Pantai Mas has a role in the keeping and guarding of the typical traditional culture of Bali.
This role that Pantai Mas has been assigned can be seen as an 'example' role. Local people visiting Pantai Mas can experience how a mixture of people from other cultures and countries come here with an eye for the Balinese culture and with a great openness to experience the special character of this island's culture. The mix and respectful interaction at Pantai Mas within the diversity of cultures and religions can certainly be called unique.
Also in a spiritual/energetic sense Pantai Mas has a clearly perceivable influence, also because of the grounds Pantai Mas has been built on. Of old this land is a sacred place, where people come to pray.
Since the Pantai Mas centre has taken shape in the North of Bali, the direct surroundings have become a lot more colourful and harmonious.
Lovina Beach is a 3 km long coastal strip that lies 10 km west of Singarajah, stretching from the village of Anturan to the village of Kalibukbuk. This holiday area with its black beaches and shallow seawater - where one can swim without any danger whatsoever - is especially preferred by holidaymakers who don't like the crowds of South Bali. Off the coast lies a reef, where the local fishing boats will take you for diving or snorkelling.
Sunset will definitely bring you into a romantic mood, with the beach glowing in red light and the fishing boats gliding onto the sea. In the North of Bali you will find relatively more Muslims; at night and in the morning you can hear the call to pray from the mosque.
But here too most Balinese are Hindu and all the traditional customs can be seen here. North Bali is an area where a mix of diverse cultures and spiritual traditions live together in harmony and respect.
In the village Banjar, south-west of Lovina, on a hill nearby the holy hot spring Air Panas, lies the temple and convent of the Hinayana Buddhists. There is a wonderfully serene atmosphere in this place. The buildings are grouped around an inner court with a lilly pond. On top of the hill is a big stupa. The view all the way to the sea is magnificent. A visit to the Buddis temple can very well be combined with a bath in the hot spring water. The convent regularly offers meditation retreats, that are also open for western visitors.
Monkeys, hornbills, porcupines and wild pigs, deer and rare bird species including the extremely rare and beautiful Bali starling (white with blue eyes) have this 80.000 ha large jungle area as their habitat. The whole region is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the island. A range of hills streches from the east until the far point in the west, the cape around the Prapat Agung mountain, north of Gilimanuk. From Gilimanuk you can take the boat to Java, only a short crossing.
The Bali Barat park, that was founded in 1983, offers several hiking trails that can be walked with a guide. You can visit the tropical rainforest or the monsoon forest. It is also possible to make a trip in a traditional wooden boat through the mangrove forests along the coast.
The small Menjangan island (Deer island) also belongs to the national park. The coral reef around this island is magnificent and one of the best places for snorkelling and diving.
( derived from: Bali ontdekken en beleven by Eva Gerberding, Deltas )
De Dutch made Singaraja their headquarters for ruling Bali, and the first waves of tourists to the island disembarked here from their cruise ships. The Japanese also based themselves here during World War II, but after the war the focus shifted to the more heavily populated south. Today, Singaraja is still the largest city outside of Denpasar and, although most visitors tend to pass through it on their way to Lovina, it deserves a closer look.
Singaraja is worth visiting simply for the experience of a Balinese town that is not catering to tourism.
There is a library that has a unique collection of some 3000 lontars: ancient manuscripts inscribed on the leaves of the lontar palm, covering subjects like religion, astrology and traditional medicine.
The old harbour is now little used, but the ancient and now empty warehouses remind of the colonial times when ships full of spices set off to the west from here.
( derived from: Travelpack Bali & Lombok by Sean Sheehan, Periplus )
Community based dolphin watching at Pantai Mas.
For many guests a dolphin watching trip is one of the highlights during their stay at Pantai Mas. Early in the morning, just before sunrise, a local boatman picks you up with his wooden canoe with outriggers and takes you out to sea. Being on the water and watching the sunrise over the mountains is already beautiful and relaxing. And then you see the wild dolphins swimming, jumping and playing! For many guests this is a truly heart-touching and joyful experience.
Lovina is famous for its dolphin tours. In the 80’s local fishermen started taking out the few tourists that came here in small wooden canoes with outriggers and sails. In the 90’s tourism grew in Lovina. The sails were changed for engines and mass dolphin watching took off. Nowadays the trend is towards “community based dolphin watching” in a way that is beneficial for the well-being of tourists, boatmen and marine wildlife alike.
