Bali,  Beaches

The Ultimate Guide to Sanur – Everything You Need to Know for an Epic Holiday!

Sanur is a quiet town located on the southeast coast of Bali, about 25 minutes east from the Ngurah Rai International airport (DPS).  

Sanur is not a bustling city with streets overflowing with tourists, like Kuta or Legian.  It is never crowded in Sanur, yet has just enough shops, restaurants and cafes to enjoy a couple of days relaxing on the beach.

Sanur Bali Map:

Sanur on a map

I have been living in Sanur on and off since 2014.  Sanur is where I landed when I took my first solo trip in 2010, I first got my job as a scuba diving instructor in 2013, and I met life partner Bryan in 2014.  

So you can say Sanur holds a special place in my heart!

Bryan and I have made Sanur our “home away from home.”  We have been renting the same apartment from a lovely local Balinese family.  We are familiar with the neighborhood, have become attached to our furry friends across the street, and have our favorite date spots.

We also find Sanur to be conveniently located close to the airport, supermarkets, shopping malls, and movie theaters.  With distance from Denpasar to Sanur being just 30 minutes, Sanur’s central location and budget-friendly community are huge draws to many visitors and expats alike.

While Sanur area is admittedly not the “hot spot” when it comes to Bali attractions, it still offers a handful of reasons to visit this “sleepy” town.

The Best of Sanur Bali:
Things to do, see, and eat!

playing in shallow tide at Sanur Bali Beach
Playing in the shallow waters of Sanur beach at low tide

Enjoy the Calm, Relaxing Waters

Unlike the popular surfing destinations such as Canggu or Kuta on the west coast of Bali, Sanur has much calmer water, as the surfs are far from the beach and accessible only by boat.  The water close to the beach is mostly flat year-round, free from waves, surge or surfs.  The water condition in Sanur is definitely optimal for any stand-up paddle boarding fans!  

You can rent a SUP board on Sanur beach for Rp 100,000/hr.  SUPing is definitely one of the Sanur beach activities that you should not miss!

Tip: December to March in Bali is considered  “wet” or “rainy” season.  During these months, wind and rain pick up and the surface can be a bit rougher relative to the rest of the year. 

The best time to visit Sanur Bali is between July to October – the temperature is moderate with less humidity, the water is clearer with better visibility, and the beaches are cleaner without washed up trash.

Sanur beach

The calm waters of Sanur beach in Bali are also great for novice swimmers, who are uncomfortable with strong, forceful waves and prefer to splash around in the shallows.   

While on the west coast you can only see tourists hanging around the beaches, in Sanur, you will often catch local Balinese families playing in the water or having a picnic on the beach.  

Despite the calm waters close to shore, Surfing is still quite popular in Sanur.   When I was in Canggu giving a go at my first surfing lesson, I was informed that Sanur actually offers optimal conditions for beginner surfers!

If you are interested in trying surfing in Sanur, check out Rip Curl School of Surf located right ton Sanur beach!

TIP: Personally, I would not recommend any other in-water activities IN Sanur (snorkeling, aquanaut, diving).  The marine life in Sanur is mediocre at best.  

If you are interested in diving, read on to the next section.  

If you want to go snorkeling or try the aquanaut (where you wear a helmet and submerge underwater), I recommend that you go to Nusa Lembongan for that – the fish life is much more colorful and abundant there, and will make your experience much more enjoyable!

Heading to Bali for the first time?   

Check out these helpful posts with a ton of helpful tips and guides!

sanur bali: a view of golden sand beach on sanur beach
The golden sand beach in Sanur

Explore the Underwater World

As a passionate scuba diver who has worked in Bali, I say scuba diving in Bali is a MUST if you are a certified diver!

If you are not yet certified, why not give it a try?

Scuba divers from all over the world flock to Bali for the world-class diving it offers.   In Bali, you can see anything from the tiniest frogfish to the biggest fish in the sea, the sunfish (aka mola-mola).  

If you are a diver, don’t miss a chance to explore the underwater world in Bali!

The only accessible diving in Bali is on the east coast or all the way to the north (Menjangan).   You cannot dive on the west coast along Kuta, Legian, or Canggu.  

So Sanur is a great access point to the top diving destinations in Bali (such as Tulamben, Nusa Penida, Padang Bai).

If you are not yet certified but want to try scuba diving for the first time in Bali (which I highly recommend!), you have one of two options:

  1. Discover Scuba Diving – a half-day or a whole-day program (depending on the diving location) that allows you to dive up to 12m deep in the ocean, under the strict supervision of a dive instructor.

