Circa 1975, surfers started to explore the outer reefs at Sanur, then a black sand volcanic beach with a narrow channel leading to the line-up. Today, Sanur Reef still retains much of the “je ne sais quoi” that brought travellers over in the 1970’s. A frequent haunt for European travellers and surfers, Sanur tends to operate at a lower decibel level than destinations in Bali. Sanur as a break is a bit gnarlier than your classic peeling right-hander. Known to break best on larger swells (double overhead +) you’ll find it still working when most neighbouring breaks are maxed out. Read on for tips on where to eat, sleep, surf (repeat) in Sanur.
Sanur breaks quick and hollow over a shallow patch of the reef for over 100 meters followed by closeout which leaves you high and dry. A perfect day at Sanur could leave you stoked and sunburned for a week, or it could claim your board and a chunk off your thigh. Due to the shallow reef and coral heads, Sanur needs a bit of extra tide even when it’s small. On days with less swell, you can expect walled up close out sections at low tide with a better opportunity to get shacked as the tide fills in. The neighbouring resorts, hotels, and fishermen often use the channel so expect some backwash from passing wakes. The reef is broken into two peaks, Sanur reef and Tandjung reef. Tandjung typically has fewer surfers in the lineup, breaks soft to the left over an uneven shallow reef and is a bit of an easier paddle out. Under perfect conditions, the rights at Tandjung will connect with Sanur and stay steep and hollow for hundreds of meters. Sanur is recommended for advanced and expert surfers only, some of whom may still walk away squeezing lime over a bit of exposed flesh. One of the few places in Bali where you can expect an iota of “localism,” remember to be polite and show a tonne of respect.
Right-hand reef break
Reef and coral heads
Hit and miss with crowds
Shallow reef, close out section with dry reef on the inside, boat traffic and coral heads
Mid to high
Wet Season; October – April
Due to it not working very often when it is firing the lineup is a bit more aggressive than other spots in Bali
You can typically hitch a ride out to the line-up from a local fisherman for a few bucks but the paddle isn’t so long that you can’t make it from the beach on your own. Look for the channel and keep your eyes out for boat traffic on the way out. Once you make it even with the farthest break, move over to the peak and work your way towards the inside.
Once a quiet and tranquil black sand beach, today the beach is pretty heavily trafficked by tourists, stray dogs, and boats for hire. Expect some speedos on show due to a high frequency of European travellers. Great for a dip as long as you don’t mind the boat traffic. All things considered, Sanur still offers beautiful views of calm shallow water and a beautiful stretch of white sand trucked in by the neighbouring resorts.
There’s plenty of surf style accommodations, old and new, to choose from in the Sanur area. Read on to check out some of the best places to stay regardless of your budget.
Rai House Sanur is cheap, comfortable and accommodating, hosted by the Rai family (who live on site). You can expect clean and simple rooms, great food, and easy access to the beach. If you’re looking to spend your surf trip poolside with a cocktail, Rai House Sanur probably isn’t your first choice. While there is a pool, perfect for a post-session rinse, if you’re staying at Rai House Sanur, chances are you’ll be spending most of your time on the beach or the neighbouring community. A simple place to stay for single surfers, travellers, and couples cool with keeping things basic.
Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel is one of the closest accommodation options to Sanur Reef. A high rise hotel paired with an enormous pool complete with waterslides. Inna Grand might not be the honeymooners choice but it’s great for families keen to surf. A brisk 2-minute walk to the beach and adjacent to both Bali Beach Golf Course and indoor peek-a-boo playground, there’s plenty to do for travellers of all ages, regardless of your paddle strength. Ocean views from your hotel room open up to nearby Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida islands. Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel is great for folks looking for the added comfort of modern accommodation who don’t want to compromise on access to the surf.
Staying at the beachfront Segara Village Hotel you definitely get the feeling of paradise most Bali-bound surfers and travellers are looking for. Stunning jungle gardens and pools make a perfect backdrop for your post-session cocktail. While located directly on the beach, it’s a short walk (5 minutes maximum) to the break at Sanur. Because of it’s picturesque nature, there are a lot of private parties, weddings, and events that take place on the grounds so pools or gardens may be closed occasionally. Definitely a step up in luxury from your typical surf hotel, Segara Village Hotel is great for travellers looking for privacy, easy access to the ocean, and some extra comfort.
A quick 2-minute walk from the beach, Villa Mahapala is much more than just a domicile to rest your head. Spacious villas, private pools, french food, you might find yourself thinking you’re in southern France rather than southeast Asia. If you’re looking for a 5 star experience in a premier surf location, Villa Mahapala could be the choice for you. Great for honeymooners, couples, and families looking for a bit more privacy than your average surf hostel.
