So, because we’re clearly mental we got an early(ish) start from Ubud for our driver to take us to Lovina and ended up leaving about 9am.
The drive up and over the main spine of Bali can be pretty spectacular, windy mountain roads, amazing views and precipitous drops, but only took just under 2 hours. Including a short stop where Jo discovered a love for cartons of chocolate milk.
Dropping down the roads towards the northern coast of Bali is quite breath-taking, both from the views and the steepness of the roads, and you can see the whole of it spread out before you.
We were staying in the Padmasari Resort hotel, about 1km to the west of the centre of Lovina itself. Lovina as an area is kind of spread out along a few kms of the coast, following the single coast road.
The hotel itself is, I must say, amazing. Beautiful rooms, great location, good food, amazing pool and very chill. It’s right on the beach with great sunset views.
Our room wasn’t ready (perils of being early) so we grabbed some lunch (also excellent) until it was, then got changed and had a play in the pool.
I’d been to Lovina all those years ago when I was here the first time, so I thought I knew where we were and suggested a walk along the beach towards the town, but being a tit I got it wrong and went west instead of east. Still, not too bad a beach that way, despite a bit of litter.
Thankfully, the hotel runs a free shuttle service into the centre of Lovina when you request it which is amazing. The only flaw with this was that the latest you could get a pick up was 10:30pm, so we effectively had a curfew!
We mooched into town, which is one main road running towards the beach from the coastal road, lined with bars and restaurants, leading down a small parking area with a statue of some dolphins. From here you can go west along the beach which is kind of heading out of town, or east along a small stall lined road towards some other bars/restaurants – this direction is towards the local hostels and small guest houses.
We had some nice dinner in a place called Kakatua, then got our lift back before we got told off.
Snorkelling off Menjangan Island
Today we were off to do some snorkelling at the west side of the island (towards Java) at a place called Menjangan Island, apparently well known as a place for good snorkelling and diving.
We had a lovely breakfast (really good at the hotel actually) before being picked up from reception and driven 100m down the road where we were given a face mask, fins and snorkel. As we were the first there we then jut hung around while everyone else arrived who was going on the same trip which took about 30 mins, but at least there was a nice view out over the beach.
We were then loaded into a couple of knackered old buses and we headed off for an hour and a bits drive to Sumberkima Bay, where we grabbed some drinks and chilled out for 15 mins while they loaded up the two boats.
The boats were smallish affairs and those on the windward side got rather wet on the way out, but it was an amazing view, with Java dominating the view to the West.
Arriving at the island, you go past a tiny monastery/temple perched on the cliff, but you’re not allowed to go there – cool to look at though.`
We had an hour and a half session first, and of course I was keen to get in and chasing fishes. Jo hadn’t done snorkelling before and she did really well, it is a bit weird first few times you do it. They offered life jackets but I always think that’s cheating – plus it stops you diving down to get a closer look at things…
There was a fair bit of wildlife, but not quite as much as I was expecting given it’s reputation. Compared to the reef directly off Lovina I swam at back in 2001 there was a lot less going on – but that may well be just representative on the general state of reefs around the world.
We stopped for lunch (chicken and rice – shocker) and then had a second session going in the other direction, and we even saw a clown fish which was kind of cool.
We headed back to the harbour, hopped on the bus for another hair-raising ride back to the hotel, where we had a shower and general chill around the pool.
We headed into town again to a place called Lumbung where we played darts (I lost, but then Jo is very good at darts) had a few drinks and then headed for food at a place called Bintang Bali Bar, where the food was not too stellar – we didn’t have too late an evening as we were up early the following day!
Chasing Dolphins at Dawn
Lovina is known for it’s pods of Dolphins which come into the shallow reef areas about 1-2km from the beach pretty much every morning, where they get chased around by a bunch of local boats.
It’s pretty cool overall, though it does require a rather early start. We needed to be downstairs ready and waiting at 5am with our boat ready and waiting on the beach right in front of our hotel, and we were off!
The boats are traditional local fishing boats, essentially a single hull 1 person wide and about 20 feet long, 2 outriggers (seemingly a single tree-trunk) and an outboard motor – wide open and it was in fact a little chilly.
It turns out that it’s actually quite hard to get a photo of a jumping dolphin from a moving platform – so although we did see a lot of dolphins, neither of us managed to actually
26th – Pool day, abortive proposal…
27th – LOVINA – Same breakfast, nice but familiar. Air Panas Banjar hot springs with really chatty man. Sat around pool and had pool olympics. Went to Cambodja Spa for a massage, not as good as it was in Ubud, Jo’s face got carpet burn. Went into town, Kakatua.