Melasti is a site that many people have dived but may not know the name! Located along the Seraya coast, close to Tulamben, Melasti is one of a handful of black sand shore dives along a 5 km stretch of beach. With a family owned snack shack, showers, and camera rinse tanks on site, Melasti is well set up for shore divers.
After gearing up, it’s typically an easy walk into the ocean as the sand here consists of small pebbles. On occasion there can be waves on shore and it’s best to have the guide help with entry and exit. The topography at this site is very easy to explain, there are some larger rocks in the shallows and nothing but black sand on the slope! Although this may sound over simplified, it’s true. The fine black sand on this site is an eye opener for many divers because there are no major features to be seen. Not to worry though, upon closer inspection, there are small “oases” of life spread throughout the slope. Small piles of rocks or coral heads can often be the hiding place of the beautiful harlequin shrimp. This crazy looking shrimp are commonly found at Melasti and quite often they are feasting upon starfish.
Two of the main attractions to this site are nudibranchs, but not just any nudibranchs! The “Donut Dorid” and “Shaun the Sheep” are two of the most requested and photogenic nudibranchs around. The donut is a hard to find nudibranch that lives entirely upon a certain species of hydroid. Of course if these nudis were easy to find, it would be a simple task to point out the hydroids. However, they don’t live on every hydroid, and it can be quite a process to look at every hydroid! Fortunately, these hydroids tend to be found in one general vicinity so it never takes long to find the Donut.
“Shaun the Sheep” is perhaps the most sought after subject at Melasti due to it’s very cute face! These tiny nudibranchs can be found all over the site, simply search the sea grass that they live on. A super macro set up or strong diopter is recommended for those who are trying to photograph these tiny invertebrates.
Of course the list of critters to be found on the site is long: frogfish, gobies, ghost pipefish, lionfish, scorpion fish, cuttlefish, and octopus are commonly encountered here. It’s a great dive in the late afternoon when it’s possible to spot the elusive wonderpus.
The best thing about Melasti is that it’s not a crowded site. Unlike the Liberty Wreck, which receives hundreds of divers every day, the visitors at Melasti number only in the dozens. For night divers, there are rarely any others here in the dark.
Overall, Melasti is a great site for underwater photographers and critter lovers. It’s not a dive for those who are looking for pristine coral reefs, colour, or wide angle scenics. When accompanied by one of the Underwater Tribe’s keen eyed guides, a dive at Melasti can often be a treasure trove of encounters.
Interested in diving Melasti? Let us know you are interested and we will include it on your personal Dive Safari in Bali.
These two nudibranchs are feeding on tasty hydroids at Melasti