Most of the north coast falls under the regency of Buleleng, once Bali's
chief port. This long contact with the outside influences is reflected
in the ethnic diversity of its population and as a starting place for
new artistic developments which spread south.
The ruling house came to power in the 17th century and conquered parts of Karangasem.
The Kingdom of Buleleng rose to prominence in the 17th
century and developed a vibrant culture quite apart from the rest of Bali.
The Dutch made "Singaraja" Bali's first capital, which still has some
colonial buildings and Chinese temples. The largest collection in Bali
of "Lontar Palm- leaf" books is kept at the "Gedong Kertya Library"
outside the city "the Sasana Budaya Art Center" is more central.
Out west is the tourist resort area of Lovina, with quiet blacks and
beaches. Exciting bull races take place annually in some neighboring
villages. Here there are plenty of losmen (Inn), a nearby waterfall
(Gitgit Waterfall) and a local school of dolphins. Further along the
coast is Bali's only Buddhist monastery, "Brahma Vihara" just before the village of Banjar.
There is also a beautifully landscaped hot spring (air panas) in the
area. Continuing west brings you to "Celukan bawang" harbor with its
fleet of graceful "Bugis" schooners and to "Pura Pulaki", a recently
rebuilt temple in the heart of Bali's grape-growing region.
The coastal road terminates in "Bali Barat National Park", a huge
reserve encompassing 70,000 hectares of rainforest and 7,000 hectares of
coral reefs. Two rare and endangered species, the Bali starling and
Java buffalo, make for exciting game watching here, as do civet,
leopards, rusa deer, macaques and feral pigs.
Bali best diving is off the pristine reefs and coral grottos of "Pulau
Menjangan" (Deer Island) which can be reached by boat from "Labuhan
Lalang". Simple accommodation is also available at Labuan Lalang for
those planning to spend the night while the park's headquarters and
information center is located at "Cekik", just over the border in Jembrana Regency.
West Bali has some spectacular nature walks but hikers are required to
register at Cekik and take along a trail guide.