The island of Bali, Indonesia, situated eight degrees below the equator in the Indian Ocean north of Australia, has been a tropical travel destination for over 40 years. It’s hard to pass by a magazine rack without seeing a travel magazine feature article on this island, with its still very-much-alive indigenous culture and wonderfully friendly people. The Singaraja and Lovina Beach area, in the north of Bali on the shores of the calm Bali Sea, are a great place to experience this, but you’ll never see it unless you make just a little effort.
Why is this?
On your arrival at Ngurah Rai international Airport, while in the taxi on the way to your hotel, you might be forgiven for wondering where you can find the idyllic settings that might have motivated you to come. The fact is that the area within 5 miles or so of the airport is an over-the-top maze of cheap trinket shops and wall-to-wall package tourism. Clearly for the majority of tourists this fits the bill, but I have always wondered what percentage of travelers to Bali actually take the time to explore the island a little bit. The craziness is in the south. Everything changes north of Ubud.
If you had something else in mind, a slower pace, don’t despair. Even if you’ve already booked a hotel in one of the tourist centers in the island’s south end, you certainly can and should take a little trip up to Bali’s north coast. Drivers are easy enough to find, and very reasonably priced by Western standards.
So am I suggesting that you actually pay for a hotel in Lovina or some other idyllic place if you have a room already booked for the duration of your visit, down in the other end of the island? It depends on how much you like the southern tourist scene in places like Kuta.
You could book part of your holiday ahead of time and do a spur of the moment booking when you find accommodations that you like up on the north coast. If you’ve already pre-booked for your entire visit you might also be able to negotiate with your hotel to take a few days out of your initial reservation.
Don’t hesitate over logistics. Take your little road trip if you get the urge. And, if you find yourself as charmed by Lovina Beach as some people do, the roughly US$20-US$50 a day that you can spend on a very good hotel in the area (even beachfront, believe it or not) might just seem worth it to you.
You could take a few days, using a hotel in Lovina or Singaraja as a base from which to explore, and head over to the west Bali National Park (Taman Nasional Bali Barat) on the northwest corner of this amazing island. Very few tourists get up to see this park, but it’s a short trip from Lovina over surprisingly good roads and is a wonderful idea especially if you have children. Be sure and park the car or have your driver wait for you while you take a short hike, to really get a feeling for the natural beauty of Bali.
Another short day trip from the Lovina Beach area is to head up to the volcanic mountains of Bali, for example to the Bedugul or Kintamani areas. These are lush, cooler areas in the center of the island with surprisingly large lakes, waterfalls and really superb views from the edge of the caldera in Kintamani.
If you ask more from your holiday than shopping and partying, getting out into the natural beauty of Indonesia for a few days is something you won’t regret. There are lots of special, relatively unexplored corners of Bali aside from the ‘secret north coast’ around Lovina and Singaraja, these are couple of outstanding places to start.