Sanur is the area on Bali where mass tourism first got a foothold. The 11 floor high Bali Beach Hotel, the first large hotel on Bali, was built in 1965. It is still the highest building on Bali, due to a law made after the completion that bans any building higher than a palm tree. High buildings was considered to be a lack of respect for the gods, and the law is still valid all over the island.
The largest attraction on Sanur is the beach and the many luxurious hotels, and it’s a more relaxed place than Kuta. There are not as many pubs and nightclubs here, even if the number is rising, but if you’re looking for nightlife the distance to Kuta is short.
Padanggalak on the southern part of Sanur is a historical place; it was here the Dutch arrived in 1906 in order to conquer the kingdoms on South Bali. The arrival 15th of September 1906 was caused by an incident with a Chinese steamer, Sri Koemala, which ran aground outside Sanur and was robbed by local fishermen. The king refused to pay any compensation to the Dutch for their lost goods. This was used as an excuse to invade South Bali. The Dutch invaders were met by the king’s army, and a bloody battle took place before the royal palace in Denpasar was conquered.
Almost the entire royal family then killed themselves in a “puputan”, a collective suicide where they walked towards the Dutch rifles only armed with keris (a seremonial knife) to avoid the humiliation of being sent in exile (see facts about Bali).
During WW2 the Dutch also came ashore here, but then escaping the Japanese. The Dutch also used the Padanggalak beach in 1946 when they tried to reclaim control over Indonesia as the jewel in the crown.
Sanur is a popular destination for families with children and people who want a quiet spot to relax, but at the same time to be within short range of the attractions on Bali. The Sanur hotels have in general a better standard than hotels on Kuta, but not as luxurious as on Nusa Dua. The beach is long, about 3 km, and good for relaxation. The waves are small compared to Kuta Beach, and at low water you have to walk far out over sharp corrals to take a swim. At high water the conditions are good for swimming and snorkeling. You can also rent a boat and go sailing, dive or try your fishing luck. Another popular alternative is to go by boat to Lembongan and Nusa Penida, about two hours away.
Shopping is good in this area, and there is a large number of hotels and restaurants, several with reasonable prices. Sanur is strategically located, only a short way to the Ngurah Rai airport. The area is administered from Denpasar. For expats who prefer to stay by the sea this is the preferred area, you can find luxurious villas here with swimming pools, large gardens and perfect lawns.