Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lovina


Last visited August 2011

Lovina and area slightly west. Plus Kalibukbuk - image from Lovina Travel Guide-Wikitravel
A bigger version can be seen here. Or click the above image to expand it.

The Lovina strip consists of a string of interlocked coastal villages on the central north coast of Bali starting only a few km west of Singaraja, Bali's second biggest city. Pemaron, Tukad Mungga, Anturan, Banyualit, Kalibukbuk, Kaliasem and Temukus from east to west. Kalibukbuk is considered central Lovina. Lake Bratan is a good spot to stop-off on the way from South Bali. Modified Google Earth image - the E and W bubbles indicate the approx Eastern and Western extend of the Lovina strip although it seems to be growing in both directions each time I visit.

Lovina features black sand beaches. This is the section in front of the Bali Grand Sunset Resort at west Tukadmungga/Anturan beach about 3.5km east of Kalibukbuk. That's the restaurant immediately behind the beach and the "hotel" block in background. The resort also had villas under construction when Lady Tezza and I stayed in late August 2011.

View from the restaurant. Water looks nice and is just that - I used to think black sand beaches would leach into the water but off the Lovina's coast it is very clear. And calm - this is partly because of sheltering reefs but more from dry season's prevailing south-east trades blowing offshore, which tends to flatten any swell.
Water is deep enough off the beach at low tide for okay swimming - there is a bit of coral about 20m out in front of the restaurant with a few fishies making it okay for less demanding snorkellers. Host Viv says the best snorkelling is along the reef which fringes the headland to the east - that area does get shallow at low tide.
Dolphin watching tours are offered all along the coast including off this beach - I don't want to sound blase but I see hundreds of dolphins a year from my sun-room in Oz, so I have never gone for this somewhat touristy attraction. Animal rights activists are very anti although some tourists I have talked too have been enchanted. Viv reckons it's the dolphins who are watching the humans and they play a game of FOLLOW ME - appearing periodically several hundred metres from the last area which leads to a flotilla of small boats frantically switching locations.

Because the coast kinks a bit at Anturan you are looking north-west here and get a good view of the mountain-backed west coast of Bali plus on clear days (unfortunately not the day of this shot) the impressive volcano-backed coast of north-east Java. Any aspect with west in it means good sunsets. The above is a nice shot to expand.


I shot this 200m east of Grand Sunset - note chickens from the village. There's gotta be a line in here about the late bird catches the ---- (stranded shrimp?)

Maybe the late fisherman catches the barracuda.

Grand Sunset's food prices are very reasonable - we also ate in nearby warungs in the fishing village but found no price advantage. GS's happy hour booze prices were some of the better of our 9 place whistle-stop tour of Bali and Lombok - wine drinkers will be pleased to know that Viv stocks Margaret River reds and whites (rebottled locally under an Indol label for tax purposes) at a reasonable happy hour price.

Bali Grand Sunset has a very nice pool - not quite as close to the restaurant as this shot implies. Viv has a sign on the beach inviting passers-by to swim for free. He feels this adds a bit of colour and can increase his food/drink sales although he does not sweat on the latter. A free pool is a great attraction for budget travellers - there are several backpacker/flashpacker places in this area.

Grand Sunset was one of the nicer places I've stayed at in Bali. As a matter of fact the only other place I've had as relaxing a stay is Sideman in the rice fields.
Our GS ground-floor pool view fan room was spacious, comfortable and well equipped. More expensive rooms upstairs have ocean views. Aussie host Viv is a mine of information about the area and Bali in general. Viv is prepared to shuttle visitors to Kalibukbuk or Singaraja for free and has a bunch of daytrips on offer - I was particularly impressed with the Kintamani volcano tour itinerary. Kintamani is considerably closer to Lovina than south Bali where most people start this tour - and Viv's trip involves a waterfall visit on the way and then going down ito the crater itself and visiting a village. Most other tours confine themselves to the top rim viewing area which in my experience is a bit of a tourist trap.

