10 Jan Bali By Bike: Your Self-Guided Cycling Tour to Sanur’s Hidden Gems
Located southeast of the island of Bali, Sanur is a seaside town famous for its white sandy beaches, sheltered coral lagoon and picture-perfect sunrises. But there is much more to Sanur than the beach. The quiet, laid-back village boasts a strong spiritual history, lush lotus fields, a vast mangrove forest and ancient fishing traditions that are still practised today. Local artisans, revered craftsmen and a recent influx of eco-entrepreneurs make Sanur an unexpected creative hotspot. No wonder Sanur’s lovely local community is proud of their unique cultural heritage!
Bali is great for cycling, and Sanur’s flat coastal land makes for an easy leisurely ride. It’s the best way to take in the sights and meet locals! We asked Sanur’s local community for their favourite places to unwind, pray, eat, drink, and shop and together, we created a unique, 9-kilometre-long cycling route to 34 hidden gems we learned about. Below, you will find 10 of these local favourites. To discover all of Sanur’s hotspots — and to make your biking trip easier — download our free travel app with interactive GPS map here, and our equally free, beautifully illustrated Sanur Cycling Map here. Happy exploring!
1. #iSurprise: Kite Beach
Mertasari Beach is where the true Bali spirit comes alive. Every afternoon, when the temperature drops and the wind picks up, local Balinese flock to the beach to compete in kite flying, Bali’s most popular sport. Kids from the local banjar drive here on their motorcycles to fly kites up to 10 metres wide! It’s a fantastic sight, Bali’s bright blue sky dotted with giant, colourful kites. Every July and August, when the winds are blowing from the east, it is time for the Bali kite festival, attracting kite flyers from all over the world. What carnival is to Rio, the kite festival is to Denpasar; local banjar groups compete with each other for skill and creativity in a game that entertains both young and old.
Here at kite beach is also where Bali kite surfing was born. “The sideshore winds with waves up to 10 feet provide the perfect conditions for jumping and wave riding,” says local kite surfer Jankie. He operates the Bali Kite Surfing School, where you can rent equipment and take lessons. “My school is mobile, as we chase the wind. Most of the time we’re here in Sanur at Kite Beach.”
Pantai Mertasari | Late afternoons July – September
2. #iSurprise: Coral Triangle Center
The Coral Triangle is often overlooked. Stretching across six countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste – this area is “the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity”. It is home to two-thirds of all known coral species and an important area for endangered animals like whales, sea turtles, manta ray, sunfish and more! Sadly, these beautiful species are under threat. Marine ecologist and diver Rili Djohani first saw the Coral Triangle in 1989, she felt compelled to help protect it. With support coming from far and wide, she was able to make her dream come true and set up an independent non-profit hub of learning and know-how, the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), in 2010. The CTC is working its best to protect the coral reefs and endangered animals by setting up learning sites in marine protected areas.
Help support the centre by spending half an hour in its escape room to solve some of the ocean’s deepest mysteries, diving into a PADI pool, exploring the digital aquarium and learning laboratory or just buying some ecologically-inspired ceramics.
No. 88-89, Jl. Betngandang II | Open daily from 9 am-5 pm | +62 361 289338 | website
3. #iSurprise: Mysterious mangrove forests
Sanur is home to a 1,000-hectare big mangrove forest unique to Bali. It’s key to the island’s ecosystem: the lush forests are where sea creatures come to breed and protect the island when typhoons hit the coast. If you want to explore the mysterious groves, find the info centre further along the Ngurah Rai bypass. There you can meander through the mangroves on a long wooden boardwalk. Two routes, short (one hour) or longer (two hours), take you deep into the dense mangrove forests. The path that hovers 6 metres above the muddy water is spectacularly overgrown at times, and makes for an adventurous walk popular among Balinese schoolchildren.
Hidden in the forest are two small temples: Pura Pengembak and Tirta Empul. Worth a detour!
Pura Dalem Pengembak | Jl Pengembak No.44
4. #iSee: Sanur Kauh
Cycle across the green paddy fields and experience the green and lush countryside. Unique to the world, Bali’s rice fields are managed through a system not based on productivity, but on harmony. At the heart of this system is the subak, a century-old organisational structure that protects the balance between farmers, water and the gods. Membership is compulsory for any Bali farmer and decisions on rice planting, pest control, water access and harvesting are based on consensus and spirituality. The subak system has always been the backbone of Balinese society. But as farmers can make more money selling their paddy fields than farming them, the custom is slowly fading.
In 2014, Bali’s subak system was inscribed in the UNESCO world heritage list. Across the island, four different locations have been picked representing the four elements of the subak system: volcano lake Batur Pura (water source); Tampak Siring (water temple), Taman Ayun (water palace); and Jatuluwin (rice fields).
5. #iEat: Warung Adi
People travel from far and wide to Warung Adi for their signature — and only — dish: nasi campur ayam: chicken and rice Bali style. It is much more exciting than it sounds, as it comes with lots of yummy extras: chunks of tuna, urab sayur, (steamed bean salad) ayam betutu (stuffed chicken) pindang (pickled fish), a fried prawn, crispy chicken skin, a boiled egg with sambal and peanuts sprinkled on top, and a secret recipe spicy chicken broth. The only choice you have is to have your dish spicy or non-spicy. One portion costs IDR 20,000. Add IDR 10,000 if you’d like to try the home-made lemonade!
