Young boy in stinger suit sits on the beam of a boat out at sea

Swim with wild dolphins in Bali (2024)

If Bali is on your list as a possible destination for a family holiday, you should seriously consider a trip to the beautiful North of the island. Apart from being well away from the hordes of tourists in the South, it’s also the part of Bali where it is possible to swim with wild dolphins!

We spent eight weeks in Bali in 2024 while the boys attended international school in Ubud. It may be tourist-heavy but we LOVED the island. On weekends and school closure days we took the opportunity to see a bit more of Bali, including a long weekend in Lovina. 

Both the boys love nature and animals and so the chance to see – and possibly swim with dolphins was something we couldn’t miss!

Where can you swim with dolphins in Bali?

The place to head to in Bali if you want to swim with dolphins in Lovina. Lovina is a small town right up on the Northern Coast of Bali. Relatively few tourists visit the North of the island, which is a shame as it’s lovely! It’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Ubud and the Southern beaches, which can feel hectic. 

Northern Bali retains much of the feeling of ‘real’ Bali. If you want to experience another side to the island this is a great way to do it!

How do you get to Lovina, Bali?

Lovina is around a 3-hour drive from Ubud or around 4.5hours from the airport in the South. As this is Bali, you can never really tell how long journeys might take! There is far less traffic once you get outside the Ubud/Canggu areas, however you should still plan for delays.

As public transport is very limited on Bali the best way to get to Lovina is by hiring a driver or booking through the Grab/Gojek apps. I would recommend hiring a driver (for this and many other journeys in Bali). We asked around and had a couple of recommendations, but actually ended up meeting our lovely driver at his family’s restaurant in Ubud. 

Our driver recommended a couple of stops on the way to Lovina which we enjoyed. We stopped for an hour or so at a coffee plantation and learnt about the coffee production process. Including trying some of the famous Luwak coffee (made from the poo of civet cats!). 

We then made a stop at a beautiful temple complex in the mountains overlooking a lake. We wandered around, had an ice cream and a cold drink and just enjoyed the views.

On the weekend we visited there was a huge storm which resulted in landslides on the roads for our return journey. This increased our travel time closer to four hours. 

In total we paid £35 (IDR700,000) for the return journey from Ubud. This was for five people (as we were joined by my Dad who was visiting us at the time).

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What else is there to do in Lovina?

Lovina itself is a pretty small place – there are some lovely little restaurants, cafes and bars and a long stretch of beach. The beach isn’t the prettiest in Bali and the swimming isn’t great. But it’s still a nice spot for a drink by the sea in the evenings.

(If you’re looking for a family beach break in Bali, then I would recommend Sanur on the East Coast. Check out our post here for all the details).

There are a couple of activities to add to your Lovina itinerary though. There is a fab hot springs just outside town. Which is a great way to relax after the early start with the dolphins!). You can also visit the local waterfalls which are a short Grab ride away.

Where is the best place to stay in Lovina?

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly but lovely place to stay I would highly recommend Binaria Museum Hotel. This is a wonderfully quirky little place with so much character! There’s also a gorgeous pool with a waterfall and a good value restaurant. Plus, its a 2-minute walk to the dolphin statue (the meeting point for the dolphin tours). This was VERY helpful for the 5.30am start time!

We paid £50 for a two night stay.

Hotel room in Lovina, Bali

Which tour company did we book with?

We booked directly with a tour guide – Arik – who had been recommended to us. I would always rather go with a personal recommendation when we can! Arik was quick to reply to our messages and was a fab guide out on the boat. If you’re thinking about booking a trip to swim with the dolphins in Bali then you can contact Arik directly on +62 813 3777 3330. You can also check out his Instagram account here.

What to expect on a dolphin tour in Bali

Firstly, these are wild animals so there is never a guarantee that you will see them. However, there are a couple of pods of dolphins that live right off the coast of Lovina and are regularly sighted. 

Our tour started with us meeting our guide Arik by the dolphin statue in Lovina at 5.30am. Once we’d boarded our little boat we were off to sea. Dolphins aside, it’s a beautiful way to watch the sunrise over the sea and the peaks of Bali beyond.. The sea was calm and flat for the whole of our time.

There will be a period where the guides are all trying to figure out where the dolphin pod is. All you can do is chill out and enjoy the scenery, and keep your eyes peeled for a fin!

Once the dolphins had been sighted our guide tried to position the boat in a way that would give us the best view. Then two of the group can jump in the water with the snorkels and hold on to the wooden bars in front where you can hopefully view the dolphins from underwater.

The boat moves around while you are snorkelling so you have to hold on tight! Each of us on our boat took it in turns to snorkel (we all had plenty of time). Both boys were able to hold on to one bar. And while they were in there they saw three dolphins swim underneath them! Steve and I weren’t as lucky but I was so pleased that the boys caught a glimpse.

One important aspect to mention is this: don’t expect to have the dolphins all to yourself! There will be quite a few boats out there following the dolphins. These are small boats (each seats around 5 people) but there are a lot of them.

Once we’d spent time with the dolphins, we headed for some free snorkelling time. There is an underwater sculpture park just off shore at Lovina with various statues. We really enjoyed jumping off the boat and swimming in the beautiful, clear sea. 

Young boy sits wrapped in a towel on a boat off Lovina, Bali

How much does it cost to swim with dolphins in Bali?

In total we paid £60 for the four of us. The whole trip lasted around 4-5hours on the water (and included water and fruit).

The verdict

If wildlife is your thing, then you really shouldn’t miss the chance to swim with dolphins in Bali. Yes, there are a lot of people/boats but watching the dolphins jump through the air or glide through the water beneath you is still magical.

Planning a family trip to Bali?

If you’re considering travelling to Bali with kids, then check out our other blog posts below for travel advice and reviews of things to do with kids on the island.

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