Anturan village is actually located about 1km in from the coast. Bali Grand Sunset is one of 4 properties located between two fishing villages down at the beach. The similar Villa Agung is next door to the east, a nice homestay place whose name I didn't catch next again and at the eastern end of the beach the upmarket Bali Taman. East of here the coast kinks northwards - you bridge a small stream to a string of fishermen's huts along the shore. This tiny village has a few basic stores and places to eat.
Going the other way (west) from Grand Sunset you reach a bigger fishing village within 100m. This has more shops, a handful of restaurants and some backpacker type places to stay. One of the better known is Gede Homestay. Other more budget oriented places in the area include Sri Homestay, Puspa Rama and Mumbul Mumbul.

The beach in front of the village has dozens of colourful outriggers, but the sand in front of Grand Sunset and neighbours is free of boats. The latter tended to keep the beach free of debris.

I noticed when researching accommodation that quite a few places which give their address as Anturan Beach are in fact well west of this area - it seems some places simplify locations so that if they are east of Kalibukbuk they say Anturan, whereas they are actually somewhere in the Banyualit area.
Anturan beach/west Tukadmunnga area - modified Google image. Scale - 400m between Big fishing village and Small fishing village placemarkers. Kalibukbuk is 3.5km further west along the main road - I power walked it in 35 minutes - strolled the similar distance back along the beach in about an hour.

Lovina central is Kalibukbuk. This pic is shot from halfway down the main street of this neat little town - a very short narrow road which runs from the main east-west highway to the beach lined with restaurants, bars, shops, tour booking places and quite a few places to stay. The main street is so narrow it is easy to overshoot on the main road. Look for the Angsoka Hotel sign on the corner.
Appears very quiet in this early afternoon shot (I waited for some traffic to clear), but the place becomes quite lively around and after dinner.

There are several lanes running off the main street with more accommodation.

On my firt visit to Lovina in 2004 I headed up the side lane closest the beach and got myself a budget room at Hotel Angsoka - a joint that gets very good reviews in the travel forums. This place has accommodation from bottom budget hotel rooms to flashpacker garden bungalows. I found it good value in a great location - the main street is 150m, the beach 200m. Very quiet. The nice pool didn't hurt.

The dolphin statue at the beach end of Kalibukbuk main street. A hive of beach stalls and small warungs on my first visit, this is mainly a car park now - the other activities have moved to a new laneway parallel the beach to the east. The beach here is similar in appearance to Anturan. Gets a good crowd of people around sunset - when I first visited it was April and the sun was sinking further south in the west, almost behind the towering volcanoes of north-east Java, which were very clear at that time. Maybe the seasonal winds clear the haze better at that time of year.

Turn right from the carpark and you enter this beachfront market lane with lots of clothing and trinket stalls and more than a few warungs and bigger restaurants. Tree area between lane and beach provides good shade for beach goers - black sand gets pretty hot in the sun.
Interestingly there is now a sign LOVINA BEACH on the main road at a set of traffic lights about 500m east of Kalibukbuk main street - if you take this road it heads at an acute angle and hits the beach far background of this shot.
Kalibukbuk area - modified Google image. Scale - 530m straight line between Main street and Traffic lights place markers.

Although a pleasant walk, the coast back east to Anturan beach is pretty ordinary. There are some big resorts along here but their beach ends are not startling - I honestly feel Grand Sunset and neighbours have the nicest section of beach east of Kalibukbuk. Some parts as above suffer the low tide blues of shallow water a fair way out. But note a few parts of this walk would be difficult at full high tide.
When I first walked east of Kalibukbuk in 2004 there were lots of the above type farming area immediately behind the sand. In 2011 there was only this one in the 3.5km to Anturan beach.
It seemed local housing was as responsible as resort development in building out the beachfront strip.

However there still seems to be plenty of agriculture between the beach strip and a similar strip of development along the main east south road - so it is possible to find your resort surrounded by rice fields and grazing.


