On Saturday me and my buddy Neil hired a car and drove north to the seaside town of Lovina. I had expected Lovina to be little more than a few shacks on the beach so was surprised to find a well-developed, modern town (by Bali standards at least), with wide roads, shops and hotels a-plenty.
The distance from Ubud to Lovina is only 84kms, but it takes us 4 hours to get there (max speed 60kms/hr) as we have to travel up and over a big mountain range on a very narrow, windy road. Thankfully Neil is used to driving in Bali and is happy to negotiate with the scooters and trucks and chickens and dogs that wander all over the road.
After checking in at our beautiful beachfront hotel – Lilin Lovina Beach Hotel – we ask for recommendations on good places to eat and find ourselves at Warung Apple, a cheap and cheerful, but exceedingly good little roadside café, not far from the beach. We order some fresh seafood cooked in banana leaves, made to order while we wait. Darn delicious it is too. Seems word is getting out about Warung Apple as they are receiving glowing recommendations on TripAdvisor.
After lunch we walk down to the beach and get chatting to a few of the locals. Everywhere I go people are saying it is quiet for this time of year, tourist numbers are down, and it is the same story here in Lovina. Local resident Wayan is on the beach trying to sell his handmade necklaces. ‘This is my skill’ he says, and I have to agree with him, his necklaces are beautifully made and rather striking. I can’t decide which design I like the best so I buy three from him. This is his first sale of the day and I can sense his relief.
We head back to the hotel for a swim and then I while away a few hours relaxing on the swing seat with my book. As the sun sets we take a seat for dinner in a gorgeous little amphitheatre on the beach, with cushions, lanterns, cocktail in hand and a beautiful view out over the sea. How does it get any better than this? A few minutes later a four piece band takes to the stage, the singer has a beautiful voice and their tunes have me swaying in my seat in a dreamy swirl of happiness.
Turns out the very talented singer and lead guitarist are actually hotel owners, Rikki and Brian – American ex-pats who bought the hotel and built the amphitheatre so they could fulfil their dream of singing together by the beach in Bali every night. I was so touched by their story and their music that I had a little tear in my eye that evening, it was magic and just a little bit special.
Next morning we were up at 6am to go and find the dolphins that hang out in Lovina. As the sun came up we putted across the sea in our noisy little outrigger boat, joining the cacophony of about 40 other boats on the same dolphin mission. Not exactly eco-tourism I know. The dolphins didn’t disappoint, they jumped out of the water in unison, pirouetted, and played, so delightful to watch.
After breakfast we head to Singaraja to check out Bali’s second largest city, not far from Lovina. Here we find some cool looking warungs built on stilts out over the water, like a scene from Kevin Costner’s Waterworld.
My recommendation – Lovina is a great place to visit if you want a ‘relax and do nothing’ kind of holiday. You absolutely must visit the little amphitheatre at Lilin Hotel if you are in town, tell Rikki and Brian I sent you :-)