Sanur is the perfect Balinese beach town. I say this admittedly without anything to really compare it to, as it’s the only beach town in Bali where I stayed. However, I’ve heard much about other places and have read and researched, and between that and my experience trading places there, I highly recommend it.
From what I’ve heard, Sanur is pretty much the exact opposite of Kuta Beach. If you like crowds and partying then you would probably like Kuta. Personally, I wanted to avoid it like the plague. I found Sanur to be the exact right type of place for me: lots and lots there, but with a super chill and low-key vibe. Perfect.
The Beaches and Boardwalk
Sanur has one big thing going for it which, from what I understand, no other town on Bali has — and that is a boardwalk which runs all along the entire stretch of ocean, from the north to south end of town. This is closed to all motorized vehicles, including scooters; only pedestrians and bikes are allowed. In many places along the boardwalk there is a wealth of many, many restaurant options, hotels, lounges, massage stands, shops and more.
At other spots along the boardwalk you’ll find stretches of just beach, where you can surf, go out on a longboat, or swim (a big deal, because many beaches in Bali are too dangerous with currents and undertow for swimming).
I really liked the wide range of choices for eating, shopping, markets and other things to do in Sanur. But at the same time, as I said, it’s totally laid-back — so if you like a chill vibe with plenty of amenities, this is your spot.
Besides the beach and boardwalk, I really enjoyed a few other things in the Sanur area. There are a few markets with fairly extensive offerings of shops selling clothing, art and wood works, souvenirs and many other items; check out Sindhu Street or the Sunday market at the beach. Most vendors (and all along the boardwalk) will most always ask you to come look at their shop, or eat at the restaurant, get a massage, hire a taxi or scooter, etc. — but people in Bali aren’t pushy. A simple “no, thank you” suffices for them to back off if you aren’t interested.
In fact, that’s one of the things I like best about Bali: the people. They are incredibly open, friendly, warm, nice and inviting. I didn’t have a single negative encounter with anyone in my week on Bali; on the contrary, I enjoyed many great interactions and conversations with locals I met, like this lovely woman who was lighting incense at a small beach shrine:
Another thing that was great fun, to me, was Keramas Aero Park — a restaurant that’s actually housed inside an old airplane. And though I didn’t end up having the time to check out the Big Garden Corner, with all sorts of sculptures, it was definitely on my list and sounds pretty cool, so I think it’s worth checking out.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for a great Bali beach town with lots to offer, but far less of a crowded tourist or party scene, check out Sanur.