LOVINA BEACH – Bali’s Quiet Escape

If you are looking for long beaches, mesmerizing temples, and some serenity, you’ll find all this – and more – at Lovina Beach, Bali’s quiet escape on the north coast.

Lovina on Bali, Indonesia 's Island of Gods
The elephant in the room: Since the 14th century, this Ganesh made from white stone is overlooking the sea.

Serenity on the North Coast

Lovina is the coastal region consisting of the villages Pemaron, Tukad Mungga, Anturan, Banyualit, Kalibukbuk, Kaliasem, and Temukus. Located about five kilometers west of the bustling city of Singaraja, Lovina does attract international visitors, yet still remains much less crowded than the established tourist spots in the south of the island. For instance, there are none of those huge hotel complexes but rather smaller, charming guest houses.

Lovina Beach
It’s a long, long beach.

Visitors are coming to Lovina to enjoy some tranquil days on the beach. It’s also the perfect gateway for some great snorkeling in the protected waters around the island of Menjangan. Between February and May, dolphins flock off Lovina’s shores.

Lovina is also a great starting point for some – literally – cool waterfalls, hot springs, and impressive temples.

Under Water Love

The Bali Barat National Park is Bali’s westernmost point and was declared a national park in 1983. At the park’s northern area nests a local celebrity, namely the balistar, an endangered bird endemic to the island of Bali.

Balistar, a bird endemic to Bali
Bali’s superstar, the Balistar.

Also, the waters off the park’s shores are under environmental protection. One of the jewels in these waters is the small Menjangan island.

Since Lovina beach is nice but not really overwhelming, I decided on a day tour to do some snorkeling at Menjangan. While our stay on the island was a real treat, the ride there was terrifying. Our car was basically flying down Jalan Singaraja-Gilimanuk. Our eyes wide with terror, teeth clenched, we clasped our seats, sending prayers to….whoever is in charge in this part of planet earth.

My Deer Dear Island of Menjangan

Menjangang is also known as Deer Island and located around 70 kilometers west of Lovina. Since it’s part of the Bali Barat National Park, its bordered by mangroves and beautiful beaches.

People in a boat at Lovina
The faithful are coming.

The weak sea current and the rich fish occurrence make it perfect for diving and snorkeling. Just put on your mask and hop into the water. While you’re effortlessly floating along the coast, you see an amazing number of the most beautiful fishes.

Boats at Menjangan islands
At Menjangan, you can go snorkeling right from the beach. However, you need a boat to go back to Lovina.

Once you’re done observing Nemo and his buddies, you can actually visit three Hindu temples right on the island.

Pura Gili Kencana on Menjangan island west of Lovina
One Ganesh on the Rocks.
(Photo: OogstwegManjangan, cropped 3:2, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The most notable one is undisputably Pura Gili Kencana. Its iconic Ganesh statue made of white stone makes it the world’s largest Ganesh temple. Dating from the 14th century, it is the oldest temple in Bali.

Deer on Menjangan Island
Deer feasting on….trash.
I don’t understand how people on an island where esthetics are such a vital part of many aspects of life and culture can be at the same time so oblivious to litter.

Another temple worth visiting is Pura Taman Kelenting Sari, located at the hilltop of Menjangan. It was built in the 16th century on the occasion of Danghyang Nirarta’s pilgrimage. This great Hindu missionary came from Java’s kingdom of Majapahit to teach Hinduism in Bali.

The monks living at these temples are Menjangan’s only inhabitants.

Comprehensive Day Tour

Bali isn’t that large. From east to west, it’s approximately 153 kilometers wide and only approximately 112 kilometers from north to south. Consequently, you can visit all landmarks on day tours, no matter where you are based.

