Places to eat, things to do, day trips, stuff for kids, places to stay!
I'm fond of Sanur and I take my dogs for a walk there every week as it's only 40 minutes from Ubud. The beach is very picturesque, and its the easiest place in Bali to get around in. You basically walk everywhere, or cycle, along the flat, wide path that goes along the 5.5km beachfront.
This is not a great swimming beach. There is a part natural reef, part man-made breakwater all along this part of the coast which means the water is super shallow and in fact barely ankle deep at low tide. It's great for very small children. You will often see older Balinese bobbing along in the glassy water, or covering themselves in sand early in the morning, since the area is renowned for its muscle and joint healing properties. In fact the sand does have a high level of magnesium so the healers of old were correct!
So, the water is nice to wade in, float in and cool off in for a moment, and gorgeous to look at, but a hotel or villa with a pool is advised. However if you get a hotel with no pool or are staying further from the beach, there are many hotels that offer pool passes, mostly with only a small purchase. This way you can lounge by the ocean and cool off in the pool whenever you want a relaxing day, and still have someone serving you cocktails! My fave for this is Andaz, but there are loads.
There are surfing options since the guys who rent out boards and surfskis will tow you out past the breakwater. The water is also perfect for paddle boarding and kayaking, and you can hire these at dozens of places along the beach.
You can also hire both normal bicycles and (fun and easy) electric bikes from stalls along the beach, but walking is pleasant since most of the beachfront path is under tree shade. There have been suggestions that eBikes are going to be banned soon so these may no longer be available when you visit.
PLACES TO EAT
Puri Santrian Hotel - You can use their pool for R200,000 per person with a F&B credit. Check out their high tea!
Andaz - A gorgeous hotel pool; go for bubbly brunch and stay for a sunny afternoon
Maya Hotel - Awesome brunch, probably one of the best in Bali; reasonably priced with a great view
Tree Bar - Come for the cocktails, stay for dinner
Byrd House - Mediterranean; includes a pool bar
Fisherman's Club - Seafood (obvs)
Shotgun Social (Large western menu)
Massimo Italian (don't forgo the gelato!)
Three Monkeys (Mediterranean)
Tandjung Sari (International)
Jepun Sanur (International)
Naga Eight (Chinese)
Puerta 26 (Steakhouse)
Naughty Nuris (Ribs)
Izzy Izikaya Street (Japanese)
Dapur Deli (Healthy with vegan options)
Genius Cafe (Plant based)
LeMo Beach Cafe (Healthy & Sustainable)
Cheap and Cheerful
Night Markets (Jl. Pungutan No. 2)
Warung Little Bird
Babi Guling Amerta Sari
Warung Kembang (Chinese)
Coffee and Brunch
Soul on the Beach
Stuja di Pantai
Music and Dancing
Casablanca - Different bands playing rock, pop and R&B each night
Warung Nyonyo - A reggae band every night
Lost Ship - DJ and live music Wednesday through Saturday
Laprissa Kitchen - Live music on Fridays
Shotgun Social and Brewery - Salsa night on Fridays
New Lazer Club - Sports bar with happy hours, DJs and a band most nights
Wicked Parrot - Live music every night from 7pm. Hilariously, there is an Irish band on Wednesday nights.
THINGS TO DO
Watch the Sunrise
Get up nice and early and watch the sun rise from the beach, over the still water, with Mount Agung looming in the background. Most eating places are still closed this early, so this is the time for a walk in the cool of the morning.
Hire a bicycle for the day, or the week, and travel on the easy path up and down the long beachfront.
Stand up paddle boarding, Surfskis, surfing, kayaking: all can be sorted out through your hotel or just wander down the beach and chat to the guys at the stalls.
As advised, the surf schools and board hire guys will tow you out past the reef for a surf at one of two breaks. Checkout Sanur Surf School here for fairly standard pricing.
Surfing in Sanur is best at high tide in wet season. At other times, surfers should travel over to Keramas (30 minutes), Berawa (~1 hour drive), Nusa Dua (40 minutes) or Ulu (90 minutes). Here is a good surf map of Bali.
Power of Now Oasis is a lovely studio with walk-in classes for all ages. There is also FREE Beach Yoga every morning from 7.30am at Pantai Karang - it's in Indonesian, but you sort of just bring your mat and follow along.
Massage and Spa
Tiny masseuse stalls are all over the place, but they can be hit and miss in terms of quality and experience. They're super cheap though so go ahead if you have a spare hour. The Nest Spa on the beach is high quality, with all sorts of facials, manis and massages to choose from. You could also try Glo Day Spa, Koa Shala, or go upmarket (and pricey) at the Shankha Spa in the Hyatt. If you want (or need) some tweaking, Rejuvie is a medispa offering loads of high quality treatments way cheaper than you'll get in western countries.
Kevala Ceramics Factory has a great studio with wheel throwing classes among others starting from around R600,000 per person.
I love a posh and resplendent afternoon tea - and by the beach it is particularly special. The Puri Santrian hotel down on the south end of the boardwalk does classic, Indonesian or healthy versions for R170,000 per person. Check out Tandjung Sari for a very reasonable Indonesian version. The Hyatt does a surprisingly reasonable high tea for R250,000 for two (2-5pm daily) - you need to book a day in advance.
