Located on the north of Bali, Lovina is best known for its black sand beaches, easy access to the mountains, and proximity to world class snorkeling and diving destination Pulau Menjangan. Lovina stretches for 8 km along the coast and is actually made up of several small villages-Anturan, Kalibukbuk, Kaliasem and Tukad Mungg.
Getting to Lovina was a bit of an ordeal because we were coming from the Gili islands. By the time we made it back to Bali and met up with our driver in Kuta it was almost 5 pm. We then had to battle rush hour traffic before we really put the miles on. After what felt like hours we were finally on our way. The first part of the drive was absolutely beautiful. We sped past rice pattys and through villages. I put the window down and breathed in the smell of incense and cooking food in the humid evening air. We slowly gained elevation and were treated to spectacular views of the island in the fading evening light. I hadn’t realized how mountainous Bali really was until this part of the journey. Eventually the sun set and we started to make our way down the other side of the mountain. The road turned to switchbacks and I turned a spectacular shade of green as I fought the urge to vomit at the side of the road. I haven’t been this car sick since I threw up all over my sister on the way to Disney Land when I was 6 years old. This part of the drive was one of the worst parts of our trip and it felt like it went on forever!
Our hotel was a short walk to the beach so we wandered down one evening to watch the sunset. I’d never seen black volcanic sand before and I found it quite weird looking! It made the water feel really dark and I was too scared to go any deeper than my knees. However, there were lots of locals snorkeling just off the shore and they told us that it was a pretty good spot for it. One of Lovina’s main tourist attractions are the dolphin tours they run off the main beach. Most of the tours leave before dawn so you get to enjoy the sunrise from the water and tour operators promise you will see dolphins. There are a lot of mixed reviews about this. I couldn’t find anything definitively proving that this practice was cruel or disruptive to the dolphins but something about the whole thing just didn’t sit right with me so we decided against it. If you do want to go on one of the dolphin tours be aware that the price is fixed by a dolphin cartel and it shouldn’t cost you more than 50,000 IDR.
Since we only had a few days in Lovina and wanted to see as much as we could we hired a driver for the day to take us around. Our first stop was Gitgit Waterfall in the mountains of Singaraja. After a quick hike we arrived at the base of the falls where people were swimming in the cool pools. Around the waterfall the mountains rose up steeply and the jungle buzzed with life. As we made our way back to the car the sky darkened and the rain began. We tried to wait it out but when it became clear it wasn’t ending anytime soon we decided to make a run for it and arrived back at the car soaking wet. Our next destination was a view of twin lakes. We paused for a photo op, avoiding the hoard of monkeys hanging around by the side of the road. Next we wound our way through coffee plantations enroute to Banjar Hot Springs. I was looking forward to the hot springs all morning after getting caught in the rain but when we got there I found them kind of gross. The water was a murky greenish colour and the bottom felt slimy and icky. One lady was eating a snack while in the water. However I am easily grossed out and admittedly a little bit fussy so maybe I’m just not meant to go to hot springs. If you are planning a trip to Lovina and thinking of going to Banjar Hot Springs I’d suggest checking out the reviews and pictures on Trip Advisor (most of which are positive) and making a decision based on that since I clearly don’t get the appeal!
On our final day in Lovina we visited Pura Ulun Danu Bratan. This Hindu-Buddhist temple was founded in the 17th century and is dedicated to Dewi Danu, the goddess of the waters. The temple is built on several small islands surrounded by Lake Bratan. You can walk around the beautifully maintained grounds while locals perform ceremonies to ensure there is ample water for the farmers all over Bali. I was pretty excited to visit this temple because its picture was on the cover of our Lonely Planet guidebook. It also appears on the 50,000 IDR note.
Some Recommendations for Lovina and North Bali:
Warung Dolphin is a really popular beach front cafe. I’m pretty sure the fisherman pulls the boat up on the beach, walks across the sand and delivers the daily catch right into this kitchen.
Check out Bakery Lovina for fresh baked German breads, croissants and coffee.
Pulau Menjangan is known for it’s world class diving and snorkeling. The area is loaded with underwater caves, corals, great visibility, and tropical fish. Lucky visitors have also seen whales, whale sharks, manta rays, and reef sharks. I am still kicking myself for not making it here.
Sunset Beach Stroll. The sunsets on north Bali are beautiful! Don’t forget to take one in with a cocktail at one of the many laid back beach front bars!
Thank you so much for reading! Next weeks post will be all about our time hiking and monkeying around in Ubud.
I’d love to hear your take on hot springs. Have you ever been to one? Did you enjoy it? Should I give them another chance? Leave me a comment below and let me know!