While in Lovina, I decided to get my Open Water Diving Certification. After some research, I chose Malibu Dive Center, located on the main road, a 10 minute walk from the center of Lovina. I highly recommend this dive shop for any diving needs you may have while visiting Northern Bali. The staff was professional and friendly, and the equipment was top notch.
The first day of certification was spent watching several hours of a dive training video, followed by lunch, and ending with pool training. The following day we made our way to Menjangan Island for two boat dives. On day three we completed two shore dives at the WWI shipwreck site in Tulamben. After a long day of diving we came back to the dive shop and took our written test. Overall the entire process was fun and educational, and the staff of Malibu Dive made the tedious parts of the certification more enjoyable.
Sadly, our time in Bali was limited, but we were able to visit two of the most popular diving spots in Bali.
Menjangan Island (Pos II Dive Site, West Bali): We did two boat dives at this site, both times only descending to 15 meters. The visibility was fantastic, and the sea life was diverse and abundant. Still, the underwater life I encountered in Coron, Philippines was the best I’ve ever seen. Once in the water, we practiced several techniques necessary to obtain Open Water certification, then we continued our exploration of the dive site. Pos II is one of the most popular dive sites around Menjangan Island, mainly due to the fact that it is completely surrounded by a coral reef. The water was warm, visibility was great, and there was a big variety of hard and soft coral. A great dive site for beginners or anyone interested in practicing underwater photography in a calm environment.
Tulamben (East Bali): This dive was slightly more challenging than the dive at Menjangan Island. In order to reach the USS Liberty shipwreck, the dive must be a shore dive. With the dive equipment and weight belt, I felt rather clumsy. Not to mention the beach is comprised of stones, not sand. So, imagine walking with an oxygen tank and weight belt on slippery piles of rock into the ocean. The upside was that the waves were manageable. Once in the water, we put on our flippers and swam 30 meters to reach the shipwreck. This is one of the easiest shipwrecks to dive because it located only 30 meters from the shore, and begins at about 3 meter depth and goes as deep as 30 meters. This is also a popular snorkeling site because the top of the shipwreck can be seen from the surface.
Again, visibility was great at about 20 meters. This dive site is frequented by massive schools of silver fish. We were lucky enough to be graced with their presence. Hundreds of silver fish swimming in a circular motion is definitely a breathtaking site! Even more exciting is swimming into the center of the school and allowing them to form a tunnel around you. It is truly a beautiful experience.
The shipwreck itself is a fascinating sight as well. Coral and anemone cover the surface of the shipwreck, and navigating through the pathways inside the wreck is an exciting adventure. This is a great dive site because of the varied depths, allowing anyone from snorkelers, to beginning divers, to experts to enjoy it.
Bali Dos and Don’ts
Do hire a driver if you can spare the money. We hired a driver several times during our trip and it made thing so much more enjoyable. We were able to choose where we wanted to stop, what we wanted to see, and the pace at which we wanted to travel. The price ranged from $30-$50 for a full day (10-12 hours), which I think is totally worth it.
Do haggle! This is my tip for any destination in Southeast Asia. Haggle to your heart’s content! It may seem awkward at first but it is definitely worth it. Start by asking the price, and follow with a counteroffer of 50% of that price. What will follow is a back and forth, at which point you can decide if the item is worth it. If you leave without purchasing the item in question, chances are the store owner will follow you with a dramatically lower price. Haggle for beach chairs, haggle for souvenirs, haggle for basically everything.
Do beware of the monkeys, especially at Uluwatu Temple. These crafty monkeys will steal your belongings and offer to exchange them for food. Of course, in order to do this successfully, you will need the help of a “guide,” who will generously offer to help you, in exchange for money. The monkey forest is also home to some clever monkeys, one even stole my chocolate croissant as we were walking on the street outside of the forest!
Don’t shy away from trying local food specialties. I cannot stress this enough. So much of the cultural experience is tied into the food. Many Balinese people speak English, so if you have dietary restrictions or can’t handle spicy food, you can be accommodated.
Don’t miss out on seeing a traditional Balinese dance performance. I highly recommend seeing it in central Bali, as the performances in Southern Bali are geared towards tourist and tend to have much less authenticity.
Don’t forget to make time for diving. Even if you have no prior experience, many dive shops will take you on an “introductory dive” at a calm dive site. Even there, the sea life will be beautiful and varied. At the very least, take a snorkeling trip to Tulamben and swim through a WWI-era shipwreck with swarms of sliver fish.
Top 3 “Keep on you at all times” Items:
1. Sarong: All temples will require you to wear one upon entry. It’s better to have your own and save on sarong rental fees.
2. Sunblock: I cannot stress this enough, the sun inBali is harsh and strong, reapply regularly.
3. Bug spray. I have never been so covered in bug bites as I was inBali. Even worse was that I had allergic reaction to them, requiring me to get antihistamines at the local pharmacy. So yes, bug spray, use it often!