Lovina, Bali 's Northern low key beach town, has several attractions especially for nature lovers. Snorkeling and diving are great and allow for a colourful introduction to underwater life. For those who want to keep their ears dry, there's also a popular attraction that can be witnessed from the safe and relatively dry environment of a boat: Dolphins.
It is said that Lovina is the dolphin capital of Bali and the huge statue erected in honour of the flippered mammal is a testimony to its importance for the local tourist industry. Early morning dolphin tours are offered everywhere and since the price is fixed at Rp. 50,000 per person, it doesn't really matter where you book your trip.
Dolphins are early birds so prepare to wake up before the roosters because the captain of the boat will wake you up at 5 AM . Once you get to the beach in a sleepy drunken state, the boats will be rolled into the sea and prepped for departure. The boats are beautifully crafted colourful wooden vehicles with riggers that sit up to 5 people. They are made out of a single tree that's been hollowed out. Because of the riggers, these little boats are remarkably stable and seaworthy.
Clusters of boats will head to the ocean and they will each start the search for the wild dolphins by systematically covering a certain area, with the captains and passengers eagerly looking for a sign of a tail or fin in the water. It is said that dolphins used to be abundant in this area but over the years their numbers have decreased and the boats have to go further and further to find them.
This is one of the unfortunate consequences of both tourism and natural causes. It has never been proven that dolphins are harmed by the attention of the tourists observing them. However, the sheer absence of the intelligent and social mammal might imply a direct correlation between the organised dolphin tours and the decrease in dolphins in the Lovina bay. Other factors that might also be of concern include weather conditions, increased sea traffic and pollution.
However, the unfortunate conclusion was that SD didn't catch a single dolphin snout at sea. So if you plan on going on one of these dolphin tours, be prepared to gaze at a large amount of waterâ€¦and waterâ€¦and water. For a glimpse of a dolphin, your safest bet would either be the before mentioned statue that proudly rises above the Lovina beachfront, or one of the small wooden miniatures that grinning sales people will offer you as soon as you set foot on land again.
It is however quite a sight to see as the sun comes up and slowly enlightens the beautiful Lovina bay. Remember, that somewhere beneath the surface, dolphins might be clapping their little fins in joy and observing the tourists trapped like sardines on a boat while prodding their sleep ridden eyes to catch a sight of them.