The most popular tourist resorts are in the south of the island, centred near the city of Denpasar.
Along the southern coastline is the village of Kuta, which was once famed for its surf beach, but is now better known for its hotels, bars, nightclubs, shops, street hustlers, traffic jams, West Australian Bogans and crowds.
When I visit Bali I prefer to avoid Kuta. Whilst many people love to stay in Kuta, I try to stay away from the place because, in my humble opinion, it does not represent anything that is good about Bali at all. I much prefer to stay in Sanur, which is on the other side of Benoa Harbour and is a lot quieter than Kuta.
For me, the beach at Sanur is superior to the beach at Kuta. The sand is whiter (Kuta’s beach is made of volcanic sand, which is a dull grey colour), and the township has more of a village atmosphere.
Sanur is certainly a much laid back place, although it is still home to many hotels.
You are less likely to be hounded by hawkers at Sanur, but some of the stall holders in the markets can be very insistent in their aggressive approaches to encourage you to buy from them. The best way to deal with them is to tell them a firm “No!” If you tell them that you will return tomorrow, they remember, and they hound you every time you walk past because you promised to buy from them.
If you are used to their methods it is not an unpleasant experience, and you can actually joke with them, as long as you don’t lie about turning up at a later date.
Not all stall holders are aggressive, as over the years I have built up a great relationship with a stall holder at Sindhu Beach Markets so that even if I don’t wish to purchase anything, I can just go along for a chat.
Nari, the stall holder, has become a family friend. We have been visiting with her for so long, we knew her before she had children and now she is a proud and devoted grandmother.
Sanur has both a long, sandy beach and, slightly inland, a long street that is full of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels.
One of the most popular restaurant is an Italian place called Massimo’s that has been there for about thirty years. Massimo makes his own cheese and gelato. His gelato shop has a street front and I have never seen it without a crowd lined up to purchase Bali’s best treat.
For those who are terrified of contracting Bali Belly you will find known chains such as KFC and McDonalds there too. Although I’ve been to Bali many times, I’ve never had a problem. Then again, I don’t think about Bali belly, and always assess an eating place for cleanliness, so never suffer from it.
I’ve found that one of the best ways to get around is to use Grab. Uber is banned in Indonesia, and most of South East Asia, because Uber has an aversion to paying its fair share of local taxes. Grab is the local version and you only need to download the app. It does work out to be cheaper than taxis.
The water in Sanur is quite good for swimming in, and on the northern side of the beach, immediately in front of the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel is a nice little reef area that is perfect for exploring at low tide.
If you wish to visit Bali, but wish to avoid the Kuta crowds, then Sanur is the perfect location for that laid back, tropical break.
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