Bali’s Second Largest City, The North’s Main Commercial Centre and Popular as a historical destination
North Bali is home to Singaraja, one of Bali’s biggest cities and the beachside areas of Pemuteran and Lovina. Singaraja is a busy city with little to offer tourists but maybe worth passing through, especially to buy supplies, as North Bali is quite remote. It is also known as a port town and the second biggest city in Bali with approximately 100,000 habitants and serves as Buleleng Regency’s capital city. The city is known as one of Bali’s education centres; there are many universities and popular schools in the area.
Singaraja in Indonesian meaning “Lion King” (from Sanskrit Simha and Raja), it was Bali’s capital and the Lesser Sunda Islands during the Dutch colonialism around 1849 until 1953. It also functioned as an administrative centre, and the biggest port of arrival for most international merchants before the Bukit Peninsula area in the south developed. The beachside areas of Lovina and Pemuteran are the most popular with tourists looking to experience the quieter side of Bali.
Affordable and stylish accommodations are available in the area. Most hotels near the city centre are mid-range class and cater to domestic travellers, who travel on a business trip. Some villas offer tranquillity and are only a few steps away to the beach.
Lovina is the main beach that Singaraja has along with other smaller beaches like Penimbangan. The beach at Lovina is a thin black sand line and can be accessed from small roads and alleys or beachfront hotels. As Lovina is in a sheltered cove, it is very safe for swimming, and there are rarely any waves or currents. In some areas, snorkelling and diving can be done right off the beach. Many local jukung (outrigger canoes) at Lovina add to its scenic beauty. However, the busier nature of the area also means that the beach can be dirty at times.
Many restaurants are serving local and international dishes can be found in the city centre and near Lovina. Singaraja has an authentic fusion of Bali-Chinese cuisine name Siobak. It is a crispy pork belly dishes drenched with special sauce.
The nightlife in Singaraja is mostly found on near Lovina beach where people gather for sunset drinks. Karaoke and several bars with live music can be found in the city centre are.
The main activities in Singaraja or North Bali, in general, are snorkelling, diving, and dolphin watching. Boats go out in the morning from Lovina to take visitors on dolphin sighting tours, which are quite popular. Snorkelling and diving can be quite good in the Lovina area but are better in Pemuteran, where a coral revitalization project has been successful. Travellers can access the nearby protected area of Menjangan Island within the West Bali National Park. From Pemuteran, travellers can also take a walking tour of the park, where they can see black monkeys, banteng cattle, rusa deer, Bali starlings, and if they are lucky, some more elusive animals, including leopard cats. There is also a turtle conservation project here, which can be worth visiting, especially when the baby turtles are released into the ocean. The beaches of North Bali are sheltered from strong currents and big waves, for the most part, making this a great area for swimmers of all ages and levels. In many places, local fishing boats painted in bright colours add to the scenic beauty.
Singaraja can be hard to get to and requires heavy driving, so it is best to come with a driver. Most services will most likely charge you more as trips to Singaraja is very far from the south; this is normal. Motorcycles can be rented for getting around once you are there—most of the tourists coming on Friday and picked up on Sunday afternoon.
Singaraja functioned as the capital for Bali during the Dutch colonial from 1849 until 1953. It was also a very busy administrative centre and international seaport before South Bali took over. It is also an administrative centre for the Japanese during the World War II.
Near city centre there is a museum Gedong Kirtya, it is the only library displaying old manuscripts written on palm leaves.
Most visitors come to Singaraja for business. However, relaxing by doing snorkelling and diving is also typical fun things to do in Singaraja. The Air Banjar hot spring is famous for its lush green setting. Get there early, and you will have a relaxing pool of hot spring water completely to yourself.