One of the few exceptions, however, would be the snorkeling trip to Menjangan island. Since it’s on the westernmost tip, the tour starts in Lovina between 7 and 8 a. m. There were fellow day-trippers who were based in Kuta. Consequently, they had to get up around 4 or 5 in the morning. With all the crazy driving, the rocking of the boat, the snorkeling – it was a very long and exhausting day for them. Hence, at the end of the day, they even got a bit nauseated.

But all the famous temples and other landmarks I’ve seen on my tour starting in Lovina I could have as well visited straight from Ubud, Padang Bai, or even Legian Beach, for that matter.

For this day tour, I chartered a private car and hired a driver. I would have preferred going on a tour with a small group – but there was no bunch I could have joined. Further below in the How to Visit section, you’ll find some group tours you might like to book in case you don’t want to visit these sights on your own.

Gitgit Waterfall 

After my driver had picked me up after breakfast, we were ready for a literally refreshing start.

There are a couple of waterfalls around Lovina and we decided on Gitgit.

Gitgit Waterfall
Under the powerful waters of the Gitgit Waterfall.

This cataract is a popular tourist destination, known for its height and natural swimming pools. First, you have to hike a short trail through attractive foliage to then access it over a rocky and slippery walking trail.

Unfortunately, even alongside the trail are avid hawkers shouting chopping, chopping. Just to be clear, they don’t want to chop anything, they want you to shop. On your way to a waterfall.

I absolutely understand that these people need to make a living. However, their marketing strategy of just forced purchase is nerve-wracking. And I’m not sure if it is as successful, either. The more they are pestering me, the less I’m prone to buy something. I’m afraid they might be provoking a general rejection with their omnipresent puffery.

In no other country have I been as pestered by hawkers as in Bali.

Pura Beji Sangsit

I’m actually not that waterfall-buff. But if you are, you might wanna drop in – metaphorically speaking as well as literally – also at the Aling Aling waterfalls just 20 minutes away.

We, however, made it to the village of Sangsit around 8 kilometers east of Singaraja. There stands Pura Beji, a temple dedicated to the rice goddess Dewi Sri. Hence, it is revered particularly by the farmers around the area.

Pura Beji in Sangsit on a day trip from Lovina
The richly decorated split gate.

Pura Beji is a fine example of northern Balinese architecture. It shows much more elaborated decorations than its counterparts in the south. Typical are also the foliage-like carvings.

Beji Temple on the outskirts of Lovina
Pura Beji’s lavishly decorated door – the temple’s strongest suit.

The complex dates back to the 15th century when the Brahmins from Java’s Hindu Majapahit Kingdom came to Bali.

A candi bentar split gate grants access to the middle sanctum. On this candi bentar, you can admire the above mentioned lavish decorations of carved plants and flowers.

Pura Beji in Sangsit on a day trip from Lovina
The Dutch duo.

A unique feature of the Pura Beji is that the aling-aling, a barrier to deflect evil spirits, is carved with two Dutchmen playing stringed instruments. 

Pura Meduwe Karang

The next – and even more famous – Dutchman was awaiting me in Kubutambahan at Pura Meduwe Karang. Due to its size, this temple is considered one of Bali’s main temples. Obviously, it is also known for its statues and ornate northern Balinese style.

The grand entrance to Pura Meduwe Karang.
The grand entrance to Pura Meduwe Karang.

Most foreign visitors come here to see a Dutch doing what Dutch people are known for: cycling.

On the side of the main shrine is a depiction of a westerner on a bicycle. The bas-relief depicts Dutch artist W. O. J. Nieuwenkamp who explored Bali on his bicycle in 1904. I assume that back then, this undertaking was not as life-threatening as it is nowadays.

Relief of Dutch artist W. O.J. Nieuwenkamp who explored Bali by bicycle in 1904 at Pura Meduwe Karang
Dutch artist W. O. J. Nieuwenkamp who explored Bali by bicycle in 1904.

As I have seen already in Sangsit, this bas-relief is not the only representation of westerners in Balinese temples. Also, at Pura Dalem east of Singaraja, a bas-relief shows a car driven by bearded foreigners held up by an armed gangster of a revolver.

