If Kuta–Legian–Seminyak is too frantic and Nusa Dua too manufactured, Sanur could well be your sort of place. It’s a low-key destination strung behind 5km of fine beach, with a laidback atmosphere and an appealing lack of hustle. Traffic is light, there’s little air pollution to content with, it’s leafy and boasts a fine promenade. While it’s true Sanur is somewhat lacking in clubbing and all-night partying venues (some nickname it “Snore”), for many visitors that is decidedly a good thing. With calm shallow water it’s safe for kiddies, and there are also two surf breaks and some so-so diving.
The best travel tips for visiting SanurMany use Sanur as a base to explore nearby – Kuta is 15km (about 45min) southwest and Ubud around an hour's drive north, while easy-going Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Nusa Penida are a short boat ride away.
It could all have ended so differently. Sanur was the site of Bali’s first major beach hotel in the 1960s. The lumpish, concrete Grand Bali Beach (currently part of the Inna hotel group) did not go down well locally and led to a Bali-wide edict against building anything higher than a coconut tree.
That edict has slipped (or there are some seriously high coconut trees in Bali), but the ethos against high-rises remains. Sanur’s other claim to fame is as the source of some of Bali’s most powerful black magic and as the home of the most feared sorcerers and respected healers, or balian.
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Best things to do in SanurUnsurprisingly, the best things to Sanur, Bali focus on the beach. But the town has a few surprises up its sleeve too.
#1 Find your personal beach paradiseThe length of Sanur’s 5km shoreline is fronted by a shady, paved esplanade. There are far worse ways to while away a day than to wander (or cycle) down the coast in search of your personal paradise, stopping off for lunch at the abundant warung and restaurants, then pausing for a cool sunset Bintang on the return.
The busy patches of beach are around the Grand Inna Bali Beach in the north and, further south between the Sindhu Beach Market and the Tandjung Sari hotel. The empty stretch just south of Batu Jimbar is the quietest. Wherever you end up, the views are great: on a clear day, Gunung Agung's profile soars northeast while out to sea you might just make out Nusa Penida's cliffs.
#2 SurfingA huge expanse of Sanur’s shore is exposed at low tide and a reef lies about 1km offshore at high tide. This offers three mid- to high-tide surf breaks – one in front of the Grand Inna Bali Beach hotel, one opposite the Tandjung Sari hotel and another 2km offshore at the Hyatt Regency Bali – but the currents beyond it are strong.
They’re all at their best September to March, when the northwest winds blow offshore. The shallows within are fine for paddling at low tide and swimming at other times, as well as providing a venue for numerous watersports.
#3 Release a sea turtle hatchling on Turtle IslandAn island south of Sanur once reachable only by wading across at low tide or by boat, Pulau Serangan is best known as a place favoured by egg-laying sea turtles, earning it the nickname Turtle Island. Sadly, development disturbed the habitat which the Turtle Conservation and Education Center is trying to rectify. For a small donation you can adopt and release a hatchling in season, primarily June to October.
#4 Admire art at Museum Le MayeurSanur’s main cultural sight, the Museum Le Mayeur, is former home of artist Adrien-Jean le Mayeur de Merprés (1880–1958). Having arrived in Singaraja in 1932, the 52-yearold Belgian settled in Sanur and set up his easel, painting canvases of 16-year-old beauty Nyoman Pollok and her friends.
Married three years later, the couple lived in the floridly carved house where around eighty of his works now hang: Impressionist early paintings from his travels in Europe, North Africa and India and romanticized canvases of Ni and her friends from the 1950s.
Imagine French Impressionism channelled by Gauguin and you’re close. The 1930s house is also interesting for its carving and for the couple’s furniture – Ni donated the property to the government on her death in 1985.
#5 Go snorkellingSanur is a popular destination for snorkeling enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters and colorful coral reefs of Sanur offer a unique and unforgettable underwater experience. Snorkeling in Sanur is perfect for beginners, as the water is calm and shallow, making it easy to observe the stunning marine life.
You can expect to see a wide variety of fish species, including butterflyfish, angelfish, and parrotfish.
Sanur’s reef dives are only really of interest for beginners or as a refresher as the coral is unspectacular, the visibility so-so, and dives rarely descend beneath 12m. However, dive trips to Nusa Penida and Amed are offered by several schools and snorkelling trips (including gear) are also popular. There are a number of good dive centres in Sanur.
Best areas to stay in SanurThere are beds to suit every budget in Sanur and few duds – quality is generally high and you get more space and better facilities for your rupiah or dollar here than in Kuta– Legian–Seminyak. Obviously, places with direct access to the beach command a premium.
