The Worst Beach in Bali: What Instagram Doesn’t Tell You About Sanur Beach –

If you’ve been following ‘Earths Magical Places’ on social media (links below) you’ll be aware that I’ve recently been roaming around Bali and its surrounding islands!


My first port of call on this adventure was Sanur; a more relaxed province of Denpasar, away from the party scenes of Kuta and Seminyak… I decided some time to adjust on the quiet side of town would be needed before I jumped into the craziness of these better known regions!

None the less, I was still keen to get out and explore! Thus, after a morning of adjusting to the humidity of Bali…. Which, let me tell you is intense AF! I decided to head down to Sanur beach. However, when I reached the beach, my heart sank at what I saw…


Not so golden sand –

After months of envious scrolling through Instagram pictures of Bali’s beach’s I’d expected to be met with white sand, palm tress and a local selling freshly picked coconuts.

But, this was far from the case on Sanur Beach: the sand was almost grey and rough as hell on my feet, it literally felt like walking on glass! Can’t say I’ve ever experienced sand quite like it! I assumed it had something to do with how big the grains of sand were but still, far from what I’d dreamed of!

Litter Galore –

Further, I honest to god have never seen such a dirty beach, I could kick myself for not taking a photo of the rubbish… Instead I’ll wait here while you google image ‘Sanur Beach rubbish’ (I’ve even linked it for you – aren’t I nice).


If you zoom in on the water in this picture you can see a fair amount of rubbish! But, it was much worse on the sand!!

A Beach of two Halves –

Perhaps what surprised me most about the amount of rubbish, was the fact that I’d had a quick look on TripAdvisor before venturing to the beach…. Most reviews I read were glowing and the beach was rated 4 stars!

At first, I couldn’t quite understand how anyone could have anything nice to say… I even started to doubt the trusty app! But, as I wandered to what I thought was the end of the beach, all became clear…

As I peeped over an unruly hedge (which clearly marked the end of this appalling stretch of sand) I was surprised to see that the beach actually continued further along… Being the adventurer that I am 😉 I navigated my way around the bush, instantly finding myself in another world…

I was met by a well-maintained stone path, soft golden sand (which I later discovered was imported and raked daily by hotel staff) and not a piece of litter in sight!


Now all the good reviews made sense! It was clear that most people found themselves on this ‘side’ of the beach which, was certainly worth an Instagram or two. I too was back in my element! Finding an ‘organic cafe’ whereby I could set up my camera for a sunset time-lapse accompanied by a ‘health bowl’ and cocktail…

From here, it would have been easy to overlook the section of beach I’d first encountered! But, part of me was constantly nagged by guilt… I was very well aware that the only reason the second half of the beach was so perfectly manicured was due to the big resorts which backed onto it!

However, said resorts seemed to have little interest in cleaning up the whole beach even though they’d surely benefit from to not having mountains of litter literally meters away? Especially since it was most likely their ‘guests’ who left continue to leave the majority of the litter in the first place?!


It just seems that the big hotels are out for themselves and couldn’t give a damn about the rest of their beautiful country! Meanwhile, it sadly seems fated that every destination us foreigner’s find appealing will buckle under the weight of tourism, leaving the locals with poor ‘public spaces’ (when I’m sure they once had whole, untouched beaches to themselves)…

For this reason, I made a point of not returning to the resort fronted beach for the rest of my time in Sanur!


After writing the body of this post on the first few days of my trip, I soon discovered that the whole of Bali appears to have quite a bad litter problem… I’d be interested to know in the comments below whether you think this is simply due to the countries infrastructure or the influx of tourists in recent years!?

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not trying to be a Negative Nelly in this post (excuse the odd English saying) But, I always strive to be as honest as possible on this blog and if that means shattering a perfect view of Bali, then so be it. But, I’ll assure you that there are many positive and wanderlust inspiring posts to come 🙂





  1. July 14, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Sometimes photos and reviews on Internet can be misleading. I love that you gave honest review. I did same on one of my blog post.

    • July 14, 2017 / 7:16 pm

      thanks for the lovely comment! Sometimes it just has to be done 🙂

  2. July 14, 2017 / 4:41 pm

    Glad that you pointed out things honestly.. quite appreciable ✌️

  3. July 14, 2017 / 8:54 pm

    Thank you for providing an honest review – very refreshing. There is a lot of this around and it is surprising how many “dream” places are not what they seem to be when you finally get there!

  4. July 16, 2017 / 12:50 am

    Girl!! Speak your truth! If that’s what you found then that’s what you found! No need to disclaimer that shit! We believe you! And you’re allowed to have a negative opinion so THANKS FOR BEING HONEST!

  5. July 16, 2017 / 5:48 am

    I’m glad you write this. I was about to write the same thing. I liked that Sanur seems pretty laid back. In fact a fellow traveler recommended it to me. I was planning to go to Nusa Lembongan so i figured might as well, stayed a few days in Sanur to also check out some dive shops. Two days, i didn’t know how to occupy my time. I love beaches so I’ve decided to check it during sunset but it looked dirty to me, plus it was low tide. I came back the next day and still the water was not that good.
    Maybe it was just wrong timing?
    I am the from the Philippines, and we have great beaches. We also have beaches that turned bad. I am not the type to compare for sure. Maybe I just have had high expectations.

