Recently I awoke in a hotel room in Lovina on the north coast of Bali, so close to the ocean that I could hear the water lapping along the seawall all night. This room cost me probably a quarter of what a comparable room would’ve cost me in the expensive and touristy area of the southern end of the island. It’s ironic, because the very thing that most people supposedly come to Bali for, serenity and natural beauty, is very difficult to find amid the hordes of tourists.
Well I certainly was no different, when I first came to live in Bali. It took me months to really get out and explore the island, because frankly the tourist infrastructure has a wonderful side to it as well, with all the superb restaurants, activities and other things to do. Times have changed though, and I make a point to get out of civilization and up to the north coast with some regularity.
My recommendation to a visitor with more than a week or so to spend on the island would be to get a car and head north, lingering maybe for an evening in Bedugul or someplace similar in the mountains, and then use a Lovina hotel as a base for further explorations all around this relatively remote and spectacular northern coastline.
For a bit of a step back in time head west from Lovina and pay a visit to the west Bali national Park (also known as Taman Nasional Bali Barat Bahasa Indonesia). This is a really underrated and beautiful area of the island, though the roads are surprisingly good. The park is not large and make sure you exit your car at some point to take a little walk and breathe in this exotic nature reserve. If you’re feeling ambitious some say the best snorkeling and diving to be had on Bali is on Menjangan Island. Remember that you are sheltered up on the north coast from the big waves in the Indian Ocean. The water is up here are much clearer for snorkeling and certainly much safer for swimming, which is great especially if you have young kids.
After your big day at the national park you really will enjoy the selection of hotels in Lovina and their proximity to the ocean, as I mentioned earlier. There’s plenty of good eating to be had in Lovina also.
All in all, you owe to yourself to explore this coastline, because I think it shows you Bali as it must have been before tourism became such an enormous part of the economy. I would never fault the Balinese for catering to tourists for the economic benefits, and they do so with such friendliness and grace all over the island. I will admit though, that it is refreshing to turn the tourism in the South down several notches, take a step back in time and come to up north to Lovina, to to a quieter and more peaceful Bali.