advertisement

The main draw of Lovina is the clear, calm water and its black sand beaches. Sadly, the coral reef here is not in pristine condition due to bleaching and the dynamite fishing of a past era. However, snorkelers still have plenty to see and beginning divers can use this location for introductory dives. Night diving is also very popular here.

Spice Dive, Kaliasem and Jl. Binaria (tel. 0362/41509; www.balispicedive.com), a PADI certified dive school, is a good place to learn to scuba dive. Although Lovina is not suitable for accomplished divers, trips can be organized to Menjangan Island or Tulamben (about 2 hr. away). Spice Dive also offers water-skiing, windsurfing, paragliding, and canoeing. Paragliding costs US$15 per session and water-skiing and wake boarding is US$20 for 20 minutes.

Sailing, fishing, and spear fishing can be done at Kubu Lalang hotel, Jl. Singaraja Tukadmungga (tel. 0362/42207). Fix your prices before you head out. Expect to pay about Rp70,000 per hour for fishing and about Rp100,000 per hour for other activities. You can also hire the fishermen to take you snorkeling (about Rp30,000 per hour). Most fishermen are part of a local village association, which allows them to use their fishing boat to ferry tourists around. Therefore prices are generally fixed.

The other big draw of Lovina is dolphin-watching.

Spas -- Local black sand is added to your massage oil at the Damai (tel. 0362/41008; www.damai.com; massages Rp450,000-Rp750,000, water healing Rp2,500,000 for two people; AE, DC, MC, V; daily 8am-8pm), making for a terrific scrub. Private spa pavilions can be booked for ayurvedic massages at about Rp800,000 for an hour and the ultimate six-hand massage is around Rp115,000 for an hour. A less expensive spa is Agung's, Jl. Damai (tel. 0362/42018; full body massage Rp75,000-Rp95,000, facial Rp75,000-Rp125,000; no credit cards; daily 11am-7pm), but in comparison to the Damai, is a little gloomy.

West of Lovina

Banjar & Air Panas -- The Buddhist Wihara temple, in the hills behind Banjar village, is home to Bali's only Buddhist monk and is a colorful mix of Balinese and more traditional Buddhist architecture. Admission is free but a donation is expected.

The holy hot springs or Air Panas in Banjar village are very popular with the locals. The three hot spring bathing pools, set in well-maintained gardens, have clean changing rooms and are open to the public daily from 8am until 6pm. If you would like to take a dip in the slightly sulfurous waters, get here in the early morning and bring your own towel. A small restaurant overlooking the pools serves local dishes at reasonable prices and has some very simple rooms with beautiful garden views.

Seririt -- All roads from Singaraja to Java and the west or to Denpasar and the south pass through Seririt. This small town has two banks with ATMs, a chemist, and a very understocked Hardy's Supermarket. The only local color, so to speak, is a group of Balinese ladies selling flowers for temple offerings.

Just after Seririt on the road to Gilimanuk, is the Zen Resort Bali, Jl. Pantai Uma Anyar (tel. 0362/93578; fax 0362/93579; www.zenresortbali.com; 14 units; year-round US$105-US$133; MC, V), a peaceful place with simple but colorful rooms and a large swimming pool. Rates include ayurvedic, meditation, or pranayama retreats as well as special workshops available on request.

Celukan Bawang -- This is the most important port in north Bali although not particularly attractive. The docks are really only worth a peek if fishermen from other parts of Indonesia with their beautifully painted wooden boats happen to be visiting. The morning is the best time to find them.

Gerokgak -- Just before entering this village, look for a sign on the left to the objek wisata alam bendungan or reservoir. This is a peaceful place to walk or take a picnic and chances are you will be completely alone.

Penyabangan -- Follow the sign for Atlas North Bali Pearls (tel. 08/123877012; daily 10am-5pm) down a dirt road towards the beach. Ring beforehand to book one of their very interesting introductory tours. After seeing how incredibly complicated the cultivation process is, you will never look at a pearl the same way again. The little cafe-cum-showroom serves very good coffee and offers the chance to buy a lovely local pearl or two at relatively competitive prices.

Banyupoh

This little village is famous for two things: grapes and temples. There is no real growing season here, so do not be surprised to see a vineyard full of grapes ready for harvest next to a plot that just has new shoots.

Pura Agung Pulaki -- This has been an important place for ancestor and spirit worship since prehistoric times. The first story based on historical fact dates from the 16th century when the priest Dang Hyang Nirartha (1460 -- 1550) came from Java with his family, bringing with him a purer form of Hinduism. He found a holy spring at Pulaki. The temple has since become one of Bali's nine most important directional temples and is also home to hordes of holy monkeys. The new temple, carved out of the mountainside, was completed in 1984 and has heavy, black lava stone buildings and ornate carvings. Visit the temple at full moon to see the colorful throngs of worshipers who come from all over Bali to pray for fortune and prosperity. A good Balinese Hindu has to pray at Pura Agung Pulaki at least once every year. Foreigners are allowed into the temple if they wear a sarong and a sash and pay a small donation.

Pura Kerta Kawat -- Entering Banyupoh village, watch for a sign on the left to Pura Kerta Kawat, down a small road lined with vineyards. Balinese believe that praying here further increases prosperity.

Pura Melanting -- Just along the main road is the sign for Pura Melanting, an awe-inspiring temple hidden in the forest and reached by a flight of wide stone steps. It is always frequented by a steady stream of worshipers who believe that praying here increases prosperity and good fortune. In 1997 the simple temple buildings were destroyed by a forest fire. Sadly, it has since been rebuilt in the overly ornate Neo-Balinese temple style reminiscent of Chinese temples, with no expense spared and no surface devoid of carving. Still, this is a wonderful place for meditation.

Pura Pabean -- On the beach across the road from Pulaki, two huge megaliths from earlier times disappeared into the sand in the 13th century and were only rediscovered and re-erected in 1997 in their original position. Ida Bagus Tugur, an architect with no formal training, began to build a new temple on the hill behind the megaliths in 1987, using spiritual inspiration and instructions from old lontar palm leaf books. During excavations for the foundations, skeletons and gold jewelry were found, proving that the site could have been linked to the necropolis in Gilimanuk and other prehistoric sites in the area.

Pura Puncak Manik -- This is a small temple built around a sacred spring high up in the hills behind Pura Melanting. You have to climb hundreds of steps and those hardy enough to reach the top are rewarded by magnificent views.

Pura Tirta -- This small, recently renovated temple is famed for the spring that provides the holy water for many temple ceremonies.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.