Ibu Desak has been running this humble warung for over 30 years is proud to have had Indonesia’s president Jokowi as a customer.
Warung Adi | Jl. Danau Buyan No.15 | Open daily from 8 am – until the soup is sold out | +62 361 286882
6. #iSurprise: Museum Le Mayeur
This is the house of Sanur’s most famous resident, Belgian artist Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres. When he first arrived here in 1932, he fell in love with both the island and the beautiful Balinese legong dancer Ni Pollok. The couple married three years later, when she was just 15 years old. Mayeur found his muse in the island of Bali and went on to create an incredible number of artworks featuring landscapes, traditional village life and of course his beautiful wife.
Mayeur settled in Bali in the days when Sanur was still a quiet fishing village. In a way, his paintings were like postcards, offering the world a glimpse into life on this mysterious island of exceptional beauty. His exotic portraits became very popular, with some works fetching over US$150,000.
When Mayeur passed away in 1958, Ni Pollok stayed in the beachside house until her death in 1985. The house was then turned into a museum. Entry is IDR 20.000 for non-local visitors and IDR 10.000 for locals. Have a wander around the compound and imagine what life was like back then. The over 80 paintings that are on display are perhaps a bit tired, but Mayeur’s residence is a wonderful example of Balinese-style architecture with sculpted stone walls, red terrazzo floor tiles and an impressive art collection.
Jl. Hang Tuah | Open daily from 7.30 am – 3.30 pm, on Friday from 7:30 am – 1 pm | +62 361 286201
7. #iSee: Pura Segara temple
This temple is unlike any other one in Bali! Built pre-Hindu times by indigenous villagers to protect the village from the sea, Pura Segara is preserved in its original shape. Sanur’s first indigenous temple worshipping the sea might not look as not as refined as other temples on the island of Gods, it is definitely worth a wander. Its shrines are not made from stone or brick but from coral from the Sanur Reef! Marvel at its pyramids made of black coral and seashells, with turtles, dragons and other sea creatures and brightly coloured mythical Hindu figures dotted around. Fun fact: Sanur has two water temples, the other Pura Segara is located at Matahari beach.
Jl. Segara Ayu | Open daily from sunrise – sunset
8. #iShop/#iEat: Pasar Shindu
Do you want to eat where the locals eat? Look no further than Pasar Sindhu. This traditional and cheerful local night market is foodie heaven where you can enjoy authentic Indonesian street food for less than US$5. As the sun sets, vendors bring out their food carts with simple and delicious Indonesian fare: mie ayam (chicken noodles), nasi campur (mixed rice dishes), lalapan (hot fried chicken) and of course grilled satay.
Come here in the morning and you will find a local wet market with vendors selling everything, from fresh produce to clothing and ceremonial items. The market was recently received a complete make-over, its design even winning a national award.
Jl. Ps. Sindu No.5 | the wet market is open daily from 7 am – 10 am, the night market is open from 5 pm – 10 pm
9. #iSurprise: Griya Santrian Gallery
Established over four decades ago, Griya Santrian is one of Sanur’s original hotels. Hidden in one of the open-air pavilions in the hotel’s garden behind the pool is one of Sanur’s most reputable galleries. Promoting local artists, the gallery focuses on showcasing classic and contemporary Balinese style art, with a new exhibition every month. A chance to see well-known works of Syahrizal Koto, I Ketut Muja and Le Mayeur in your swimmers!
The gallery is also the main exhibition venue for the Sanur Village Festival, which is held every August since 2005. Celebrating Sanur’s heritage and unique identity as Bali’s oldest tourism destination, the three-day festival brings together thousands of locals and tourists to enjoy live performances, sports events, fishing and surfing shows and evening food bazaar.
Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.47 | Open daily from 9 am-9 pm | +62 361 288181 | website
10. #iDrink: Café Batu Jimbar
Championing healthy home-grown food, this iconic café hijacked the Sanur culinary scene to another level when it first opened in 1991. Batu Jimbar has its own organic farm and is a firm favourite among the local expat community. This is the kind of place where you drop by for a coffee, decide to stay for lunch and end up sharing cocktails with friends.
Every Sunday morning, Batu Jimbar hosts a Sunday Organic Market. “The market is always busy, lots of locals come here to enjoy breakfast and buy local organic produce. It’s like Sanur’s living room,” says Pak Wayang, who drives in from Pupuan to sell organic vegetables and flowers at the market. Fill your bamboo basket with sweet and savoury local delicacies. Some of our favourites include lemper (sticky rice dumplings with chicken filling), putu ayu (rice snacks with shredded coconut and palm sugar) and bikang (coloured rice cakes). Wash it down with a freshly made Daluman Ice.
Jl. Danau Tamblingan No.75 | Open daily 7am – 11pm | + 62 361 284103 | website
Ready to take on Sanur by bike? Bring us with you!
Download our free travel app for iOs or Android to cycle your way to Sanur’s best-kept secrets. The app also features a walking route in Nyuh Kuning, as well as many other heritage destinations in Southeast Asia. To complement the cycling route in our app, we also created an illustrated cycling map, which you can download here.
The Sanur Cycling route is a creative collaboration between local heritage NGO Bali Kuna, sustainability advocacy group Eco Sanur and the town’s creative powerhouse Rumah Sanur. The illustrated map is created by local artist Harry Juliarthana.
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