Serangan Island is often called Bali’s ‘turtle island’, due to it once being a frequent nesting ground for green sea turtles. This has changed drastically with rapid development, though you can still find turtles kept and bred at a local conservation site. The consumption of turtle meat, as well as the use of sea turtles in temple ceremonies and rituals, are now a tale of the past.

Serangan is also home to Sakenan Temple, which you can find on the island’s westernmost edge. Reclamation projects in the 90s led to a drastic change of the natural landscape and the temple pilgrims’ ways. Once a separate landmass only reachable by traditional wooden boats, the island is now effortlessly accessible via a 110-metre bridge.

Serangan Island in Bali - one of the highlights of 26 Best Things to Do in Sanur (Read all about Bali here)

Features of Serangan Island

To most, Serangan Island is small, hot and humid, with average beaches to enjoy. But even though it's among the least-visited places in Bali, it has a unique set of attractions.

The island's population is mostly involved in the fishing industry. A Bugis Muslim community lives harmoniously alongside predominantly Hindu residents. On its northern shore, many locally made fishing boats are moored by the village.

The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre has turtle breeding pens with various species of sea turtles. Large specimens are kept in pens and you may also participate in feeding times. Regular releases are also a highlight in which you can join in.

Serangan is also famous for its water sports, especially surfing and windsurfing on its eastern side. Sakenan Temple on its western shore is a significant site where thousands attend temple festivities over multiple days twice a year, coinciding with the Kuningan day celebrations.

There’s also the Shark Island conservation project that provides safe swimming experiences with whitetip and blacktip reef sharks. Its base is on Jalan Tukad Punggawa while its 10x10-metre offshore pontoon serves as the main shark nursery and houses a dozen rescued blacktip pups and larger whitetip sharks.

Good to know about Serangan Island

Serangan Island is easily reachable from Denpasar and is only 15 minutes’ drive from Kuta and Sanur. The island’s southernmost tip is only a half kilometre from the northernmost tip of Tanjung Benoa, and Serangan’s arid western coast and Benoa Harbour are only 700 metres apart.

A 2.8-km road following the beach reclamation project carried out by the Bali Turtle Island Development Corporation now connects the island. This road is easily accessible from the Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai main road from Sanur and across from the LotteMart department store.

Its close proximity to the Bali mainland lets watersports enthusiasts in Tanjung Benoa, as well as boat passengers embarking from Benoa Harbour, see or pass the island from up close.

Serangan Island's past and present

In the old days, pilgrims from various village temples in southern Denpasar would go by foot at low tide to Sakenan Temple. They would carry their heirlooms and sacred objects by traversing marshes and muddy mangrove forests from Pesanggaran, near the Benoa Harbour’s main gates, towards the western banks of Serangan. During high tide, fleets of traditional outriggers called janggolan would transport the crowd over the calm waves.

The Bali Turtle Island Development Corporation planned for a golf course, resort complex, artificial lagoons, watersports and recreational features and other facilities to be built on the island. The beach reclamations were carried out and the bridge was built. Further development halted for years. The once 112-hectare island grew to 481 hectares.

Serangan Island in Bali

Location: Serangan, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Ari Gunadi | Compulsive Traveller