One thing I did manage whilst in Kuta was to fulfil some more of my diving obsession. I had heard that Nusa Lembongan, just off the eastern coast of Bali, was one of the best places in the world to see manta rays – specifically the dive site ‘Manta Point’ which is a known cleaning station for Mantas. I did a bit of research and there were day trips on offer where you could get picked up from your accommodation in or around Kuta and set off from nearby Sanur.
After enquiring with a few dive shops I was able to book in with Joes Gone Diving. The trip included a 7am pickup and then diving at both Manta Point and the nearby ‘Crystal Bay’ another famous local dive spot. It totalled in at $165 with all equipment, transport and some lunch.
The morning came around and sure enough I was picked up on time. We picked up a couple more people and were all dropped at the dive centre. I had to fill in a few medical forms and show my logbook before we got kitted out with our gear. Then we all hopped back in the minibus and went to the nearby harbour to get on the boat.
The trip round Nusa Pedina took around 45 minutes but didn’t seem too long as all the divers were chatting away and we had our Divemaster’s briefing on the sites. The rugged coastline of the islands was also pretty stunning so it definitely wasn’t a slog!
We got to the site with a few more boats already moored up. I had read about how busy this site can be with divers, but it wasn’t anything beyond comfortable. We quickly took the plunge and dived down. Within just a few minutes we saw our first manta which was nothing short of incredible. I spout a lot of superlatives on this blog about how great stuff is, but this was hands-down one of the greatest sights of my life. To see such a huge creature flying through the water with a silent, effortless grace, was the pinnacle of years of watching nature documentaries and studying marine biology. I’ll never forget it.
The monster quickly disappeared into the blue despite our best attempts to trail it. So we cruised around the rest of the site as planned. After my initial excitement that we might end up in a huge shoal of mantas it all went a bit quiet. We did see a distant Goblin Shark which was very cool and something I hadn’t expected to see at all. On the surface the other divers, more experienced than me, also said it was a first for them, so that was quite exciting too!
Towards the end of the dive we got another stunner though. There was a small underwater hill and a manta came cruising around it like a car taking a bend and coming towards us in slow motion. Once again it was breath-taking and we were even closer than before. The perfect way to finish the dive.
The second dive of the trip was at Crystal Bay, an area known for its superb visibility and pristine coral reefs. It had a lot of work on its hands to top Manta Point though! As sure as the names suggested it was a very beautiful site. The waters were as clear as I have seen anywhere, but what they don’t mention is the water temperatures! On our way down we crossed a thermocline where it went from warm to freezing in the blink of an eye! (NB, I say freezing but I was later informed that it’s probably only a drop of 2 degrees or so – either way I was feeling it!)
Despite the temperatures, the site itself was pretty stunning! Huge coral outcrops rise up out of the sandy seabed, all swarming with marine life. Definitely one of the most picturesque little reefs I have seen thus far.
After Crystal Bay we set off back to Sanur. We got a basic lunch at the dive shop and filled in our dive book and I finally got driven back into Kuta. If you are staying around Kuta or in Sanur and want to do a bit of diving then I’d highly recommend Joe’s place – they were very professional throughout and all the equipment / boat / transport etc were fine for everyone on my trip.