Chasing Dolphins

I think whenever someone who’s been to Bali or has done research about Bali hears the word “Lovina”, they will immediately relate that word to dolphins. Lovina is advertised by almost every travel brochure or travel map of Bali as the go-to spot to watch dolphins and enjoy the sunrise. My family and I don’t normally visit those places pointed out by travel maps as tourist attraction or even if we do, we don’t normally do what most tourists do there. But on this occasion, we did just that.

The day started at 4.30 AM (in Bali time – which means 3.30 freakin’ AM in Jakarta time!) when we had to get up and check out early because a boat will be waiting for us at 6 AM. So we got up, got dressed, stuffed all our luggage into the car and went.

It was literally pitch black on the road if the car had no headlights. The roads were sloping and downhill and a couple of times we had to make sharp turns which was really scary when you have no streetlights. We drove past Singaraja’s city center, a couple of rice fields, and watched the black sky turn into pink and dark blue on the road.

We made it on time to the boat and also in time for the sun to add splashes of colors to the sky.

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The sun hadn’t made its appearance yet, but it looked as if the clouds became its opening act. The clouds looked as if they were swirling together to form this grey cotton candy. The sun – which was still hidden – cast orange and pink rays towards the sky as if saying “I’m going to be there soon. In the meantime, watch this spectacular show of pretty lights.”

Combine those visuals to the sound of waves splashing your boat and washing the coastline. Take your time to imagine that because that was what that morning was like.

We put on life jackets, got on the boat and the captain drove us to the middle of the sea.

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And then we waited along with a couple dozen other boats for the dolphins to show up.

At one point, one of the boats accelerated off towards one direction where there appeared to be a dolphin. A couple of seconds later, all the other boats also sped off in that direction and everyone on each boat had their camera set to photograph the dolphin. The dolphin perked up its head, went back into the sea and disappeared and only the passengers on the first boats could take a photo of it.

We all held our breaths again.

A minute later, another boat sped off towards one direction where there was a pack of dolphins jumping happily up and down. The other boats followed that boat and when we got there, we all formed a circle around where the dolphins were spotted with everyone on the boat having their camera set. The dolphins jumped one more time and then vanished in a ripple of water.

We waited again.

Not too long after that, another boat sped off towards another direction with its (Chinese) passengers excitedly yelling. We all followed that boat, formed another circle, set our cameras and held our breaths, waiting for the dolphin(s). They perked up their heads and then vanished again.

We waited once more.

This cycle repeated itself for what felt like a thousand times. A boat spotted it, the others followed and gathered in a circle, the dolphin showed up a bit and then disappeared again and we all waited for another boat to signal that they’d found a dolphin. It honestly got so tiring after a while and I began to wonder why were doing this at the first place.

Tourists will be able to watch dolphins in Lovina, they say. Well frankly, we weren’t exactly watching dolphins. We were chasing them.

Here are some of the shots I managed to get of the dolphins.

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I hated chasing them, but I have to admit they were adorable.

Honestly, I think there were simply too many boats and too many excited people. Every time the dolphins showed up somewhere, every boat would chase them on their tails like mad people. If I were a dolphin, I would be furious about this. There was more waiting and chasing than dolphin-watching so I don’t get why so many people want to do this.

I was more mesmerized by the sun and the incredible light of that day.

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Everyone was too busy trying to capture shots of dolphins that they didn’t really notice the static beauty they need not chased.

As the sun rose higher and higher and got even more blinding, as the heat of the day began to show its menace towards us, it became even more tiring to do the wait-and-chase game. We gave it up nearing 8 AM and to my surprise, there were still a couple of boats with passengers daring to take on the heat and the blinding rays of the sun to keep on chasing dolphins.

As we got nearer to the coast, we saw a couple of boats stopping a bit far from the coastline and couldn’t help but wonder what they were doing. It turned out that it was a great snorkeling spot, so people stop there, put on their bathing suit and jump into the sea. We stopped as well but only to feed the fish living at the corals there.

I understood why people like snorkeling there when I looked down and saw the clear water with coral formations at the sea floor.

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And where there are corals, there shall be fishes as well. The same goes here. There were colorful fishes everywhere in the sea and they took a bit out of every piece of bread we threw into the sea and swam excitedly everywhere.

I really should snorkel there.

We finally made it back to the coast and vendors immediately came along and offered things from beaded bracelets to wooden statues of dolphins. There were some coffee stands along the coastline if you’re thirsty and there are restaurants attached to some hotels by the sea too. I suggest you dine in these restaurants to use their clean bathroom because the government-provided bathrooms were sandy, dirty, and smelled pungent.

I would really hate to see the people who make their living as boat captains or dolphin-watching arrangers get lower incomes because they’re nice people but it was really not that fun as people make it out to be. The whole “you can watch dolphins here” was overrated because it requires a hell lot of waiting and chasing just to get a glimpse of those dolphins. Maybe if you got on the boat earlier in the day it would have been a better experience because there would be less boats. There were simply too many boats and too many people.

So, would I come back here and do this touristy activity again? Nope, not at all. But I would love to come back here just to snorkel and watch the sunrise at any given day.

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