This Regency sprawls over the full length of Bali’s north coast. It is hot, dry and fringed with black sand beaches and coconut palms. It meets Karangasem in the northeast coast into the untouched jungle territory of Bali’s National Park on the west end of the island. The Regency has been more exposed to foreign influences in the recent past. Buleleng was a port for traiding boats coming east on the route to Spice Island and where Chinese, Arabic, European, and Bugis merchants came to exchange opium, arm , and “kepeng” for Balinese rice, fruits, cattle, and slaves. In 1882, the Dutch made Bali and Lombok into a combined residency and Singaraja became the capital city.
The original capital of Bali, Singaraja is right on the sea, and its harbor has been key to local development. A bustling center of local commerce, its people are noisy, open, and friendly, and reflect their local climate.
LOVINA & MENJANGAN ISLAND
About 10 kilometers west of Singaraja. The black sand beach is safe and a wonderful place for swimming and snorkeling. Lovina also offers dolphin viewing. Menjangan Island, part of the West Bali National Park has the most beautiful coral reefs in Bali. Along with the bearby Labuan Lalang, this is a great place for diving and snorkeling
A litte further east on the coast is Yeh Saneh, an idyllic spot that few people know about. Only a few maters from the splash of the surf is a cool freshwater spring around whichhas been built a large pool and gardens for bathers and picnickers.
To the south of Singaraja is Gitgit Waterfall, Bali’s highest waterfall. This beautiful wilderness area is a must for nature lovers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the larger towns. This is a perfect place to take photographs of Bali’s magical scenery
While it is possible to make a day-trip to the north coast, it’s a very long drive and you really need to stay longer to see the area. Best to base yourself in the Lovina resort area, with its many hotels and restaurants. Besides Lovina, both Singaraja and Air Sanih have accommodations.
Bali’s administrative center during the Dutch times, Singaraja is now way behind Denpasar in terms of development. It is, on the other hand, a more pleasant place to visit, with a flavor somewhat more Islamic than Hindu. There are no traffic jams nor pollution and everything is conveniently located on one main street, JI. Jen. A. Yani.
Getting to Singaraja
Singaraja can easily be reached from the East, West and South. From Denpasar it takes two to three hours by car via Bedugul. The official bemo fare is Rp 5,000. Another road, still more breathtaking, runs through Tabanan, Pupuan and Seririt, for a Rp 5,800 fare. All bemos leave from Ubung terminal in Denpasar.
There are two terminals in Singaraja: Banyusari and Kampung Tinggi, with bemos running between them for Rp 500. Bemos from Denpasar and Gilimanuk arrive at Banyusari while those from Amlapura and Kintamani go to Kampung Tinggi terminal. The fare from Banyusari to Lovina is Rp 700 and from Kampung Tinggi to Gilimanuk and Amlapura is Rp 5,000.
Eating in Singaraja
The Taman Lila complex on J1. A. Yani has a row of restaurants serving mostly Chinese food. Best known are the Gandhi restaurant, No. 25H, with an extensive menu and moderate prices. Try the nasi goreng kepiting (fried rice crab) or the shrimp sate. Just beside Gandhi is Kartika, No. 251. Further west are two intimate restaurants frequented by local lovers: Cafetaria 99 and next door, Arina.
Lovely Singaraja Shopping
One place worth visiting in Singaraja is the art shop, Tresna on JI. A. Yani 5, which has antiques and fabrics. Another place for fabrics is Banyusari Market or go directly to the Berdikari Hand Woven Cloth Factory at JI. Dewi Sartika 42, for replicas of antique silk textiles. Open daily, 7 am-7 pm.
For toiletries and drugstore items go to the Tirta Dewata mini-market on J1. A. Yani, in the direction of Lovina. For camera film, go to Warna Fuji on JI. A. Yani 30 and 40.
Most places here do not accept credit cards or travelers cheques. Banks such as Bank Dagang Negara (JI. Gajah Mada, Phone 25222), Bank BN1 (JI. Gajah Mada, Phone 24347) and Bank Central Asia (JI. Hasanuddin, Phone 23760/6) can change money and arrange transfers.
The area known as Lovina (actually another name for Kalibukbuk) comprises several villages situated alongside the coastal road west of Singaraja. From east to west they are: Tukad Munga, Anturan, Kalibukbuk (Lovina) and Temukus. All offer accommodations and other tourist services. It is quiet and rural here. The black sand beach is beautiful at sunrise. There’s no surfing, but plenty of coral areas for snorkeling. The fishermen can also take you to see dolphins offshore; arrange with the boatmen a day in advance. If you have had enough of the sea, the mountainous hinterland is great for hiking.
Getting to Lovina
Lovina is only 10 minutes from Singaraja by a good road. Public transport runs until 9 pm. Bemos to Singaraja (Banyusari terminal) cost Rp 2,000. You can also charter a bemo for Rp. 25,000
There are direct buses to Java. Buy your ticket from Perama office in Anturan: Surabaya $10; Yogyakarta $20; Jakarta $25.
Shuttle buses run several times daily to Bali’s main resorts: Ubud $7; Candidasa $10; Kuta $7. Buy your ticket from Perama in Anturan or from Ganda Sari, Bina Ria or Arya’s Cafe (Phone 21797) in Lovina. Tours of the area as well as snorkeling and sailing trips can be arranged by your hotel or by these shuttle companies.
For bike, motorbike and car rentals, go to: Bina Ria Transport, Happy Beach Bungalows or Bali Taman Beach in Tukad Mungga; Perama Losmen or Mandhara Beach Cottages in Anturan; or Pringga Guest House and Janur’s Dive Inn in Kalibukbuk. The daily rate for a push bike is $2; motorbike $5-$6; car self-drive $15; car with driver $20-$25.
Eating and Nightlife in Lovina
Nearly all hotels in the area have restaurants. Janur’s Dive Inn has one that is great value for money. Very pleasant, serving favorites for $1.
The most famous restaurant is Khi Khi in Lovina. If the food is to your liking, go to their open-air kitchen and take notes on the recipes. Grilled fish and fried prawns are favorites here. Bali Bagus has seafood and vegetarian dishes, and is highly recommended. Another popular restaurant is Kakatua, near Lovina beach. Try their fried fish for $2. Or you can go to Srikandi for fried rice, which you eat sitting on a mat. For those who want live music, go to Wina or Malibu. The latter turns into a disco on Fridays. Bali Aga on the south side of the street, across from Tip Top Shop, has spaghetti, burgers, and traditional Balinese specialties.
Most hotels can arrange water sports, not only for the Lovina area, but for Pulau Menjangan to the west (around $18). The usual rates are as follows: snorkeling: $3-$4 per person (bargain). Trip to the dolphins: $5 per person. Fishing trip: $5 per person.
Shadow Puppets as a Treat
Lovina is not known as a center of Balinese culture. However the area is famed for its puppet shows. Hotels with regular performances are: Puri Bedahulu, Happy Beach Bungalows and Mandhara Beach Cottages.
Driving east from Singaraja along the coast, or north and then east from Kintamani, you will pass through the beach resort of Air Sanih (Yeh Sanih), which is noted for its freshwater springs. It’s a nice stop-off before you continue your journey to Karangasem.
You can also enjoy a beautiful sunrise on Air Sanih beach, or by leaving early enough for Karangasem, you may see the first lights hit the peak of Mount Agung near Tulamben – a breathtaking experience. Several bungalows have been built in Air Sanih and the surrounding area, many by the pools which overlook the seashore.
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