Is Sanur the best destination for your Bali holiday?
By Els Zubeldia and Stella Weber.
A lot of people write Sanur off as too quiet, too sleepy, a ‘S’nore’. Sure, a visit to Sanur is an insight into a gentler time in Balinese tourism. Compared to many of Bali’s popular holiday destinations, Sanur still feels like a village; where buildings are still low-rise, local shops and cafes thrive and the beach is wide and peaceful. That’s not to say its reputation as a sleepy village is deserved. It is home to some beautiful resorts, luxurious villas, excellent restaurants and spas and the beach is peaceful and pretty. One of the first tourist destinations on the island, Sanur has been hosting visitors since the 1920’s, attracting tourists, celebrities and artists, and its glittering history is one of the reasons Bali became a destination in the first place. Sanur locals guard their favourite spots zealously and love the fact that the world is slow to discover its many charms. Our apologies, but our love affair with Sanur has motivated us to share it with you.
Play & Explore
Sanur is probably best-known for the myriad water sports on offer. If you’re looking for some adventure during your holiday, try jet skiing, (kite/wind) surfing, snorkelling, diving or get your PADI in one of the many diving schools. Sanur also offers a popular activity called Seawalker, where a scuba helmet connected to an air tank lets you walk on the sea underwater.(see below).
Not so keen on sport? Don’t worry. Sanur is a great place to enjoy a walk along the beachfront. There are various museums and galleries such as La Mayeur Museum. Located at Sindhu Beach and on Serangan Island, check out the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre. Who doesn’t want to see cute baby turtles being given a good start in life and older injured ones nursed back to health? And if you’re an early bird, Sanur is one of the best places in Bali to watch the sunrise.
Staying in Sanur also gives you the perfect opportunity for a little getaway to the Gili or Nusa islands. Boats leave from Sanur Beach several times a day. The crossing time from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan is only 30 minutes! Going to Gili Trawangan will take about 3 hours.
Ever wonder how it feels like to walk underwater with the scuba helmet? This is your chance to make that dream come true. With their advance equipment, Seawalker Sanur takes you to a journey to the bottom of the sea, without having to be certified diver, allowing everybody to enjoy the underwater world.
Rip Curl School of Surf
The beach at Sanur is the perfect place to enjoy water sports and Rip Curl’s school offer a great range of activities from learning to surf on the outer reef, to stand up paddle boarding and parasailing. The team includes some excellent instructors and their equipment is well-maintained. Prices are on their website, and the little beach bar is a popular gathering place, serving up cold drinks and a delicious Sunday barbecue.
ABC is probably the most well-known beach club in Sanur, with a beach area, swimming pool, playground, bar, dining and lounges. Their breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are extensive and the food tastes great. Every Wednesday guests enjoy live music and every weekend they host events the whole family can enjoy.
This creative hub was started by a group of passionate people who have created a space for creative ecosystems and social innovation. The shared-space hosts regular workshops, concerts, festivals, and a regular Jazz Night every Tuesday. They also have a popular co-working space, a barber, a concept store, a coffee shop and a beer garden called Teras Gandum, all in the same complex. Check out their site as they always have something new coming up for Sanur
If you a fancy an after-dinner cocktail and some small bites, this destination is highly recommended. Situated right above The Fire Station, going up to the second floor was a pleasant surprise, with its funky interiors, intimate atmosphere, and cocktails ranging from sweet to stiff, Firefly is the perfect lounge for your Sanur night out. We’re not snoring, we’re drinking!
This bar at the Maya Resort is a bit of a secret, unless you live in Sanur. Locals know it is one of the few places where you can have a late night drink but it’s also a great spot for sundowners and a decent cocktail or two. Small bites menu keeps drinkers happy.
Soul On The Beach
Soul In A Bowl’s sister restaurant is located on the sand at Sindhu Beach. A relaxing place where you’ll enjoy great food and a warm welcome anytime of the day. Enjoy a convivial breakfast with healthy smoothie bowls, settle in for lunch with a giant burger or an overflowing salad or enjoy home-style dinners. They even have a menu for your dog.
The Fire Station
What may look like an ordinary pub at first glance, is actually more fancy than first impressions suggest. Good location, friendly service, regular live music and delicious food are all on the menu here and it is one of Sanur’s busiest venues! While you’re there make sure to check out their cocktail bar called Firefly upstairs (one of the best nightlife options in Sanur). Signature cocktails like the Cardamom Old Fashioned or the Firefly Espresso Martini won’t disappoint and they have one of the best beer collections on the island. They also serve one of Sanur’s best Sunday roasts.
Decked out like a diner in New York in the fifties, with retro booths, vintage posters, and a classic American menu, Cosmic Diner is one of Sanur’s all-time favourite cafés. Their bestsellers are their creamy milkshakes and stacked beef burgers, but they have much more to offer. Their extended menu features rice bowls, chicken & waffles, and it’s heaven for the sweet lovers amongst us.
