Lovina: the real Bali

By Mark Gillan, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Lovina.

Overall rating:2.0 out of 5 (based on 1 vote)
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Useful
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Inspirational
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Recommended for:
Honeymoon, Romance, Adventure, Mid-range

A trip to Lovina is a treat for the senses. In this unspoilt part of Bali, you'll find lush paddy fields and traditional ox carts as well as comfortable hideaway hotels and great places to eat

Lovina Beach encapsulates everything you may have heard about Bali. Far from the madding crowd in Kuta, and over the rolling hills of central Bali, is a hideaway that manages to be quiet and relaxing. It is called under the umbrella name 'Lovina' because the hotel-owners thought the tourists would get confused with all the different villages. Its compact size and laidback attitude means it's a good place to unwind whilst using it as a base for day trips. It's also authentic Bali. A walk outside the hotel will bring you into contact with the local way of life - rice planters on lush paddies using ox carts.

A recommendation from a travel agent back home led us to the mid range Rambutan Beach Cottages in popular Kalibukbuk, and it was immediately obvious we'd made the right choice. It's in a good position, just off the busy main street along a road lined with restaurants and handicraft shops, and a two-minute walk to the beach. Spread over an acre of lush coconut palms, it has 30 rooms and three luxury cottages. Our double-room accommodation was superb, as were the facilities. An ornately carved exterior led into a traditional Balinese-styled room complete with outside shower and a balcony to enjoy the sunset. The only thing to watch out for was the ever-present mosquitos - but luckily all the rooms are mosquito-proofed, making for a sound night's sleep. In fact, so comfortable are the rooms here that we met an Austrian man who suffered from insomnia back home and within two nights he was cured.

What we didn't expect was a beautifully landscaped garden restaurant, overlooking the swimming pool. The food and drink here is of a high standard. Try one of the smoothies - lush, tropical fruit carefully blended with ice and topped with lavish decoration. The Balinese certainly know a thing or two when it comes to presentation. The food served is a combination of both Balinese and Western, owing to the fact that the owner (Australian) runs it with his Balinese wife, which certainly makes any negotiations easy. One dish worth sampling is Betut whole duck served with Balinese sauce - simply delicious, as are the club sandwiches. In fact, so good is the food here that you don't really need to go anywhere else.

However, wandering down the road, we found another nice restaurant: the Sea Food Cafe. Things seem to happen almost by accident here. As we sat in our rattan chairs overlooking the ocean, our friendly waiter told us the fish had just arrived. We turned around to see what he was talking about, and in strolled the fishermen to hand-deliver their catch. Incidentally, the fishermen are nearly always Javanese - the superstitious Balinese believe that serpents and evil spirits live in the sea and will not go near it.

Other pleasant places to eat include Kakatua Bar and Restaurant, with its exotic ambiance. This seems to be the most popular place and the seafood here is excellent - try the seafood basket. This cafe also has some of the old favourites, like sirloin steak, if you are hankering for back home. It is worth pointing out that a lot of the hotels also have restaurants; a good tip is to walk along the volcanic sands of the beach, as many hotel restaurants overlook the sea.

A reverence for nature and spirituality permeates Lovina, from the ubiquitous wooden dolphin handicrafts to the dolphin statue in the town, and no stay here is complete without a early morning sunrise trip. There is a certain inevitability about going to see the dolphins, as the dolphin trip sellers are nothing if not persistent. However, the trip is worthwhile and especially so when combined with a snorkeling trip. The coral reef keeps the surf at bay, making for ideal snorkelling conditions, with an abundance of exotic fish to observe. We conveniently booked our trip through the hotel.

It is also worth mentioning the numerous religious festivals that occur throughout the year, owing to a multitude of gods in the Hindu faith. Hindus believe spirits are all around and to maintain the balance they need to be worshipped. Avoid Nyepi day if at all possible, as the island simply shuts down. However, we were privileged to witness the Galungan festival where barong dancers prance from temple to temple and events culminate in a hog roast and a cacophony of noise.

We hired a car and driver to take us around the local vicinity. On hand are local temples, the Banjar Hot Springs, the magnificent Gitgit waterfalls and the inspiring rice paddy fields. The Balinese seem to have an absurd faith in superstition rather than driving ability. Our driver's car was kitted out like a shrine and it was hard to know if divine intervention was at work to get us back to the hotel. It is for this reason that we didn't hire a motorbike, although we frequently passed  motorbikes where the whole family, including the chicken, was on board. Hiring a car is an option: there is a selection of companies to choose from on Jalan Mawar, or you can enquire within the hotel.

