Snorkelling and sightseeing on Bali’s north coast

Sunday 29 June 2008 – Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

Mango wood canoe on the beach at Lovina
Mango wood canoe on the beach at Lovina

At breakfast a message was sent saying Spice Dive would collect me at 9am. At 9.45 a chap came and I soon found myself, not entirely happily, on the pillion of a motor scooter heading for Lovina Beach.

Mango wood canoe on the beach at Lovina
Mango wood canoe on the beach at Lovina

My driver pulled a mango-wood dugout into the water and we were off. The ‘spot’ was a few minutes’ motoring off the beach. A couple of other boats had snorkelers in the area while a couple more had locals fishing, so my guide said, for barracuda.

My snorkelling guide
My snorkelling guide

A good outcrop of coral lay just below the surface, although there was plenty of evidence of bleaching and physical damage caused by fishing practices. But there were plenty of fish and I spent a happy couple of hours chasing about after them.

A boat similar to the one I was in
A boat similar to the one I was in

Returning to the shore, I had to run the gauntlet of some quite pesky hawkers. I ended up forking out about AUD$10 for a couple of pendants made of polished scarlet coral from one of the ladies; the others took this as encouragement to increase the volume and insistence of their entreaties.

Rice terraces, north Bali. Bali's rice terraces, and in particular it's system of waterways to irrigate them, has subsequently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Rice terraces, north Bali. Bali’s rice terraces, and in particular it’s system of waterways to irrigate them, has subsequently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

My guide offered a reasonable price to drive me (not on his scooter) to a few of the local sights during the afternoon, so after a lemon juice at a beachfront café we set off for Munduk, in the mountains above the west of Lovina Beach. We drove past grape vines growing along the coast – a local wine is being produced – then up through rice terraces and towns set on tightly winding switchbacks. Spice growers dried cloves on mats at the side of the road, making for a fragrant journey.

Urgent deliveries, Bali-style
Urgent deliveries, Bali-style

A short walk from a particularly tight winding climb in the road led to Munduk Waterfall. It wasn’t very spectacular (it could have been mand-made), just a steady stream falling 20 or so metres into a narrow pool, then flowing into sluices leading to the rice terraces. No rock formations distinguished the falls, although the cliff was covered in vegetation.

Munduk Waterfall, north Bali
Munduk Waterfall, north Bali
Munduk Waterfall, north Bali
Munduk Waterfall, north Bali
At Munduk Waterfall
At Munduk Waterfall
A channel taking water from the falls to the rice terraces. Bali's rice terraces, and in particular it's system of waterways to irrigate them, has subsequently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.
A channel taking water from the falls to the rice terraces. Bali’s rice terraces, and in particular it’s system of waterways to irrigate them, has subsequently been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Back to and along the coast, through local villages to the ‘air panas’ or hot springs, one of the major attractions of the area. Hot, slightly sulphurous spring water flows through pipes and gargoyle mouths into a large pool.

Air Panas - hot springs, northern Bali
Air Panas – hot springs, northern Bali

Being Sunday afternoon, the baths were chock-full of local families relaxing, so it was better for people-watching than relaxing per se. As pretty much everywhere, market stalls, a restaurant and a massage spa plied their trades here. The hawkers were pretty half-hearted by this end of the day. One offered me Bintang t-shirts for 1000 Rupiah. Another offered (jokingly) to sell me her baby!

Our final stop along the coast a little further and through more villages, was Bali’s only Buddhist temple. Not a remarkable structure in itself, its gardens were impressive and very pleasant. Some sort of meditation workshop was in progress – students walking around very slowly and deliberately.

Dinner was at the Warung Bambu Pemaron, which offered traditional dancing tonight. An apparently very young girl was quite spectacular. Adi folded my napkin so that with a spoon inserted at the top, it looked like a little man! I tried the local wine (not spectacular, but I gather it’s early days for the local industry) – Hatten Wines (www.hattenwines.com) .

Gardens at Bali's only Buddhist temple
Gardens at Bali’s only Buddhist temple
Gardens at Bali's only Buddhist temple
Gardens at Bali’s only Buddhist temple
Gardens at Bali's only Buddhist temple
Gardens at Bali’s only Buddhist temple
Bali's only Buddhist temple
Bali’s only Buddhist temple

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