Nusa Lembongan is a small island just off the coast of Sanur, Bali. It has the perfect combination of tourism and traditional Indonesian life. No high rise hotels have popped up (yet), instead, there is a multitude of smaller family run guest houses that have 5 to 10 rooms. This island has some of the most breath-taking scenery of anywhere I have been. Vibrant blue water crashes onto sheer cliff faces creating an intense scene. Nevertheless, the whole reason we visited Bali was to dive with manta rays in Nusa Lembongan.
Nusa Lembongan has a reputation for world class diving. It is one place where you can see Manta Rays on a daily basis. However, it also has a reputation for strong currents and, very occasionally, dangerous diving conditions. James and I went diving three times in and around Nusa Lembongan. We did a total of six dives and these dives made up the best and worst dives of our trip.
The Best dive of our lives.
Diving with Manta Rays in Nusa Lembongan.
I’ll start with the best dive: Manta Point. This dive site is a cleaning station for Manta Rays. These majestic creatures grow to 3 metres but still glide effortlessly through the water. The chance to see these beauties was too good to turn down. So, after a 45 minute, very bumpy, boat ride to the site we rolled over the side of the boat. Before we had even descended our dive master was saying look down there is a manta. Even from the surface, my first encounter with a Manta Ray was simply incredible. I cannot explain how unbelievable these creatures are.
And, once we had descended the experience only got better. My initial expectations were blown away. We saw more than twenty manta rays. They were swimming next to you, above you and in front of you. Just when I thought I had seen everything, the mantas started doing their dance. Swirling around and around in a pair. I genuinely thought I would cry with happiness. Being that close to such an awe-inspiring creature that is demonstrating a beautiful natural behaviour is a spectacular feeling.
Earlier I said that Nusa Lembongan is known for strong currents, well, James and I experienced this first hand. Crystal Bay is a dive site paired with Manta Point, it is known for little or no currents, great coral and diverse marine life. In fact, we dove here twice and our first experience was spectacular. We saw turtles, octopus, scorpion fish, moray eels and much more. However, when we dove here a second time the story was a lot different.
As we back rolled into freezing cold water (23 degrees) we all gasped in surprise and got excited because cold water means a chance of seeing mola mola. However, within minutes of descending, we were caught in a strong current. We had no choice but to all hold onto a rock and hope the current passed in a couple of minutes. It didn’t. We slowly ascended to a shallower depth hoping the current would be less there. Again, no such luck. Ultimately, after 20 minutes of fighting the current to no avail, our dive master decided enough was enough and we surfaced. During this dive, I realised just how powerful water is and despite being a good swimmer there was no way you can fight that kind of power. Scary.
What did we see on this dive? Nothing. Apparently, we were just super unlucky. While this dive wasn’t enjoyable, in fact, it was downright scary, it was an experience I will definitely remember.
The Other Dives.
Apart from the manta dive, Nusa Lembongan’s diving is famous for one more reason: drift diving. Jump in and just go with the flow. Literally. You get yourself in a flat position and fly through the water like Superman. No kicking required. Which is the kind of lazy sport I like. In the northern dive sites there is untouched coral, turtles and so much more to see. We had never been drift diving before and this was a cool experience. I would highly recommend diving in the north in Nusa Lembongan.
Find out about our experience getting PADI certified.