Sanur: Review of What You Should Know

Alexis
Modified on January 21, 2024

Sanur is a popular destination on the Bali East Coast. Here is my review of what you should know before going to Sanur.

Where is Sanur in Bali?

Sanur is a small coastal town located in the southeast of Bali, adjacent to Denpasar.

Sanur faces Kuta and Seminyak to the west of the island. It remains very central, and it takes only about thirty minutes to travel from one coast to the other.

Sanur is relatively close to Bukit thanks to the "toll" and is a good option for those who want to get closer to the iconic places on the East Coast.

The historical role of Sanur in Bali tourism

Sanur is among the oldest tourist destinations in Bali.

Originally, the village was populated by fishermen, many of whom were members of the Brahmin caste, the so-called priestly caste.

Since the 1950s with the opening of the Sindhu Beach Hotel, Sanur has become a popular destination for wealthy foreign tourists. The trend has only intensified with other hotels like Tanjung Sari, Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali, and Hyatt Regency Bali.

Today, Sanur is a city that has found its own personality and easily stands out from western cities like Kuta, Seminyak, or Canggu.

What is Sanur like today?

If Sanur no longer looks much like the old fishing village it once was, it still retains a certain charm.

Luxury hotels facing a white sand beach

sanur hotels

Sanur is a vertical strip facing a white sand lagoon. Many hotels are located on this strip of sand, although the beach remains accessible to everyone.

Due to its separation from the main access roads through hotels and other seaside establishments, the waterfront and Sanur's beach are extremely calm and car-free. The place is ideal for walking or cycling safely, which is not so common in Bali.

The beach is in a lagoon, so there are waves only on the reef barrier about 800 meters offshore. Sanur is, therefore, an ideal beach to enjoy the sea with family without risk, or if you simply don't like waves, which is quite rare in Bali and partly explains its success.

Booking.com

Sanur city center is lively and full of restaurants and bars

The city center of Sanur is charming as well. Many restaurants, both local and Western, are scattered in the streets of Sanur. It is easy to leave your hotel and enjoy a meal without necessarily needing to take a taxi or a motorcycle.

The variety of Sanur's restaurants is very interesting, even for the pickiest palates. In my opinion, Sanur deserves to be in the top foodies destinations in Bali (with Canggu, Seminyak and Jimbaran).

While fewer and less wild than in other cities in Bali, Sanur's bars are still very welcoming and allow you to watch a football match, play pool, or dance with a cold Bintang in hand in a cheerful atmosphere.

Sanur has big roads around, which are great to avoid the traffic

If roads are rarely spoken of as something charming, it is worth noting that Bali can be extremely congested, and its roads are often very narrow, exacerbating the problem.

Unlike other cities in Bali, Sanur is on the edge of the "bypass," a 4-lane road that connects East Bali to the airport.

While Sanur may seem a bit more distant than some other cities, especially the western ones, it is actually not when you factor the nice infrastructure into the equation.

In reality, Sanur is probably one of the most easily accessed destination in Bali. It takes only about thirty minutes to reach Kuta, a few minutes to reach the wilder East Coast, Nusa Dua and Uluwatu are also just a few minutes away via the toll over the sea, which has its entrance only 10 minutes away from Sanur.

What are the Sanur's pros

People come to Sanur for various reasons. Nevertheless, most people find themselves there for these reasons.

Sanur's beach is beautiful, calm and convenient

White sandy beaches are not as common as one might think in Bali. Those protected by a lagoon, where you can swim safely, are even rarer.

Sanur Beach is a true beauty where many activities are doable: diving and snorkeling in the lagoon, wakeboarding, kitesurfing, and even surfing on the reefs, everything is possible.

There is even a huge promenade by the sand that allow you to walk for kilometers almost on the beach. If you like walking, keep in mind that few other beaches in Bali allow you to do that.

sanur beach gazebos

Sanur's restaurants: the best hot spot on the East coast

People also come to Sanur for its restaurants. When returning from the most remote areas of Bali, finding civilisation and Sanur's upscale restaurants can be very welcome.

Sanur allows you to easily discover local gastronomy or stick to Western food for those allergic to spices or rice.

Moreover, many restaurants overlook the sea and are usually quiet. So yes, it might become a bit hard to leave home after that.

Sanur's luxury hotels and resorts are (very) renowned

Hyatt hotel Sanur

Sanur's luxury hotels and resorts are true institutions and rarely disappoint. In Sanur, international hotel excellence prevails.

If you like the most prestigious hotel chains in the world, you will not be out of place: Hyatt, Fermont, Mercure, and the more local Tanjung Sari, to name a few.

Naturally, all these big hotels and resorts are beachfront. Most of the time, you just have to walk from your room to be on the beach, without ever having to cross a road, seeing a car, or a scooter.

Booking.com

Who frequents Sanur the most?

Sanur is a small melting pot composed of locals, expatriates, tourists, and other people living in Bali who come to spend an afternoon in Sanur.

Here are the people you will surely meet in Sanur.

Retired expatriates: the stereotype of Sanur

Retired expatriates are the big stereotype of Sanur. Like every stereotype, there is some truth to it. Many Western retirees expatriates have indeed made their home in Sanur.

They appreciate the calm and safety of its beach, the presence of many restaurants, the easy access to the rest of the island, and the unique atmosphere that reigns in this place that has retained its small village charm.

