Sanur Beach owns the prestigious title of being the first developed beach resort in Bali. Since it was first developed, a handful of beach destinations have followed suit, catapulting Bali to what it is now: the most popular summer destination in Asia, and one of the most well-known in the world. With the mere mention of the name “Bali”, westerners imagine themselves frolicking on golden white-sand beaches, half-naked and sunbathing under the scorching tropical sun while sipping a tall glass freshly squeezed fruit juice and waiting for that sun to set. Close by are the smell of fish on the barbecue and the sound of native Indonesian music with beautiful Balinese dancers performing an ancient dance form. Perfect!
Despite Bali’s growth and rise in worldwide popularity, Sanur Beach and the entire Sanur area remain largely unchanged. Sanur Beach for some time was the only beach destination for the earliest travelers to this island. However, it has now fallen behind the more developed Kuta and Nusa Dua areas. This is not as bad as it sounds, anyway, since Sanur is now known as a cultural destination more than just a beach.
Sanur is a traditional village; it is, in fact, Bali’s biggest traditional village, wherein tourists and guests get a glimpse of many authentic village activities such as cooking, dancing, and religious rituals. Westerners get to experience and truly appreciate Balinese culture and local way of life. The residents here are farmers and fishermen whose ways of doing their jobs have remained the same through the years. It is not at all that backward, though, since there are modern hotels, restaurants and entertainment centers nearby. Sanur is truly a blend of the modern and the cultural.
Strolling along Sanur offers tons of treats to everyone. The area is tiny enough to reward visitors with an interesting site every few meters. Some of the attractions here are the galleries (Le Mayeur Museum, Griya Santrian Gallery, Seiki Torige’s Open Space Gallery, and Darga Gallery), temples (Blanjong Temple, and Sekenan Temple), and other historical sites such as the Padang Galak Memorial Monument. Strolling around is made lovelier by the fact that the locals are very friendly and the weather is often warm and inviting. The area’s wide and lush greenery has also been well preserved.
The most reputable gallery is Griya Santrian. It is an open-air gallery that features well known Indonesian and international artists such as Syahrizal Koto, Ni Nyoman Sani, and Auw Kok Heng. The annual Sanur Village Festival takes play in this gallery. Meanwhile, The Le Mayeur Museum is gaining much attention for its eccentric painter and namesake, Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres, a Belgian who fell in love with Bali and decided to live in the island until he died on March 31, 1958. He lived in a mansion, which was later donated to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and was converted into a museum. His impressionistic and unorthodox artworks focused on a bare-breasted Balinese dancer named Ni Pollock, who the artist met and became his wife.
Alongside the warm and inviting Sanur Beach is Padang Galak Beach, also within the Sanur area. This beach is popular for hosting the annual International Kite Festival that happens in July.