By Josephine Brierley
Many people arrive to the island of Bali and only visit the southern tip. Drive three hours north and you’ll discover the scenic area of Lovina. A beach side town bordered by black-sand beaches and lush, green mountains, and without the hustle and bustle of the south. Low-rise buildings and beaches which are calm and tranquil, add to the uniqueness of Lovina.
The area spans seven traditional villages, which all merge over six miles of road to the west of the major town of Singaraja. The north of Bali is known for its diving hotspots, and as is the case across most of Bali, Lovina enjoys warm, tropical weather all year round. During January and February, the wet season can bring heavy rainfall, and the coolest month is August.
Retire in Lovina
The expat community in Lovina is relatively small compared to other areas in Bali. It’s easy to live a very simple existence, and while traditional Balinese life is prominent here, modern conveniences can easily be found. There are local food markets open daily in Lovina, Seririt, and Singaraja. These markets are a great place to interact with the locals, and walk away loaded with fruits, vegetables, and fresh produce at bargain prices.
The market within Lovina is small but full of life. You can barter, but it’s good to remember they are making a living too. The best way to get a guide of prices is to stand behind the locals and see what they are paying for items before you buy them. You can cook at home very economically, with a week’s worth of fresh fruit and vegetables costing around $15.
Supermarket shopping is also easy. As well as the local smaller types of stores, there is now a new Pepito Supermarket in Lovina where freshly baked bread, fresh produce, imported goods, and all of your basic necessities are readily available.
Alternatively, 15-minutes east of Lovina is the town of Singaraja. It’s a busy place with a population of around 80,000 people, but it’s where you’ll find the larger supermarkets and department stores. It’s also where the major hospital is located.
Lifestyle in Lovina
Most of the restaurants and warungs are located close to the main beach in the center of town. Close to the water a tall dolphin statue stands as an official landmark and to the left a jetty over the water, with “Lovina” spelled out in large red letters perched on the shore. There are two main streets with rows of cafes and restaurants and you’ll find seafood on most menus. Wander through the small market-style shops with art, clothing, and souvenirs for sale lining the streets and further east the local warungs offering traditional food.
As a part of Bali, Lovina doesn’t feature heavily in Balinese history, but there are some significant places in the area. About a half hour drive west in the town of Banjar is Bali’s largest Buddhist monastery. Opened in 1970, Brahmavihara-Arama encompasses a hectare of land, with many meditation rooms, libraries, and a remarkable mini replica of the world’s largest archaeological site, Borobudur. The site features Balinese architecture, with Buddhist paraphernalia available inside for a donation. Stroll around the gardens and enjoy the peace and quiet.
In the same area you’ll find the Banjar Hot Springs. The complex is known to have been developed during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during WWII. At the time, the sulphuric content of the hot spring waters cured various skin problems as well as rheumatic ailments. Follow the path over the bridge and you’ll find small pools where spouts stream onto visitors. The hot water springs comprise of four larger pools, and a restaurant is perched at the very top. If you don’t want to swim, the lush tropical gardens are lovely to walk through or just enjoy the view from the restaurant with a cool drink.
One of the oldest temples in Bali is only five miles away from Lovina in the town of Sangsit. The Pura Beji temple dates back to the 15th century and is revered by the village farmers. It is unique in Bali, in the sense that it also serves as the central temple for the village. Manicured lawns and tropical gardens lead to the shrine which is made from white sandstone, the walls are covered in carvings inspired by Hindu mythology. It’s a great stopover for those that want to see Balinese architecture in detail.
A two-hour drive northwest of Lovina is Menjangan Island, situated in the protected reserve of Bali Barat National Park. The island is surrounded by coral reefs and with no dangerous currents it’s popular with snorkelers and divers. Apart from the coral, there are many species of tropical fish and sea birds which frequent the island. Besides the pristine nature spots, there are many shrines on the island, including the Segara Giri Dharma Kencana Temple. A towering white Ganesh statue facing the sea and protecting the island.
Cost of Living in Lovina
As a potential retirement location, Lovina offers a very simplistic lifestyle. Villas with views to the ocean or of the rice paddies are readily available. A two or three-bedroom traditional home without a pool, can be had for around $800 a month.
You’ll find many options to choose from, it just comes down to what you prefer.
While the nightlife isn’t a big thing in Lovina, there are opportunities to meet others from the small expat community. With the many restaurants lining the beach front, you’re bound to meet people. The seaside town has many dining and social options, with the newly opened Spice Beach Club, or for traditional food, give Warung Ibu Wina a try. It has generous meal servings and the Beef Rendang is to die for.
Here’s a sample budget for a couple living in Lovina:
|Furnished two-bedroom villa||$800|
|Maid/Housekeeper (two hours, three days a week)||$110|
|Dinner at a warung||$15-$25|
|A restaurant dinner with alcohol||$50-$80|
|Total||$1,290 – $1,530|