Lovina Beach, in the north of Bali, is synonymous with dolphins. There are many dolphin attractions, including up-close-and-personal-time at an exclusive hotel with rescued dolphins, trained dolphin shows, and possibly the most authentic and natural of all: boat excursions to the dolphin pods every morning at Lovina Beach.
Erik Suriadi runs ocean-dolphin tours every day from Lovina Beach.
Venture down Dolphin Statue Rd (Main Street) and you will literally be welcomed on the beach side pavement by a giant dolphin statue. Meet Erik Suriadi. Ask for him by name, or you could organize your own boat ride and dolphin escort for the following morning. Usually, the boats go out between 6-7 am, but if you are not prone to early mornings and want to avoid crowds you can opt to go later. However, the hot sun needs to be avoided so don't leave it past 9 am.
Early morning boats line the Lovina shore and depending on the size of the boat, they can take up to 8 people. We had 4 in our group, which was a great number to vary the conversation, watch other tourists' delight and have some silent time in which to contemplate the ocean's expanse and engage in telepathic conversation with the dolphins. This is for rea; dolphins are there and you will see them. Lovina dolphins do not shy away from the boats and there are up to 100 dolphins in a pod. It is virtually impossible to tell whether or not you are constantly seeing the same pod, but with so many members, many of whom delight with aerial acrobatics and mate-ship rituals, it doesn't really matter. Generally though, the later you go, the less athletic are the dolphin displays and antics.
What better way to see dolphins than in their natural habitat! Lovina Beach, in the north of Bali, is synonymous with dolphins.
There is no real restriction as to how close the tour guides can get to the dolphins. Rest assured though, 'respect' is the rule of the day and the operators love and protect their own livelihood. They will also pursue the pod to maximize your excursion experience. For an extra AUD$5, if your boat has suitable equipment, you can aquaplane while the boat is moving toward the dolphin pods. Erik has an extremely relaxed and warm vibe. As we approached the premier viewing spot, he stopped the boat and offered warm banana fritters and a cup of tea. Such a civilized introduction to early morning water sports.
One of the most pleasurable aspects to the dolphin ocean tour is being out on the boat and enjoying the vastness of sea-blue hues. Obviously, swimmers have the added advantage of being able to request an ocean swim. The water is lightly refreshing and provides a welcome break from a 2-hour boat-restriction and obvious sun drowsiness.
On the way back to the Lovina coastline, we stopped at the main snorkelling site. It was our turn to test our internal dolphin flippers. Basic snorkelling gear is provided and although this is an added extra, at only AUD$10 (included in the $20 quoted below) it is well worth the extra time and investment. For snorkelling die-hards, it is certainly not a premier site, but the fish captivate and the water is clear and inviting. This style of snorkelling is totally suitable and safe for beginners or the uninitiated. The coral is mediocre, but snorkelling makes the morning more action-based and extends your time at sea.
The Lovina ocean-dolphin tour takes about 3 hours. We returned to the shore ready to devour a home-cooked Balinese curry and a fresh mango-coconut juice at a nearby warung.
One of the best things about the ocean-dolphin tours is spending time on the ocean and snorkelling at the nearby reef on the home-bound journey.
Summary of Lovina Ocean-Dolphin Tours
Recommended Tour Operator: Erik Suriadi
Considerations: It is recommended that you can swim (tell the operator if you can't). Take a hat, sunscreen and fresh water to drink.
Investment: AUD$20 per person includes boat ride and snorkeling. Aqua-planning is an extra $5 per person. Not all boats offer the aquaplaning add-on. Most boats provide basic snorkeling gear.
For an extra $5AUD, you may be able to add aquaplaning to the morning's activities.
Hours of Operation: Lovina Ocean-Dolphin tours run daily and you can secure your operator by walking down to shore-side, on Dolphin Statue Road the day before you want to go. Alternatively, most shop and warung operators can organize it for you. For assistance, visit Ayoni Sri at Papillion, a boutique fashion and souvenir shop which is also in Dolphin Statue Road. Ayoni can also organize morning transport to the beach (the minimum taxi fare is about AUD$5 and a motorbike ride is about AUD$2.00).