There are a plethora of places to choose from when it comes to grinds in Sanur. Restaurants dot the beach and cover the neighbouring “metropolitan” area. Check out our list of places you won’t want to miss in Sanur.
Pasar Sindu Night Market – offers great local food options for surfers looking to fill up on stick-chicken. There’s plenty to choose from ranging from cheap meals to sweets and snacks. For those looking to load up on souvenirs, there’s plenty of nick-nacks, clothes, or shoes to choose from. Come prepared to haggle with a couple extra bills in your pocket just in case. Definitely worth stopping by regardless of your budget.
Warung Papa Pizza – offers cheap and authentic Italian style pizzas and bintangs. Quiet and comfortable atmosphere tucked away in your typical warung complete with koi pond. Boasting the best pizza in Bali, Warung Papa Pizza is great for loading up on carbs before, or after, burying yourself in one of Sanur’s 100-metre barrels.
Soul on the Beach– offers healthy millennial-friendly cuisine complete with plenty of avocado and quinoa. Located on the sand at Sanur, Soul on the Beach is a great spot to grab food or drink while keeping an eye on the outside. There’s plenty to choose from, ranging from their kid’s menu to more traditional Balinese food. Soul on the Beach also offers great cocktails and freshly squeezed juices for late night diners. Great food, great vibes, and views of the surf in the distance, what else could you ask for?
The Bread Basket – Great spot for an early morning breakfast after your dawn patrol session at Sanur, The Bread Basket offers freshly baked bagels, croissants, artisan bread, and sandwiches. For those a little more health conscious they also serve granola bowls with fresh fruit and homemade yogurt. Not to say it closes for lunch, the sandwiches, or cakes, at The Bread Basket is a great choice for whenever hunger calls.
Warung Little Bird – Differing from the other options on this list, Warung Little Bird offers traditional Balinese food. If you’re looking for the taste of a bygone Bali era, Warung Little Bird is a great place to start. A two-minute walk from the beach, you won’t have to go far after surfing at Sanur. Definitely influenced by the neighbouring surf community, Warung Little Bird gives the feeling of a cafe in Hawaii or Southern California, until you try the food. Excellent place for a trip into authenticity, be sure to make Warung Little Bird one of your stops in Sanur.
Kanto Lampo Waterfall is a great place for a short trek through the jungle when surfing conditions aren’t perfect. The waterfall spills over climbable stone steps great for your next Instagram post. Tends to attract a few crowds from the area so try making the walk early in the morning to avoid the herd. There’s a small entrance fee but the waterfall and swimming hole below is well worth it.
Casablanca Dine Drink Dance – Arguably the best night out in Sanur, Casablanca Dine and Drink offers live music, a wide selection of beers and cocktails, and a great atmosphere. Friday nights are especially motivating due to “free flow Fridays.” From 6-7pm, groups are offered 1 hour of free beer, if they follow a series of rules.
Rule number 1: no cell phones
Rule number 2: all group members must stay in the bar
Rule number 3: no going to the bathroom. A great place for Balians, expats, and tourists alike. If you dig free beer, don’t miss out.
Go Diving – There are loads of providers to choose from when it comes to diving in Sanur. While some of the more notable dive sites are in Nusa Padina and northern Bali, there are still a number of dive sites to choose from in Sanur. The three main dive sites: Jeladi Wilis, Sanur Channel, and Penjor reef each offer their own unique wildlife and beauty. The dry season and small swell is typically best for diving in Bali as you can expect less of a surge. Definitely, a good option if the surf isn’t great and you just can’t stay out of the ocean.
Yoga Dhyana Umah Shakti – Bali has slowly become one of the premier yoga destinations in the world over the course of the last few decades. Yoga Dhyana Umah Shakti offers a tranquil and technical yoga practice. You’ll have to journey a way through some local neighbourhoods on the way which can be a great opportunity for people watching. Great for yogis of all ability levels, make the trip after your next session.
Sanur is considered the gateway to the Nusa Archipelago, the home of some amazing diving and the elusive Komodo dragon. If you’re looking for an adventurous getaway off the beaten path, you can find plenty of guiding companies in Sanur that will take you out to these islands. They are home to some of the most pristine and beautiful wilderness that you’ll find in this corner of the world so if you’re feeling game it’s worth the trip.
Sanur Reef is located on the eastern side of Bali just north of the Bukit peninsula.
You guessed it, scooter!
Step 1: From the airport take the Bali Mandara Toll Road and follow signs for Sanur
Step 2: Once you have exited the toll road turn right at the next set of lights onto Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai
Step 3: Follow Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai for approximately 8 km and turn right onto Jalan Danau Buyan
Step 4: In 150m you will take a slight left to continue straight onto Jalan Segara Ayu
Step 5: Continue straight until you arrive at Pantai Segara Ayu Sanur Beach