It may not have the surf spots of Kuta or yoga of Ubud, but it does attract a quieter crowd and less tourists. Sanur has a good mixture of everything, we felt comfortable and at home here. There are upscale resorts, spas, a 9-hole golf course, a beach, plenty of great restaurants, plus live music and bars for those who wish to let their hair down.
We have spent quite a bit of time in Sanur, it’s close to the airport making it an ideal place before or after our flight, and for catching a fast boat to the Gilis or Nusa Islands. For scuba divers, it’s the best place to buy equipment, or as a base to dive Padang Bai, Nusa Penida or even Tulumben’s USS Liberty Wreck.
Before you write off a visit, let Feet Do Travel show you some of the things to do in Sanur. You may be surprised and feel that yes, Sanur is worth a visit!
Sanur is a low-key coastal town located in the south east of Bali. It may surprise you to learn that it was Sanur that boosted Bali’s tourism back in 1963 when the Grand Bali Beach Hotel was built, prior to this only three hotels existed on the entire island. You will find many Luxury resorts in Sanur such as the Hyatt Regency Hotel which don’t attract the younger party crowd, naturally meaning families choose Sanur as a quieter Bali destination.
Close to the airport: Ngurah Rai International Airport is 15 – 20 minutes away.
Extend your visa: Bali immigration is 10 minutes from Sanur. Bali is one of only three airports in Indonesia where you can obtain a paid for visa on arrival (cost is US $35), which you can extend to 60 days.
Base to explore the island: Travel time will depend on traffic and time of day.
Kuta – (south west) - 30 minutes
Seminyak (south west) – 45 minutes
Ubud to the north - 45 minutes
Jimbaran, Nusa Dua (south west) – 1 hour
Canggu (south west) – 1.5 hours
Amed (north) – 3 hours
Go Scuba Diving: Many of Bali's most established dive operators are located in Sanur, all run trips to Tulumben, the Nusa Islands and Padang Bai. Recommended dive centres are Blue Season Bali, Joe’s Gone Diving and All 4 Diving.
Buy Scuba Diving gear: Mastersalam is a huge store, the main AquaLung Dealer in Bali, and one of the leading distributors to dive centres in the Gili Islands. APEX regulators with carry bag, BCD’s, wetsuits, holdall to carry your dive gear … you name it they have it. Mares distributor Ocean King Dive Shop are also in Sanur.
Things to do in Sanur
Sanur is split into two parts divided by the Jalan Ngurah Rai Bypass which is always bumper to bumper with traffic. When discussing places in Sanur, people usually navigate “the other side of McDonalds”. With McDonalds on your right you will be travelling north from the airport heading towards the port, McDonalds on your left and you are travelling south from the port towards the airport. Simples.
East of Jalan Ngurah Rai Bypass
This is where you will find the main restaurants, bars, shopping and upscale resorts and if I’m honest, it’s the best place for families and couples.
Sanur is on the east coast where the sun rises so if you are an early bird, take advantage of this and head to the beach. For joggers or cyclists, the 5km paved beachfront path is a wonderful scenic way to start your day. Bikes can be hired but make sure you test them properly before you start cycling.
OK so it may not be the best beach in Bali (I am a self-confessed beach snob) but it has golden sand, a sea breeze, you can have a massage on the beach, a cold Bintang on your sun lounger (which you can hire for 100,000 for two people including a parasol), there are places to eat and drink along the beachfront, and a toilet for use at a beachfront hotel – this ticks quite a few boxes in my book!
If you don’t fancy lazing around topping up your tan, try windsurfing, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, paragliding or hire a banana boat. On a good day you can also surf, but obviously Sanur isn’t known for this in comparison to Bali’s other coastal towns.
Address: Jl. Segara Ayu No.8,
Cost: 110,000 IDR per person plus tax and service charge
I am a lover of Afternoon Tea, I’m English after all! Between 3-6pm at the Byrdhouse Beach Club, I was able to enjoy a delicious High Tea on the beach. Maybe it was delicious because I had been away from the UK for a while, but the sandwiches, coffee and little cakes made me happy so that is all that matters!
Address: Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.110
Cost: 100,000 IDR for one person, or 150,000 for two, plus tax and service charge
Obviously it isn’t as good as the Byrdhouse Beach Club, but you get what you pay for! We sat inside a cute café away from the main road, and placed our order. Tea, coffee, ham and mustard and cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, all with the corners cut off, just as it should be! If you add lashings of the artificial cream and jam onto the scones, you can almost believe they are the real deal, but you have to use your imagination.