EXCURSIONS
A pleasant local excursion is to the Banjar hot springs about 10km west of Kalibukbuk. You can take a local bemo to the turnoff at the police office 7.5 km west of Kalibukbuk. Look for Air Panas Banjar signs. From there waiting motorcycle taxis will take you the nearly 3km up into the foothills to the springs.
There are 3 pools in total - none scalding. The upper one in this shot is warmest, followed by the bigger one in foreground.

The third pool is off to the left of the big one in the previous shot - temperature is about the same but because the water falls 4m it has a massaging effect on aching backs/shoulders. Water is slightly sulphurous - there are fresh water showers when finished.

The place was fairly busy, mainly locals, when we visited on a weekend but I believe if you come up early in the day at other times you can find it very uncrowded.
Entry to the hot springs was 5000rp in August 2011 and there's a nice elevated restaurant with budget prices. Plus some smaller spa pools to the side of the restaurant. The area has attractive gardens and is surrounded by heavy forest. A nice looking flashpacker place to stay is located just before the car park.

Another possible excursion (although we did it on the way up from south Bali) is the Git Git Falls just off the main north south road as it drops from the rim of the Lake Bratan caldera to the coast. This is the bigger more visited lower falls, about half way down the mountainside - maybe 15km from Singaraja and 25km from Kalibukbuk.
The upper falls are a good 6-8km further up the road.


The falls are a pleasant 10-15 minutes walk from a sign on the right hand (western) side of the road going uphill - 50m up the road and on the opposite side from the main carpark. Guides will offer their services in the carpark but are not needed.
There is a nice pool at the foot of the falls if you want to cool off. Lots of clothing, art and trinket sellers along the path offering some ridiculously low prices. Quite a few spots for refreshments too.
The Sing Sing falls are closer to Lovina - a few km east of the Banjar hot springs. But Viv told us water flow was virtually nil at our time of visit (late dry season) so we gave it a miss.
Viv says there are some excellent falls off the coastal road to Amed not a great distance east of Singaraja - he will do this on a daytrip or halfday trip and includes it on his Kintamani tour.

Another excursion is to the Bedugul-Lake Bratan caldera high on the main route from south Bali to Singaraja, although once again we called in on our journey up from Kuta to Lovina. The above pic is of the largest of the 3 lakes, L Buyan, shot from a warung-viewpoint on the southern rim of the crater.

Map of area - a bigger version can be found here. Note the side road which runs on the north side of Lakes Buyan and Tambigan is actually high on the rim, not down at lake-side. You climb several km out of the crater on the main road. The turn into the side road near Wanagirl is actually a very short distance on the downhill run to Singaraja.
Oblique Google Earth image from the south-east. Bedugul is the main town and has markets, a botanic garden, water sports on Lake Bratan, several restaurants and a bar. The general area around the lakes is cultivated intensively and is know for vegetables, fruit, flowers, tea and coffee. There are quite a few places to stay up here - it's one on my must do list. Apparently the country around Munduk is not unlike Sideman - we aimed to tour it but the side-road was under repair and in terrible condition so we only made it to the (viewpoint) camera symbol on image.

A very good description of the area including what to see, where to stay/eat etc is the wikitravel Bedugul Travel Guide.

Other Excurisons
Lovina is about as close as any major destination is to Bali's best snorkelling area at Menjangen in the far north-west, so plenty of daytrips are on offer. However I consder it quite a haul and didn't bother.
There are at least 3 dive operations along the Lovina strip - I believe they travel as far as Menjangen and to the east Tumamben near Amed for the Liberty shipwreck and other attractions of what is often called Bali's best dive area.
Singaraja trips are popular for shopping and historic buildings (this is the old Dutch capital).
I've seen signs up for horse-riding.
I've already mentioned Viv does a Kintamani trip - no doubt plenty of others do.
I saw daytrips to Ubud on offer - it is two hours from Lovina which is longer than from the southern tourist areas.


GETTING THERE
Public transport would be cheapest but a bit of a hassle. You need to get to the bus station in Denpasar for a Singaraja bus and then change for a bemo to Lovina.

