In search of the perfect beach in Bali: Seminyak vs Sanur

This post is part of the Slow Bali article series.

Looking back, I think that when I was in Bali, I was looking for the perfect beach, not necessarily the white-sands-and-palm-tree-lined kind, but simply one which not only made me go oooohhh and aaaaaah, but would also make me feel like I was in a magical, special place. Bingin, in the Bukit peninsula, didn’t do it for me. Backed by a line of depressing-looking, dark ,Bungalow-like constructions, with locals hanging around on steps waiting for travellers to eat at their stall or stay at their guesthouse, it just gave me a bad, lingering feeling which I couldn’t shake away, though the view of the beach from atop the cliffs hugging it was pretty special.

I went nowhere near Kuta beach, because despite the fact that this particular sand strip is considered one of the most beautiful in the South, I just couldn’t get past the image of streets clogged with traffic, a beach full of persistent and annoying sellers, and a hoard of drunk backpackers hanging around acting as if Kuta were Bali. Added to that, every time I mentioned Kuta to the locals they’d visibly cringe, which is not a good sign, not at all.

So I tried Sanur beach, and this is what I found..

So what do I think about Sanur and Sanur beach? I found the Sanur beach promenade to be incredibly pretty with its many pavilions and the colourful local boats anchored close to the shore. But while the beach was certainly pretty to look at and the water was inviting, it was difficult to appreciate it. Taking a ‘leisurely’ walk along the promenade meant that every minute you’d be greeted with ‘massssaaagggeeee???’ or ‘come see my shop’, and unless you put your ipod on (or have nerves of steel, which I still don’t) and imagine that what local sellers are saying is ‘welcome to our island. Have a nice day’, instead of ‘I want your money and maybe a bit of your arm’, you’ll find yourself, like me, often so frustrated by the whole thing that you’ll spend most of your time hanging around the pool of your hotel…

…and that’s exactly what every foreigner is Sanur seemed to be doing. Very few people were trying to swim. In fact, few seemed to care about the ocean right at their feet. While most of the time the sheer number of sellers fighting for your attention when you just want to look at the view is close to unbearable, Boyfriend and I did brave the walk of torture every afternoon to make our way to our favourite warung on the beach, where for an hour or so we could finally just enjoy the view.

So for all these reasons, Sanur was not the perfect beach, and the closest I got to finding once was here….

Seminyak Beach…a long, smooth strip with sand so fine it sank like a stepped-on cushion under the pressure of my feet. Constantly drenched with water from the pounding waves, the sand seemed to merge with the sea, and reflect the glorious blue sky on the day I visited. With thankfully few sellers to bother you, Seminyak beach is however somewhat full of itself, with toned, speedoed and bare chested expats jogging and strolling along it.

I found it sad how Seminyak beach is pretty much only a beach to look at. With no sun loungers for rent to speak of, nor a beach side restaurant (as far as I know), the only place to enjoy the beach and grab a bite is in one of the ultra expensive resorts lining the coast. In such a gorgeous place, most people seemed to be hidden behind the walls of their resorts. But that is exactly what left me with a near-empty, squeaky clean beach to fall in love with.

Wow, there’s so much blue in these pictures it’s making my mind go all fuzzy!

Have you found your perfect beach yet?

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.theartofslowtravel.com

9 thoughts on “In search of the perfect beach in Bali: Seminyak vs Sanur”

  1. Isn’t it the most frustrating aspect of travel, to try to find an authentic experience. Maybe such a thing just doesn’t exist. Of course it helps to look away from most obvious situations to the more subtle experiences. For me it is a slice of mountain cheese while hiking in the mountains near the village it was made. Maybe this too is derivative???

  2. Thank you for this! We want to visit Bali, and your posts on Bali are basically becoming our travel guide – also on what not to do :) And on a sidenote, I am always, ALWAYS, laughing out loud every time I read your posts! Cheers, Kjersti

    1. Hi Kjersti,

      Glad my posts are proving to be helpful. Are you planning to head North? If yes, I’d love to hear what you think about what is considered the less touristy part of Bali. I’m also looking forward to your posts on Singapore :)

      1. I have no idea where we’ll be going yet, but from what you are writing we should definitely try the north :) About Singapore, we only spent 2 nights so we don’t have much to share besides what’s already on the blog I’m afraid.. But it was a nice experience, and I am sure it will be great to go to clean and organized Singapore to acclimatize before we head to Australia!

  3. Dear Denise,

    I’ll be short although I could be long considering I have spent in Bali 3 months in the beginning of this year.
    I want you to know that I found your blog during my stay in Bali and it was really helpful. I remember I was amused by your posts on Ubud, because they depicted pretty much how me and my boyfriend felt about it.
    During my stay I visited many beaches, also in the north and east. I must admit there were only 2 very close to what you can call exotic beach. They are Little White Sand beach in Padang Bay and one, which I dont remember exactly the name but is was close to Nikko Resort&Spa in Nusa Dua. Not very easy to get to on neither of them and only possible to know about if you spend more than your usual holiday time in Bali.

    I hope this helps other people.

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