We are happy to let you know that we are now back to scuba diving Bali. Since the end of March and the global shutdown, Bali prohibited diving on the island. Although a few places started opening in June, many areas such as Tulamben and Nusa Penida weren’t open. However, with the success Bali has been having with Covid cases, the governor began opening up activities in late July. Never ones to keep out of the water for long, we happily followed the government regulations and began diving again two weeks ago.
We understand that there are many people throughout the world in a much worse situation than we are here. We would like to give everyone an update about the diving in Bali. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that Bali is a tourism island, a large percentage of the people here rely on tourism for their family income. Although the island is not yet open for international tourism, the local diving community can now contribute at least a small amount of income to communities such as Tulamben.
Diving Nusa Penida
Although the country is not open for tourism arrivals, we are organizing trips with friends. So far we have visited Nusa Penida on 3 occasions. As many regular Bali visitors know, famous sites such as Manta Point and Crystal Bay are normally busy at this time of year. I would be lying not to mention that even though we can’t bring guests diving, it’s exciting to visit these sites without crowds. It’s also an interesting time to check out the status of the sites after 4 months without divers. On our first day trip to Penida we had a great day out with a few friends, but also served as a reminder of the stark reality of our new situation. We encountered only 2 other boats during a 3 dive day. This was a real show of how the tourism in Bali has taken a hit. Certainly it was great for the diving but it’s a real eye opener for everyone making their living in the tourism industry.
Diving with Molas and Manta Rays
Our first dive out of quarantine couldn’t have been better! We arrived at Crystal Bay to find only one other boat on location. The special opportunity to dive here alone is a very exciting proposition. With 6 of us on the boat we descended toward the cleaning station to search for the elusive sunfish. With a bit of luck on our side, we didn’t have to wait long as a giant Mola alexandrini was enjoying a bit of grooming when we reached the cleaning area. Our guest Cheryl was able to spend some quality time with this incredible animal before it disappeared into the depths. But of course the show must go on and our eagle eyed guide Parman spotted a second sunfish a few minutes later!
As conditions were looking good, we headed out to Manta Point for a second dive and struck a bonanza. The shallow cleaning station was a manta ray party with more than 20 individuals chasing each other around. You could tell love was in the “air” as most of the mantas were smaller males chasing around a few larger females. We could also tell that two of the females were quite pregnant so hopefully we will see some baby manta rays soon!
Yesterday we had our first day out diving in more than 4 months. All those days that were given for granted, all of the sudden disappeared and we did not know when we could go again. Then yesterday came. Finally we were allowed to take the boat to Nusa Penida and dive again. At Manta Point we had a fantastic dive and we were one of the two boats there. It was like diving Bali back in the early 90s. The Manta rays were doing great and as usual they did not bother of our presence. While we were on the boat riding between dives under the sun and over the beautiful blue sea, We promised each other that we will never give for granted again a day at sea and to fully appreciate each one of them forever.
We finally made it back to Tulamben this week as well. We haven’t been able to visit the area since mid March and a dive on the USAT Liberty has been on the top of our list. The people in the Tulamben area are very dependent on the income that is generated by the diving industry. We are happy that we can once again contribute to them through diving and porter fees as well as eating locally. Although the number of divers is nowhere near the normal numbers, every little bit counts. Once again we were interested to see how the reefs look after a few months of zero diving pressure.
We did two dives on the Liberty Wreck and one on the Kubu Wreck. Both wrecks were full of fish life and the corals looked great. It was a real treat to dive on the Liberty without other divers around. For those of you who frequent Bali, you will know that this doesn’t happen often. Although the circumstances for this happening are rather dire, we do feel lucky to have experienced it. We also did a few dives in Amed at Pyramids and Ghost Bay and we can report that the fish life is looking extraordinary.
Health Precautions Are Being Followed
Mike on the Kubu Wreck, photo courtesy of Pepe Arcos
One of the questions that people may ask about diving in Bali is about health precautions. In order for the local government to open tourism activities such as diving, each operator must follow a set of health protocols. We are happy to report that the authorities in Tulamben are following suit. We were required to sign in and have our temperatures checked before we could go diving. All of the porters and restaurant workers were wearing masks and social distancing. We also provide extra hand washing facilities and no longer serve food such as cookies from communal containers. We also require our guests to wear masks while on the boat and we provide a sterile system for mask rinsing and regulator cleaning.
Rest Assured When Scuba Diving Bali
Although there has been no official government announcement on when Indonesia will open for international tourism, we are hoping it will be soon. The diving is better than ever and with low numbers of divers it promises to continue. We would love to share these conditions for scuba diving Bali with our overseas friends and guests. However, we understand that travel will be difficult for everyone in the near future. Rest assured that health protocols are being followed and that the Balinese and the Underwater Tribe take your health very seriously. We will of course announce when Bali and Indonesia open to international tourism and hope to see everyone soon. In the meantime, we are happy to share some of the amazing Bali marine life through photos and video.