North Bali is a bit of an underdog in comparison to the popular areas in the South and East of Bali. It is a region sadly forgotten from many itineraries, overshadowed by the celebrity status of destinations like Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu, the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan and so on.
We didn’t spend anywhere near long enough in beautiful North Bali, squeezing in just a mere two nights in a quiet beach town called Lovina - but I’m so glad we did.
While our time in Kuta was fun and Ubud simply magical, Lovina was an escape from the densly-touristed areas of Bali to a place where westerners do not make up the majority of the population, and locals’ day-to-day lives go peacefully undisturbed by tourism.
Lovina is the kind of place where children smile and wave shyly, where foreigners are much less commonplace than they are in the South. We noticed a lot less English spoken around North Bali - its a good place to test out some of those new Balinese and Bahasa Indonesia words you have learnt!
In the name of honesty, it is fair to say that the beaches in Lovina are not quite as beautiful as Kuta or the islands, but their biggest drawcard is that they are gloriously empty. Look in either direction and you are unlikely to see more than a fisherman or two. Lovina’s beaches are perfectly adequate for anything you truly need from a beach: sunbathing, swimming and sunset strolls.
We arrived into Lovina on a minibus from Sanur. The drive took about 5 hours, winding through some stunning landscapes!
For our one full day there we hired a scooter and went exploring with two destinations in mind:
Banjar Hot Springs (Banjar Air Panas)
Banjar Hot Springs was well worth the trip. It cost a mere IDR 5,000 (that's like 50 NZ cents!) for a few hours relaxing in a series of three pools, each with water fountains to stand beneath. The green colour of the pools, while initially a bit strange to get used to, comes from the sulphur occurring naturally in the springs.
Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist Temple
A beautiful Buddhist temple (in fact I believe the largest in Bali), Brahmavihara-Arama is a beautiful complex to wander and gather your thoughts. Entry is free, take a sarong to make sure your legs are covered. They run regular meditation retreats, which looked really interesting!
I would love to see more of North Bali, in our couple of days there we barely scratched the surface. There is so much to see and do in a region that feels like the tourist wave hasn’t quite caught on yet.
Still make sure you get to all of the popular destinations in the south - after all, they are popular for a reason! However, if you can squeeze a few days in North Bali into your itinerary it is well worth it to see a completely different perspective of this diverse island.
From Lovina, we caught an overnight bus towards Mount Bromo in Java - but thats a rather long story, so I'll save it for next time!
Have you visited North Bali?