By now most divers have already heard about the recent activity of Mount Agung here in Bali. The mountain itself is on the highest Alert status and the danger remains that it could erupt at any time. What does that mean for visitors and to the residents of Bali? The general feeling on the island is one of nervous trepidation as is always the case when waiting for a large event to happen. For those who live outside of the areas of immediate impact, life is going on pretty much as normal. However, for approximately 100,000 people who live within 12km of the mountain, their lives are undergoing a large upheaval. There is a mandatory evacuation in the this zone and all residents have been urged to leave these areas. Although some have been able to move in with relatives, the vast majority of the affected are currently living in government shelters until further notice. This affects all of their lives very deeply as they are unable to work to make money to feed their families. Of course no one knows how long this will continue as there is no way to predict the nature of the volcano.
For divers who are interested in visiting Bali the news is both good and bad. Mount Agung is located very close to the Tulamben area, one of the most popular diving destinations, obviously diving tourism has been affected. All resorts in the Tulamben area are currently closed with their staff and families evacuated to safer areas so diving in the Tulamben area is currently not an option. However, the diving in areas such as Candidasa, Padang Bai, Nusa Penida, and Menjangan/Pemuteran are all proceeding as normal. If you have a reservation with us to dive in Bali in the coming months we are currently creating new itineraries and hotel reservations for all of our present reservations. The situation is certainly fluid and we won’t know the full impact of the volcano until either an eruption occurs or the activity slows and the mountain returns to a more dormant state.
One of the biggest questions is “Will the airport be open if/when an eruption occurs?” Unfortunately, like many things at the moment, we are not sure! There is hope that the prevailing winds will carry ash either to the west or the north and keep it away from south Bali where the airport is located. However, in case of a large eruption, we can be relatively sure that the airport will close for a day or two at the least. Other options will be available if the airport does close which include fast ferries to Lombok and bus/ferry combinations to Surabaya.
At this point in time there is no reason not to travel to Bali. Bali is a large island and the effects of a possible Mount Agung eruption will only affect a small portion of the island, tourism will continue as normal in other parts of Bali. What Bali does not need at this time is a massive drop in tourism numbers as this will negatively affect the economy. Tourists should feel safe as they won’t be in areas that the volcano will disrupt if it does eventually erupt. What you can do to help is to donate to the many charities that are currently helping raise funds to buy food and supplies for the thousands of refugees that this situation has created. The folks who are stuck in temporary shelters have no way of living their normal life and those who work in the hotels and resorts in the area are now all out of work until further notice. This includes the entire Tulamben/Seraya area which functions almost solely around dive tourism. We have organized the delivery of food to the good people of Tulamben who are so important to the diving business in Bali. They have been evacuated further north from Tulamben along the way to Singaraja. We have had a few dozen people generously donate funds toward the purchase of these goods for these people who have had their lives so disrupted. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.
There are several NGO’s on the ground here in Bali who are helping the evacuees and accepting donations, Solemen Bali is an easy one to contact. Also, the pets of the evacuees are also affected, BAWA and BARC are accepting donations for food and supplies for the pets involved in this crisis.
As the situation changes we will continue to update everyone via email and social media. If you have an upcoming reservation with us and have not heard from us yet, please do contact us so we can update you on the situation.