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Bali Trip Recommendations

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Hello everyone,

 

I looking at planning a dive trip to Bali next September..ish. We would have 8-9 days of diving. Plus a few non dive days for topside stuff. I am looking for recommendations for how to approach this. Our group will be somewhat diverse, from hardcore divers/photographers to barely certified divers, to people who don't like to get wet. I am trying appease all involved, which I realize could be very difficult. Ideally, for the hardcore divers, we would want 4 dives a day. For the newbies and those that don't dive, looking for topside activities for the locations we would be diving at. And that could be as simple as laying at the beach at the resort, massages etc....

 

Also, with 8-9 days of diving, how many days should we spend at each location? What should we skip? What should we not miss? I love macro and night dives, but also want to do the manta dive and the Liberty (which also has great macro).

 

I have done some of the topside stuff on Bali, so I am more looking to make this a big diving trip. But realize that I need to think about the others as well.

 

Also, any experience with AbyssWorld?

 

Any help offered would be appreciated.

Dustin

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Ok easy one.

 

You'd need to go to 2 places at least :

 

Tulamben is great for the Liberty, but also lots of Macro dives around. It's preferable to stay within Tulamben (Liberty dive resort is a good choice, nitrox for free excellent private guides also for free), in Tulamben you'll find lots of drivers (Google Ricky transport in Tulamben) who'll be happy to drive the non divers to north eastern Bali landmarks. Imo Scuba Seraya often recommended, is much too expensive and out of town, uneasy for getting out.

It's a bit further but don't miss Japanese wreck in Amed, a great dive for both wide angle and macro opportunities, it's a fanatstic night dive too but very few operators do nightdives because it's quite a long ride by car.

 

Padang Bai is closer to Ubud, which will be one the main attractions landside, as well as the gorgeous paddy fields of Sidemen : Padang Bai is also home to great dives macro dives like jetty (rhinopias *4) or amazing current fish packed dives like Gili Tepekong, I'd say worth 2 days diving at least. Contact Cedric at Gekodive, he's a photographer too.they can organize daytrips to Nusa Penida for manta bay/manta point, toyapakeh etc if you're not willing to go to Lembongan.

 

... but I find Nusa Lembongan very interesting too, only 30 minutes speedboat ride with lots of accoms to pick from, more relaxed than Bali itself, a good place to unwind or have some surfbreaks while other are ionto serious diving, although usually limited to 2 drift dives a day, This is the best way to dive Nusa Penida and probably worth 2-3 days diving. TwoFish and World diving are my fave ops ops.

 

On the other hand, I'd skip Pemuteran/Menjangan area, remote place on the northwestern tip, which I find a step below Tulamben for macro or Nusa Penida for coral dives. Not as many fish and besides that there's nothing in Pemuteran you won't see in Tulamben.

 

Oh and btw you can also click on my Bali photoset in Flickr :)

Edited by Luko

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If you like mimic octopus, Puri Jati is the place for you, saw more than 10 in my last dive there.

Actually I like Menjangan Island very much, Eel garden is very beautiful with lots of garden eels, some macros and some big stuff on the wall. There are many seafans in another site in Menjangan and it was the place I saw the most Pygmy seahorses.

 

September is the prime time for Mola Mola, they can be found around Nusa Penida and Padang Bai.

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I use: http://www.aquamarinediving.com to set up my indo trips. They are located in Denpasar, Bali and they have setup mixed topside and diving trips for me. I was introduced to them by a dive buddy who has used them for going on 20 years now. I am using them next month for an Alors trip and used them last year for a combined Bali topside and dive trip with a Komodo live-a-board trip.

 

Elmer

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Hi Dustin

 

Get a hold of Mike or Luca at The Underwater Tribe www.underwatertribe.com cannot recommend them highly enough.

 

I dived with them last year and am about to go back in a few weeks....great service and great instruction....

 

Cheers

Brett

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There are many seafans in another site in Menjangan and it was the place I saw the most Pygmy seahorses.

 

 

Amed/Jemeluk wall, eight pygmy seahorses on a single seafan, you have more?

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Amed/Jemeluk wall, eight pygmy seahorses on a single seafan, you have more?

Yes, at least twenty. There were both Denise and Bargibanti in that site.

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Yes, at least twenty. There were both Denise and Bargibanti in that site.

Denise and Bargibanti don't live on the same fans.

I'm telling on ONE single fan, after that, you don't even bother looking for other pygmies.

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Denise and Bargibanti don't live on the same fans.

I'm telling on ONE single fan, after that, you don't even bother looking for other pygmies.

Yes, at least 20 denise on the same seafan. I didn't tell you denise and bargibanti live on the same fan, did I? I said "in that site".

Edited by kkfok

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Thanks everyone for the great info.!

 

I am interested in pygmys....although, they need to have an area around them for me to place a tripod. Walls don't work for me other than wide angle. Shooting macro video with a dslr has it's limits...

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You should hire your own private guide/s, AquaMarine has some excellent ones. They will take care of your dive equipment and find you critters. I just give them a list and it is done. They will go around and mark the critters with small muck sticks, you then just go from stick to stick taking photos as much or as little are you want.