The existence of the images of foreigners in the northern temples proves that this region was an important gateway to the island in the beginning of the 20th century.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

Around noon, we got to another of those often seen, überfamous landmarks, namely Pura Ulun Danu Bratan.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan not far from Lovina
Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, surrounded by waters.

Yet nobody can deny that this temple complex, located in the mountains on Lake Bratan, is incredibly picturesque. It was built in 1663 and is used for sacrificial ceremonies for the Balinese water, lake, and river goddess Dewi Danu.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan not far from Lovina
Holy water-bearer.

The lake, however, is a volcanic pool near Bedugul and its waters are considered sacred. Lake Bratan is an important source of irrigation in central Bali.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan not far from Lovina
In central Bali, low-hanging clouds covered the sky almost every day.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan is a good example of landmarks that could be easily visited from different spots: You could get here from Ubud at almost the same time. Hence, for the temple tours, it doesn’t really matter that much where you are based on the island.

Candi Kuning Market in Bedugul

The Candi Kuning Market is supposedly a traditional fruit and vegetable market in the mountain area of Bedugul. There are fruits and vegetables and I had been happy to finally see a place I thought would be also frequented by locas.

Candi Kuning Market on a tour from Lovina
Even the Candi Kuning market caters rather to tourists. Nevertheless, since the produce are coming from the surrounding fields, they are of excellent quality.

Actually, that’s one thing that really confused me. During my three weeks in Bali, I had the impression not knowing anything about locals. I even couldn’t figure out where they do their grocery shopping since all the store I’ve seen were so geared to tourists. Whereby I must admit that I haven’t been to the center of for instance Denpasar or Singaraja – maybe there real life exists.

Candi Kuning Market
Lunch at a small warung at Candi Kuning’s market.

So anyway, I was happy visiting a real market – to the moment when my driver Wayan said casually ‘This is not very Bali people buy. They buy at another market”. Aha.

Apart from the produce, they sell souvenirs – after Wayan’s remark, this makes totally sense – and spices such as nutmeg, pepper, and turmeric. These, however, are some of my favorite souvenirs when travelling.

Kebun Raya Bali Botanical Garden

Since the Candi Kuning Market is located close to the entrance to the Botanical Garden, we started our afternoon there.

Founded in 1959, it is the largest botanical garden in all of Indonesia.

statue of demon Kumbhakarna attacked by monkeys at the Kebun Raya Bali Botanical Garden not far from Lovina
Poor demon Kumbhakarna is being attacked by monkeys. Let’s hope he’s had his rabies shot.

Initially intended to specialize in conifers, it had to close in 1965 due to political instability and then reopened in 1975.

It’s a huge plot where you get to see orchids, carnivorous plants, cacti, bamboos, one of the world’s most important collection of begonias as well as medicinal and ceremonial plants.

The garden is open every day from 8 a. m. to 6 p. m. and foreigners have to pay an entrance fee of 20,000 IDR.

Banjar Singaraja Buddhist Temple

To get to the day’s last two stops, Wayan drove westwards basically around the Bratan volcano and the Danau Buyan lake which granted me amazing views of Bali’s sumptuous sceneries.

Danau Buyan on the way to Lovina
Overlooking lake Danau Buyan.

Slowly, we approached Lovina.
Ten kilometers west of our starting point is the Buddhist temple and Monastery Vihara Buddha Banjar. It is the largest Buddhist temple in Bali and far more than just a tourist attraction. There are still groups of people staying at the Ashram nearby.

Banjar Singaraja Buddhist Temple
One of the few Buddhist temples in Bali.

Buddhist monks settled in northern Bali in the 6th century. To this date, Buddhism has a strong impact on the island’s local Hinduism.

