Manta Rays flying directly over your head
If you’re lucky, whilst completing your Open Water, you’ll visit Manta Point at the base of Nusa Penida’s south coast cliffs. This idyllic spot is where the gentle giants of the sea gather at what is known as the ‘Cleaning Station’ - several rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above – where smaller sea creatures remove parasites from the Mantas. It is quite hard to put into words the feeling you get, when you’re 18 metres under the deep pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, and a 25-foot Manta ray glides, so elegantly and peacefully over the top of you. If this is your first-time diving, trust me, nothing will beat the thrill again (well apart from maybe a sky dive – but that’s a whole other article!)
Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan are only a short journey away (and trust me, you’ll want to visit them!)
If you’re the kind of person that likes to get off the beaten track and enjoy the peaceful, idyllic spots with no one else around then put Nusa Penida on your list. You can hop on a short 15 minute boat ride from Nusa Lembongan to Nusa Penida. Take the time to stroll along the beach front and you'll find cheaper boats, we managed to get one for 80,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) - thats just under £5 so can't complain! Be careful, getting around can be a little tricky. The islands have very small windy roads and motorbikes seem to be the preferred mode of transport, so unfortunately accidents are quite common. You can however easily get around by car or truck. We found two friendly locals who drove us around Penida at a good rate. A friend actually got hit by one of the trucks out there, so be careful if you do choose to walk.
The views are completely out of this world (no exaggeration!)
The tiny island that sits 10 miles off the coast of Bali is a little slice of heaven, known for its relaxed atmosphere, serene beaches and crystal blue waters. You are likely to complete five dives over the course of your Open Water and every single time you are taken to a new breath-takingly stunning marine protected area. When you visit Nusa Penida make sure you don’t miss Kelingking Beach, I’m sure you’ve probably seen this spot on Instagram. Take a trip to Broken Beach with it’s burling waters, and go for a swim in Angel’s Billabong natural infinity pool. You could even go to Crystal Bay again and get a different perspective of the water on the beach rather than under the sea! August was the perfect time of year, as you are pretty much guaranteed glorious sunshine.
Your chance to swim with turtles and Mola Mola fish
Heard of the Mola fish before? No, I hadn’t either. Day one of the PADI was in Crystal Bay AKA Penida Bay, one of the best places to see Mola Mola fish through the season which is generally considered to be between late July to early November, but this season varies and these creatures can be spotted sporadically, all year round. Completing your PADI here gives you a pretty high chance of seeing one! It is very surreal pulling into the Crystal Bay, the tropical colours are incredible, the scene can only be described as something out of a movie. If you’re up for seeing Octopus, starfish and a million other fish then the Nusa islands are for you!
Wondering where to learn?
Legend Diving on Nusa Lembongan are a great team of professional divers. What makes it even better is that the dive centre is a family run business and you can really tell that when you learn with them - everyone is friendly, supportive and patient! I did a lot of research before taking my PADI and these guys had five star reviews everywhere, they certainly lived up to the many testimonials I read!
It won’t burn a hole in your pocket!
The entire Open Water course cost 5, 000, 000 Indonesian Rupiah, I know that looks and sounds like a lot (getting used to the currency took us a while – for the first day or two you feel like a big-time baller!) but it is around £300 which is pretty good for a PADI course. Also, what better way to finish one of the most epic days of your life than Yoga on the beach at sunset? You’ll meet amazing people both on your PADI course and the instructors who help you through the training and why not follow your yoga with a relaxing evening at your own private room (as a backpacker you forget what it is like to have a room to yourself!) The accommodation on the Nusa islands is pretty out of this world.
Top Tip – don’t leave booking until the last minute, in the peak season, the islands are very busy and hostels/hotels are in high demand! If you want a place that is stunning, quiet and clean then check out Nusa Bagus Homestay, it cost £35 per night (roughly 670,000 IDR) and has it’s own private bathroom and balcony area (so if you're a fellow backpacker, why not treat yourself for once!)
Happy Scuba Diving! 🙂