Conscious travel,  Indonesia

Dolphin Watching in Lovina, Bali – Everything you need to know

The iconic landmark of Lovina is a dolphin. This is not a surprise, because the dolphins are the main attraction of this coastal town and many tourists depart on the early-morning boat trips to see the dolphins. Let’s dive into my dolphin watching experience in Lovina and explore the sustainability concerns surrounding this popular tourist activity.

Dolphin watching in Lovina, Bali – do or don’t?

Dolphin watching in Lovina is and remains a mass tourist attraction, even though the fishers from the tourist boats and the tour operators say it’s not. You have to imagine hundreds of small fisher boats chasing after the dolphins. Therefore, I advice you not to head out on a boat for dolphin watching. I wonder if, after reading this article, you agree with me.

If you decide to go anyway, please reach out to Erik from Lovina Dolphin Adventure. Erik starts later than the other boats, so there are less boats on the water and the dolphins are less stressed. I took the boat excursion trip with Erik in July 2023 to assess the extent to which this boat trip is sustainable and whether it is actually better than the other boat trips that leave at the crack of dawn.

My dolphin watching excursion experience with Erik

Unlike most dolphin watching tours that begin at the crack of dawn, the excursion of Erik offers a more responsible departure time between 07.30-08.00. The late departure not only allows you to catch up on sleep but also ensures that the dolphins are not disturbed during their early morning activities. Leaving at a more reasonable hour contributes to a calmer and quieter environment for the dolphins, promoting their well-being.

8 AM – 9 AM: Dolphin watching

The adventure started at 8 AM, as I boarded the boat along with 4 other tourists. The journey took me further into the ocean, where I encountered pods of dolphins swimming freely in their natural habitat.

Seeing the dolphins was great at first, but this feeling quickly turned to guilt. Looking around, I counted about 60 other boats. Can you imagine this? 60 Boats scouring the water for dolphins and as soon as the dolphins were spotted anywhere, the engines turned on full speed to sail directly in the direction of the dolphins. Erik’s boat stayed an average of 10 meters away from the dolphins, but there were plenty of boats that literally sailed over the group of dolphins, causing the dolphins to dive underwater and disappear again for a while. This was sad to see.

Sometimes the dolphins seemed to be enjoying themselves. They jumped, made turns in the air and ride and leaped in the waves.

9 AM – 10 AM: Underwater views

To further enhance the connection with the dolphins, most boats are designed to allow you to hang safely from the sides to view the dolphins underwater. I was very curious to experience this. How clear would the water be? Would you indeed be able to see the dolphins underwater? The water was surprisingly clear and the underwater visibility was good. It was almost more tolerable underwater than above the water. When you’re in the boat, you’re bothered a lot by the exhaust from the other boats.

I saw a group of dolphins twice in 30 minutes. This was a special experience. Although this experience was special, again I do not recommend and rate this dolphin experience as responsible. To see the dolphins underwater, you have to sail close to the dolphins and this does not seem to me to be good for these beautiful animals.

If you do decide to go dolphin watching in Lovina with a boat excursion, keep in mind that there are many jellyfish in the water. This is not told when you book the excursion. I myself and several other tourists got hurt by the jellyfish. Perhaps we deserved it? 😉

10 AM – 10:45 AM: Snorkeling at Coral Reef

After the dolphin watching session, I got the opportunity to snorkel and discover some coral reefs and marine life. There was a lot of fish to see and the coral looked alive compared to my other snorkeling experiences. Most boats offer snorkel equipment.

11 AM: Back at the Beach

The tour wrapped up around 11 AM.

Sustainability concerns and harm to dolphins

While the dolphin watching excursions in Lovina offer for most tourists unforgettable experiences, I would like to address the concerns surrounding the sustainability and potential harm to dolphins in Bali. Below you can read some of my (sustainability) concerns that might be harmful for the dolphins:

1. Boat traffic and noise pollution

The high volume of boats and early morning departures can disrupt the dolphins’ natural behavior and communication. Dolphins rely heavily on echolocation and acoustics, and excessive boat noise can interfere with their ability to navigate and find food.

2. Stress and disturbance

Frequent close encounters with boats and large groups of tourists can stress and disturb the dolphins, affecting their feeding patterns and overall well-being.

3. Physical injuries

Some tours may allow tourists to get too close to the dolphins or engage in activities that could lead to direct physical harm. Next to this, some tourists may use sunscreen that are harmful for the ocean.

4. Pollution and waste

Irresponsible practices, such as improper waste disposal, can lead to marine pollution, affecting not only the dolphins but also the entire marine ecosystem.


In conclusion, dolphin watching in Lovina, Bali, is a popular tourist attraction, but it raises significant sustainability concerns. While Erik’s Dolphin Adventure offers a more responsible approach with later departure times and respectful distances from dolphins, the overall scene in the area can be detrimental.

The noise pollution and disturbance caused by numerous boats can disrupt dolphin behaviors and communication, impacting their survival. Close encounters with boats and tourists can lead to stress and harm. Additionally, pollution and waste disposal issues threaten the marine ecosystem.

To ensure a responsible and sustainable approach to dolphin watching, please make sure to choose operators like Erik’s and be educated about potential risks. Protecting these beautiful creatures and their habitat should be our priority to preserve Lovina’s marine treasures for future generations.

If you have any questions about the above mentioned information, please let me know in the comment section below. I’m happy to help you. Safe travels!

Author: Daphne

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