Lovina Beach -Buleleng - North Bali
Laze on the beach and watch the sky turn red, yellow, and orange as the sun sinks behind the towering volcanoes of Java, which appear on the horizon rising purple from the ocean. At night fishing fleets head out in their 'jukung', luring fish into nets with kerosene pressure lanterns swaying and glowing yellow all along the waterfront. You can join them for a two- or three-hour late afternoon trip. Or hire a freelancer and go out on a sailing excursion, with sailor.
The bay is great for swimming. Lovina's warm sea laps lazily at the gray-sand shore during the dry season, quite tame compared to the volatile southern coasts. Although a little dirty, the wide expanses of sand are good for sunning (especially at Kalibukbuk), and beach masseurs are available.
For a reef so close to the beach, the snorkeling, diving, and boat fishing are above average. The docile sea and the shallow lagoon make this coast ideal for beginners and young divers to safely explore the specialized marine communities of plant and animals, which live in the intertidal zone.
You don't need to venture far for good snorkeling, but the best spots are two to three km from shore where the sea is shallow. The best dive sites lie closer to Singaraja, where the reef juts farther out from the beach. You can see fascinating reef life right from the boat just by sticking your head underwater.
When snorkeling you'll feel as if you're swimming inside an aquarium with moray eels, tropical fish, and pastel corals. As the offshore water is over your head, use the boat as your island. Wear sneakers, and watch out for the sharp coral, sea urchins, and catfish-like fish with poisonous spines. Get used to wearing your mask in shallow water before venturing out deeper waters. Start early before the water gets cloudy.
The sand is so dark it can be difficult to see the bottom. In February or March no snorkeling or dolphin trips are offered due to heavy rain and dirty water. The skippers wait on the beach for customers. They may provide snorkeling gear. You can rent 'perahu' from the hotels, or simply swim out to the reef.
An experience with mixed reviews is 'Breakfast with the Dolphins'. It's easy to buy a ticket the day before from boys on the beach. The length of the tour varying from 2.5 to three hours, depending on season, boat, captain, and luck. Determine in advance how many hours you're going to spend snorkeling versus hours spent dolphin-chasing.
If you don't, you may end up having to bargain on the boat, paying an additional charge to see dolphins. When you buy your ticket, give the vendor your room number and someone will wake you with a knock on your door 15 minutes before the predawn departure for the 30- to 60-minute trip to dolphin territory (one to two km).
Dolphin-watching is very competitive, with dozens of boats going out at dawn. Most of the motorized boats can fit four to six people. Big wooden outriggers can carry up to seven people and are less likely to pitch and roll than smaller craft. If you're lucky (about 75% of the time) for a few miraculous moments your boat will be surrounded by hundreds of leaping, flipping, blowing dolphins.
Sometimes you find yourself in the midst of 500 or even 1000 dolphins. Watch for different species, particularly the large, slow swimmers that can weigh up to a ton. In any event you'll get a boat ride, tea and 'pisang goreng' breakfast, and snorkeling on the return trip. Don't let the boatman go in before the agreed upon time.
A good place to obtain diving information and arrange trips is Spice Dive (tel./fax 62362-23305) which has an office in Arya's restaurant in Kalibukbuk. Staff is conscientious, honest, experienced, and properly qualified.
Scuba (PADI) certification courses, at all levels, are also offered. Baruna (tel. 62362-23775), on the main road in Kalibukbuk, rents snorkeling gear by the hour, offers surf canoes, and sponsors cruises to see dolphins, snorkeling trips and Sunset Cruises, but no courses. Make reservations at your hotel.
Actually, Lovina Beach was the first seaside resort to appear in the mid-70s, taking its name from a restaurant that operated from 1953 to 1960 where Permata Cottages is today. Anak Agung Panji Tisna, the ruler of northern Bali, named this stretch of coast after the English word 'love' in 1953. He is buried today not far from the first hotel he founded, Tasik Madu, 'Sea of Honey'. The few 'losmen' that existed in the sleepy early 1970s were demolished in a 1976 earthquake.
The resort began anew and during the 1980s, new 'losmen' and beach inns appeared. Lovina has since become the generic term for a whole line of six small villages and palm-fringed beaches that it has, touristically speaking, devoured. From east to west, these include: Pemaron, Tukadmungga, Anturan, Kalibubuk strip, Kaliasem and Temukus.
The strip starts at about the six-km mark west of Singaraja to about five km past Kaliasem. Kalibukbuk has the highest concentration while the fishing villages of Anturan and Temukus are less densely packed with restaurants and accommodations and thus are quieter.