    As I stated above, I do not recommend that you do DSD in Sanur. You can sign up with a dive operator in Sanur who will take you to dive locations in Tulamben where you can dive at a world famous shipwreck, or Padang Bai where you can see a lot more colorful fishes and exciting marine life.

  2. Open Water Course – a 3 to 4-day certification program where you will become a certified diver once you pass all the requirements.  Once certified, you will be able to dive with a buddy without an instructor present.  
Mo teaching in the pool
Teaching an Open Water Course

If you are certified, each of the following top dive locations is worth spending a few days alone:

  1. Tulamben/Amed
  2. Nusa Penida
  3. Padang Bai

If your schedule allows, I would highly recommend that you visit these locations and dive locally, rather than doing a day trip from Sanur.  There are just so much to see there, it will not do justice to do just one or two dives.  

If you have a tight schedule, however, and can only spare a day or two during your short holiday, then a day trip dive package is a must do in Sanur.

TIP: When to comes to diving, cheaper is not always better.   “You get what you pay for” applies when it comes to diving packages.   

Scuba diving can be an exciting activity when it’s done right.  But when something goes wrong underwater it can be absolutely disastrous.   Do not skimp out on a few dollars and go with the cheapest option.  Cheap is cheap for a reason. 

Make sure you check out this post on 5 mistakes to avoid when scuba diving in Bali!

Experience the Sindhu Night Market

Sindhhu Night Market food carts

When in Bal, one of the main “attraction” is the food!  Which is my favorite subject so let’s get to it!

There are some popular local foods you must try while in Bali: nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), babi guling (suckling pig), sate (skewered grilled meat) and pepes ikan (fish cooked in banana leaf).  I absolutely love Balinese food.  I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed with any local food that I have tried here.

One location in Sanur where you can get your dose of local eats is the Sindhu Night Market.  

It’s an area where street stands line up to sell anything from fried bananas to freshly grilled seafood.  There’s not much you won’t find here.  With such a variety of options, it is guaranteed to please everyone from picky eaters to foodies like me.  You will often see local people eating and shopping here as well, so you know it’s good!

Located off of the main strip of Sanur – Jalan Danau Tamblingan, Sindhu night market lights up around 6 pm every day until about 10 pm.  

Head off to Paradise

view of Mount Agung from Sanur beach in Bali
A view of Mount Agung from Sanur beach

Sanur is located right along the southeast coast of Bali, where fast boats depart for Nusa Lembongan (the gateway to Nusa Ceningan), Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands, and Lombok.   

If you are a beach junkie like me, you will definitely want to check out one of these stunning neighboring islands!  Although Bali has some incredible beaches ranging from white sand beach to black sand beach, some of the smaller islands give off a different “paradise vibe” that is unique on its own.

If your itinerary includes any one of those beautiful destinations, spending at least one night in Sanur will help shorten your commute.

* the info below is accurate as of August 2018.  Please confirm the info before your trip 😉

If you want to take the cheapest route, you can take the public slow boat that will take about 90 minutes for the crossing. The cost is Rp100,000/one way.   

It departs only once a day at 10:30 am.   The ticket can only be purchased in person, at the ticket booth at the end of Jalan Hang Tuah.  

For 250,000 you can take a public speedboat that can get you to Lembongan in 30 minutes  The speedboat can drop you off at one of 2 locations on Lembongan:

Departure To Jungut Batu:

08:30, 09:00, 11:00, 15:00, 16:30

Departure To Mushroom Bay:

08:00, 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14.30, 15.30, 16:30

The ticket for the public speedboat can be purchased at the same booth as the public slow boat.

There are various private companies that offer a fast boat service to Nusa Lembongan (30 minutes each way), such as Scoot, Perama, Sea Horse, etc.   The only one I’ve used and can recommend is:

Rocky Fast Cruise

41 Jalan Hang Tuah, Sanur

☎ +62 (853) 3886 6899; (813) 3758 2227; (361) 283 624; (361) 284 298

Rp30,000/one way; Rp50,000/return 
√   The ticket cost includes FREE pick up from the Airport, Jimbaran, Kuta, Seminyak, Legian & Sanur.

Departs to Jungut Batu:

10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 17:30

When I first arrived in Bali 5 years ago, there was no direct boat service to Nusa Penida, as there was only 1 resort on the entire island then.  You could only arrive on Lembongan, and find your way to Penida on a scooter.   We have come a long way since then, thanks to the rapidly growing tourism on Nusa Islands.  At the time of this writing (April 2018), there are three fast boat services to Nusa Penida:

Mola-Mola express

Departures @ 07.30, 16:30. 