Address: Grand Bali Beach Hotel and Resort, Jalan Hangtuah No 58
Cost: 9 holes – 840,000 IDR; 18 holes – 1,050,000 IDR; Sunset Golf (from 2.30pm) – 840,000 IDR
The Bali Beach Golf Course is located at the Grand Bali Beach Hotel and Resort. It’s a 9-hole golf course with seven Par 4’s, one Par 5 and one Par 3. OK so you may not see the likes of Tiger Woods here, but it’s perfect for a relaxing game in the sunshine. If you want to improve your game, there is a night driving range plus they offer lessons for both adults and children.
Pamper yourself at The Sanctuary Spa
Address: Jalan Danau Buyan No.67
Cost: 1-hour Balinese massage - 90,000 IDR, 1-hour Swedish massage - 100,000 IDR
There are many places in Sanur to have a massage, facial or mani/pedi, however we personally think The Sanctuary Spa is the best. It’s more than just somewhere to have a massage, it’s a complete relaxation experience. All masseuse are professionals and wear matching uniforms, I appreciate that.
We chose our treatment from their extensive list whilst our feet were tenderly washed in rose petal water and dried. We were walked to our massage room in a quiet area, and prepared ourselves for the next relaxing hour.
All I can say is we walked out feeling the weight of the world had been lifted from our shoulders. 10/10 would go again.
Address: Jalan Danau Tamblingan No 120
Cost: 50,000 IDR for 1 hour of all you can drink (rules apply)
Ever heard of Freeflow? At Casablanca on Friday nights between 5-6pm, you can drink as much beer as you like for free! The catch? Of course there is one!
We were shown to an area cornered off – these are the rules- no sitting, no picking up your mobile phone, no photography, no going to the toilet and no leaving the area. Break the rules and the drinks stop for everyone! After the one hour, you can pay 50,000 IDR per person for another hour of “all you can drink” but no rules are applied. This is when you see people dashing to the toilets, and picking up their mobile phones to show all the things on the internet they had just talked about during the past hour of drinking. Yes this happened to us! One hour of no mobile phones, drinking and conversation showed us just how much today’s society relies on using the internet to share information.
Address: Jalan Danau Toba, Sindu, Sanur
Night markets are the best way of getting a feel for local life, it’s also a great place for cheap eats and to grab yourself a souvenir. During the day its open for locals to buy their groceries and ritual items, from 6pm it’s a bustling night market so arrive early to beat the crowds.
West of Jalan Ngurah Rai Bypass
This one feels more local, and is the best place for people on a budget. We have stayed in Sanur many times, and our accommodation has always been in this area. Everything we needed was within 10 minutes’ walk, including a walk over the Bypass to the east side.
On the main Jalan Danau Buyan road there is a huge well-equipped supermarket selling everything, including large Bintangs for 36,000 IDR. An ATM is next door, as well as a Post Office (look out for a sign saying Kantor Pos).
I had a decent haircut at a hairdressers’ for 35,000 IDR (just a few doors down from the Post Office).
Address: Jalan Danau Buyan No 34
Nasi Campur is one of my favourite Indonesian Dishes, and Warung Dapoer Oma is one of the best we have tried. A Warung is a small family restaurant, and Nasi Campur means “mixed rice”. If you want to try an excellent local dish, you have to give this a go. Pick your rice then choose from meats, vegetables, eggs, and vegetarian dishes. A huge full plate costs around 42,000 IDR (around 8,000 IDR per item). We ate here almost daily and never tired of it, probably because each meal is different depending on which items you choose.
If you are on a budget and want to truly eat like a local, on the main road there are a few warungs serving delicious Mie Gorang (fried noodle) and Nasi Gorang (fried rice) for 10,000 IDR. There are also street stands selling deep fried tasty treats and various other cheap meals. There are options for everyone’s taste and budget.
I hope you have been surprised at how many things there are to do in Sanur, and will at least use it as a stopover for a few days before you travel onward.
