Until I moved to a proper beach town, I didn’t really realize how different the beach culture is from country to country, or even city to city.

In Ipanema, Rio, for example, the beach is for tanning and playing volleyball, for surfing and partying. In Sanur, Bali, the beach has its own personality- distinct and fantastic in its own right, but more quiet and subdued. It’s a place for a long walk, stopping to pick up flowers from the path; it’s a place to sit and have a long, lazy lunch of nasi goreng; to ride your bike and watch it all unfold.

Sanur’s beach has a long boardwalk along which there are many hotels, a smattering of restaurants and many, many Balinese women who have small stores selling sarongs, bottled water, sunglasses, etc and offering massages. All that action happens on the boardwalk which is directly on the beach.

The beach itself is even more tranquil. Monday through Saturday the beaches are quieter apart from a smattering of tourists, especially in front of some of the larger hotels. Lining the beach are the traditional Balinese fishing boats (called “jukung”). These are used less and less for fishing and more for tourism these days, but make for a beautiful, colorful scene.

Especially in the afternoon, there are also fisherman out, catching fish and then carrying them up to the beach, onto their motorbikes and then over to a makeshift fish market along the beach. I always chuckle a little when I wander by- instead of a bamboo conical hat, in order to keep the sun off their heads, many of the fisherman wear their motorcycle helmets!

Sundays is family day, and the beaches explode with activity. Whole families descend on the beach and spend the day together- babies, kids, grandmothers. Some people bring food but mostly people purchase food from one of the people selling food like chicken sate alongside the beach. People here in Bali don’t dress for the beach although they like to go swimming so you frequently see people go into the water fully dressed.

The best part of Sanur this time of year on the beach, though, has to be the kites. Right now it’s the windy season, and kids are constantly out flying kites- not just on the beach but also on the streets. The designs can be really elaborate and some of the kites are of massive size, requiring a few teenagers to get them going. But my favorite is the rainbow colored, boat shaped kite, a perfect complement to a day on the beach in Sanur.

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About the author

Carrie is an American who just moved from Bali to Mendoza, Argentina. Carrie caught the wanderlust bug early on from her parents, who raised her in Mexico City. Carrie and her husband David have lived in New York, London, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Bali before moving to Mendoza. They are actively working to pass on the travel bug to their young son Timmy, who has already been to twelve countries.