 

Elmer

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Thanks everyone for the great info.!

 

I am interested in pygmys....although, they need to have an area around them for me to place a tripod. Walls don't work for me other than wide angle. Shooting macro video with a dslr has it's limits...

 

Seraya had a sea fan at about 25m on a sloping sand bottom for you to set up a tripod. couple of good sized bargibantis with 2 which were pregnant when i was there earlier this month.

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Ok easy one.

 

You'd need to go to 2 places at least :

 

Tulamben is great for the Liberty, but also lots of Macro dives around. It's preferable to stay within Tulamben (Liberty dive resort is a good choice, nitrox for free excellent private guides also for free), in Tulamben you'll find lots of drivers (Google Ricky transport in Tulamben) who'll be happy to drive the non divers to north eastern Bali landmarks. Imo Scuba Seraya often recommended, is much too expensive and out of town, uneasy for getting out.

It's a bit further but don't miss Japanese wreck in Amed, a great dive for both wide angle and macro opportunities, it's a fanatstic night dive too but very few operators do nightdives because it's quite a long ride by car.

 

Padang Bai is closer to Ubud, which will be one the main attractions landside, as well as the gorgeous paddy fields of Sidemen : Padang Bai is also home to great dives macro dives like jetty (rhinopias *4) or amazing current fish packed dives like Gili Tepekong, I'd say worth 2 days diving at least. Contact Cedric at Gekodive, he's a photographer too.they can organize daytrips to Nusa Penida for manta bay/manta point, toyapakeh etc if you're not willing to go to Lembongan.

 

... but I find Nusa Lembongan very interesting too, only 30 minutes speedboat ride with lots of accoms to pick from, more relaxed than Bali itself, a good place to unwind or have some surfbreaks while other are ionto serious diving, although usually limited to 2 drift dives a day, This is the best way to dive Nusa Penida and probably worth 2-3 days diving. TwoFish and World diving are my fave ops ops.

 

On the other hand, I'd skip Pemuteran/Menjangan area, remote place on the northwestern tip, which I find a step below Tulamben for macro or Nusa Penida for coral dives. Not as many fish and besides that there's nothing in Pemuteran you won't see in Tulamben.

 

Oh and btw you can also click on my Bali photoset in Flickr :)

Good advice. I've dived Bali maybe 30x or so times and it's one of my fav dive destinations in SE Asia. It's got just about all the open-water and macro stars in one destination and it's easy to get to. My only quibble would be that Secret Bay, for muck, is amazing. I know it's kinda far but if one has the time, it should not be missed.

 

I love your pictures of Bali diving, especially the rhinopias, that's one I've never seen anywhere yet and I didn't think Bali had any. I know which site I'll be diving on my next trip. Can you recommend any dive resorts ( 3-4 star) in Padang Bai or Candi Dasa area?

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I love your pictures of Bali diving, especially the rhinopias, that's one I've never seen anywhere yet and I didn't think Bali had any. I know which site I'll be diving on my next trip. Can you recommend any dive resorts ( 3-4 star) in Padang Bai or Candi Dasa area?

 

Thanks, in Padang bai/Candi dasa area I defintely recommend diving with Gekodive, they know the rhinopias sites very well and will often go out of the usual spots if they moved and can't find them on the first dive. It seems their dive guides are intimate with the rhino habits. You'd be really cursed if you didn't spot at least one Rhino in Jetty area, some divers have seen up to 5 in one dive (yes I wrote FIVE, my personal best is 3).

 

Puri Rai is nearby Gekodive, 5 min walk, let's pretend it's a 3 star, but it's still the most comfortable and convenient in Padang Bai. Otherwise you'll have to settle in Candi dasa which is further away, 30 minutes drive from Padang Bai. Then Lotus Bungalows would probably be a good choice.

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Just remember that creatures move around and that "here today, gone tomorrow" is the rule: good guides are a godsend! Mantas (and Mola mola) are unpredictable, and you can spend a lot of time for little photographic joy: on an 8-day schedule I would think hard about giving them a miss. 8 days isn't even long enough to do Tulamben justice.

 

Here's what I found in Tulamben (Scuba Seraya) and Menjangan (Mimpi) a couple of years ago.

Edited by tdpriest
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Ah the recurring Bali chat! :)

As Tim warns, there are life cycles in every site and the creatures aren't static, they are subject to storms and currents which can change things quickly. I remember Tim and Alex had a roving rhino issue a few years back! :D So what was reportedly there one week may not be there the next.

Dustin, specifically for your group, with the varied mix of people, I suggest you stay on the main island of Bali and boat to the various island. I'll copy/paste my recommendations for a friend who had a similar group to yours. Bold is additions made for you:

 

Lembongan/Penida resorts are great escapes and certainly cut short the boat rides to the best sites, but for non-divers who want that tour/special spa/shopping etc, it's pretty much a drag. Additionally, you can enjoy the wonderful restaurants like Three Monkeys, Sarong etc every night. I usually recommend doing a 3 dive Mola/Manta day trip while staying in Sanur for diving the Penida/Lembongan islands. There are some sites that AREN'T for noobs, with fierce current and difficult conditions. Remember, a few divers are lost annually because of the through flow. Respect the currents and limitations.