The next cheapest option would be Perama's shuttle bus. If the schedule is still the same as when I last did it in 2004, you go via Ubud. I think I started about 9am and arrived in Lovina around 3 pm. But the bus did stop at Bedugul, Lake Bratan for a half hour. There may now be a direct bus - trouble is Perama's schedule no longer shows time of arrival.

Most convenient is taxi or car and driver. The taxi board at Kuta airport does not show a Lovina price, but a Sept 2011 post mentioned 450k. From Kuta town should be similar. A typical trip should take around 3 hours - less at night when the traffic is light. The minus of night travel is you won't get to appreciate the scenery around Lake Bratan.
I think a car and driver from Kuta at this time (2011) might be negotiated at around 400k - Lady Tezza and I paid a full day rate of 500k because we wanted to tour the Lake Bratan and Git Git Falls areas - this was an internet rate and I think you should be able to negotiate less from one of the guys on the street or hanging around hotel parking lots.
Of course many Lovina accommodation places pick up from the airport and other places down south, so this should be your first enquiry. From memory, Viv's airport pickup price was very competitive.

Ubud is two hours in day traffic. This suggests 250-300k in 2011 terms would be okay. We paid Viv 400k to take us to Ubud but that did include transport to and from the Banjar hot springs the day before. Perama would be the budget way to do this trip.

If you come off the ferries from Java which arrive at Gilamanuk in the far north-west of the island plenty of buses run across the north coast road thru Lovina to Singaraja.

From Padangbai Perama can get you to Ubud where you change vehicles for Lovina. A Padangbai arrival from Lombok after mid-day will probably see you overnighting in Ubud.

GETTING AROUND
Bemos run along the Lovina strip from Singaraja fairly frequently.

When I was walking from Anturan beach into Lovina about a thousand guys along the main road wanted to know if I wanted "transport."

Motorcycle and bicycle hire is available at a lot of accommodation and other places - the books say traffic is easier than in south Bali which is true but there is still a lot of heavy stuff moving along the main east-west highway - the ferry from Java is one end (Gilamuk) and the ferry to the eastern islands the other (Padangbai) plus a fair bit of local traffic. This is okay for motorcycles which can move at the same speed but I found bicycling (which I did a lot of in 2004) a bit exciting - there is not much of a shoulder (if any) and lots of vehicles parked roadside.

Viv is correct - backpacker babes do add some colour. Not Lovina, but who cares?

If you have additional information, please post it below.
If you have QUESTIONS, please post them in the FORUM which can be accessed via the INDEX link top right of this page - I don't get to check individual location pages very often but I try to visit the Forum daily when not travelling.
If you visit Lovina and would like to keep us up to date with a TRIP REPORT, have a look at that section via the Index - just a few photos and captions will do fine.

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6 comments:

camborick said...

Just a couple of links to other nearby places. Waterfalls: Sing-sing; Blahmantung is not mentioned but also not too far away; Yeh Mempeh is the waterfall to the east of Singaraja.
Furthermore adding to Banjar hot spring: Angseri, not too far from Bedugul and the upmarket soaking site of Toya Bungkah.

tezza said...

Thanks Rick, good stuff.

GaryD said...

I have stayed at the place next to Villa Agung. The place is called Sri Homestay. I ate mostly at the Apple Warung in central Lovina.

Another place worth visiting near Banjar is the Buddhist Monastery. The monastery is open to tourists.

tezza said...

Ah, so THAT'S Sri Homestay. Why don't I write these things down? Looked an okay place. Thanks Gary.

Andrew Bennett said...

I stayed a night at the Villa Agung in Lovina in December great hotel, the food is good and cheap. The owner is an America guy called Gus. I think it was about $60 for a family room with a/c. I took my girls on the early morning dolphin watch, and I reakon your right, them dolphins are playing games. The sunrise over lovina from out there is magic.
http://andysitchyfeet.blogspot.com/
If you want to se some pics of the villa agung

Andrew Bennett said...

Good read , thanx