Everyone search a unique experience. Early on in our trip, we were enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at the well known Yellow Flower Cafe, and during a conversation with some new friends, we learned that there were trips to see dolphins in Lovina.
Now, Lovina is located on the northern coast of the island so, after no consideration whatsoever, we drove from Ubud to Lovina, for 2h30 by scooter. That drive deserves a post of its own!
Our only desire, was to see the dolphins that we heard so much about and who doesn’t love dolphins? Once we arrived at our hotel in Lovina, a local guide came over and asked why we were here (he knew, of course). As selfish tourists, we said we only came for a day or two, to see the dolphins. He booked us for a tour with one of his “fisherman friends”, for the day after, at 5.30 am.
This guide cost us IDS 200 000 (£10,14€ or $16) for 2 people. But I saw some prices on the internet offered by bigger companies for IDS 300 000 (£15, €20 or $25)
That morning, we awoke early and went to the meeting point, to find this “fisherman”. It was down a small concrete track off the main road. in a simple basic little house, with a chicken walking in the entrance with 4 of her chicks around.
All the other houses around were pushed up against each other – the word that springs to mind is “labyrinthine” – with the beach as the “back garden”. Their boats barely had space!
I believe it was a sandy beach, but the plastic from Indonesians and tourists was covering a lot…Our guide appeared with a 2-year-old boy in his arms – his son. We asked him if it will be some other people with us. He said, with his basic English and honest smile than it was a group.
After waiting 10-15 minutes, a woman came out of the house, to take the baby, and we started to go. I am was still not sure why we waited 15 minutes for. We took one of those traditional Indonesian fishing boat, parked there, and our fisherman started out in a precise way. The woman and baby, waving at us behind, on the plastic beach we left. He told us earlier than it was a group, going to see the dolphins, but it was still only the 3 of us! The fisherman, my partner and I!
We continued for 15 minutes, until we saw a group of 30 other boats like us, waiting at a point. Our fisherman joined them, and we waited…
Little by little, more boats joined us.
Someone shouted something in Indonesian, and all the boats raced ahead together! Someone had spotted the pod of dolphins!
You could see a group of 3-4 of them, appearing behind a boat, and after a couple of jumps, hiding. I found it very crowded, as more boats were joining us. And it became more clear to my eyes that we were hunting those dolphins to their limits. This adventure, we thought would be unique and exceptional, felt like a dolphin hunt with 50-odd boats, and the number was growing every minute!
The chase made us feel bad – my partner and I felt disgusted to be part of a large group of tourists seemingly harassing this pod of dolphins. And our guide noticed we were not taking any more pictures, after 30 minutes playing this game. So he offered to bring us back, and we thanked him for his kindness and time.
Many reviews online, will warn of the same disappointment and sadness for those dolphins
The fisher men cannot say no to the money from us, tourists. Because for them, it is a very generous amount: easy jobs, perfect to feed their families. Money so easy to get, as tourists are VERY generous in comparison to the money on offer for non-tourist jobs.
But unfortunately, with such easy money can come the vices: easy beers, betting on chicken battles (cockfighting) and the like. Only the wise Balinese, who save and have an eye on the future – the future of their children – are likely to escape the economic situation they find themselves in.