Bali is famed for its stunning beaches, lush rice paddies, and wealth of cultural attractions. However, many visitors to the island overlook the charming coastal town of Sanur, which has a character all its own. Located on the southeastern edge of Bali, Sanur offers a quieter and less crowded alternative to popular beach destinations like Kuta or Seminyak. In this article, we will take a closer look at Sanur and all it has to offer for travelers who want to step off the beaten track and experience a more authentic side of Bali.
A Brief History of Sanur
Sanur is one of Bali’s oldest beach towns, with a history dating back more than 1,000 years. According to legend, Sanur was founded by a Hindu priest named Mpu Kuturan who came to Bali from Java in the 10th century. The town’s name is derived from the Balinese words “Saha” (meaning “one”), and “Nuhur” (meaning “to cross over”), reflecting its location as a crossing point for travelers headed to other parts of Bali. Over the years, Sanur has been home to several waves of settlers, including Chinese traders and Dutch colonialists, leaving a rich cultural tapestry that can still be seen today.
The Origins of Sanur
The ancient village of Sanur was founded as a fishing village, and many of the locals still rely on fishing as their primary source of income. The village, situated on the eastern coast, also served as a harbor for the traders who sailed on the old Java-Bali trade route. Those trading activities gave rise to the hotels, restaurants, and shops that have made Sanur a popular tourist destination today.
Sanur’s location on the eastern coast of Bali also made it a strategic location for the island’s defense against invaders. The Balinese people built a series of defensive structures along the coast, including watchtowers and fortresses. These structures can still be seen today, and they offer a glimpse into the island’s military history.
Sanur’s Role in Balinese Culture
Sanur has always been at the heart of Balinese culture. It’s home to one of Bali’s most important temples, Blanjong Temple, which dates back to the 10th century and is said to be the island’s oldest. The temple also houses one of Bali’s most important historical artifacts, the Blanjong Pillar, which bears one of the earliest written records of the island in the ancient script of the era.
Sanur has also long been a center for Balinese arts and crafts, including woodcarving, mask making, and weaving. The town’s art market is a popular destination for tourists looking to purchase traditional Balinese handicrafts. Visitors can watch local artisans at work, creating intricate carvings and weaving colorful textiles.
Sanur is also known for its traditional Balinese dance performances. The town has several dance schools where visitors can take classes and learn about the intricate movements and symbolism of Balinese dance. These performances are an important part of Balinese culture and are often held during religious ceremonies and festivals.
Overall, Sanur’s rich history and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Balinese history and culture. Its beautiful beaches, charming streets, and vibrant arts scene make it a perfect place to relax and soak up the island’s unique atmosphere.
Getting to and Around Sanur
Sanur is a beautiful coastal town located in the southeast of Bali. Known for its stunning beaches, laid-back atmosphere, and abundance of water sports and activities, it’s a popular destination for travelers seeking a more relaxed and authentic Balinese experience.
Whether you’re arriving in Sanur for the first time or planning to explore the town and its surroundings, there are several options for getting around and experiencing all that this charming town has to offer.
Arriving in Sanur
Sanur is located just a 20-minute drive south of Bali’s international airport, making it an easy and convenient destination to reach. Many travelers choose to take a taxi from the airport directly to their hotel or villa in Sanur. If you need to exchange money, there are currency exchanges available at the airport terminal. Alternatively, you can arrange for airport transfer in advance with your hotel and have their driver pick you up from the airport.
As you make your way to Sanur from the airport, you’ll pass through several small towns and villages, each with its own unique charm and character. Take the time to soak in the sights and sounds of Bali as you make your way to your destination.
Public Transportation Options
Getting around Sanur is easy and inexpensive, as the town is small and walkable. You can easily explore the town on foot, taking in the sights and sounds of this charming coastal community.
If you’re looking to venture further afield, you can take a ride on the famous “bemo”—a minibus that shuttles passengers between Sanur and other places around the island, including Kuta and Denpasar. This is a great way to experience the local culture and meet other travelers, as the bemos are often packed with locals and tourists alike.
For longer journeys, you can take a bus or minivan that leaves from the Ubung Bus Terminal in Denpasar, which is about a 30-minute drive from Sanur. From here, you can explore other parts of Bali, including the popular tourist destinations of Ubud and Seminyak.
In Sanur, you’ll find several car and motorbike rentals that allow you to tour the island at your own pace. This is a great option if you’re looking to explore Bali’s hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Renting a Scooter or Bicycle
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can rent a scooter or bicycle and explore Sanur at your own pace. Scooter and bicycle rental shops are plentiful in Sanur, and the rental prices are quite reasonable. Just be sure to wear a helmet and drive carefully, as Bali’s roads can be quite chaotic.
As you explore Sanur on your scooter or bicycle, be sure to take in the stunning natural beauty of the area. From the lush green rice paddies to the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, Sanur is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Overall, getting to and around Sanur is easy and convenient, with plenty of options for travelers of all budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking to explore the town’s rich cultural heritage, soak up the sun on its stunning beaches, or simply relax and unwind in a peaceful and laid-back setting, Sanur has something for everyone.
Top Attractions in Sanur
Sanur is a charming coastal town located in the southeastern part of Bali. It is known for its breathtaking beaches, stunning natural landmarks, and rich cultural heritage. Here are some of the top attractions you won’t want to miss:
Sanur Beach is one of Bali’s most picturesque beaches, with soft white sand and calm waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The beach is also a great spot for water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing, and snorkeling. If you’re looking for a relaxing day, there are several beach clubs and restaurants along Sanur’s beach promenade where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks while taking in the stunning views.