Apps to download for Bali, and for visiting neighbouring islands:
Magic Seaweed – to check high and low tide times when catching boats
Refill My Bottle – find out where you can refill your water bottle to help reduce Bali’s plastic pollution problem
Grab/Uber (Grab acquired Uber SE Asia in early 2018) – for cheap taxis
Go Jek – for cheap motorbike “taxi” rides or cheap car
Bluebird – for metered taxis
Where to stay in Sanur
Fancy a splurge? These four are top on Tripadvisor
Segara Village Hotel
We stayed in two places, both “the other side of McDonalds” west of the bypass.
Hotel Indah Sanur is simple hotel. We hired a scooter a few times, cost was 60,000 IDR for 24 hours
Dewi Dewi Villas has a small kitchen, living area and swimming pool
There are Bemos driving around which are Bali’s version of local transport, but we have never used them, mainly because at first we didn’t recognise them.
Other ways of getting around are:
Metered taxis – Bluebird
Unmetered hailed taxis where you haggle
Grab/Uber app taxis
Go Jek app motorbike/car taxis
Hire a scooter
Take an organised tour for travelling further afield
Grab/Uber or Go Jek apps
I have been told many times that taxis are run by the Mafia, how true this is I do not know, but it certainly feels like it. This means getting a Grab/Uber/Go Jek can sometimes be difficult for you, and potentially dangerous for the driver. In places like Seminyak, Ubud and Canggu, drivers from these apps are banned completely.
We caught a Grab from Sanur to Ubud, but the driver insisted on dropping us down a back street.
Every time we arrive at Sanur port we never tell the taxi drivers we are getting a Grab, we just tell them no thanks, walk to Dunkin Doughnuts, and call our taxi from there.
I understand the difficulty faced with taxi drivers; they have families to feed, a car to pay for and it’s a dog-eat-dog world with tourism in Bali with everyone out for themselves, however the 500% higher price is unreasonable.
If you feel uncomfortable using Grab/Uber, then use the Bluebird app or flag down a Bluebird taxi, at least you won’t have to haggle. We found the prices to be an excellent compromise between Grab/Uber and the unmetered hailed taxis.
Hiring a scooter is the best way of getting around the island because, quite simply, there is a LOT of traffic and bikes rule the road. Be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted, confidence (not cockiness) and bravery are required. You will need to keep your wits about you at all times and basically throw away the rule book on driving. I often felt the only rule was to make it to a destination alive or at least in one piece.
Everyone rides a bike; children, families of five, surfers with their boards and dainty ladies sitting side saddle with a bag of offerings. Bikes are to the left, to the right, down the middle, three a breast behind a car at traffic lights vying for pole position and if you give someone an inch, they will take it. We saw a car turn right and knock a local off his bike, a harsh reminder how vulnerable we are and its actually the 4-wheeled vehicles that are the big boys around here. Do not be complacent!
Hiring a scooter – what you need to know
Do note that there is a difference between a fine, and a policeman asking for a “payment” not to give you a ticket. The official fine is around 40,000 – 50,000 IDR but no more than 80,000 IDR, but a policeman may try to ask for a few hundred thousand. Don’t pay. Insist on having a ticket, otherwise you are contributing to police corruption, and Bali doesn’t need any more of that.
ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET. Don’t risk your life for a day trip. Yes you will see people posting on Instagram not wearing a helmet with a “sorry Mum” and laughing emoji thinking it’s cool. It’s not. The driving pace is extremely scary, yes you will have “helmet hair”, but honestly, is it really worth the risk? Tourists fall of/accidentally knocked off daily in Bali, don’t be one of the death statistics that are constantly published.
Language – English is widely spoken, but Bahasa Indonesian is the official language.
Currency – Indonesian Rupiah, £1 = 18,000 IDR
Wi-Fi – available in most places; hotels, homestays, beach bars and restaurants
Climate – Tropical with two seasons; Wet/Monsoon is October to April, Dry is April to October
ATM’s – There are plenty of ATM’s all over Sanur and Bali.
Visa - A 30 day visa is given at the time of arrival in Indonesia (not for all countries, check with your embassy).
Airport – Bali’s only airport, Ngurah Rai International Airport, is located 13km south of Denpasar.
Religion – Predominantly Hindu, but also Muslim. Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world.
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Are you a Scuba Diver? Check out these related links:
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Need more advice? Lonely Planet books have always been my first point of reference! Alternatively, other people prefer DK Eywitness or The Rough Guide - take your pick!
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