ShorefrontThe most higher end options tend to be on the beachfront. Here you’ll find large resorts plus a scattering of smaller, more affordable hotels - all generally with direct beach access.
InlandFor a cheaper base still, try the chain hotels and guesthouses near Ji Danau Tamblingan. Set back at a small stroll to the main action means these can be a great way to avoid beachfront tariffs.
Best restaurants and bars in SanurBeachfront café-restaurants abound between Sindhu and Batujimbar but none stands out for cuisine, so stroll to the promenade and take your pick. The most authentic Indonesian food and cheapest eats are beyond the main drag, plus at the night market (6pm–midnight) inside the Sindhu Market at Jl Danau Tamblingan/Jl Danau Toba.
As for bars and nightlife, well Sanur is somewhat lacking. It’s got the nickname, “Snore”, but for many visitors that is exactly what they are after.
Here are the best places to eat in Sanur, Bali:
- ABC (Artotel Beach Club) ABC provides family entertainment on the beach. Start with a breakfast burrito for brunch/lunch or dine on seafood for dinner. A lagoon pool, playground, bars and a lounge complete the picture.
- Café Batu Jimbar This popular Sanur street-side spot specialises in Italian, Mexican as well as Indonesian food. They also serve healthy salads. On Sundays the café hosts a market selling fresh produce and a breakfast buffet with mouth-watering Balinese dishes.
- Café Smorgas This relaxed Swedish family-run café/restaurant serves up salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps and main dishes, some of them inspired by Swedish cuisine. The family make their own home-made bread, cakes, pastries and jams.
How to get aroundThere are plenty of ways to get around Sanur, but bemo and bicycles are your best bets.
By bemoThe green and blue public bemos to and from Denpasar’s terminals can be useful for buzzing up and down the main streets.
By taxiBlue Bird's Bali Taxis are reliable and affordable. If you’re planning a long trip, consider negotiating a fee with one of the roadside transport touts.
By car or motorbikeTransport touts also rent cars and motorbikes, as do many hotels and tour agencies.
By bikeSanur is a good bet for cyclists; most hotels and travel agents along Jl Danau Tamblingan have them for rent.
How many days do you need in Sanur?While Sanur is renowned for being super laid-back, it offers plenty of water-based activities to fill your days. If it’s watersports you’re here for, then you can easily take up a week with snorkelling, diving and surfing. The wet season (November to April) is when you’ll get most from the surf.
Sanur can also be used as a base from which to explore other parts of Bali such as Ubud, and if it’s low-key relaxation you’re hankering for, then the chilled beach days are limitless.
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Best time to visit SanurLocated eight degrees south of the equator, Sanur has consistent year-round temperatures, averaging 27°C. Bali's monsoon season brings rain, wind and intense humidity.
The best time to visit Sanur, Bali is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. This is to avoid both the monsoon season (October to March) and peak tourist seasons (mid-June to mid-September; plus the Christmas–New Year period).
The other peak season to be aware of is Idul Fitry (Eid al-Fitri, usually May–June). Prices rocket and rooms can be fully booked for weeks in advance.
Near Sanur is Pulau Serangan, best known as a place favoured by egg-laying sea turtles. They primarily lay their eggs from June to October. The Turtle Conservation and Education Center can help visitors adopt and release turtles during this time.
Find out more about the best time to visit Bali.
How to get to hereIt’s easy to get to Sanur, Bali. There’s no shortage of international and domestic flights to Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport – officially referred to as Denpasar (DPS) – 15km southwest of Sanur.
By busKura Kura minibuses connect Sanur with Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua four times daily between 9.40am and 8pm. You'll have to change buses at their depot in Kuta’s DFS Bali T-Galleria.
Trans Sarbagita buses run from Batubulan bemo terminal–Sanur Jl Bypass– Kuta Central Parking–Jimbaran–Nusa Dua. In theory, buses run every 30min from 5.30am–9pm.
By boatAn amazing number of scheduled, private fast boats leave from the end of Jl. Hang Tuah or from Serangan harbour headed for Nusa Lembongan, stopping at either Jungubatu and/or Mushroom Bay; Nusa Penida, arriving at Toyapakeh, Buyuk and/or Sampalan; Padang Bai and Kusumba, East Bali; and/or to the Gili islands or Senggigi, Lombok.
Public slow and fast boats depart from the beach in front of the Grand Inna Bali Beach hotel (if tide permits) and although they’re cheap, they are not recommended due to lack of safety standards.
By taxiYou can take a taxi from central Kuta or Denpasar or a Gojek/Grab.
Plan your trip to Bali with the Rough Guide to Bali and Lombok.