As for not to miss sites, I think everyone has covered them.
My personal trinity of Bali noob dive introduction, with your preferences of macro and night dives in mind, are Tulamben, Gilimanuk(Secret Bay) and Seririt(Puri Jati). Tulamben is a no-brainer, with some of the best muck diving in the Seraya and of course the Liberty wreck area. Secret Bay has the special mix of fresh (cold) water with natural and artificial reef areas that can be very special (my favorite dive there was 7 species of frogfish in one dusk to night dive!). Puri Jati is most famous for T. Mimicus, but it actually has quite a few other things like frogfish and pipefish. My favorite squid dives and shots came from there. However, the bottom trawling fishermen are still a problem.

The most important thing to consider is HOW to do a trip like yours. I personally only dive with BIDP around Bali. They have great experience with cameras and are shooters themselves. We even go on site hunts all around Bali to find that next hot site! I've used them for 13 years and heartily recommend them. I suggest 5 days in Tulamben, 3 days in northern coast based in Seririt and 3 days in Sanur/Penida.
Normally once you choose an ops, they will assign a van and DM/guide to you for the duration. For the north portion:
I personally don't like Pemuteran as a base for the northern coast, especially with non-divers. Staying in Seririt, the non-divers can do excursions to Lovina (20 mins from Seririt by car) for the dolphin viewing trip, up the mountains for the waterfalls and also the many scenic padi fields. At Seririt itself, there is always the spectacle of the duck farmer walking his ducks on the beach! It's easy to dive 6 dives a day at Puri Jati when you stay so close, including a dusk to night and then a night.
You can then take the 1+ hour drive to Secret Bay and spend the day there. Don't forget to try the ayam betutu at the bus station... just be aware if you're not into spicy food! Secret Bay has a nice variety of artificial and natural formations. I suggest you bring along a WA/fisheye if the tides are right and hit that little wreck with a late afternoon sun and the schools of fish. Stop in Pemuteran for late dinner either at Matahari or Amertha (call ahead to make sure the kitchen is open).
Tulamben:

With new resorts popping up, the choices around Tulamben do fit most budgets. I personally consider Scuba Seraya my home for Tulamben. Markisa is also quite nice and if you are so inclined, on the same property as Markisa is a private bungalow with 4 bedrooms for rent, while sharing the facilities like the pool and restaurant (there is a kitchen there). Seraya Secrets is easily done from the shore and worth multiple dives day and night. I personally will only do with a big rig is dive any site on the main Tulamben beach (where the Liberty Wreck is) on a boat. The Tulamben beach shoreline is lined with smooth rocks, some pretty large, which makes it difficult for ingress and egress for shore diving with a big rig and gear, especially when the waves get a little choppy. Moreover, with a boat diving the wreck etc, you can finish where you want and just surface, instead of having to swim back to a particular point on the beach.
Doing a night dive on the wreck is great fun, especially when there is a current. I've caught pelagic octopus and leptocephalus doing my safety stop drifting in the current after the night Liberty dives. Having the boat is invaluable asset for that. It is of course, less environmentally friendly and slight more expensive. Definitely worth it though. Talk to the dive masters at Seraya as they are the ones with the most frequent dives in the area and have hosted many top photogs so they are knowledgeable. Tulamben food isn't the greatest but the local eateries like Wayan and Lesehan Segara are nice breaks from the resort food monotony.
For the non-divers from Tulamben, they can do the Agung climb (several hours from the Besakih temple) which can be taxing for the unfit/well. There is a waterfall and a few temples are within 60 minutes by car. Just hire a daily driver for them.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

 

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I remember Tim and Alex had a roving rhino issue a few years back! :D . The Tulamben beach shoreline is lined with smooth rocks, some pretty large, which makes it difficult for ingress and egress for shore diving with a big rig and gear, especially when the waves get a little choppy...

 

... and someone may have the photographs of me falling over with my Nauticam rig to prove it! I recommend leaning on your partner and both putting on and taking off fins in 3-4 feet of water...

 

... boats are best!

Edited by tdpriest
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personally will only do with a big rig is dive any site on the main Tulamben beach (where the Liberty Wreck is) on a boat. The Tulamben beach shoreline is lined with smooth rocks, some pretty large, which makes it difficult for ingress and egress for shore diving with a big rig and gear, especially when the waves get a little choppy. Moreover, with a boat diving the wreck etc, you can finish where you want and just surface, instead of having to swim back to a particular point on the beach.

 

 

Might be good for a dive around the wreck itself but I would rather start from the shore for a nightdive, the most interesting part is the wreck slope east of the wreck and the shallow beginning allows interesting encounters like blue ring octopus, cowries or various nudibranches you don't find on the black sand for instance.

 

More over when I end my nightdive at 8PM I'm quite sure I'm at my hotel already showered at 8:15PM, while it probably takes 20-30 minutes more from a boat.

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What Drew said!

 

We went on this one with him a few years back - we'd go again in a heartbeat!

 

The north side of Bali is a world class diving area.

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