Families on vacation in Sanur are numerous in luxury hotels

Sanur is frequented by many families, and it is easy to see why. Sanur is indeed one of Bali's versatile destinations.

Parents can enjoy the calm beach, good gastronomy, while children can have fun safely in hotel pools, in the lagoon, or during water activities.

All of this in the comfort of a luxurious (or even very luxurious) hotel that quickly makes you forget your daily problems.

Local tourists vacationing in Bali often stop by Sanur

Sanur is a very popular city among locals. Local tourists from Jakarta love the comfort of Sanur luxury hotels during their Balinese getaways and all the possible activities you can do around it.

But Sanur is also popular among Balinese people living in Renon or the East of Denpasar who often visit on weekends to fish, spend time on the beach with family, or gather with friends in a restaurant.

Divers: Sanur is a headquarter for many diving enthusiasts

The East Coast of Bali has many diving spots. Sanur being the biggest city around, numerous diving schools are headquartered in Sanur, and bring their students on different spots along the East Coast.

It is also possible to dive directly in Sanur's lagoon, although most divers prefer to venture a bit further north. In any case, you are likely to encounter many divers in Sanur, whether they live here or are just passing by.

Which audience does Sanur appeal to?

Now that you have a better idea of what Sanur looks like, here is the type of people the city is most likely to appeal to.

You'll like Sanur if you appreciate quietness

If you're looking for quietness during your vacation in Bali, then Sanur is a very good option.

Sanur combines the tranquility with the practical aspects of a beach resort, all in a rather refined and discreet atmosphere.

This relative calm can appeal to almost everyone, depending on their temperament: young people, couples, families, and of course, retirees.

Sanur is a good base for divers

If you plan to dive frequently during your stay in Bali, then Sanur is a very good city to base yourself in.

The most renowned diving spots on the East Coast are only a few minutes away by car or boat, and it is even possible to cross to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan, or even Nusa Penida for the day.

Establishing yourself in Sanur allows you to be in a central location for diving, all in greater comfort and convenience than what is currently available near the more famous spots.

If you plan on going to Nusas (Penida, Lembongan...) or Gilis archipelagoes, Sanur is a good stopover

Sanur is the harbour from which many fastboats depart from when you are heading to Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida or the Gilis.

If you don't want to drive too much before catching your boat, consider sleeping the night before in Sanur and you won't be disappointed.

It's as luxurious and pleasant as a "transit city" can possibly get!

You'll like Sanur if you want a central destination in Bali

Sanur is very easy to access, a significant advantage for an island like Bali often plagued by traffic jams.

Traffic jams are rare both in Sanur and its surroundings. It is, therefore, very quick to get to Nusa Dua, Amed, Kuta, Seminyak, and even Uluwatu. The only truly congested point in Sanur is when you leave the "bypass" to cross Denpasar (to go to Canggu, for example).

Apart from these rare cases, all of Bali is nearby or almost.

Sanur is also a great place to stay if you want to stay close to the airport. So if you are wondering where you should spend your last days in Bali, study this option with a lot of attention.

Sanur is a very versatile destination for families

Families often love Sanur because everything is possible here.

Activities are numerous, access is easy, accommodation is comfortable, and all the infrastructure is in place for a hassle-free stay.

Who might dislike Sanur?

Although Sanur is a particularly versatile destination, tastes do vary, and not everyone will like Sanur. Here are those who might not find it to their liking.

Sanur is not the most festive place in Bali

If you came to Bali for the party, you won't find much of it in Sanur. While Sanur is relatively lively, the atmosphere is more of a family-friendly nature: "small pub, small restaurant," rather than a true party place with beach bars, big nightclubs, and other wild events. After 9 or 10pm, there won't be much going on!

If you absolutely want to party in Bali, Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu are three particularly active cities, with a younger crowd, each with its style and specificities. But unfortunately, Sanur may be too boring or too old for the young partygoer.

You won't like Sanur if you want a rural Bali experience

If Sanur is a haven of peace in Bali's, it still remains a westernised beach resort.

Sanur is not really the very authentic rural Bali experience that some people seek. That being said, it's far from being the worst place to catch a glimpse of certain aspects of Balinese culture either, despite tourism.

Some places in Sanur are...controversial!

Sanur has a somewhat notorious reputation among locals and expatriates, even if the majority of tourists passing through are usually not really aware of it.

The city is indeed a hotspot in Bali for those, both foreign and local, looking for "specific services." Granted, it is still very far from the vibes of a red light district in plain sight, like the ones you see in Thailand, but it is still possible to come across locals, tourists, and even expatriates who are there for reasons other than Sanur's white sand.

If you want to avoid these places, simply avoid going to houses (aka brothels) marked with an "X" and do not go to bars where there are - strangely - mostly women who seem to be waiting for something or someone. Like anywhere else, if it's too good to be true, then it's probably not true!

Conclusion

Sanur is one of Bali's popular destinations, and it's easy to see why. White sandy beach, protected lagoon, luxurious hotels, high-quality restaurants, and overall calmness in the city, it has something to offer almost everyone.

Families, divers, and retirees love it, but it can clearly capture the hearts of many other people as well.

Give Sanur a chance, whether it's for a stop on a Nusas island hopping or as a last day in Bali, and you shouldn't come back disappointed.

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