Tag Archives: Sanur

Sanur: The Bali you haven’t seen

Sanur doesn’t figure on any tour operator’s must-see places in Bali. Yet, this sleepy seaside town has a beguiling charm and it’s not just due to its glorious blue beaches. Sanur is the gateway to a chain of untouched islands and offers close proximity to offbeat attractions that let you discover Bali’s rich biodiversity. Here are our top seven picks of things to do and places to visit in Sanur, the non-touristy part of Bali that offers the best money exchange (better than market rate) and bike rental rates (50000 IDR per day)!

1. Go on a walking trail through the Mangrove Forest (Suwung Kawuh)

Bali Mangrove Forest
You may see locals fishing with rudimentary rods.

Beautiful board walks, observatories and serene pools of water and greenery replete with marine and avian species make the 1300 acre Mangrove Forest a rare treasure. Mangroves are crucial for maintaining the ecosystem as they provide sustenance for hundreds of types of animals. This forest has been funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The entry fee for foreigners is pretty steep (200000 IDR per person) but we managed to get a 50% discount so do try bargaining. Once inside, you’ll be glad you paid the price. Because the Mangrove Forest is a secret web of nature in its undisturbed glory.

Bali Mangrove Forest
One of the trails leads to a mesmerising view of the sea and the city in the distance.

You may see locals fishing with rudimentary rods, young couples huddled in the huts named after birds in the forest and many strange creatures in the undergrowth. Pointed growths typical of mangroves compete for space with larger trees in the water on either side of the shaky wooden bridge. There are two or three trails that you can follow within the forest and one of them leads to a mesmerising view of the sea and the city in the distance. We were there at sunset and stayed until twilight cast its moody shadows on the water.

2. Feed baby turtles at the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre

Turtle Conservation and Education Centre Bali

The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre on Serangan Island is home to six different species of rescued and baby turtles. These include the leatherback sea turtle, the largest of all living turtles; the large green sea turtle; the flatback sea turtle with a flattish shell; Olive Ridley sea turtles, the smallest of the marine turtles; the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle and the commonly found loggerhead sea turtle. For a nominal entry fee (around 25000 IDR if memory serves right), one can observe these turtles at close quarters and even feed the tinier ones from little buckets holding powdery turtle food.

Turtle Conservation and Education Centre, Bali

We enjoyed analysing the patterns on their shells and were awed by just how huge these cute creatures could be. In a little pond outside the main shelter, many medium-sized turtles swim lazily. And there’s even a hatchery to welcome new turtles into the world. This centre was opened by the governor of Bali, Mr Dewa Barata in January 2006.

3. Surf the waves at Sanur Beach

Sanur Beach

There are a host of water sports available at Sanur Beach but the real joy is in finding a good spot on the sand and soaking in the perfection of the blue beyond. We loved how clear the sky was in the summery month of May and how well the water of Sanur reflected its azure magnificence. You can spend half a day at the beach, swimming in the sea, surfing the waves or simply sun-bathing to acquire a healthy tan.

4. Watch the locals play football at Lapangan Puputan Renon

Lapangan Puputan Renon

Did you know that Bali has its own worthy answer to London’s Hyde Park and Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens? Lapangan Puputan Renon in Denpasar is a sprawling garden that comes alive with joggers, walkers, football players and yoga practitioners in the evening. Part of the garden often serves as a venue for concerts and other events and when we were there, there was a Yamaha company event adding to the festive spirit of the park.

Lapangan Puputan Renon

Lapangan Puputan Renon is also home to the towering Bajra Sandhi Monument, dedicated to the struggles of the Balinese people throughout history. There are three courtyards within the monument but unfortunately, entry is restricted and one has to be content with admiring the carvings on the gate. Interestingly, a lot of fitness enthusiasts prefer to do their crunches and spot jumps on the steps leading up to the monument.

5. Listen to the mesmerising temple chants at the Pura Blanjong temple

Pura Blanjong, Bali temple
The temple

Hinduism is the dominant religion in Bali, unlike other parts of Indonesia where most residents are Muslim. However, the temple chants in Bali are quite different from those in India. Sung in the Indonesian language with bells and the traditional bamboo and flute music, the overall effect is quite mellifluous and enchanting. We paused every time we heard these sonorous chants in the evening from one of the many temples in Sanur.