Dolphin watching is wildlife tourism. Although the probability of seeing the dolphins is quite high, there are days in a year you may not see them.
Different kinds of cetacean (whales and dolphins) have been spotted in the Lovina area: the Southeast Asian spinner dolphin, the spotted dolphin, the Frasers dolphin, the Rissos dolphin, the short finned pilot whale and the common bottlenose dolphins. You are most likely to see the spinner dolphins on your journey. They are quite small (1,5 - 2m), have a pinkish belly and have the unique habit of spinning in vertical axis when they jump in the air. Spectacular!
On a good day it is relatively easy to encounter dolphins in the Lovina bay. This also depends on the time of year. In June and July for instance you will usually find the dolphins within 30 minutes by boat from Pantai Mas. In December and January you will have to go bit further west, up to 40 minutes, to find the first groups. Dolphins usually swim in groups. The spinner dolphins in Lovina swim in groups of up to 60 dolphins along with their calves.
The boat that will take you out so sea is a traditional fishing boat, a 8 to 10 m long planked canoe with outriggers for balance. You will need to wade through the shallow sea from the beach to get in the boat. A helping hand is always available for elderly or handicapped guests. Don't forget that you might get wet if the sea is not so calm. Also on the way back, the sun can already be strong, so it’s a good idea to take a hat and some sunscreen.
As dolphins are wild animals, please be prepared that the dolphins might not be as playful as you expect, for they can be influenced by many things, such as the number of boats around you. Nowadays many Lovina boatmen have realised the importance of reducing speed, turning off the engine and keeping distance from the dolphins.
Please support the boatmen in sustainable dolphin watching by not asking to speed up and getting too close to the dolphins. Resisting the temptation to join larger boat groups is also a great support. Be patient and find the dolphins on your own or with fewer boats around. Turn off the engine and wait.
The stillness of the sea is a wonderful experience and invigorating for the soul. Also it is easier to hear the dolphins' blows when you are in silence. Once you find the dolphins, keep a respectful distance and enjoy their activities without sudden movements that might scare them away. Please do not feed the dolphins. They are wild animals and their diet should stay without human intervention.
The only thing you need to do is to get up on time, get on the boat, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Source of information for this article is the work of marine biologist and environmental scientist Putu Liza Kusuma Mustika (Icha), who is originally from Bali. She studied the behaviour of dolphins in touristic areas such as Lovina during several years. The results of her research gained her a PhD from the James Cook University in Townsville Australia. Icha’s work is aimed at a better understanding of dolphins and creating a community based way of dolphin watching.
The coral reefs of Bali have been severely damaged in recent years due to use of bombs and cyanide by fishermen, excessively high water temperatures linked to global warming, and other stresses.
In a protected marine area off the coast of Pemuteran village (40 km west of Pantai Mas) 28 special biorock coral nursery structures have recently been installed. This was done in cooperation with the Municipality of Pemuteran, Gahawisri (the Balinese Watersports Federation), local dive shops and hotels, and other local stakeholders
The structures are made of steel bars, charged with a very low electrical current, which makes the coral grow many times faster than normal. With a total length of 300 metres situated in an area of 2 hectares, this is the largest Biorock coral reef nursery and restoration project worldwide, exceeding the combined sizes of all other ongoing projects in the Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian Ocean.
The project, although still in the early stages, already has the majority of local coral species in cultivation. Their enhanced growth rate, reproduction, and resistance to environmental stress provides a critical reservoir of healthy corals to resist future hot periods caused by global warming and to restore damaged reefs and vital fishing areas once destructive human practices can be halted.
( derived from: https://www.globalcoral.org/pemuteran_coral_reef_restoration.htm
Another beautiful project in the same area is called the Reef Gardeners. A team of young people, recruited from the local fishing community, have been trained as scuba divers (up to rescue diver) and were also trained in methods of protecting and repairing the coral reef. Also education is given to the local fishermen about protecting the coral reef (what methods of fishing are and are not damaging) and why hat is important for their livelihood. A fruitful example of an approach that serves all interests: the environment, the economy and tourism.
( derived from: https://www.pemuteranfoundation.com )