Sanur – the perfect Balinese relaxation town

Sanur is the perfect Balinese town to relax. It’s quiet, but has plenty of activities; it’s stylish, but not too expensive.

Photogenic jukung fishing boats bob around in the calm waves, like rainbow water spiders. Crooked palm trees cast shade over an empty beach that leaves you wondering where all the people are. For those looking to avoid the car horns, touts and backpacker bars of Kuta, this coastal fishing town is on the other end of the scale.

I didn’t have the energy for a sweaty, mosquito-bitey, smelly dormitory backpacking adventure. Sanur was the right place.

Catamarans, Sanur
Catamarans, Sanur

Staying in a villa in Sanur

The best thing you can possibly do to enjoy Sanur is to stay in a private villa. I stayed as a group of 4, and we had a walled-off garden area, 2 cabins, a lounge and kitchen, and a swimming pool to ourselves.

Firstly, this is Bali (and not Hawaii or Fiji), so a private villa will generally be much cheaper than you expect. It probably won’t quite suit a backpacker’s budget, but couples, families and groups are in for a treat.

Secondly, this is Sanur, so you’re probably looking to kick back and relax, and a private villa is the best way to do this. There aren’t a whole lot of sights to see or activities to try in Sanur, but once you have a private swimming pool, it won’t matter!

On the counter of the kitchenette was a menu. I thumbed through it, landing on a chicken sandwich with salad. I dialled the number, and soon enough, a deliveryman on a spluttering old scooter arrived with the room service.

Sanur for families

While people who prefer to drink and party might nickname this town ‘Snore’, the toned down vibe of Sanur makes it perfect for travelling as a family.

Sanur, a kid-friendly beach

A coral reef offshore from Sanur beach acts as a natural barrier against waves. So, the beach is very flat, and ideal for swimming with little ones.

The beachfront is perfect for walking from one end to the other. The sand is immaculately clean, and almost empty of people. A paved, 7km pathway is perfect for walking or cycling just beyond the sand.

Renting bicycles in Sanur

Bike rental is cheap and easy in Sanur, and the long paved bike path that traces to beachfront is the perfect place to ride. Kid’s bikes are available, as well as baby seats.

Grown-ups can act like kids, too

When I visited Sanur, we had no kids in our party, but I was staying with my parents. So, it fell to me to become to kid.

I poked my head out of the water like a stealthy hippo, allowing myself to breathe. I snuck up to my girlfriend and attacked her like Jaws, and then tried to see how many crocodile-style barrel rolls I could perform underwater. This was my holiday, dammit, and i’ll act like a kid if I want!

We all could; we were swimming during a tropical downpour, and we were having a blast. My stepmum had a leaf on her head for a rain shield. Huge raindrops smashed down on the swimming pool’s surface, sending spears of water back upwards, and I shielded my eyes.

This was awesome; being in the pool at a time like this was one of the perks of the villa. It was a good old-fashioned family holiday.

Sanur beach

Sanur’s curved beach was cluttered with huge, wooden, rainbow-painted fishing boats called jukungs on the southern end. They had arched wooden legs to connect slender outriggers.

More rainbow spiders were bobbing and listing in the calm ocean, with long ropes anchoring them to the shore. These pretty little fishing catamarans brightened up the already tropical scene, watching the sun arc across the sky with cartoony painted eyes.

The bike path connects all of the beach-facing hotels and resorts, many of which raked their stretch of sand carefully. The locals occupied some parts of the beach, families playing with inflatable toys in the surf.

Then there were the ‘luxury’ sections (usually attached to some of the more expensive hotels), with massage parlours, comfortable cushioned loungers under umbrellas, and waiters serving mojitos.

Jalan Danau Tamblingan

The main road running parallel to the beachfront us Jalan Danau Tamblingan. There are plenty of restaurants along it, as well as little bars and cafes, and souvenir shops of course.

The long main road is also full of taxis (blue taxis inevitably honk at anyone who isn’t Indonesian), making taking day trips or getting back to the hotel a breeze. There are also cool places to grab an ice cream, but while you’re distracted with a gelato, watch your step (Hindu offerings, parked motorcycles and gaping holes in the pavement make each sidewalk an obstacle course)!

A bike with a steering wheel. Hello, crazy Asia!
A bike with a steering wheel and old timey horn. That’s just the kind of weirdness I was hoping to find!

Pasar Sindhu night market

On the beach front is the Pasar Sindhu beach market, open during the day, and also at night. There were empty stretches of palm trees, sections with Balinese clothes stalls and souvenir shops and mouth-watering barbeques, and parts with solo travellers escaping the crowds by reading books on sun chairs.

Rainbow spider guardians (kids watching fishing boats)
Rainbow spider guardians (kids watching fishing boats)

The Belanjong Pillar

Although resting, eating and having massages is enough for most people in Sanur, there is one interesting archaeological site which you can visit.

In the southern harbour of Sanur, Belanjong, the Blanjong Pillar is housed in a protective shelter. This short andesite stone pillar dates to 914CE, making it the oldest Balinese artefact on record. It was carved during the reign of Bali’s first king, Sri Kesari Warmadewa, and details his military exploits.

It is carved with Indian Sanscrit and Old Balinese language, demonstrating a connection between Bali, and the Sanjaya dynasty on Java.

Villas everywhere

What Sanur didn’t have were relentless touts, and young travellers looking to hit the beach by day and the club by night. It wasn’t really about bars and nightclubs in this part of Bali.

It was more like villas and luxurious hotels. The high-quality restaurants allow you to enjoy Bali’s food without having to worry about ‘Bali Belly’ creeping in through a dodgy mee goreng. This is a place for retirees and families to work on their tans.

Top dollar in Sanur
Top dollar in Sanur

Sanur is the perfect quiet getaway on an island that is becoming more and more busy. The pace of life is slow, enjoying a swim in a private pool is affordable and fun, and it’s also great for families.

5 thoughts on “Sanur – the perfect Balinese relaxation town

  1. I was just in Sanur a couple of months ago. It’s definitely so much more mellow than Kuta. And it’s definitely home to some great hotel deals. I paid around $25 USD for an amazing traditional Balinese room (with a pool)!

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