Lovina is the black sand beach destination of the north, visited predominantly by European tourists during the months of July and August and used as a base for exploring all points to Pemuteran in the west and Amed in the east.
Lovina is the name of the region in which a number of villages are located, with Kaliasem in the west followed to the east by the unofficial centre, Kalibukbuk. East of Kalibukbuk is Banyualit and Anturan — keep tracking much further east from Anturan and you'll reach Singaraja.
Kalibukbuk is by far the most popular destination and has a diverse range of eating options and facilities such as internet and ATMs. Outside of Kalibukbuk, things simplify considerably and you will more than likely need to commute into town to access ATMs and search for a bigger variety of restaurants.
The main attractions in the immediate area are the opportunity to watch dolphins in their natural environment by chartering a local fishing boat and the general appeal of the pleasant seaside spot. The beach stretches along a wide, shallow bay, and is black sand through and through. The dolphin watching, well, it's a bit of a debacle (and we've removed our listing for it) -- imagine a few dolphins swimming around with a bunch of boats chasing them around and you won't be far off the mark.
If you're coming from Bali's southern beaches you may find the beach at Lovina to be a bit of a disappointment in the beauty stakes. It has its pretty spots — especially in the early morning — but there is also a lot of flotsam from the fishing boats and the beach hawkers here can be maddeningly persistent (perhaps if they didn't all sell small polished wooden dolphins they'd do a better trade).
The best of the beach is around Kalibukbuk, as further east there are a lot more fishing boats (especially at Anturan), while to the west the main road runs very close to the beach and so it isn't so quiet. In the central strip however there is a short boardwalk, places to eat and drink and plenty of cleanish black sand to sun on.
Away from the beach, the many other attractions in the region are easily visited by public transport, chartered car or motorbike. The best of these attractions are the waterfall at Git Git and the hotsprings at Banjar.
There is a good range of hotels and guesthouses in Lovina and prices tend to be a little cheaper than in the south — the selection isn't as comprehensive though. And while the south has bounced back well and truly from the post-bombing fall in tourist numbers, Lovina isn't quite there yet, and this is felt especially towards the western end of the bay where we found the accommodation options to be decidedly mediocre.
Lovina is located approximately 10km west of Singaraja, the second biggest town in Bali and the former capital of the island. Singaraja was the entry point for countless generations of foreign explorers visiting the alluring island whose inhabitants were rumoured to roam around bare-breasted and dedicate themselves to a religion seen nowhere else in the world. Singaraja still flashes glimpses of that mystical past in its tree-lined backstreets with colonial architecture and basic methods of goods trading visible to those willing to explore.
Kalibukbuk is serviced by a series of ATMs on Jalan Raya Lovina and internet is available throughout the centre of town and at some guesthouses and hotels. A convenience store is located on Jalan Raya Lovina and provides a large range of fixed price food, drinks and toiletries. For those wanting a more extensive range of goods, Singaraja is the location of both Carrefour and Hardy's supermarkets.
Singaraja serves as the transport hub of the north and has three bus terminals which service different parts of the island. Transport is available from here to all the major towns in Bali and destinations in between at extremely regular intervals.
By Adam Poskitt