Indonesia – Anna’s first tropical diving!
UBUC-ers featured: Carla Greco and Abby Dent
The day after finishing uni this year I hopped on my first ever long-haul flight and headed out to Indonesia. I was staying on Gili T for most of my trip, which despite being known as a party island also has some awesome diving!
There I did a two-week course with Trawangan dive centre. After my very first dive I jumped off the boat and bumped into no other than the ex-UBUC president Carla who happened to be doing her dive master training with the same dive shop, small world eh!!
From the course I got my reef check qualification and the new (ish) PADI Biorock speciality. This is a type of reef restoration technology in which electric cables are run out to a steel structure from the shore. The result is that corals grow an incredible 7 times faster! I got to dive twice every morning and then did the theory lessons and Biorock building in the afternoons. The diving involved learning about the individual reefs around the Gili Islands and doing reef gardening and Biorock maintenance to try and keep them as healthy as possible. The course was fantastic and as a biologist I loved learning all the species identification and more about the problems reefs are facing in the area. My teacher, Delphine Robbe, moved to Gili T from France in 2004 and has since taken over the Gili Eco trust as well as being a diving instructor and running horse and cat clinics on the island! A very inspirational person to be around.
I then had another two weeks in the Gilis which involved lots of FUN DIVES with Big Bubble dive centre. Some of the visitors to reefs around the Gilis include octopus, black and white tip reef sharks, moray eels, nudis, tuna, mantis shrimp, cuttlefish and much much more. I dived almost every day and never once didn’t see a turtle!! (Hawksbill or Green). One of my highlights was a night dive at a site called Meno Wall where we saw lots of morays out hunting and beautiful bioluminescent plankton on our safety stop.
Fellow UBUC-er Abby came to visit me for what was meant to be two days but ended up being a week because she loved it so much! We dived Turtle Heaven, a site just off Gili Meno which as the name suggests is absolutely brimming with turtles. My record there was 13 on one dive!
I was staying with a family friend (so luxury air con and a pool for me yay) but there’s lots of great hostels on Gili T, I heard good reviews for ‘My mates place’ and ‘Gili mansion’. There are dive shops galore and I dived with a few of them, but my favourite by far was Big Bubble – super friendly with fantastic staff, lot of fun.
After leaving the Gilis, I headed to Nusa Lembongan for 3 days on my mission to see Mantas. It’s about a 40-minute boat ride from Gili T to Lembongan and it fitted in well on my way back to the airport. I stayed in Wahyu homestay which was right next to the beach and pretty good value. The first dive of the morning was at South Manta Point, a manta cleaning station off Nusa Penida island. At a chilly 21 degrees and about 8m vis the dive was quite eerie, which possibly made it even more exciting when a huge manta came towards you out of the gloom. We saw 6 altogether including a melanic manta which are pretty rare, only about 10% of the population are totally black underneath like this one. We also saw a super cute juvenile eagle ray and a bamboo shark.
The second dive of the day was at a stunning reef I’ve ever seen at a site called Toya Pakeh. The coral cover was incredible and so colourful even at 20+m. These dives were probably my best of the trip (and therefore ever!!) and a fab way to end the holiday.
Shortly after I headed back to Kuta on mainland Bali and got my flight home. I stayed in Lokal Bali hostel on my way out and on my way back, it was really nice, good value and walking distance to the airport.
I would thoroughly recommend the Biorock course for anyone interested in combining diving and hands on conservation. Gili T is a great place if you fancy both a dive and a boogie!! Lembongan was stunning and nicely quiet after the bustle of Gili T. Overall, I had a fantastic trip and an amazing introduction to tropical diving!