I first earned my diving license at the age of fourteen. It’s something that I’ve done for a while.
And it’s something for which my adoration and awe has yet to fade.
Each time I slip below the surface, it’s, to use what is probably and over-used metaphor in terms of diving, like entering an entirely new world. I’m filled with the kind of wonder that we often lose after childhood and it’s a beautiful reminder of just how incredible our planet is.
Unfortunately, it’s not often enough that I get to the opportunity to go on a dive any more, but I relish every chance I get.
When that chance is with someone familiar with the area, a sharp eye for breathtaking creatures and sights below the surface, and in a new locale, it doesn’t get any better.
Manta Manta Diving in Bali, Indonesia
On a recent trip to Singapore, we made a short trip over to Bali. It was an interesting choice at the time because there were fears that Mount Agung would erupt while we were visiting. Thankfully, our hotel was far enough away that we would be safe from danger. The only problem was, the dive locations we originally hoped to visit were too close the volcano and were no longer accessible. We had to improvise.
Manta Manta Diving, the company we had decided to do our tour with, was quick on their feet. They suggested moving our trip to Padang Bai, another location on the east of the island, but farther south and safely out of range of the volcano if it erupted.
We were worried about all the last minute arrangements, but Stuart, one of the owners (and our dive master/instructor) assured us that the trip would be an equally enjoyable experience. We decided to go for it. When we met with him the following day, his experience, local knowledge and preparedness quickly put us at ease.
On the ride to the beach we would be departing from, we talked about life in Bali. About the volcanoes, tourism and if Stuart (originally from England) ever got tired of the views. He was quick to let us know that, no, he never got tired of the views in Bali. We certainly couldn’t disagree with him. The drive from our hotel was dotted with monuments, temples, rice paddies and the ocean – I imagine that it would be something difficult to grow weary of.
After arriving at the beach, we setup camp at a local restaurant just across the way. We laid claim to a table against the back wall, placed our orders for our lunches when we returned, each grabbed a large bottle of water, did a bit of dive safety review, learned about some of the fish in the area, and slipped into our wetsuits.
Manta Manta Diving provided us with all of the equipment – everything from our wetsuits to our masks, our fins to our underwater cameras and cases. Everything was in good working order and condition. Plus, Stuart made things easy for us by helping with a good part of the setup both before and between dives. Suited up and prepped, we tiptoed across the street and into soft sand, making our way down to the boat (an outrigger).
Both of the dive sites – Tanjong Jepun and Bias Tugal – were within short distance from the beach where we loaded onto the boat. We geared up, then back-rolled into the water, disappearing below the surface once our group of three collected at the line near the back of the boat.
Our first dive was in a sandy area where there was a small wreck and several sunken statues. Several lionfish were hanging out and they were beautiful. There were lots of critters making their way around in the sand – particularly a couple of beautifully coloured nudibranches and blue-spotted stingrays.
It was a nice warm-up for our second dive. With stronger currents, the second location was a little more challenging, but the coral reef formations were worth it. Plus, we were visited by a green sea turtle. The corals were home to countless fish and sea life. We saw eels, shrimpfish swimming vertically in an effort to look like grass, clownfish, and even barracuda.
Each dive was around 45 minutes and there was a lot to see. While I was a little disappointed that conditions prevented us from diving the US Liberty wreck – I mean who wouldn’t be? – we still had a great time. Stuart went out of his way to make sure we were comfortable, that we didn’t miss anything exciting (he was really one of the most observant dive masters I ever dove with), and that we got the most out of our time underwater. It was a day well-spent.
After our dives, we headed back to shore where we chowed down on nasi goreng – a local rice dish with chicken, fish, tofu, tempeh, and vegetables. It was delicious and a lovely way to go over the dive with Stuart. He was able to identify the different fish we saw from memory, using a small picture book he had on hand to point things out so that we could record them in our dive logs.
The prices with Manta Manta Diving were more than reasonable – especially since they included the equipment, water, dives, and lunch. Additionally, Manta Manta Diving arranged for our transportation to and from our hotel as well as to each dive site from the beach. It was really fantastic to not have to worry about any travel coordination. We were able to just show up and enjoy our dive.
Honestly, if you plan on diving in Bali, this is the way to do it. Manta Manta Diving is a small company, so you really get a top-notch experience and the attention a larger company can’t offer. It was nice to dive as a small group – just Stuart and my diving buddy.
In addition to guided dives, Manta Manta Diving also offers certification courses. And what better way to earn your diving license than by doing it in Bali?
For more information you can visit their website.
As a quick note, this review was not solicited by Manta Manta Diving. It was the diving company that my friend and chose and paid for. We had a great experience with them, so I wanted to share it with you. I am not compensated in any way if you choose to dive with them.