beach at the end of Jl Kesumasari), ☎ +62 361 288371 11AM-11PM daily. Beach-front restaurant from the Stiff Chilli chain. Mid-priced, mainly Italian food in a great location Most mains about Rp 50,000.
- Treo Beach Cafe, Mertasari Beach (100 metres from the Mercure Hotel on the beach), ☎ +62 361 9218588, 9AM-8PM daily. Beautiful beach location and a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Enjoy your meal in the restaurant or on the outdoor tables on the beach. Tasty food and friendly staff.
- The Village, Jl Danau Tamblingan 66, ☎ +62 361 285025. 11AM-10PM daily. Attached to the Griya Santrian Hotel, this is perhaps the best known upmarket eatery in Sanur. The food is slick Italian style and they do a reasonable job of creating a suitable atmosphere. Not a good as it was and certainly not cheap, but a decent option in a part of Bali not known for it high quality restaurants. Has an independent street front entrance, and you would not know it is attached to a hotel. Rp 70,000-200,000.
- Warung Blanjong, Jl Danau Poso 78, ☎ +62 361 285613. 11AM-9PM daily. One of the best budget places to eat in Sanur. The food is Balinese, and they are especially well known for their pepes be pashi (steamed fish wrapped in banana leaves). Very much worth a visit to taste authentic Balinese food. Rp 15,000-30,000.
- Fortune Cookie, Jl Sudamala 5 (bet. Danau poso & Mertasari), ☎ 0361-283-342,11-11pm. Healthy western-style Chinese Restaurant, no MSG, organic ingredients, they also have free delivery in Sanur. Popular with expats.
What to Drink
There are lots of bars along Jalan Danau Tamblingan.
- Arena Sports Cafe, Jl ByPass Ngurah Rai 115, ☎ +62 361 287255. 10AM-11PM. Austrian owned and run sports bar and cafe. The beer is very cold, reasonably priced and this place is always busy.
- Isola Bar and Restaurant, Jl Danau Tamblingan 29 (on the beachfront near the La Taverna Hotel), ☎ (361) 289310, 8AM-10PM. An elegant open air beachfront restaurant serving excellent Italian, International and Indonesian food throughout the day, in one of the best settings in Sanur. Very good live Jazz by the beach every Thursday and Saturday evening.
- Lazer Sports Bar, Jl Danau Tamblingan. Noon-11PM. Shows all the English football, has friendly staff and also serves food.
- Maya’s Coffee & Smoothie Bar, Jl. Pantai Sindhu (100-150m from the beach and Inna Sindhu Beach hotel.), ☎ +62 361 283889. 8AM-7PM. Small coffee and smoothie bar serving Italian coffees, smoothies and fresh juices combined with a breakfast menu, lighter snacks, bakeries and pastries. Free Internet and WIFI for customers.
- Manic Organic, JL Danau Tamblingan. Excellent raw juices and smoothies- organic full menu available as well. They also have yoga upstairs daily.
Sanur is a good jumping off point for the nearby island of Nusa Lembongan.
If you are heading back to the southern tourist hotspots of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, this will take about 20 minutes by car. Ubud is about 25 minutes in the opposite direction.
>> Next page : Nusa Dua