Rp 175,000/one way for tourists

Caspla Bali Boat (in front of Ananda Beach Hotel on Sanur Beach)

☎ +62 361 791-2299

Departures @ 08:00, 11:00, 14:00 & 16:30

Rp 150,000/one way; Rp 300,000/return.  

Maruti Express (in front of Diwangkara Holiday Villa on Sanur Beach)

☎ +62 813 3875 4848 or +62 812 383 1639

Departures @ 07:30, 08:30, 10:00 & 16:00

Rp 300,000/one way; Rp 550,000/return 

All 3 services above will take about 45 minutes and can drop you off at either Toyapakeh or Sampalan in Penida.  Make sure you know which location you want to be dropped off.

Pick up services are not offered.  

Scoot

Jl.Hang Tuah No.27, Sanur

Departs to all 3 Gili Islands (Trawangan, Meno, Air) @ 09:30

750,000/person/one way

√  Free hotel pick up & drop off service when departing from Sanur:

South Bali: Sanur, Kuta, Kerobokan, Seminyak, Nusa Dua (BTDC) & Jimbaran

Ubud: Central Ubud, Monkey Forest Road & Kedewatan Road areas

Canggu & Uluwatu: A minimum booking of 2 people for free pick up

Restaurants/Desserts

Every once in a while (especially if you have been traveling for a long time), you crave a taste of home.  While I do recommend the Sindhu Night Market or other Warungs (Indonesian eatery/cafe) for a taste of local food, here are my personal top favorites if you want to treat yourself to some comfort food in Sanur:

Coffee on the beach @ Genius Cafe

Genius Cafe is, genius.   Located right on the beach next to Mercure Hotel, the Genius Cafe operates as a co-working space (you must pay membership fee) with an amazing view!   You can grab a seat on one of the bean bags on the beach, or inside the restaurant at a table with sitting chairs.   

The restaurant is an open-air concept so you will not get to cool down in air conditioning if that is what you are looking for.  But you can often get a nice breeze from the ocean.

Genius Cafe offers a comprehensive list of western breakfast, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, and cocktails. The menu is vegan/vegetarian/paleo diet friendly.  The prices are reasonable compared to western standards, but a bit expensive for Sanur.  But for a quality meal on a beach, I say it’s worth it!  My current favorite is their falafel salad – absolutely delicious!

Soul in a Bowl is just an all-around, cozy cafe located right on the main strip of Jalan Danau Tamblingan just south of the Grand Hyatt.   The restaurant has 2-floors, and while the restaurant is open-air like Genius, they do have air conditioning running inside on the first floor.  Take the stairs upstairs for a quieter little haven.

Everything on their menu gets a thumbs up from me, from fruit-infused coconut water, mochaccino, pork ciabatta to roasted pumpkin salad.   When Bryan and I can’t decide or agree on what we want to eat, we generally go with Soul in a Bowl because we always find something that we both want!

Anytime I recommend this gem to my traveling friends, the place gets top reviews!

bar seating @ Soul in a Bowl
ginger lemonade @ Soul in a Bowl

You will see many gelato shops along the main strip of Tamblingan, but none that offers a whoping 48 flavors (yes, I actualy counted)!

Massimo’s is really the only gelato spot worth visiting, as evidenced by the line of customers waiting for their scoop  all hours of the day.

They have every flavor imaginable, from a refreshing lemon sorbet to a snicker bar flavor, for those with a serious case of sweet tooth. 

They often change flavors, so it’s worth visiting multiple times during your stay in Sanur!

For only Rp20,000 you can get a double scoop in a cup or a cone.  Anywhere else, you’d be lucky if you can get one scoop for the same price.

Sanur Bali: Mossimo's gelatos
The one and only Mossimo's gelatos!

Last but not least (I actually should put this on the top of the list), Ruth’s chocolate cake.

If you end up not trying any of my recommendations, you MUST TRY Ruth’s chocolate cake.

Just the chocolate cake.  It is the moistest, chocolatest, yummiest thing you will have the pleasure of eating.  It is pure ecstasy in your mouth.

Ruth’s actually carries many cake selection like red velvet, carrot cake, vanilla cake and others.  But the only cake that is worth the calories and the effort to get here is THE chocolate cake.

(ok, have I said “chocolate cake” enough already?)

Just do it.  You will thank me later.  

Get Spoiled

As with any other region of Bali, there is no shortage of spas in Sanur.  And since Bryan and I are obsessed with massages, we have visited just about all the spas around Sanur.

Who can blame us?   Bali has some of the best spa treatments for a fraction of the price back home.

