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Jim & Cary Yanny’s Guide to Diving in Indonesia

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Part 3: Bali

Paddy fields – yes. Padi divers – really?

We’ve all heard of Bali. That’s the island full of temples, rice terraces and Aussie surfers. But take a pin and a map of the world and try to locate Bali and that’s where most people start to struggle. Well, the clue to its location is the fact that Bali is this month’s featured destination.

OK, so it’s in Indonesia. That in itself may still come as a surprise to you, but even though we’ve established that, the task of finding it amongst the world’s largest archipelago doesn’t get easier. Bali may well be a big name for British tourists but in the scheme of 17,000 islands spread over an ocean the size of the USA, it’s a needle in a haystack. This hundred-mile-long island with a population of over four million people is pretty tiny when you look at things on the Indonesian scale. Hey, everything’s relative and Indonesia is huge.

Serene beauty and abstract geometries in central Bali's paddy fields

Serene beauty and abstract geometries in central Bali’s paddy fields

Having dreamt of visiting Bali since childhood, when we moved to live in Indonesia it was naturally our top choice when it came to our first work break and it was with great excitement that we jumped on the Lion Air flight for the short hop from our home in Manado. And Bali didn’t disappoint.

Well, actually, that’s not strictly true. To explain, on our first day we took a tour of the island and were driven past volcanoes, forests, rivers and cute villages. What’s not to like about that, I hear you ask? Well, nothing, of course, except that it looked an awful lot like our new home back in Manado! So at this point we’re thinking, “why all the hype, Bali?”

Well, patience is a virtue and the more we saw of Bali, the more we started to understand its draw. The main things that grab you are the incredible attention to detail and patience of the unique Hindu-Buddhist-blend Balinese culture and the gentleness of their society that’s so ingrained that it takes you over and changes your whole outlook on the world. We’re aware that this probably sounds corny, but it’s true. The Balinese manage to do so because it’s not some tourist trap – they live their lives by this code and so charm and capture us. It’s what makes Bali such a magical place and why it’s known as “The Island of the Gods”, an apt strapline if ever there was one.

On the many visits we made to Bali over our twelve years in Indonesia we purchased beautiful crafts, ate incredible food, were pampered like royalty in its spas, drank sundowners to mellow Buddha Bar beats on surf beaches and ‘zenned-out’ watching ducks waddle amongst rice paddies under pouring, warm rain.

That’s nice, Jim, I hear you say, but what’s any of that got to do with diving? Fair question. Well, here’s the thing… as if Bali doesn’t already offer enough to get you running for a plane, it has one more BIG secret up its sleeve. Bali’s actually a pretty cool place to go for a dive! Oops, sorry, when we say pretty cool we really mean fantastic. Yep, those gods have only gone and blessed this ‘little’ island with great diving too. What’s more, the delights it offers the diver are incredibly varied. Come on! Now that’s just greedy.

Bali’s best-known dive, the wreck of the SS USAT Liberty is located at Tulamben on the North East corner of the island, about two hours’ drive from the capital, Denpasar. Here one can literally walk off the beach onto an incredibly photogenic WWI wreck sitting between 4m and 30m and covered in coral and teeming with fish life, including a resident huge school of swirling jacks, making it just the perfect spot for divers and snorkellers alike. So much so that a (tiny) resort town of Tulamben has sprung up purely to cater to divers. Either side of the Liberty wreck are little wall and ‘muck’ dives offering coral and critters to keep you busy for a good couple of days, and just half an hour’s drive from Tulamben is the little town of Amed, a lesser-known spot but offering excellent critter dives.

Indonesia

In the North West corner of Bali, about four hours’ drive from Denpasar and with views across to the awesome volcanoes of East Java, is Menjangan Island, a National Park with stunning coral walls and diverse marine life. Turtles come up onto deserted Menjangan Island to nest and can often be spotted perched on the vertical coral walls. A pretty little resort town, Pemuteran is where most divers stay when diving Menjangan National Park. Day trips are also available from Pemuteran to Secret Bay, Bali’s best muck/critter site.

So, a world-class wreck, critters and reefs. That’s it? Nope!

