Bali to the North

Bali YogiToday, visitors to Bali fly in and out of Denpasar or arrive by ferry from the islands of Java to the west or Lombok to the east. From that point on most will be content to confine themselves to the southern region of the island immersed in the chaos of Kuta and culture of Ubud.

Others will venture further south to the Uluwatu outpost and take in some of the islands famous surfing beaches. It is down here where Bali shines as a mecca for surfers and the lifestyle to which it is coupled.

To the very north is Bali’s second largest city and its previously long-standing capital. The city of Singaraja established its port in 1849 and from that moment all trade from the outlying Spice Islands flowed through it.

It became Bali’s gateway for its earliest visitors.

They entered through the north and ventured south over the high mountain passes past the three great lakes of central Bali. Comparatively few modern day adventurers consider Singaraja a Bali must-see.  If they do find themselves in the north they will make a bee-line to Lovina for a chance encounter with the local dolphin population. 

Exploring the old harbor area of Singaraja is not everyone’s cup of tea but for those interested in the Dutch colonial experience, it played an important role. You can still see the architecture of the period in some of the business and residential buildings as well as portions of the cities infra-structure.

Arched bridges of white concrete and steel slice across free-flowing canals, tree-lined boulevards navigate their way through Singaraja’s modern-day bustle, and the red roof tiles and green shutters…further reminders of yester-year.

Only a few miles to the west of Singaraja is Air Panas Banjar.  

After a day of exploration a short afternoon trip to enjoy this very local experience is well worth it. The hot springs of three natural pools are the perfect place to relax amid the deep green foliage of Bali’s tropical jungle.

It’s one of those places that makes a stay in Bali even more memorable. It is a place where the local population gather and relax; it is a family hangout for those who call Bali home.

Lovina Beach is the Kuta of the north although on so much less of a scale it is barely even comparable. Lovina still has remnants of village life and not every shop caters specifically to the tourist.

The beach is black sand and a reef just offshore provides the opportunity for snorkeling and scuba diving. As I mentioned earlier though it is the dolphins that are the main attraction.

On any given morning the shoreline is littered with boats ready and willing, for a price, to take the hopeful out to sea in search of our aquatic soul mates. It’s rush hour at 7am on the North Bali Sea.

Of course I went.

42 thoughts on “Bali to the North

  1. Looks like a lot of fun! I would totally jump on to go see the dolphins, but would be leery of using just anyone for the boat ride…I’m paranoid about boats and water after watching River Monsters!

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  2. So interesting! I haven’t heard much about the northern parts of Bali. The hot springs sound delightful! I keep hearing and seeing lovely things about Bali; perhaps it’s time to plan a trip there!

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  3. I would be fascinated by the Dutch colonial aspects of the old capital. Thanks for giving an alternative to consider when evaluating Bali as a destination.

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  4. I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about Bali and your photos are wonderful. After spending more than 20 years practically living in planes, trains and hotel rooms I confess I’m inclined to sit back and enjoy my own Island paradise here in Maui these days, but the more I read your articles the more my feet start to itch so I think I see an adventure in the not too distant future. Thanks for the inspiration Tim!

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  5. I like that you take the time to explore both the tourist attractions as well as some of the less frequently visited attractions. Bali looks so pretty. I feel like I’ve gotten to visit it through your experiences.


  6. Not sure why I have never been to Bali. It just didn’t happen, I guess. All my friends who have lived there or visited love it. Bali, unlike exotic places in the Middle East, is a place you can go on for holidays at the moment.

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  7. Tim, you really bring out the best of a country. Everyone of your posts makes me want to become a traveler and experience it for myself. I have never heard of black sand before. Going out during rush hour at 7am to find the dolphins would be really something. What a way to start the day.

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  8. Our Perth, Australia friends love to visit Bali. If we ever visit them again in their home town, it sounds as though we ought to pencil in a stop in Bali on our way there or back. The factoid that was particularly interesting to me in this post is that northern Bali had a Dutch colonial past. We recently returned home from South Africa where in Cape Town, the country’s Dutch colonial past is much in evidence. The Dutch certainly got around during the 17th century.

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  9. A place that is a reflection of its history is always more interesting. I had never heard of Singaraja (and had to scroll back twice just to make sure I spelled it right). Thanks for the virtual tour.

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  10. You’ve made me want to revisit Bali Tim! It has been so many years and it has me wondering how much has changed. I loved those beaches and the friendliness of the people there! One of my friend’s daughters just moved there! So now I have a real reason to go back! Lovely pictures!

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  11. I’m planning to visit Bali next year for my birthday so thanks for sharing this post because you gave me an idea where else to go. I mean, as everyone else knows, Bali beaches are the main attraction and though I want to spend a day or two there, I’d want to explore other places in or near Bali. Again, this is a very helpful post for me.

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  12. Bali is just a few hours away from our country and my friends from the Mindanao have egged me to go with them to Bali this summer. I guess, I have to make plans for this Bali trip.

    Liked by 1 person

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