Over the last few years, I have been privileged to spend some quality time on one of the finest islands in the Indo-Pacific area, Bali. Bali is a lovely and green island, unique in Indonesia for it’s culture and religion, which mirror the pre-islamic ways of the area. A former dutch colony, Bali has an interesting and vivid history, and is known but unknown to the world at large. By that I mean people have heard of it, but seldom know where (specifically) it is or what there is to do there. Some remember the two terrorist incidents, and assume it remains a dangerous place. Having spent two HLTA leave blocks from Afghanistan there, I can say with some authority that unless you go looking for trouble or try to fight the australians that throng through the club district of Kuta, it’s pretty safe. It’s also one of the top dive locations in the world for a good reason! I fell in love with Bali, and let me tell you about some of it!
First up, as a diver, if you’re going to Bali, there’s only one group to work with as far as I’m concerned, and that’s Bali Scuba, located in Sanur. I first found them on the PADI website, and contacted them via email from Kandahar Airfield. I told them what I wanted to do, and that I couldn’t really organize it from my current location. Their response was to sort out a hotel, Puri Sindhu Mertha Guest House, and make all the arrangements for the first week of my leave. Since then I’ve trained as a Divemaster with them in their new facility (top end) and completed a total of 42 dives with this group. Chris, Knut and Mark have all made great impressions on me as a diver during my training and their professional conduct and the efficiency of Bali Scuba is the sort of thing that many other shops lack. I could go on, but this is blog about diving, so lets talk diving. I’ll end on this: if you want a good diving experience or quality training (hopefully both!), Bali Scuba is the only choice on the island.
The dive areas I’ve frequented in Bali are Tulamben, Nusa Penida, the East Coast Islands (the Gilis), and the bay of Sanur. Even during the rainy season (my last trip in feb-mar 2010) it’s great. I’ve grazed the surface of Nusa Penida in a previous post, so I’m going to talk briefly about Sanur and them bash on to a personal favourite part of the island, Tulamben.
Sanur is not as cool as Tulamben, but the time I spent there doing rescue diver and then Divemaster training made me realize what a great place for training it was! Clear water, good “landmarks”, abundant but not overwhelming amounts of marine life and large but isolated coral gardens characterized the dives for me. The sand was white-ish, and the area we spent a lot of time around had an artificial reef area built to look like a garden on land. I regret I didn’t have my camera with me while I was diving, but these were mostly training and course related dives where having a camera would have been an unwelcome addition and unprofessional in some cases. I do recall wracking my brain to figure out what I’d seen after a days diving, and the list, which included Batfish, Trumpetfish, Dash-Dot Goatfish, and several sea snakes for a start. If you’re rusty or just learning, the gentle current and conditions are a great confidence builder!
Tulamben is routinely in the top ten if not top five of warm water dive sites. It’s also a regular location for Bali Scuba, and I have spent a great deal of time hovering over the anemone forests in the Coral Garden area, pestering fish for photos in the wreck of the USAT Liberty and exploring the deeper areas along the Drop Off. Tulamben is fantastic not just because of theses and a few other sites in the area, but also because they are within such a short distance of each other. The Paradise-Tulamben is roughly in the centre of all of them, and offers comfortable bungalow style rooms and other amenities if you’re in the area for a while. The Coral Garden is straight out from the dining area and sun bed patio area, the USAT Liberty is about 350m to your left as you look out and the Drop off is the same distance and a short swim to the right.
More to Follow!