Air Panas Banjar Hot Spring

Just a stone-throw away from the Vihara, my tour ended at the Banjar Hot Water Spring. These springs were discovered hundreds of years ago. Then as Japan occupied Indonesia during WWII, the pools were installed – basically like Japanese Onsens. Bathing in the brimstone-containing waters can heal skin conditions.

Air Panas Banjar Hot Spring
For your bath, you can choose from various basins.

But even without a skin condition, a hot bath at the end of a long day is equally relaxing and refreshing.

Air Panas is open daily from 7 a. m. to 6 p. m. The entrance fee is only 5,000 IDR.

Map

On this map, you can see where all the places described in this post are located:

Practical Information

How to Get There

As you’ve learned above, the north coast used to be a gateway to the island, however, these times are over. Today, most people get to the island through the Ngurah Rai International Airport. Yet, some are coming from Java through the port of Gilimanuk in the west or they arrive at Padang Bai from Lombok.

The easiest way to get from the airport to Lovina is by cab. It takes about 2.5 hours and costs the equivalent of around 50 US$.

Perama has a minivan service for up to four passengers for 700,000 IDR.

The cheapest way is by bus. You first have to get to the bombing memorial in Kuta. From there, you take a bus to Lovina. The whole trip takes about 4.5 hours and costs up to 210,000 IDR.

Some major hotels offer a shuttle which is very convenient, yet you pay much more than if you arrange your transport yourself. This being said, it’s wiser to overpay for a safe trip than risking your well-being on arrival. You’ll find more on this important topic in my post Keep Calm and Travel Solo.

However, for your comfort and safety, here you can pre-book a reliable and reasonably priced airport shuttle.

The above-quoted travel options also apply to travel on the island. You can always hire a driver at a comparatively low price which still remains the most costly option. Perama has direct bus between Lovina and Ubud and then connections to other places such as Padang Bai for 175,000 IDR and Legian Beach for 250,000 IDR.

Getting Around

To me as a solo-traveller, this was Bali’s weakest point. However, there are bemos, local mini-buses speeding along the northern coastal road. These are actually pretty cheap – you from Gilimanuk you pay around 35,000 to get to Lovina. Unfortunately, these local means of transportation are not available everywhere.

While hiring a car with a driver is comparatively cheap if you share it between two or three people, it’s obviously not that cheap anymore if you pay the whole thing yourself. Of course, you can try to share with fellow-travellers, but it’s not guaranteed that you’ll find someone according to your interests and itinerary.

Also, there are only a few organized group trips that you might join. I achieved that twice during my entire trip. Other than that, I involuntarily lived like a queen and had cars to myself.

This being said, you can always try to join an organized tour with Perama. They have offices all over Bali and also on Lombok. Nevertheless, they don’t stick to scheduled tours. If on certain days, they don’t have enough people, they simply don’t go.

To help you finding the best option even if you travel Bali solo, I’m including some tour offers in the How to Visit section below.

Where to Stay

Although Lovina is by far not as packed with tourist facilities as the westcoast, you won’t have trouble finding a suitable lodging option.

In general, accommodations are very reasonably priced if not cheap. Actually, you can get a luxurious hotel room already for around 50 US$.

However, here is a map on which you’ll find the perfect lodging option for yourself*:

Booking.com

What to Eat

Not only is Balinese food simply delicious, for international visitors, it is also pretty cheap.

And while it can get a bit more expensive for instance at hotels or fancy restaurants, this would be the average price at the Warungs, Bali’s lovely local eateries.

Beer on the beach
Although I’m based in Germany, I drink beer only as I travel.

Even in a prime location on Lovina’s beach, you hardly ever pay more than the equivalent of 5 US$ – and I’m talking about a complete meal!

Dinner on a beach in Lovina
Tuna steak on the beach at Lovina.

While in other parts of Bali, I stuck to my favorite meats such as Satay skewers and nasi campur, on the coast, I treated myself to fresh fish. 

