Apr 12 2011

Driving around Bali: Amed to Lovina

Published by at 8:13 pm under Driving around Bali


You must have been thinking we were never going to get out of Amed, huh?! Compared to the windy coastal route from Candi Dasa to Amed the road onwards to Lovina is a breeze. It’s a long drive, but plain sailing with barely a hill along the way. That’s not to say it isn’t scenic, as you’ll pass by diving hub Tulamben, lava flows, waterfalls, a bizarre art museum, and an old Balinese capital before rolling into Lovina just in time for some ikan bakar and a couple of chilled drinks.

Between Amed and Lovina there is a big hill

Between Amed and Lovina there is a big hill

Immediately upon leaving the coastal strip of Amed you veer inland through Culik, then slowly start to work your way west along Bali’s northern coastline to the diving centre at Tulamben. You’ll note to your left the sweeping slopes of Gunung Agung rising up from the sea. When it erupted in 1963 lava flowed down through this area and you’ll pass over great tracts of flow as you drive west, reaching Tulamben in some 45 minutes.

In 1942, the USAT Liberty was en route from Australia to the Philippines and was torpedoed by a Japanese sub in the Lombok Strait. The Liberty wasn’t sunk however and limped westward trying to make it to the port at Singaraja. Like the Japanese sub it failed in its mission and ended up being beached at the village of Tulamben. There it lay for the next 21 years, till lava from Agung’s eruption in 1963 pushed the vessel off the beach and back into the ocean — creating one of Bali’s top diving destinations.

Les Waterfall is a minor diversion not too far from Tulamben

Les Waterfall is a minor diversion not too far from Tulamben

There’s little to Tulamben aside from diving though and its stony beach isn’t all that conducive to beach volleyball, so unless you’ve got diving on your mind, keep on moving. If you do have diving on your mind, there are a bunch of affordable hotels in Tulamben to choose from.

We got to ride most of the Tulamben to Singaraja stretch in the pouring rain. You get caught out on the motorbike in the rain and get wet and think “Ah well, may as well just keep on riding as I’m already wet.” This is a mistake. There is wet, really wet, extremely wet and wetter than that still. The latter three stages of wetness are best avoided by taking shelter till the storm passes.

Midway to Singaraja you’ll reach the astoundingly peculiar Art Zoo which is home to an American artist Symon, whose work has been described elsewhere as Matisse meets Warhol. It’s well worth a wander through and quite good views from the upper reaches of the property can be had.

The powerful Git Git falls, south of Singaraja

The powerful Git Git falls, south of Singaraja

Not long after leaving Art Zoo the road veers inland and inside an hour you’ll be navigating the one-way streets and the hustle and bustle of Singaraja itself. Keep your nerve and follow the traffic and before you know it you’ll be thrust out the other side of town from where it is just another 10 minutes to the sleepy black sands of Lovina. Once you’re set up with a bed you can always pop back to Singaraja for a bit of a potter around.

Time out during cremation ceremony in SIngaraja

Time out during a cremation ceremony in Singaraja

Like the area referred to as Amed, Lovina is actually a string of villages starting with Anturan then followed by Banyualit, Kalibukbuk and Kaliasem. Kalibukbuk is the centre of the “scene” with plenty of places to stay, eat and relax. Lovina is best known for its dolphins and you’ll be near continually harangued to do a boat trip of one kind or another — that the dolphins keep coming back really left us wondering if they really are as smart as people say.

Early morning beachside at Kaliasem, Lovina

Early morning beachside at Kaliasem, Lovina

Lovina is fine for a couple of lazy days on the beach, but if time was short and we wanted a lot of beach time, this probably wouldn’t be our first choice as the beaches really are just average. But chances are, if you’ve made it to Lovina at all, you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve. It remains surprisingly rural with wide swathes of rice fields abutting a small (but growing) number of hotels, but going on the number of real estate signs all over the place one wonders how long the fields will remain as, at least by Bali standards, land is still cheap in these parts.

Invasion of the moronic land grabbers

Invasion of the moronic land grabbers

Beaches aside, Lovina can be used as a base to visit waterfalls, including the impressive Git Git waterfall, and to the west of town the banjar hot springs are popular, but most would do well to pack a couple of books.

Relax at the hot springs

Relax at the hot springs

Recommended beds
In Tulamben, Bali Permai and Liberty Dive Resort would be our first two picks, though there are plenty of other places to choose from.

In Lovina, budget travellers should make a beeline for Harris Homestay, flashpackers to Rumah Kita, or, if you don’t mind being a bit away from the action in Anturan, Mumbul Lovina. If you’re looking to spend a bit more, Starlight is excellent value and Rambutan represents a great deal for families. At the upper end, Damai, up in the hills behind Lovina, is the premium option.

Next stop? Pemuteran!

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