Le Mayeur Museum
Owned by Belgian artist Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpes and his Balinese wife Ni Pollok, this museum houses the works of the late artist who devoted 25 years of his life to painting the daily life and culture of Bali. The museum is located in a beautiful Balinese-style house, surrounded by lush gardens and a tranquil pond. As you explore the museum, you’ll be transported back in time to Bali’s colonial era and gain a deeper understanding of the island’s rich artistic heritage.
Serangan Island Turtle Conservation Centre
Located on the nearby Serangan Island, the Turtle Conservation Centre is a must-visit spot for animal lovers. The center is dedicated to the protection and conservation of Bali’s turtle population, and visitors have the opportunity to see dozens of these amazing creatures up close. You can learn about the different species of turtles found in Bali, their habitats, and the conservation efforts being made to protect them. The center also offers educational programs and volunteer opportunities for those interested in getting more involved.
Blanjong Temple is one of Bali’s most important temples, with a rich history dating back to the 10th century. The temple is known for its ancient stone pillars, which are inscribed with the oldest known example of written Balinese. As you explore the temple grounds, you’ll be amazed by the intricate carvings and beautiful architecture. The temple is also an important spiritual site for locals, who come here to pray and make offerings to the gods.
Sanur is a wonderful destination for those looking to experience the beauty and culture of Bali. Whether you’re interested in relaxing on the beach, exploring historical landmarks, or getting up close and personal with Bali’s wildlife, Sanur has something for everyone.
Experiencing Sanur’s Culinary Scene
Sanur’s food scene is not as hectic as in other parts of Bali. Still, the town has plenty of options when it comes to discerning foodies looking for something traditional or contemporary. Here are some must-try foods:
Traditional Balinese Dishes to Try
Bali is famous for its traditional dish, nasi goreng, fried rice that is typically served with vegetables, eggs, and meat. The dish is a staple in the Balinese diet and can be found in almost every restaurant in Sanur. Another popular dish is babi guling, or roast suckling pig, which is typically served with steamed rice, vegetables, and a spicy sambal sauce. The meat is slow-roasted over an open fire and seasoned with a blend of spices, giving it a deliciously crispy skin and juicy meat. Ayam betutu is another must-try dish, stuffed chicken cooked with a rich blend of spices. The chicken is wrapped in banana leaves and slow-cooked over a wood fire, giving it a smoky flavor and tender texture.
Best Restaurants in Sanur
Sanur has a wide range of restaurants offering both Indonesian and international cuisine. One of the most popular restaurants in Sanur is Massimo Italian Restaurant, which serves up authentic Italian cuisine. The restaurant is known for its freshly-made pasta and great wine list, making it a favorite among foodies. Batu Jimbar is another great restaurant located right on the beach. The restaurant serves up a mixture of Indonesian and international cuisine, and the views are stunning. The Porch Cafe is another local favorite, offering an extensive breakfast menu that includes pancakes, waffles, eggs Benedict, and more.
- Massimo Italian Restaurant: For something different, try Massimo’s authentic Italian cuisine. Freshly-made pasta and a great wine list make it a favorite among foodies.
- Batu Jimbar: Located right on the beach, Batu Jimbar is a chic restaurant that serves up a mixture of Indonesian and international cuisine. The views are stunning, and the food is equally impressive.
- The Porch Cafe: If you’re in the mood for an all-day breakfast, The Porch Cafe is the perfect spot. With an extensive breakfast menu that includes pancakes, waffles, eggs Benedict, and more, it’s easy to see why this cafe is a local favorite.
Local Street Food and Night Markets
If you’re feeling like trying some authentic Indonesian street food and mingling with the locals, be sure to check out Sanur’s night markets. These markets sell everything from local snack foods to fresh produce and meat. Sindhu Night Market is one of the most popular night markets in Sanur, offering a wide range of street food options such as satay, nasi goreng, and bakso (meatball soup). The Sanur Night Market is another great option, offering a variety of local dishes such as mie goreng (fried noodles), gado-gado (vegetable salad with peanut sauce), and sate lilit (spiced minced meat skewers).
Sanur may not be as well-known as other tourist hotspots in Bali, but that’s part of its charm. This coastal town offers a unique and authentic experience that will make your visit unforgettable. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be struck by the relaxed and friendly atmosphere, which is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of other parts of Bali.
One of the best things about Sanur is its beautiful beach. With its soft white sand and clear blue waters, it’s the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try your hand at some water sports, such as snorkeling, diving, or stand-up paddleboarding. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some sea turtles!
But Sanur isn’t just about the beach. It’s also a great place to learn about Balinese culture. Take a stroll through the town’s streets and you’ll see traditional Balinese architecture, as well as colorful offerings and statues of Hindu gods. You can also visit some of the local temples, such as Pura Blanjong or Pura Segara, to get a deeper understanding of Balinese spirituality.
And let’s not forget about the food! Sanur is home to some of the best restaurants in Bali, serving up delicious Indonesian and international cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, spicy curries, or mouth-watering desserts, you’ll find it all in Sanur. And if you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as babi guling (roast suckling pig) or nasi campur (mixed rice with various toppings).
Overall, Sanur is a hidden gem that should not be missed on your next trip to Bali. With its beautiful beach, rich culture, and delicious food, it’s the perfect place to unwind and experience the best of Bali. So pack your bags and head to Sanur – you won’t regret it!