We have tried anything from super cheap $5/hr back rubs to $100/hr pampering services.  These days, we go for low to mid-range services at around $25/hr.  We have found that we get the best for our buck at this price range (quality massages by a trained therapist without breaking our wallet).

In Sanur, we have our favorite Top 5 Spas but our regular “go-to” has become Chantara Spa.  

As soon as you walk into the spa, the ambiance is immediately calming and relaxing.  You will be served tea while you review the menu, make your treatment selection, and choose the massage oil.  

Once you select your service, your therapist will escort you upstairs where she will scrub your feet before beginning your treatment (this is a personal pet peeve of mine – if a spa does not take the time to wash my feet before the massage, they will never see me again).  

The price list is reasonable, the facility is clean, serene and tranquil, and the massages have been amazing! (I have not tried any other spa treatments yet, which shall be fixed soon).  

The staffs at Chatara are not only friendly and welcoming but also remember your name, which is always a nice personal touch.  

 

 

TIP: Sign up for a membership (for free!) and you will receive 20% off future bookings.   

Chantara is the only spa in Sanur that we know of, that offers a reward for returning customers 🙂

Love that!

Getting Around in Sanur Bali

Getting around in Bali has become much easier and more convenient over the years. 

If you are new to Bali, be sure to check out the Ultimate Guide to Bali Transportation – it has a ton of helpful information and tips on getting around the island during your holidays!

Aside from common means of transportation that are available around Bali such as GoJek, Grab, Blue Bird Taxi, and Kura Kura, if you want to get around locally around Sanur town, you can take a local bemo. 

A Green Bemo

Along Jalan Danau Poso and Tamblingan (the main strip that run through Sanur center), you will see green vans that operate like a public bus. There are no specific pick-up/drop-off stops. You can hail a bemo like a taxi, tell the driver your destination, and confirm the price. Since the bemo only runs through Sanur center, your ride should not cost you more than Rp 10,000/person/one way.

You can only take the green bemo if you want to get from one side of Sanur town to another (let’s say, from south to north of the strip)

green local bemo in Sanur
A green bemo

A Private Driver

Whilst in Bali, you will want to spend the day visiting the Highlights of Bali, eating  your way round the islandtemple hopping, chasing waterfalls, or touring the Bali’s Instagram hot spots ;-). 

Your best bet is to hire a private driver, which will cost you about USD 30 if you book online in advance.   

You can also hire a driver through your hotel, which can run about IDR 600-700K, or about USD 40-50 for a full day.

Hiring a private driver is a great option if you have a set itinerary and know exactly where you want to go.

If you don’t yet have an itinerary and need destination ideas for your next trip to Bali, check out this ultimate 14-day itinerary highlighting the best of Bali.

Sanur Bali Accommodations

Budget

For Rp 110,000 ($8) per night in a dormitory, you won’t do much better in Sanur.   I stayed here myself when I was backpacking solo around SE Asia, and highly recommend Cafe Locca!  The shared bathrooms are clean and the beds are comfortable.  For $8, you can also access a shared pool on the property.

You can get a private double room for about $30/night at the property, but dorms are well worth the value.  

Great location on Jalan Cemara, within walking distance to local restaurants, cafes and the beach.

Mid-Range

Starting at $54/night for a Superior Room (breakfast included)

Akana is one of my favorite hotels in Sanur, as they have a section on Sanur beach where you can use their beach chairs for free ♥  If you are not a beach person, they also have a gorgeous pool you can enjoy!

While the property is not located right on the beach, it is tucked away on a quiet street of Sudamala so you can enjoy the peace and quiet.  Akana is perfectly located within walking distance to the beach for a stroll, and all the yummy restaurants I recommend below!

Luxury

Starting at $93/night for a Pool View Villa  

A stunning, secluded property located on the north of Jalan Denau Tamblingan, be prepared to be pampered in  your private villa for under $100/night!

While restaurants and spas are located within walking distance, you may never want to leave once you step into this dreamy villa. Definitely one of the top villas in Sanur!

Summary of Sanur Bali

Despite the tourism growth and the massive development in Bali, Sanur has remained relatively quiet, never too busy even in the high season. 

From marine activities to local market Sanur offers a variety of things to keep you entertained during your Bali holidays!  

I hope you find this guide helpful and useful for your next trip planning to Sanur Bali.   

Feel free to comment below if you think I should add any tips to this Sanur Guide!

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2 Comments

  • Sandy

    This is such a detailed guide and so helpful in planning my trip to Sanur! I’ve spent a lot of time in Bali but never been to Sanur so saving this article for reference and really looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

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