The Underwater World of Nusa Lembongan
by Sarah Richard.
As scuba divers we want the best of the best, and none of the rest. And by the rest I mean the rest of the other scuba obsessed all crowded into one dive site. So we fly far and wide in search of unknown reefs and secret caves, hidden corals and sunken ship wrecks. But unfortunately, that usually comes with a big price tag. However, there is a place, not far from us at all, that has the best and without the rest. Let me introduce to you Nusa Lembongan in Bali.
Usually best known for its surf breaks, the lesser talked about underwater action has caused a Chinese whispering effect around the scuba world, and I wasn't one to be missing out on the latest hot diving spot. Especially as it was only a 4 1/2 hour flight from Hong Kong. Nusa Lembongan is a small island off the southeast coast of the main island of Bali. Accessible by boat from Sanur in only 30 minutes, it is a haven away from the craziness of Kuta.
Best dive sights:
This is an exciting dive for experienced divers only. The huge expanse of current swept slopes at Blue Corner provides some dramatic topography. Here you are not only inspecting the coral but also watching for bigger fish, the site doesn't often disappoint. A great site for mola mola (ocean sunfish) during the season and other visitors include eagle rays, huge marble rays, wobbegong, tuna and even the occasional shark.
Toyapakeh means salt water in Balinese and is found at the north end of the deep channel. It is a diver's favourite as you often find yourself swimming through school after school of colourful fish of all varieties, including the red tooth triggerfish, giant trevallies and batfish. Toyapakeh is a large coral covered bay dotted with bommies that lead to a sloping reef that drops off gently all the way to 190m! Mola sightings are possible here and even the infamous pygmy seahorse is occasionally spotted by keen-sighted divers.
This spot is a sure bet if you want to see mantas. During the ideal conditions, you can run into hordes of huge mantas in about 10m of depth and you will be just couple of feet away from them. It is an unforgettable experience and very easy dive. On this spot, you can also see many Kuh'l stingrays and sometimes sharks, turtle or sea snake.
The top notch diving spot on Nusa Penida (about a 35 minute boat road from Lembongan) is demanding and wild but simply amazing. Want to see a whole shoal of sunfishes? This is the spot. It is the real diving for the real divers. Often the condition in the shallows are wild but the deeper you go the calmer it gets. Therefore, it is needed to descend down to 40m. Minimal recommended number of dives is 50 and Advanced Open Water certificate.
The temperature all year around is between 30-32° C during the day and 26-28° C at night. In coastal areas, there is a nice cooling breeze from the sea. The dry season is from May to October. In this period, rainfall is minimal. If you are looking for the best time to see Mola Molas, they are most commonly sighted from July-October however your luck should be in all year round for Manta Ray sightings.
There is only one ATM currently on Nusa Lembongan so make sure you have enough backup cash for when it (quite regularly) runs out of money.
Other things to do
Lembongan has world class surf, however, it is not recommended for complete beginners. If you are already a dab hand at the sport you can spend hours in the waves everyday on spots like 'Playground' and 'Lacerations' and 'No Man's'
Not yet into the surf? Relax doing yoga looking out over the ocean in one of Lembongan's hideouts.
Devil's Tears is a spectacular rock formation shaped by crashing waves that spiral dozens of feet up the cliff face. The caves and blow-holes created by the powerful waves make for an excellent backdrop. It is a beautiful natural environment currently entirely unspoiled by anything human.
The northeast corner of Nusa Lembongan is covered with a substantial mangrove forest. If you've had your fill of frolicking in the sun, head here. Tours can easily be arranged in Jungut Batu town, but it is just as easy to ride up to the mangrove forests yourself.
About Sarah Richard
I'm Sarah, 26 year old professional world wanderer. 4 years ago I left the UK and everything that offered security and routine in exchange for a constant life of excitement and adventure. And I am still living it now. Throughout working as a Dive Master, freelance writer, running my blog and working along the way I now lead a life as a full time digital nomad. Currently based in Hong Kong I plan to travel around the rest of Asia yet to always return to this crazy city I now call home. Check out my blog at www.coffeewithasliceoflife.com.