Blanjong Pillar and Inscription
The inscription

The most prominent one in the area is Pura Blanjong, adjoining the Blanjong inscription. The inscription dates back to 914 CE and serving as evidence of contact between Bali, Java and the Indian subcontinent. Although the pillar is not much to look at, the temple is pretty with its coral wall and pair of headless calf statues. It was built as a cenotaph for Sri Kesari, a Buddhist apostle.

6. Take a ferry to Nusa Penida-Ceningan-Lembongan islands

Scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan, Bali
Scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan, Bali by Ilse Reijs and Jan Noud Hutten

Various kinds of boats ranging from cheap local ones to high-speed motor boats go to the triad Nusa Penida, Ceningan and Lembongan from Sanur Beach. There are two or three different ferry points depending on which island you want to go to. Once there, you have a host of exciting water activities to choose from such as snorkelling, swimming and canoeing. Nusa Lembongan is also home to an underground cave built by a local man, mangrove forests and glorious white sand beaches.

Nusa_lembongan_cliff
Nusa Lembongan

At Nusa Ceningan, you can jump off a cliff, get a glimpse of seaweed farming and explore a swallow’s cave at low tide. With its gorgeous marine life, Nusa Penida is the best spot for diving and snorkelling and also visiting the Bali Bird Sanctuary. This island houses incredible marvels such as a natural infinity pool and a ‘broken sea’. Day cruises will let you return the same day but if you’re on your own, you’ll most likely have to stay overnight at one of the many resorts on the islands and return the next day.

7. Go ghost hunting at Taman Festival Bali

Taman-Festival-Bali
Courtesy: http://www.chantae.com/taman-festival-bali/

If you love haunted places, this abandoned theme park might give you fresh fodder for the next session of ghost story telling. Built in 1997 by the Indonesian government with aid from an affluent investor, the park failed to attract tourists despite its $5 million laser show. Today, it’s a quirky attraction with ruins of a ticket booth, an arcade room, an ominous crocodile pit, many broken windows and decrepit graffiti. It’s unlikely that you’ll find any locals inside as Balinese believe such places are frequented by malevolent spirits. But the isolation and overgrown paths enhance its creepy allure!

There are also a lot of museums and galleries in Sanur such as the Le Mayeur Museum, Seiki Torige’s Open Space Gallery, Griya Santrian Gallery and Darga Gallery.

Practical information

Things to do in Sanur, offbeat things to do in Bali

Get there: Sanur is just a 30 minute ride away from Bali’s international airport by cab. The ride will cost you around 150000 IDR.

Stay: Maya Sanur is a beautiful five-star resort with lagoon access and beach view rooms, a sea-front restaurant and bar, spa and gym.

Eat: There are several great restaurants and bars on Jalan Danau Tamblingan. We enjoyed pizza and mie goreng at Gopal’s Cafe and sandwiches and sayur urab (brown rice with long beans and shredded coconut) at Warung Blanjong.

We have so much more to tell you about Bali and Indonesia, so stay tuned!

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Maya Sanur: Seaside elegance

Sanur is for water babies. Close to Ngurah Rai Airport and Kuta, this charming slice of the Balinese coast is all about sparkling blue beaches and lazing under the sun. Maya Sanur, with its endless lagoons and breezy seaside restaurant embodies all that the town stands for – perfect sunny cheer. We arrived early, well rested after a night at a nearby guesthouse. Our honeymoon was just beginning and we were as excited as a pair of puppies!

Sanur Beach
Private access to the beach
Maya Sanur review
A tree-rimmed path

Maya Sanur has an unmistakable personality of peaceful open spaces, unhurried movement and the freshness of natural greenery. This was apparent to us the moment we stepped into their vast lobby, graced by ever-smiling staff. The reservations team had two lovely surprises for us – a room upgrade to a lagoon access room and a couple photography session voucher with one complimentary photo frame! However, our room would only be ready by 2 PM so we decided to explore the resort while we waited.

