1. Walk or Cycle the Beach Boardwalk
Imagine five kilometres of paved boardwalk along a beach lapped by gentle waves. Temples hover over the shimmering waters on their stone jetties. On a clear day, the majestic volcano Gunung Agung looms above the clouds in the east and the outline of the island Nusa Penida reveals itself through the pink sky of dawn. The other side of the boardwalk is lined with cafés, hotel restaurants and the exotic tropical gardens of upmarket villas.
The cool hour of dawn is a popular time for locals and expats alike to walk or cycle here, before the heat of the day sets in. Having said that, it’s a great route for getting around Sanur at any time of day, away from the busy traffic of the main street. Racks of bicycles stand ready to be hired at many spots along the beach for only around $2.50 a day.
There is always something magical going on along the boardwalk. A group of locals doing yoga on the jetty and getting splashed by the waves. Children flying kites. People setting up stalls, selling corn on the cob for breakfast. One scene I will never forget was a group of happy children playing, throwing a flip-flop into a tree and giggling like it was the best game ever. Such a scene of pure joy.
2. Visit the Ganesha Bookshop
I never tire of the English-language Ganesha Bookshop at Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.42. It sells a plethora of new and second-hand books, so you’ll never want for something to read on the beach. It also acts as a book exchange, in that it will also buy back books that you have bought from there at about 50% of the original price. It stocks a treasure trove of wonderful and unusual books about Bali, so if you’re fascinated by the island and its history, you’ll be addicted to this place.
Ganesha Bookshop has a charitable program to promote literacy among the Balinese community, so you can donate books to local schools. It also sells some beautiful cards, crafts and products, made by women in some of the poorest villages in Bali, so you can do your bit for a good cause there too.
3. Yoga on the Beach
Ubud may be the epicentre of yoga in Bali, but only in Sanur can you do yoga while watching the sunrise over the sea. There is a free yoga class on the beach every morning at around 7 a.m., just opposite Jl. Pantai Karang.
If you want classes in English, there is a wonderful eco-friendly, open-air yoga shala (studio) called the Power of Now Oasis, by the sea on Mertasari Beach, next door to the Mercure Hotel. Some of my new Bali expat friends are now organising sunset yoga on the beach too, so you can practice at both ends of the day.
4. Le Mayeur Museum: A Dose of Culture
Again, Ubud is known as the artistic and cultural centre of Bali, with its colonies of artists and major art galleries, such as the ARMA, Neka and Rudana. But Sanur has a little hidden gem: the house that belonged to the Belgian artist Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres and his Balinese wife and muse, the beautiful dancer Ni Pollok.
It is full of his paintings and objects from their life together. You’ll find the museum on the beach boardwalk near the night market. Sadly, it is a bit neglected, but well worth a look. It takes you back to the 1930s and how Bali used to be in those days, and his paintings are delightful.
5. Eat, Drink and Sing!
The main street of Sanur, which runs parallel to the beach, is lined with all kinds of restaurants – from local Balinese cuisine to Japanese, Thai, Indian or Italian, along with trendy coffee shops and cafés.
I particularly love Balinese food and can’t get enough of Pregina at Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.106 or Lilla Warung, just around the corner on Jl. Bumi Ayu, and its sister restaurant, Lilla Pantai, on Sanur Beach.
On a warm night, it’s bliss to eat on the beach with your feet in the sand, which you can do at many of the restaurants that line the boardwalk. My favourite is the aptly named Sand Beach Bar & Restaurant, where they will grill fish for you right on the beach.
Many restaurants have live entertainment in the evenings and most of the musicians will invite you to go up and have a sing. We love to join in and have a good singsong after a delicious meal and have even been known to get up and dance too.