A short walk away from the hotel is Jalan Binaria, where you can find a selection of bars clustered together. We went to Zigiz Bar, where they do a mean cocktail as well as provide live music. The place starts filling up around 10pm, so get down there late if only to witness the motorbikes roaring past. Most of the passengers don't wear helmets - this typically sums up the Balinese attitude of 'live for today'. We certainly savoured the moment.

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More information on Lovina: the real Bali:

Author:
Mark Gillan
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)
Total views:
474
First uploaded:
18 September 2009
Last updated:
4 years 42 weeks 5 days 22 hours 16 min 37 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Adventure, Honeymoon, Romance
Budget level:
Mid-range
Free tags / Keywords:
snorkelling, festivals

Mark recommends

Hotels

Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Rambutan Beach Cottages
£34
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Community comments (4)

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1 of 2 people found the following comment helpful.

Recommending Lovina in this gushing manner to people who have never been to Bali is somewhat irresponsible. Why?

Lovina is on the dry (very, very dry) northern coast of Bali and for most of the year there is nothing lush to be seen. It is brown. I drove along the entire Northern coast again last month, October, and most of this narrow strip between the mountains and sea was barren - very barren. All grass and most lower vegetation was dead and the trees brown. The mountains were gray-brown. This was not the lush, verdant Bali most people think of.

This review hardly mentions the beaches in Lovina - the main attraction for most people coming here. They are pretty poor. The black sand is quite nice, but much of the coast is stony, the water is rarely clear, and the moment you walk along the beach away from a tourist hotel you are in a rubbish zone.

It's definitely quiet, and some people do like it. But please tell those who have not been there the whole story. I certainly do not recommend the northern coast of Bali - for reasons exactly opposite to those your writer has given in Lovina's favour. I believe it does NOT represent the lush, beautiful Bali that most people dream of, or travel in search of.

And yes, as you might have guessed, I do go to Bali often, spending many weeks there each year.

John Eve.
Bangkok

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John, I am sorry, but you must be confusing Lovina with the Western part of North Bali, which indeed is very dry - mostly the area in and around the National Park. Even in the end of dry season Lovina remains green, like most of the Bedugul region to which is borders. October is the very end of dry season and at that time you might see occasional browning of the vegetation on poorly irrigated ridges and such. But overall Lovina is definately as green as the rest of Bali.

The beach is cleaned regularly especially around the hotels, but around the eaustaries of the rivers coming down from the mountains you can occassionally see some of the garbage the river has picked up on its way downhill. The government has put in filters to solve this but some of these filters occasionally have malfunctions.

Lovina is definately quiet and has its own sleepy tropical charm - especially in the hill villages - and it is also the perfect vantage point for exploring North Bali.

John, I am sorry, but you must be confusing Lovina with the Western part of North Bali, which indeed is very dry - mostly the area in and around the National Park. Even in the end of dry season Lovina remains green, like most of the Bedugul region to which is borders. October is the very end of dry season and at that time you might see occasional browning of the vegetation on poorly irrigated ridges and such. But overall Lovina is definately as green as the rest of Bali.

The beach is cleaned regularly especially around the hotels, but around the eaustaries of the rivers coming down from the mountains you can occassionally see some of the garbage the river has picked up on its way downhill. The government has put in filters to solve this but some of these filters occasionally have malfunctions.

Lovina is definately quiet and has its own sleepy tropical charm - especially in the hill villages - and it is also the perfect vantage point for exploring North Bali.

John, I am sorry, but you must be confusing Lovina with the Western part of North Bali, which indeed is very dry - mostly the area in and around the National Park. Even in the end of dry season Lovina remains green, like most of the Bedugul region to which is borders. October is the very end of dry season and at that time you might see occasional browning of the vegetation on poorly irrigated ridges and such. But overall Lovina is definately as green as the rest of Bali.

The beach is cleaned regularly especially around the hotels, but around the eaustaries of the rivers coming down from the mountains you can occassionally see some of the garbage the river has picked up on its way downhill. The government has put in filters to solve this but some of these filters occasionally have malfunctions.

Lovina is definately quiet and has its own sleepy tropical charm - especially in the hill villages - and it is also the perfect vantage point for exploring North Bali.