Poolside luxury

From the railing, we could see a long strip of blue paradise, bordered by rooms with balconies that resembled cane baskets.

Maya Sanur review

A settee curved into the shape of a tree trunk invited us to lie down and have a siesta.

Maya Sanur review

Beside the long lagoon was a tree-rimmed path leading straight to Sanur Beach and Reef, the signature restaurant.

The pristine beach with mountains outlined hazily in the distance charmed us with two different shades of blue – a mild aquamarine closer to the shore and a deep turquoise further away. Surfers rode the white-tipped waves with gusto and enviable confidence. While we walked, we were accosted by several water sports and tour operators. Our advice to those who’d rather not be bothered – be friendly but firm, and tell them you’ll get in touch if you need anything.

Maya Sanur review
A pretty temple

As we made our way back from the beach, we spotted a pretty temple beside the hotel restaurant and a flight of stairs leading up to the roof garden, a vast terrace dotted with green lawns, clusters of bougainvilleas and a picture-perfect view of the sea. It’s really the ideal location for a photo session or picnic lunch.

Maya Sanur review
Reef, the seaside restaurant

Other dining options at Maya Sanur include a Japanese restaurant, a three-level bar and a multi-cuisine restaurant. The resort has a functional gym, spacious spa and beautiful library as well.

Spa at Maya Sanur
Spa

Library at Maya Sanur

We could imagine staying for an extended period at Maya Sanur, spending the afternoons reading or lounging by the beach. But a quick look at our watches told us that our room would likely be ready.

Artful luxury

Architectural perfection and thoughtful touches like a mirror edged with gold motifs, a congratulations cake on the table, an evocative painting on the wall and a complimentary spa kit on the bed greeted us when we walked into our deluxe lagoon access room. The bowl of welcome fruits featured a strange local specimen (salak) that I’d come to love later. We tiptoed into the bathroom and were overjoyed to see a lovely bathtub with glittering lamps on either side, rose petals, bath salts and bath foam.

Maya Sanur review

Maya Sanur review

But the best part was pulling back the curtains to reveal a wonderful seating area outside that took us straight to the long strip of paradise we’d seen earlier. Since the rooms on either side of us were vacant, we practically had the pool to ourselves. Lying in that lagoon with some music on our phones and a view of the trees around and above us was going to be a rare pleasure. Our room also came equipped with a variety of personal care amenities and a beach bag woven from cane.

Our top three

  1. The lagoon

We spent our evenings enjoying relaxing swims in the lagoon or simply relaxing on our settee and watching the view outside.

Maya Sanur review
Outside our room

2. The terrace

We’d lie down on the lawns at the rooftop terrace, smell the flowers, explore the various cottages or simply lean on the railing and take in the beauty spread out below us.

Maya Sanur review

3. The bath tub

Night times were reserved for drawing up warm, fragrant baths in the bath tub and rediscovering the joy of playing with soap suds!

Maya Sanur review

Breakfasts at Maya Sanur

Breakfast at Maya Sanur

You can’t help but look forward to breakfast when you know you’re going to be sitting at a beach-view table with fluffy omelettes and local delicacies like wingko (a Javanese pancake-like snack) and black sticky rice pudding with coconut milk. We’d like to make a special mention of the foamy, rich cappuccino served in impossibly large cups, cinnamon French toast and wide array of cakes and pastries.

Posing by the beach

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On our final day in Sanur, we decided to use our free photography session voucher and make some memories for a lifetime. We held hands, looked into each other’s eyes and did everything possible to convince the world we were in love! The photo featured above is the one we liked best and we opted for a digital copy over a printed frame. After the photo shoot, we had a lovely time sinking our toes into the sun-baked sand and having our final fill of Sanur Beach.

Sanur Beach

Practical guide to Maya Sanur

How to reach: Find a taxi from the airport to take you to Maya Sanur (30 min ride, around 150000 IDR).
Nearby attractions: Sanur Beach, Bali Turtle Conservation Centre, Lapangan Puputan Renon, local temples and warung restaurants, Mangrove Forest
Accommodation: This is a five star hotel. Rooms start at around Rs 15000 per night.
Website: http://www.mayaresorts.com/sanur/

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