Nusa Penida, Bali
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With healthy reefs & ecosystems, there's some great diving in Bali. If you stay on the south of Bali, the best location we found was off-shore around Nusa Penida, an island off the south eastern side of Bali. The 1 hour boat journey was pretty bumpy when we did it in a small boat - take your seasickness meds if you're prone - but the end result was well worth it.

We ended up doing 3 great dives, & our experiences were very different both above water & below. The first seemed a bit cheesy initially - a large catemaran took a big group over to a large pontoon moored between Nusa Lembongan & Nusas Penida. It definitely catered to large tourist groups offering a variety of water spart activities for all ages. Our mission was to dive & once underwater we were rewarded with a spectacular drift dive starting out at 60 feet & ending up almost 1 mile away at 15 ft. Healthy, swaying soft coral & tons of fish. Several of us thought it was better than the Great Barrier Reef in terms of coral health & sealife concentration. We came back to a buffet lunch & some other water activities before heading back to the mainland. The drift dive was great, though; watch the video & judge for yourself!

Our second trip out there was more conventional: a well appointed dive outfit took us out to Manta Point, off of Nusa Penida in a couple of decent sized boats. A beuatiful entry spot near a stunning coastline beckoned us in & we dropped to about 35 ft next to a small under-sea mound. We were soon rewarded when huge Mantas (we estimated one had a 25ft/ 8m wingspan!) circled around the mound & through/ around us. Meanwhile, those not mesmorized by the Mantas were rewarded with a baku shark cruising along the bottom trying to grab an octopus one of the dive-masters had teased out. Check out this video from very memorable dive!

Following that, we went to a lovely, secluded enclosed beach called Crystal Bay, with a few beach-side restaurants/ shops overlooking an island for our lunch and surface interval. We then took the boat out next to the island & dove there, hoping to see sun-fish, but no such luck-it was the wrong time of the year for them. Still, a fun dive with plenty of fish, nudibrancs, a turtle & even a frogfish as you'll see in the video.

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