One of Sanur’s first gourmet cafes, it’s still one of the area’s most popular spots to enjoy breakfast or lunch in the courtyard and stock up at the deli beside. From Indonesian to western dishes and a delicious bakery range, Café Batujimbar serves up a great cup of coffee and the courtyard at the front is perfect for people watching and soaking up the local scene. Don’t miss out on their Sunday Market with heavenly Indonesian snacks to indulge on!
A sweet sidewalk café tucked away on the road to the beach. Great coffee and home-cooked food covers both comfort food and a few gourmet delights. It’s a very stylish, pretty café with loads of personality.
The hip newcomer is quite a game changer that has quickly become the local expat’s favourite new hang out. Located in the centre of Sanur, Square One serves delicious and creative meals with plenty of vegetarian and vegan option, their falafel wrap is definitely one not to miss.
Opened by the same management who run the infamous Nook on other side of town, Lilla Pantai was one of Sanur’s first spots for a chill-out brunch by the beach, overlooking the pretty fishing boats that line the beach. Whether it is local dishes or international fusion, they know how to serve it well.
Three Monkeys is a large restaurant with beautiful interiors and great food. Despite the large space, there are loads of intimate small corners. The menu is a great mix of Italian, Greek and Indonesian dishes, with signature dishes that include wood-fired pizzas, chicken souvlaki and beef rendang. Their house made ravioli and warm-hearted hospitality are amongst the many reasons we will keep coming back here. And if you’re not close to Sanur, don’t worry, they have a venue in Ubud as well!
Strangely enough there isn’t enough fresh seafood on the beach. Pier 8 solves that, with it’s beachfront bar and restaurant that specialises in Louisiana-style seafood. From fabulous imported lobster rolls to boiled seafood baskets and some Italian-inspired dishes as well ( the chef is Italian). It’s a beautiful spot to sit on the beach at the front the of Fairmont Hotel, with crisp service and a very friendly chef.
Inspired by Sanur’s annual kite festival, that’s being held in July, Artotel adopts kites as its design inspiration. This boutique hotel is a canvas that showcases artworks by some of the best Bali-based contemporary artists. Lidah Lokal is the newly opened restaurant at Artotel which serves delicious Indonesian food. Fancy some drinks after dinner? They have a rooftop bar on the 5th floor. Take some time to relax and treat yourself with one of the treatments at Smita Spa. We can highly recommend the 60-minute Balinese massage. If you go during their happy hours between 9AM – 2PM, you can enjoy 50% off all treatments. Finish off with a swim and enjoy the view from their infinity rooftop pool overlooking Sanur.
Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali is a world-class all-suite-and-villa luxury resort set amidst four hectares of lush tropical gardens. Their beachside restaurant, Pier 8, specialises in seafood and offers gorgeous views of the beach and across the sea to the cliffs of Nusa Penida.
A 50-year old luxury boutique resort at the beach, Tandjung Sari has a fascinating history as the first hotel built here. It has hosted an impressive list of artists and celebrities over the years and remains one of Sanur’s favourite places for locals and expats to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner. It also hosts regular theme nights and cultural performances. Tandjung Sari offers 26 large and private traditional Balinese bungalows surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Another grand old lady of Balinese tourism, Bali Hyatt has just re-opened after a lengthy renovation. Mixing the old and the new they have created a fabulous holiday spot with luxurious rooms and suites, a tranquil spa, some excellent restaurants and a fabulous pool overlooking the beachfront. The famous gardens surrounding the resort are a highlight and are like a mini botanical gardens.
Sindhu Day and Night market is a great place to sample traditional Balinese food and buy and fresh produce. It has all the charm of a street market where you can buy sarongs, art, handicrafts. Another market worth mentioning is the Sindhu Beach market, where you can find mainly clothes and art, at bargain prices. Segarra Village also holds a regular weekend market and
Need a store where you can buy all basic things you can possibly need during a holiday? Don’t look any further than Hardys. This is the largest supermarket of Sanur, and they sell everything, from food to clothes, electronics and so on. Another good supermarket in Sanur is Popular.
The deli at Café Batujimbar is the place to buy all your gourmet delicacies including fresh bread, meat, cheese and even wine. Stock up on chocolates and snacks for your hotel room and enjoy a great cup of coffee and a slice of home-made cake in the café while you’re there.
You can buy souvenirs everywhere. Two worth-checking-out stores for finding unique souvenirs that not every other store sells are A Krea and Ko Rumah. Everything they sell here is handmade and Balinese style.
Uluwatu Lace, Bamboo Blonde, Ripcurl, Havaiianas, Seafolly are all stores you can find in Sanur.
Sanur is home to many local spas where a manicure, a Balinese massage or traditional hair treatments are affordable and vary in quality. Many of the hotels have in-house spas for those who need a little luxury in their lives.
Glo Day Spa & Salon is one of the Bali’s most professional spa and salons, offering everything from facials and massages to hair treatments, wedding packages and treatments for men. Glo offers a range of non toxic treatments as well. Pre booking here is highly recommended .
Whether you choose to stay in Sanur or visit for a day, there is more than enough to entertain, no matter your age or interest. Escape the crowds and enjoy a day at the beach or a week in the pretty village where the rest of Bali is easily accessible. You too might decide that one of Bali’s best kept secrets is too good to keep to yourself.