I just got back from a great trip to Bali, Indonesia and thought Iíd best share the experience with everyone.
Four of us departed London and flew to Denpasar airport in Bali, via a short stopover in KL. in total the flight was trouble free 19 hours. At the airport we jumped in a taxi to our hotel in Seminyak. We later realised that like everywhere in the world, airport taxis are a rip off! If youíre going to Bali, download the Uber or Grab Cab app for your phone, itís a lot cheaper and more convenient. Also SIM cards and mobile data seem to be cheap and available everywhere.
We chilled out on Double 6 beach for the first couple of days, to recover from the flight and to get ready for 4 days of diving. As there were 4 of us diving, I booked in advance with a company called Manta Manta Diving; http://mantamanta-diving.com
They were very quick at replying to emails, sounded very knowledgable and their prices were very competitive.
Dive Day 1 - Tulamben: Manta Manta Diving came to our hotel and picked us up on time. We had about a 3 hour drive up to the north east of Bali where we checked in to Paradise Resort. This was to be our home for the next day and night. Once comfortable we went down to the pool and beach area where our equipment was already assembled and waiting for us (something we got used to on every day!). The 1st dive of the day was Coral Garden, a nice sandy bottom dispersed with artificial and natural coral reefs. A lovely easy dive to get us all back in the swing of things.
For the 2nd dive we took a 5 minute drive up the coast to Kubu shipwreck. This was great, no other divers on the wreck and lots of time to explore the different decks of the wreck. We were also lucky enough to have a black tip reef shark swim by. The wreck as a nice reef in the shallows too.
Dive 3 & 4 (night dive) were on the famous USAT Liberty WW2 shipwreck. This is now my favourite night dive, it was amazing, moray eels swimming in the open and hunting, groupers following your torch light to try to get an easy meal, bump head parrotfish sleeping all over the wreck. Wow, I want to go back again!
Dive Day 2 - Amed: We checked out of the resort after breakfast and drove 45 minutes to the Japanese wreck in Amed. This was another shore entry dive, a very small wreck that is surrounded by a beautiful reef. One of the healthiest and most colourful reefs Iíve seen.
Then we did one dive at Pyramids where we were lucky enough to see a mimic octopus and a couple of frogfish. The final dive of the day was Amed Wall, this was a nice gentle drift dive along the wall that is full of huge gregorian fan corals and some large sponges too. After the last dive and a nice lunch, we headed back to Seminyak where we had a rest day relaxing on the beaches and trying to stand up on surf boards!
Dive Day 3 - Nusa Penida: We again got picked up by Manta Manta Diving and taken over to Sanur where we got a speed boat over to Nusa Penida. The boat took a maximum of 10 divers but there were only 8 of us on the boat. The first dive was at Manta Point, this was nice and shallow at about 10m deep, as soon as we got in we saw the first manta ray, then for the next 60 minutes they just kept swimming around the cleaning station. There were 9 in total, the largest looked to be about 5m across. A really amazing dive, one of the best experiences of my life and so many great photos too! To make it even better, they swim so close to you. Simon our dive guide gave a very good briefing as usual, and on this dive he pointed out the correct way to dive with the manta rays, like not getting too close to the cleaning station and absolutely no touching the manta rays, no mater how close they get.
The second dive was Crystal Bay where you get mola mola (giant sunfish), unfortunately we didnít see any but the reef was beautiful anyway, and so many fish, also a black and white banded sea snake making itís way through the coral. A nice Indonesian style lunch was served between dives 2 & 3. The third dive was at PED which was a nice drift dive, lots of fish, lots of healthy coral and 3 turtles doing their own thing and not too bothered by us. After getting back to mainland Bali, we were taken back to the hotel with plenty of time to head out and enjoy another beer & sunset on the beach!
Dive Day 4 - Padang Bai: Our final day of diving in Bali with Manta Manta Diving. Today we got picked up and drove 90 minutes up the east coast to Padang Bai. The dives were from a local style jepun boat. These were nice and stable due to the outriggers on either side and fit about 8 divers, so there was definitely space for the 4 of us and our dive guide; Simon. The first dive was about 10 minutes from the beach and called The Jetty. Basically diving underneath a big commercial style jetty that has been abandoned by everyone except divers and recreational fishermen. Itís a very quiet dive site but there is so much to see underneath it. Itís a macro divers paradise! We saw 6 frogfish, 2 flying gunards, 3 octopus, about 5 cuttlefish, loads of pipe style sea horse (sorry, donít know their exact name!), peacock mantis shrimps, lots of porcupine pufferfish, moray eels, catfish, bat fish and even robust pipefish. As this dive was pretty shallow and we were only doing 2 dives, we managed to stay down for 75 minutes and really enjoy ourselves.
The second dive was at Bias Tugal, a really nice coral plateau with lots of big coral bommies. Under one of the bommies was a resting white tip reef shark. Later on in the dive we bumped into a very relaxed turtle. After the dive we went back to a restaurant for showers, a large tasty Indonesian dish and a large cold beer for everyone to celebrate a very successful dive trip.
When back in Seminyak we did the usual tourist things around Bali for the next few days, such as day tours (which we used one of Manta Manta Divingís drivers as they were very safe and have comfortable vehicles), waterpark, more surfing & sunsets.
All in all, a very happy and successful trip. Iíd like to say a huge thank you to Manta Manta Diving for sorting everything out, giving such a good diving service and also helping out with other non-diving experiences and giving great local suggestions. Hopefully I will head back to Bali again soon and do more dives with these guys. Iíve been recommending them to all the travelling divers I know, so if you want a good experience with a professional organisation, check out http://mantamanta-diving.com