Northern Paradise

When most people go to Bali, they head to the white sand beaches of the south or the central foothills in and around Ubud. But these parts of the island have become so popular that visitors often complain about the traffic and the constant flow of tourists at every location. So for Prescott’s birthday, we picked a less conventional destination: the northern seaside town of Lovina Beach.

Lovina Beach is actually a series of small villages that run along eight kilometers of black sand beach.

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In the off season (anything outside of June-September), this area is remarkably quiet and uncrowded. The water is warm and you can swim pretty much anywhere, though the sand is hot and the shoreline is littered with with coral that’s been kicked up by the waves. You also have to watch out for offerings that have been left along the shore.

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As is true throughout Bali, you can find offerings all over the place — on the sidewalks, in nooks and crannies in walls and alleys, even in the middle of intersections. Hindu temples also abound …

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… with the requisite shrines …

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… and carved figures:

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The coast in Lovina is lined with small outrigger boats and captains smilingly and often aggressively trying to sell rides (for snorkeling, for sunset views, for dolphin-watching) to out-of-towners.

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Lovina is best known for its morning dolphin tours; there’s a long stretch of ocean not far off the coast where dolphins come to feed every day. The central village of Kalibukbuk has taken on the dolphin theme with gusto:

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Prescott and I stayed about a six-minute walk from the beach, in the middle of the rice paddies. They had just cut the rice the day before and were in the process of harvesting it …

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… carrying the stalks to be processed (by hand) …

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… and then laying the grains out to dry:

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Our place, called Lata Lama, was adorable. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many pictures of an Airbnb location. Our hosts had imported a whole tiny house from Java and then set it in a small garden with a plunge pool. It was all itty-bitty and exquisite.

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We spent most of our time reading next to the pool…

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… though I kept wishing it would rain for an hour just so I could curl up with a book indoors in this extra bed (which had been built into its own space in the side of our little house):

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The whole place was wonderful, with great attention to detail, from the traditional thatch over the gate …

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… to Ganesh standing guard just outside …

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… to the flowers in the garden:

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Prescott and I spent the middle of the day exploring Kalibukbuk. We had lunch at Buda Bakery, where Prescott got delicious fish (a creative and much-improved take on fish and chips), and I had a fantastic piece of lemon cheesecake.

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On our meandering walk home, we got lost and ended up in what seemed to be someone’s front yard just as they were putting out one of their roosters. Cockfighting remains a major form of entertainment in Bali; each rooster is kept in its own basket and occasionally gets let out for air.

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We also passed the Candi Buddha Kalibukbuk, a restored 8th-century temple.

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But my favorite thing on our walk (probably because it was the most random) was the Hotel Rattan Resto, where someone has covered all of the walls and just about everything else in shells. They’ve made shell letters …

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… and a shell clock …

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… and even an entire shell map of Bali (you can see shell Lovina up north with the shell dolphins):

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One website I read said that this place even has mattresses made out of shells in some of their rooms. That may sound crazy, but from what I saw on the outside, I just might believe it.

Lovina Beach is perfectly situated for sunset-watching on the beach, a perfect way to end a day.

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