I was first drawn across to Indonesia to spend time with a friend of mine completing his Instructor Development Course (IDC) in Gili Trawangan. Whilst he studied all day every day, I took to the water and scuba diver as much and often as I could.
Diving with Trawangan Dive Centre, I was able to partner with other divers at a same level as me and often just myself with a guide which was a luxury. The dive sites are big, as the Gili Islands are known for their current (and diving with a marker buoy or SMB is compulsory), and you find yourself barely moving and yet covering a lot of ground.
If you love turtles, then the Gili Islands are for you! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a high number of green turtles in one small area, and so many of them really big in size. It was always so exciting and yet calming to spot one and have time to watch as they were cleaned or graze in coral. Cuttlefish and octopus were also pretty commonplace; their colour and texture-changing magic mesmerising me! You can also often spot small black tip reef sharks snoozing under reef overhangs in twos or threes.
Towards the mainland is Nusa Pendida, famous for manta rays at Manta Point, and seasonally a place to spot mola mola or sunfish out in the blue (where the water is cooler) at Crystal Bay. The dive itself at Crystal Bay is also beautiful, so if you don’t spot a sunfish you’ll still have a great dive! When staying in Kuta I went diving with AquaMarine, and in Padang Bai with OK Divers where I also stayed a few days. If you have the luxury of time, dive a little in Padang Bai they have lots of nudis and frog fish about for you to spot!
North of Bali you have the towns of Tulamben and Amed, both which offer great diving. Diving with Amed Jepun Divers, I explored both areas over a couple of days. Tulamben have a cute little wreck and a lovely artificial reef called Pyramids where you can spot leaf fish and stone fish, and the sand is littered with small blue spotted rays that dart away from you before you can get close. Amed is known for the Liberty Wreck which is frequented by napoleon wrasse and feisty little damsel fish, but also has some great muck diving sites where we saw ghost pipefish and nudibranch egg swirls all over the black sand. I can’t wait to get back out to Amed and do more muck dives and night dives – it’s a great place to spot octopus and squid!