Trip notes from our Bali Diving trip, July 02

We did a 10 day trip to Bali in summer 02, diving 5 out of the 9 days available. There are conflicting reports on the web, but we found the diving to be very good, at least as good as the diving we had done, before and after, in Phuket/PhiPhi area.

Living and Diving:

Days 1-3. We stayed the first 2 nights in Taman Selini, a small, back-to-basics hotel in the north-west. From here, we dived in the Menjangan area 2 days (4 dives). The diving was very good, the best part being a rather large eel garden, some lovely giant clams, and our first pygmy seahorse sticking onto a rust-brown gorgonian.

Days 4-6. We shifted then to the east, moving into Mimpi Resort at Tulamben. Beautiful location, great view (we had the expensive sea-view rooms), and pretty good diving. On the first day here, we hired a 4WD with driver (~US$40 for the day), and went over to the Kintamani volcano and a temple nearby. Driving in Bali consumes lots of time, with narrow and basic roads, but the views are nice, including rivers, gorges and rice terraces. We did 5 dives in the next two days, all beach entries. These were all part of our Advanced Open Water certification. The USS Liberty wreck was nice, with lots of fish life; the best dive was at the Tulamben drop-off area, with a nice octopus, several large and small fish, some pretty coral, and blue-spotted sting-rays. We also did our mandatory navigation dive and deep dives here. Night dive was at the Liberty wreck. This was our first night-dive, and there was plenty to see, but I had a pretty lousy time, mostly due to repeatedly fogging-up my mask and poor finning.

Days 7-10. Three of our last 4 days were spent upside, touring Amed, wasting away on the the great beaches, staying at the Sheraton resort in Nusa Indah in the south. We did do one day of diving, two dives at Nusa Penida. This involves an hour drive + an hour by boat each way. But it was worth it: great expanses of soft coral, plenty of fish-life, with all the usual suspects (large parrot-fish, groupers, angels, snappers, sting-rays. Did not see any sun-fishes or sharks, though.

Food. Food at Taman Selini and Mimpi is relatively simple. Best off eating basic local dishes, in my opinion. The best part is breakfast, when you get tons of fresh local fruit. In Sanur area (Sheraton), there are plenty of choices -- the Japanese restaurant in Sheraton was pretty good, for instance.

Dive operator Bali has plenty of operators, many with good web-sites. We went with Aquapro (, and our dive-master throughout was Pras. Our experience was _very good_, and if we dive Bali again, it will be with them.

Before the trip, I had planned the entire itinerary, and sent enquiries to Aquamarine (another operator in Bali) and Aquapro. Aquapro was cheaper by over 20% (to book all hotels, and take care of all land travel except free-days). Pras was at the airport to pick us up. He was our AOW instructor _and_ DM on other days. On several dives, we had another DM dive with the two of us, usually a very good natured fellow called Jack. That turned out to be great for newbie divers like us, especially in the night dive. We rented BCD's and Regs, and the ones we got were excellent (Scubapro). Everyone at Aquapro spoke good English (even the driver), and communication was no problem. The entire operation was very professional: we had zero problems throughout the procedure -- they really had it all wrapped up for us, to the dot on the itinerary specs we gave them. The email response time was 1-2 days, perhaps because the guy doing this communication is also a dive instructor during the day.