Just off Bali’s South East corner are Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan Islands, famous for being arguably the best place on earth to site a Mola mola  (sun fish). Large manta rays can also be regularly seen on dives at Crystal Bay, in the channel between these two islands. The Mola mola are seasonal, usually between July and September, but the manta are spotted year-round.* Spend a couple of nights at one of the lovely resorts in Mushroom Bay on Nusa Lembongan to enjoy its white sand beach and a glorious sunset. Alternatively if you want to remain on the main island of Bali, you can take a diving day-trip across to these islands from Sanur Harbour. It’s a forty minute boat ride.

So there it is, Bali, the Island of Gods. Enjoy some wonderful days of diving while your other half relaxes by the pool, on the beach or in the spa, then top if off with either a scenic stay amongst Ubud’s artisan community in the middle of the island close to the Agung River Gorge, or if you’re still feeling energetic after all that diving head for the South coast’s surf beaches and thumping nightlife.

This is a destination that seems to have been tailor-made to cater for serious divers who want to do more than dive on their holiday. It could just be the uniquely perfect holiday choice for diver/non-diver couples. If that’s you, then head for Bali and you can finally remove the word ‘compromise’ from your vocabulary!

Bali offers a huge choice of accommodation. There are many flights from the UK to Denpasar via various cities e.g. Singapore, Dubai, Doha and Hong Kong. Bali is a year-round destination, always warm and humid, although it can rain at any time of year. (Tulamben in the North East receives much less rainfall and is subsequently more arid than the rest of the island.) It’s easy to combine a stay on Bali with a week or longer in another part of Indonesia, for example a resort stay in either North Sulawesi (Manado/Bunaken/Lembeh), Raja Ampat or a liveaboard in Komodo National Park.

* Dives around Nusa Penida/Nusa Lembongan are often deeper and there can be strong currents, so divers are required to have a higher experience level.

For more information, visit www.diversetravel.co.uk/destinations/Indonesia.

A few moons ago, Jim was General Manager of Emperor Divers Red Sea, where Cary was Senior Instructor. Later they moved to Indonesia to establish and run award-winning dive centre and resort, Eco Divers, before returning to the UK to launch Diverse Travel. Cary also runs a photographic business and is the Photo Pro, often leading photographic trips to exotic destinations, most recently to South Africa and Mozambique. Jim and Cary’s driving passion is to deliver the best personalised travel service available. That same philosophy shines through Diverse Travel and sees clients return again and again to book their next holiday.

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Windmill Beach (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Situated a short drive out of Simonstown is the shore dive at Windmill beach. A short swim over the sand and through the large boulders you enter the incredibly diverse and colourful kelp forests (Ecklonia maxima), a species that can grow up to 12m tall. Life is found in abundance from the base of the kelp where many sea urchins and species such as abalone can be seen then heading into the canopy many shoaling fish species can be observed.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Gear News

Fourth Element to make diving tools from recycled PPE

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Fourth Element has partnered with recycling and repurposing experts, Waterhaul, to retask the mask; turning single-use plastics into the tools we use in pursuit of underwater adventure. Face masks and other items of PPE from hospitals are melted down into blocks, sterilising the material which fourth element purchases, recycle and transforms.

These cave line markers are the first of what fourth element hopes will be many products using this waste material to give it a new life beyond protecting the lives of our frontline healthcare workers. Each marker re-uses the equivalent of two disposable masks. Waste is given a new direction.

The end product is completely safe. The PPE is heat treated by the hospital: the plastic is heated to high temperatures multiple times; first to make the blocks within the recycling process, and also whilst injection moulding the parts.

What makes this OceanPositive?

In the UK alone, 58 million single-use plastic face masks are thrown away every day, littering landfills and polluting the environment. Globally, we use 129 billion per month – that’s enough to wrap around the world 550 times! Over the last 12 months, a recorded 1.5 billion have entered the ocean, disrupting our ecosystem and endangering marine life across the globe. And that’s just what has been recorded.

These lines markers are made from recycled PPE, each one saving two masks from entering landfill or our oceans. Part of fourth element’s Zero Waste and Zero Plastic initiatives; to re-purpose as much plastic as possible and find new uses for products at the end of their lives.

We believe that this is the way,” said Jim Standing, co-founder of fourth element. “We are all going to have to tackle the challenges of a post covid world and one of these will be how we deal with the waste we have created as part of keeping ourselves and in particular, our frontline workers protected. We intend to play our part.”

For more information visit the Fourth Element website by clicking here.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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