I believe there are two sides to Bali. The crazy, fun, party side and the quiet, peaceful, laid back side. The 5 kilometers coastal stretch of Sanur definitely represents the latter well.
Bali is a tourist favorite for a reason. Being here for a couple of days, I have met interesting people from around the world, caught the crazy waves of Kuta Beach, and spent my days in vibrant bars, drinking and chatting the night away. However, for my last days in Bali, I decided to look for a change of scenery and sought a quieter spot to end my holiday on the beautiful island. That is why I headed to Sanur. With its relaxed coastal ambiance and laid back atmosphere, Sanur is the exact opposite of Kuta.
After stuffing my clothes in my small suitcase, I checked out from my precious hotel so I could catch a glimpse of the Sanur Morning Market. By 7.45, I had entered the market building. It was hustling and bustling with merchants and visitors, mostly locals. The market is open seven days a week, rain or shine.
Open all day, in the morning, it sells ingredients for cooking and even food for breakfast, and at nights, it transform into an art market and cafes. There were lots of middle-aged women carrying plastic bags filled with meat, fish, veggies and fruits. I saw a couple of westerners leaving the market with a camera and huge durian.
I eventually went to a woman who was chopping a mango, bought a piece of it and ate it while walking around the dirt floor. Those familiar with Bali know that small baskets filled with colorful flowers called offerings are scattered all over the island as offerings.
I always walk around Bali with caution to avoid stepping on them. But this morning was very different. Instead of seeing them on the ground, I saw the offerings being made! The market was a very interesting way to get a taste of Bali’s local culture of a morning.
Sanur’s Hidden Treasure
Leaving the market with a piece of fried tempeh in my hand, I decided to take a stroll along the road to walk off some of the energy I had from pigging out at the market. Sanur is an electric mix of resorts and restaurants with a breathtaking view of the coastline scattered with fishing boats. Though most of the beaches are owned by resorts and hotels, there are still some spots accessible to the public.
The Bali sun was searing above me, but my walk was very pleasant. The breeze helped cool off the heat and the neat pavement was a pleasure to walk on. There was also a bike track, where I could see happy faces riding their rented bikes on this bright day.
After walking along Hang Tuah Road, I visited a museum nearby, Museum Le Mayeur. The museum used to be the house of Aldrien Jean Le Mayeur, a Belgian painter who lived in Bali from 1932 to 1958, where he fell in love with a Balinese dancer named Ni Polok, and she became his muse. She was only 15 years old. Three years later, Ni Polok became Le Mayeur’s wife.
The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden filled with Balinese statues, colorful flowers, and palm trees. Inside, there are extraordinary paintings of Ni Polok and impressionistic works by Le Mayeur. I could see their old living room and painting studios where Le Mayeur used to do his work. The paintings are definitely old, but absolutely lovely. It is sad that the building is a bit run down and in need of some maintenance. Even so, I didn’t regret visiting the museum, a little hidden gem in Sanur.
After walking all morning, my stomach began to rumble. I wanted to treat myself after walking so much, and I feel like a pizza. Ristorante Massimo offers authentic Italian cuisine right in the middle of Sanur. The walls were covered with pictures of Massimo, the owner of the restaurant.
There were pictures of him when he was young, there were pictures of him with famous people, and there were also some paintings of him. Other than pictures of himself, there were also some pictures of what I assumed to be his hometown.
The service was very warm and friendly. The staff was delightful the whole time I was there. Everybody got a free appetizer of very thin bread sticks and dough balls.
I ordered a vegetarian pizza and it was absolutely fantastic! The grilled vegetables were delicious, marinated in some special sauce. Cooked in a firewood oven, the crust was crunchy and packed with flavor. Every bite was a party in the mouth.
Ristorante Massimo is also famous for its gelato bar.
They offer many flavors of gelato from fruits to peanuts. I got 2 large scoops of gelato for a very reasonable price and enjoyed every bite. I almost ordered another dessert because I saw someone eating their panacotta, and it looked wonderful. However, I gave up instead and left the restaurant with a rounded belly.
Nighttime In Sanur
The sun was beginning to set as I headed for the beach. Sanur’s beaches are not for sunsets, so when I arrive at the shore, I knew what to expect. The beach was long and serene, stretching over 5 kilometers. The waves were tiny and calm, the beach was the perfect place to wind down and meditate on the sands. Though the sunset was not visible from this part of Bali, I was told that some people come to the beach very early to catch the sunrise. Writing it down on my to-do list, I spent my evening walking along the warm water and splashing it onto the dry sands. It was truly relaxing.
After falling asleep on a beach chair that I had rented, I woke at night to find only one other person on the beach with me. I realized that it was dinner time, so I headed to Café Batu Jimbar on Danau Tamblingan Road. This café has e very lovely setting and a fun environment. Smartly decorated with stoneware, the café is the perfect mix of modernity and Balinese style. It was a nice feeling, being surrounded by greenery and clever embellishments such as inverted teacups lamps!
This café has gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Not only that, they also offer coffee and cakes to spoil your sweet tooth! I tried the fish curry and it was divine. I also ordered a rich chocolate mousse. It was heavenly! Creamy, smooth, and just the right amount of sweet. It was truly one of the best desserts I ever had. Café Batu Jimbar is certainly not a place you would want to pass when visiting Sanur.
Sanur proves that Bali is more than just parties and bars. Showing the true heart of Bali, Sanur is peaceful, relaxing and rejuvenating.
Sanur is only 40 minutes driving from Ayodya Resort Bali.
Source: Journey Magazine, August 2015.