Sanur is not renowned for shopping, but there are a small handful of decent boutiques along the beachfront, and more up on the main road. The Sindhu beach markets are filled with the low quality, fairly homogenous rubbish ubiquitous in SE Asia. However if you need a sarong or quick souvenir / gift, take a wander, and there are a couple of quite good artists in the markets. Be prepared for the store owners hassling you. You can just say no (or 'tidak') and wave, they aren't aggressive.
Places to shop:
- Sindhu Markets
- Hardy's (Groceries)
- Ganesha (Gorgeous bookshop)
- Nogo (Heritage Textiles)
- Sanur Silver
- To-ko Rumah
- Goddess on the Go
- Uluwatu Lace
- Thakila (swimsuits)
Le Mayeur Museum
Le Mayeur was a Belgian artist who arrived in Bali in the 1920s and married a (criminally) young legong dancer who became his muse. This little museum showcases Balinese artefacts and his large collection of art which captures an idyllic time long before mass tourism began. The place needs some work as its falling apart, but the art is beautiful. It is a R50,000 entry fee.
Sea Turtle Release
Genius Cafe has a collaboration with the larger conservation centre based in Kuta, so check in with them to ask about times and dates. The centre on the north end of the beach is amateurish and I don't like the way the hatchlings are housed - although I'm not an expert.
Bali Kite Festival - July / August
Sanur Village Festival - August
Bali Arts Festival - June/July (Denpasar)
The ferry to Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan go from Sanur Wharf, so those staying in Sanur have a great opportunity for an easy day trip to either island. Check out my guide to Nusa Penida here. Penida is particularly great for a snorkelling trip.
This gorgeous spot is perfect for seeing natural, pastoral Bali. It is charming and rustic and very pretty. If you are feeling adventurous, I highly recommend a white water rafting trip in Sideman. Check out my guide here.
Hire a driver and car for the day and head to Bali's spiritual heartland. You might want to stop at the silversmith village on the way, and then check out the wood carving in Mas. In Ubud there are loads of great local places for Lunch (see my guide) then take a tour of one of the museums to learn about art history in Ubud. You can spend an hour or two either boutique shopping for some beautiful clothes, or gird your loins and head into the art markets for some souvenirs. Alternatively, you can wander through the pretty water temple, or Ubud's working palace. For a spot of nature, take a tour of the Monkey Forest (but hold onto your valuables, the monkey's are renowned thieves) or walk the beautiful Campuhan ridge. If you have time, I recommend seeing the historic Goa Gajah temple, then stop in at Sayan House or Rüsters for sunset drinks. If you want to stay up in Ubud for dinner, check out this section of the guide.
Need a driver for Ubud and surrounds? My friend Leni is a fantastic guide, particularly for cultural trips. If she's not available get in touch - I have a few trusted contacts.
Tegallalang and Tirta Empul
North past Ubud are the pretty but touristy Rice Paddies which are lovely to walk around in (particularly in the early morning). If you want a cultural experience, find a guide to take you to Tirta Empul - the water temple - for a purification ceremony. For a bigger and better rice paddy experience, go a bit further west instead to the UNESCO heritage site of Jatiluwih.
Check out my suggestions here. You can add a stop at Tirta Empul and Tegallalang on this trip to make a full day of travel.
Shoppers and Party goers, this is the region for you. Seminyak and Canggu have the majority of the best restaurants and great beach clubs in Bali, and plenty of places to dance the night away, usually right on the beach. The shopping in Seminyak and Canggu is particularly good, with loads of boutiques at every price level.
For Surfers, golfers and beach lovers, Uluwatu is a long way away but do-able in a day trip from Sanur. You could also add in a side trip to the historic Uluwatu Temple.
A trip to Jimbaran at sunset is amazing - a lovely walk then seafood dinner on the beach is a perfect evening.
With its shallow water, wide beach and safe footpaths, Sanur is perfect for families. In fact, I would recommend it above anywhere else in Bali for young kids. Apart from swimming, there are a few options for keeping the small ones occupied. Other ideas include cooking classes in Sanur, and a Barong or Kecak dance performance. However, I couldn't find any suitable close to Sanur so you'd need to go further afield (like Ubud or Uluwatu). Older kids might like the surf school and other water sports which are reasonably priced and have expert child handlers.
Gelatos at Massimo
With a huge selection of amazing gelato, Massimos is a treat...maybe not just before dinner though.
Bali Bird Park, Bali Safari and Marine Park, Bali Butterfly House
Great for kids, these are gorgeous parks, beautifully set out. I'm not an expert on the condition and housing of wild animals, so I can't tell you if these places are ethical in their treatment of its denizens. There doesn't seem to be any obvious neglect, and the animal enclosures are all clean.
OMG I love this place. It's great for kids of all ages - right up past forty-cough-cough. An amazing water park in Kuta; pretty, safe, easy and relatively cheap compared to Australian versions.
WHERE TO STAY (close to / on the beach)
Cheap and Cheerful
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