Having spent three weeks in the interior of an island famed for its coastlines, we were ready to roam once again. It had certainly been settling to have a home away from home among the rice fields, but the beaches were beckoning.
We opt to head north, hearing tales of black sand beaches and sleepy towns. Back on the bus for the first time in weeks, the winding roads from Ubud to Lovina provide us with views of the volcanoes we had been watching in the distance. Set amid lush tropical landscape, the three volcanic peaks of Bali set the stage for stunning scenery.
The equatorial heat of the journey has us anticipating a swim in the Bali Sea. Toes in the sand, however, we look around a bit bewildered. “Are these the beautiful beaches of Bali?” we wonder. Pigs loll in the mud, and litter lines the sand. The heavy rains have flooded the rivers and carried a wake of waste along the way. The normally clear waters, ideal for diving and snorkeling, have been churned with the rains and now blend with the black sand beaches. Some you win…
All was not lost in Lovina, though. We head for the hills to discover the volcanic hot springs. Long stone pools lined with fountains and set amid the jungle, the springs buoy our spirits and well as our bodies. Locals swimming in their clothes, kids splashing about and gaggles of gossiping teenagers create a community pool atmosphere, still a wonderful way to while away the day.
From the deserted beaches of the north, we change course and head to the sandy surf spots of the south. Legian Beach is tucked between the upscale shops of Seminyak and the chaos of Kuta. This southwest stretch of sand is where the tourists land.
Bali is considered by many to be Australia’s playground, and nowhere is this more evident than in the south. The droves of Aussies clad in Bintang Beer tank tops lead one to believe the shirts are handed out upon arrival at the airport. Friendly and fun loving, the fervor of the Aussies is contagious.
Legian Beach, being primarily a tourist destination, is unlike the quiet beaches we typically quest. Crowded and a bit crazy, people watching becomes a sightseeing activity of its own. Watching the waves, there are seasoned surfers and brave beginners sharing the break. Great food, cheap beer happy hours and endless entertainment, it is fun to live the life of a tourist temporarily.
With the visa clock ticking away and only one island traveled, we go in search of the next stretch of sand and bay of blue...Lombok.