Dolphin watching tours at Lovina Beach remain one of the main nature attractions of this quiet and laidback coastal town in North Bali. What this black sand beach lacks in features when compared to the beaches around the island’s south, it makes up for with its frequent sightings of dolphin pods that favour these calm waters. Back in the days, every sunrise, local fishermen in traditional outriggers set out for their daily catches in the bay, and so did the dolphins. This unique kinship between humans and dolphins developed over time – hunting pods led local fishermen to where schools of sardines and mackerels, and likewise, dolphins joined in for a frenzy following the cast nets. Occasionally, the cetaceans would breach the surface to check out on the action above. Fishermen now regularly take visitors for a dolphin watching ride to see their aquatic friends from up closer.
Several hotels in Lovina, such as Dolphin Beach Bali and The Lovina, can arrange for dolphin watching tours through their guest activities or concierge, in collaboration with the local fishermen who also provide their outriggers for rides. Tickets vary, ranging from USD 14.50 (IDR 200,000) and USD 18 (IDR 250,000) per person, but mostly depending on the number of participants per trip (to cover fuel expenses, and sometimes chum or regular fish food for fun feeding). A boat seats up to five or six. A typical morning starts off at the coast around 05:30 – you’ll have to get up early, and the guys are usually on-time, ready and waiting with their boats. Life vests included, you board and set out in the bay just before the sun rises. The boats are all motorised, usually getting you far out within minutes. At sea, the engine is stopped and the waiting game begins. At times, breaching dolphins can be seen immediately right as your boat reaches the open waters.
You can glimpse several different species of dolphins, but most frequent are the dark-skinned spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) which visit Lovina’s bay all year round. Avoid rides between the months of February and April, when gusty weather becomes unfavourable for both the piloting fishermen and the dolphins themselves. A dolphin watching tour at Lovina Beach usually lasts up to half an hour. Back at the shore, be ready to be confronted by friendly peddlers offering woodcarvings and whatnot. At one point in the recent past, the increasing popularity of the dolphin watching tours at Lovina Beach led to somewhat crazy chasing scenes by many boat operators in the bay, as they all sped from one point to another at the most slightest sighting of a pod. This sparked concern over the aquatic mammals’ welfare, therefore the local government set rules and coastal conservation in place, establishing proper conduct among the local fishermen, for the environment and their own good.
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