Serangan, or Turtle Island, sits off of the SE coast of Bali. As a rule most westerners won’t have any cause to go there and many people could not tell you where it is. The access point to Serangan is located on the Bypass between Kuta and Sanur, just after the turnoff for the port of Benoa. It is a road bridge that spans 1km of the Benoa Strait. There is a 1,000rp toll for motorbikes. The 2 things Serangan is known for are Pura Sakenan, the famous Balinese temple facing the mainland and the surfing on the SE coast.
According to my Rough Guide, Serangan is a victim of one of Tommy Suharto’s schemes. The island used to be a turtle breeding ground with coral reefs frequented by divers. The land reclamation more than doubled the area of the island, which was basically a sandbar. The new land was composed of a mixture of sand and limestone dredged up and dumped there. Plan for a resort and casino never got finished, so you have the local fishing community on the north coast and a ton of flat unused land.
Local fishing fleet – fishing village:Straight west from Pura Sakenan, is the small fishing village on the north shore of Serangan. Its fun to check out the locally made boats and during low tide, there are many strewn in the mud. This area has a school, a clinic and a Pertamina petrol station, complete with convenience store!
There is a mangrove reclamation project in progress on Serangan. The dumping of dredged material in years past, covered parts of the existing reef and killed of the mangroves. This led to beach destruction on the mainland in Sanur. You will see the mangroves as soon as you reach the island, locate in between the bridge and the temple.
Pura Sakenan – Kuningan:
Pura Sakenan is an important temple for Balinese people. The temple was built in the 16th Century by a Javanese priest named Nirartha and during the Galungan festival, particularly the closing day of Kuningan, the temple is very busy. In years past Balinese people would wade across the Strait from Tanjung Benoa at low tide, when boats could no longer get across. The building of the bridge now means people are not likely to want to do this, another famous Balinese scene changed forever. Pura Sakenan is a public temple, meaning Balinese people from all over the island can come and receive blessings. Tourists can also enter the temple, even during Kuningan, as long they are wearing a sarong and sash. This is a great photo opportunity. During the ceremony you will find many food and drink sellers outside the temple, its quite a scene.
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Away from the local fishing village the landscape is crossed by many dirt tracks. Cars and
motorbikes can get all over the island without trouble. Javanese men working in Bali like to race
pigeons here, as the land is flat, unused and does not yet have any specific purpose. The surfing beach on the eastern coast of the island is easy to spot as it has several warungs. The edge of the reef is quite far out so you’ll have to bring your reef boots, in order to get out there. Serangan is a popular surf spot during the wet season (Nov-Apr) as the winds favor this side of the island during that time.
It occurred to me while exploring Serangan that the flat, mostly unused island would make a great workout place, for people who enjoy a little cross-country running, something that isn’t easy on the busy mainland.
There are plans to create a bridge from Serangan to Tanjung Benoa, allowing drivers to travel directly from Sanur to Nusa Dua. This will probably happen and will be yet another huge change for the island.
Reasons to visit Serangan:
The main reason to visit for people who aren’t surfers, would be to have a look around, check out the boats, grab a cold drink drive around on the sand flats, before getting back to the mainland. It could be a relaxing hour long break for someone staying in Sanur or Kuta.