How to Visit

I’m an avid solo-travelling woman. Since solo-travel doesn’t equal solitude, I love to join organized tours here and there. Since this is not that easy in Lovina, here are some valid options of how to get to see what this magical island has to offer in a safe and easy way*:

What to Bring

Be a scout and remember the motto Be prepared.
As you leave in the morning to explore, make sure to not only have your money and your sunshades on you.

Good to Know

Don’t let the half-naked tourist hordes in some beach resorts fool you: Balinese dress very modestly. This goes particularly as you leave the beach area to explore remote villages and, most of all, sacred complexes.

It is always a good idea to carry at least one light, large scarf with you to cover up in case you decide to visit a sacred place. And I’m not talking only to the ladies, men have to cover, too.

Visitors to Tirta Empul on a day trip from Ubud
Everyone has to cover up in a sarong.

You always have to wrap a sarong around your hips – even if you are wearing long pants. Locals also wear a temple scarf around their waist. Foreigners don’t need necessarily to do so.

Remember that you’re neither supposed to expose your shoulders and arms. So if you are wearing a sleeveless top, you also need a scarf to cover your shoulders.

Often, you can rent sarongs at the entrance to temples. Or they will be someone selling them. Since these vendors cater mostly to desperate people who need a piece of fabric right away, their prices are ridiculously high.

It might also be a good idea to have a pair of old socks with you that you can wear in the noonish heat when walking on the hot stones around the temples as you have to take your shoes off.

You’ll find more tips on Bali’s DOs and DONTs in my post How (not) to behave in BALI.

Good to Have

Especially when you are walking a lot or cycling, you will appreciate a catlick using some wet wipes on your hands, face, and neck. Also, the last resort in case some bathroom along the way has no toilet tissue. Remember to freshen up your sun protection especially after wiping your face – so make sure to have a travel-size bottle of sun protection with you. Especially if you are planning to visit forests or gardens, you might want to bring some insect repellent so that mosquitos don’t eat you alive.

I have all these things in an extra-pouch that I just stuff in my daypack in the morning without having to remember every single piece.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget to take a hat, good sunshades, and a large bottle of water with you, too.

Cash And Cards

Lovina is a touristy place, hence, credit cards are accepted at most businesses. Nevertheless, you have to pay for some services in cash. Obviously, you can get money at ATMs, for instance at the supermarket in Anturan.

One US-Dollar equals 14,076 Rupiahs (IDR) and one €uro equals 17,049 Rupiahs (IDR) as per February 2021. You can check the current rate on this page.

Language

The official language on the island of Bali is Indonesian.

Amazingly, Indonesian is one of the languages offered on babbel. As usual, the first lesson is free. There you learn the most important words and polite expressions to interact with people.

I gained some basic knowledge for my trip to Bali. It’s amazing how easy bahasa was to learn. Especially since it’s written in Latin letters.

Since Bali is so over-touristy, everyone in the tourist industry has at least a rudimentary command of the language. However, sometimes the accent is so peculiar that you won’t understand it right away. Also, locals might not really understand what you are saying but just grasping the supposed meaning from one or two words they got from your sentence. Hence, prepare for some hopeless explaining, quirky conversations – and many bright smiles.

Communication and Connection

Like during most of my trips where European roaming is not available, I did not get a national SIM-card. I rather used free WiFi. There was a connection to the internet without any issue at basically every eatery or café and, of course, hotel. Worked like a charm.

But if you insist on being online 24/7, you can get a national SIM-card right at the airport.

In Indonesia, plug types C and F are the official standard. The standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency 50 Hz.

But as you know, nowadays, all these chargers for phones and readers and computers have integrated adapters. Therefore, different voltage and frequency don’t really matter.

By the way, you’ll find this kind of practical travel info in my post World’s Most Complete Travel Information. Actually, it’s an indispensable globetrotter-classic.