    • July 17, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      That’s exactly how I felt! Beside the beach I loved the more relaxed attitude of Sanur – plus the people were so lovely!! I can’t wait to visit the Philippines one day 🙂

  6. July 16, 2017 / 7:07 am

    Hi. Thanks for sharing this. I was in Jimbaran in 2014 for the second time and I stopped swimming in the sea because I was surrounded by plastic. Every step I took, was on plastic. And the beach was very littered too. That’s why I stopped taking plastic bags when buying my grocery and try to avoid plastic bottles

    • July 17, 2017 / 2:26 pm

      its a shame that it appears to be such a problem on most beach’s on main land Bali! Me too haha, every little thing we do will help 🙂

  7. July 16, 2017 / 7:52 am

    Thank you for being so honest ❤
    Now I wanna go and do some cleaning 😂

  8. July 16, 2017 / 11:26 am

    I kind of left the same way in Cambodia – the resort’s beach was constantly cleaned while the ones on the side were full of garbage. In that particular case it was garbage brought by the sea and not left there by people. Having in mind that Asia in general is not the most environment-friendly part of the world, I guess the case in Sanur would be similar…
    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • July 17, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      it appears to be a real problem in that part of the world! Yes, I should have made it clearer in my post that a lot of the garbage appear to have been washed up as well as people adding to it by littering themselves!

  9. July 16, 2017 / 12:28 pm

    It’s interesting to see those glamourous insta-famous locations in real life. I think you got a good lesson in the truth behind some of these destinations.

  10. July 16, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    I’ve been to Bali 7 times now and yes the rubbish can be a problem but there are many programs trying to make a difference which visitors are also welcome to participate in. While I have popped over to Sanur I have never stayed there but I will be doing a quick overnighter there in August before I head to Lembongan. Let’s hope they start winning the battle to keep their beaches clean. 😀

    • July 17, 2017 / 2:22 pm

      That’s good to hear! I would have definitely participated in such a program if I’d known about them whilst there!
      I loved the rest of Sanur so you’ll have a great time! And agreed 🙂

  11. Jean
    July 16, 2017 / 9:53 pm

    Litter in Sth east Asia is a huge problem. Lack of infrastructure and education on the issue doesn’t help!

    • July 17, 2017 / 2:19 pm

      its a real shame! But hopefully more will be done in the future to help 🙂

  12. August 30, 2017 / 11:51 am

    I’m so glad this post had a happy ending! Sanur was my saving grace the first time I went to Bali – I love it down there! The black sand and beach hawkers of Seminyak were giving me serious holiday blues when I stumbled upon the peaceful and beautiful beach of Sanur!

    The trash is everywhere and coming from the western world can be really confronting. I was surprised at the amount of it on the beaches of the Gili Islands when I visited recently – they were supposed to be paradise! But the country is relatively poor, people are uneducated and they just don’t seem to care about the environment! It will be interesting to see how the growth in expats over there influences this. I’ve noticed between my trips that animals are now treated a lot better and pet shops have sprouted up EVERYWHERE! Hopefully this also influences their environmental awareness too?

    • August 31, 2017 / 3:03 pm

      Yes overall I loved sanur, so much more relaxed than other parts of south Bali! I visited the Gilis aswell but didn’t see too much litter, think it’s to do with the tides…

      Totally agree! Fingers crossed! in the meanwhile us westerners need to stop producing so much waste that washes up in these ‘paradises’ 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment x

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  14. Gemma
    April 4, 2019 / 8:28 am

    I’m sitting right now at Sanur’s beach, watching sadly how Balinese dig holes on the beach to hide the plastic inside and cover it up again with sand. OMG…
    I’m a plastic fighter and I changed my daily habits during the last few years to reduce the plastic in my life as much as possible.
    When I see these kind of things… Uuufff something in my stomach is up side down…
    To be honest, not sure of the resorts are the problem, or the biggest one.
    I would like to know where this plastic comes from, probably not from Bali…

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      April 5, 2019 / 6:21 pm

      I had no idea they were doing that along the beach, the silly thing is it’ll eventually wash up again. I also agree with you, most of the plastic is probably coming from us in the west which is the sad thing!

  15. Emily
    April 9, 2019 / 2:24 am

    A lot of the plastic is also from the locals of Sanur. There are efforts being made and after seeing the beach I would’ve assumed that you would be shocked, but then have a sense or an urge to make a change. Many of the locals solely depend on the income that they get from tourism and it is what they live off of to survive. Just avoiding going to the beaches because of the litter may be subtly helping the environment, but it is negatively affecting their wellness and economy. Indonesia is actually the second largest producer of plastic and most of it is coming from Java.

  16. July 29, 2019 / 6:28 am

    Thank you for sharing the truth of some of these places. Before we went to Bali we didn’t know about the plastic on the beaches. It’s certainly not shown on the tourism websites or from bloggers/ travel writers who get free trips there.

    • earthsmagicalplaces
      August 4, 2019 / 5:42 pm

      Exactly how I felt! Since writing this I’ve discovered that it’s a huge problem across Asia, Wish there was more to do to tackle it…

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