Lovina Beach is volcanic black sand and from the central community of Singaraja, smaller communities line the roads in either direction. We stayed at Angsoka Hotel just off the beach about 20 minutes west of Singaraja’s center. This is place known for dolphin watching excursions to a nearby early morning (6 a.m.) feeding area.
It was upscale backpacker by my impressions, but rooms were sizable and several families were there with children. We paid about $17 after pointing out to the front desk that what they wanted to charge us was more than what was on the web site when I booked. The prices had gone up as of January 1, 2009. They honored our previous agreement but it reinforced my belief that in Bali ALWAYS agree on the price beforehand.
Angsoka has a pool, but be aware it is open to locals for a fee. The pool is nice because the beach nearby is littered with all those plastic bags and bottles that the people of the world think just go away. Actually, the ocean is full of them and a goodly portion of the world’s population could hold full-time jobs just picking things up all day off the sand. I read recently of an area in the Pacific Ocean entirely covered with a floating mass of plastic bigger than twice the USA. You have to read this article to believe it. It’s depressing and appalling.
In search of a more encouraging counterpoint we headed west to the national park on a snorkeling/dive tour out of Angsoka. It was over an hour drive and another 25 minutes by boat to Menjangan Island. The mangroves along the shore looked healthy and the park status protects them. I saw plenty of crabs among the roots as the tide was out, but found the lack of birds disturbing and odd. An American ex-pat here told me later as an unofficial explanation about the disappearance of wildlife that the Balinese have basically eaten everything on the island. One case of saving an endangered bird is the Bali starling (jalak bali) the last remaining animal endemic to Bali, which allegedly still exists somewhere in the park. There were only six in 2001 thanks to poachers for illegal pet trading.
A small dive boat took seven of us plus guide and captain to the island. Peung snorkeled while I did a shore dive out to the nearby wall. A storm cloud moved in and cast a shadow over all the coral which was a bit of a drag and a strong current around the last bend turned it into a “dive-by” as I like to call it. It was a decent enough wall dive, plenty of fish and healthy coral, but nothing I’d write home about (OK, I understand the irony of that last statement as I am in fact writing about it). After lunch we moved from the main beach by boat along the island to a coral garden. The sun came out and I was first one in the water, waiting near the bottom for the group to reunite. The wall was much more interesting to look at here with small caves, grooves, and canyons. Though there were no big critters or rare sightings, it was a solid 45 minutes of eye candy. Great colors, many little fish and coral I have never seen before. I’d gladly relive that dive if I had a chance. Rather than post a couple photos here I decided to set up a Bali dive photo gallery on The Mad Traveler.
We gathered again back in the boat and headed for land, warily watching an enormous approaching storm cloud. It intercepted us just before shore and we got pelted a bit with wind and pinprick drops before we made it to the shelter of the mangroves.