What are 300 people doing alighting traditional fishing boats at the water’s edge as roosters crow, and the sun has barely risen? Searching for dolphins, of course! Lovina, Bali, a small tourist village in northern Bali is home to the famous dolphin run.
Traditional fishing boats
The small, traditional Balinese fishing boat is a rather simple affair, with two long bamboo poles on either side of the slim body, ensuring buoyancy and smooth sailing. The boats gather at Lovina Beach between 6 and 7 AM each morning, and are quite easy to find.
There is no need to pre-book a boat, and arrangements can easily be made on the spot where the eager skippers await their passengers. For the small price of 150,000 IDR (approximately 12 USD) you will secure a place on one such vessel. Each boat holds between two and five passengers.
Do not look for luxury on these boats filled with tourists that faithfully ply the waters of the Bali Sea every morning. These same boats double as fishing boats most evenings so that the skippers can support themselves and their families.
Gathering of the skiffs
The ride out to where the dolphins can be found takes approximately ten to fifteen minutes. The waters of the Bali Sea are thankfully calm, and even the most sensitive stomachs will rarely encounter a problem on the short ride out to find the dolphins. You will know that you have arrived when you see fifty other boats exactly like yours, idling and waiting for the dolphins.
The skippers who speak a rudimentary English, are careful not to promise any sightings of dolphins, for fear that their promises will not be fulfilled. Apparently, on some mornings no dolphins are sighted, but on most trips at least a few dolphins are seen. Waiting patiently for the large mammals to appear, one can appreciate the sun rising in the east, sending its rays of red and orange across the watery surface. This is a good moment to stop, look around, and breathe in the sea, the morning and the experience. A palpable feeling of excitement is in the air as all the early risers collectively hold their breath, waiting.
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There they are! The cry goes out, and the small boats scurry towards where the dolphins have been sighted. Perhaps there will be more! Maybe they will jump out of the water, and the anxious tourists will get a bird’s eye view! Eyes straining over the dark water to catch the fins of the dolphins surfacing the water, all senses are focused on the task at hand. Cameras click. There they are! Tens of dolphins breaking the surface, gracefully diving back into the deep. And more! And more! Hundreds of dolphins all around.
Setting out on this adventure, one might wonder whether it is worth such an early rising just to see a couple of dolphins. After all, isn’t a warm bed much more tempting than a ride out on the water that may prove fruitless? While there are no guarantees, chances are very good that you will get a glimpse of these graceful sea mammals, and this is an experience you will not regret. Hundreds of dolphins jumping through the air is one of the more thrilling sights that nature has to offer, here on the northern coast of Bali.
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