Lovina was just one of all the amazing places I’ve seen on my trip to Bali. Go to the main post to check out all the other destinations.

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Note: I’m completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in February 2021.

29 Replies to “LOVINA BEACH – Bali’s Quiet Escape”

  1. I so want to visit Bali and Lovina sounds perfect for me. I’m not a fan of the large hotels and would much rather stay in a smaller, quainter hotel. I find that you get to experience more of the culture that way.

  2. Bali is a place I have always wanted to visit. I have always heard such great things. It sounds like a great place for snorkeling and seeing waterfalls too!

  3. Your first photo of Lord Ganesha has won me over for this place. Beautiful beaches and Lord Ganesha both these reasons are enough to convince me to visit this place. Gitgit waterfalls look mystic.

  4. Bali has been on my list for some time now. It looks like such a fabulous destination. I would love to visit the waterfall and hot springs that you mentioned!

  5. I’ve always fancied Pura Ulun Danu Bratan but didn’t realise you could access it from Ubud, this is really useful to know. I’d definitely want to do the dolphin boat trip.

  6. I have never been to Bali yet. That iconic Ganesh statue looks very impressive on the edge of the cliff especially because of the striking white color and its sheer size! I would love to visit Gitgit waterfalls. Bali seems to be an interesting place with some history too. I am book marking your blog post for my future reference when I make my visit. Thanks for a comprehensive blog post. 🙂

  7. I stayed in Lovina Beach when I was on my first trip to Bali back in the ’90s. I have very vague but happy memories of the time I spent there so it was great to read this & see what I missed! I remember taking a trip on one of the local boats to see the dolphins, which decided not to show themselves & that was about it. It was definitely a much quieter part of Bali even then. Thanks for the reminder & I’ll add it to my list for my next visit.

  8. I visited Bali almost 30 years ago, but did not go to this part of the island. It looks indeed very beautiful and as the right mix of relaxation, nature and culture (the cycling Dutch man is hilarious). As I am a bit afraid of free roaming deers, I would skip the trip to Dear Island.

    1. Yes, the north is still rather under the tourists’ radar. If you go snorkeling, you don’t really run into the deer, so….I absolutely recommend it!

  9. I would definitely be drawn to a spot in Bali known for its serenity. Although that boat trip to the Deer Island of Menjangan may not be the most serene part of a visit! The temple complexes sure do look picturesque. And not overrun by tourists like so many other spots. A good spot for a return trip to Bali.

  10. I’ve always heard a lot of good things about Bali but these pictures confirmed just how beautiful and interesting it really is. Thanks for sharing!

  11. That Ganesh temple is magical, seems like it was handpicked out of a Disney movie. It’s so beautiful that it looks unreal!

    I have never been to Bali, or anywhere in Asia for that matter except for the Asian side of Turkey, but I would love to visit someday 🙂

  12. You blew me away with the first photo of the Elephant room and it kept getting better and better from there. I need to just up and go to Bali.

  13. working with lots of balineese crew on board cruise ship…..hearing lots of good things about their island….i hope some day whatever cruise I’m on board,,will have the itinerary going to this beautiful island of bali

  14. I love areas like this that are packed with beautiful architect and history. Thank you for sharing all of these beautiful photos!

  15. I don’t know this region of Bali. I visited the island years ago but clearly missed out on a beautiful part. Thanks for the lovely piece… it brings back so many memories, and your photos give me a sense of peace and serenity, which, as I remember, was plentiful all those years ago. And I agree: Balinese food is wonderful!

  16. I love chasing waterfalls. I’ll definitely try Gitgit Waterfall when I visit Bali. Thanks for this very informative post about these places. It’s really exciting to plan my next trips.

  17. This article is very helpful. I have Bali on my list and I’ve been wondering what else there is to do besides go to the beach.

  18. I had never heard of GitGit waterfall! What an amazing share on what Bali has to offer – I had no idea and wouldn’t without blogs like this!

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