Even if you’ve only got a few days to travel, Bali can still amaze and enchant both landlubbers and jaded divers alike. Join Andrew Lim as he jets away for a quick getaway to Bali. (Text and Photos by Andrew Lim)
After a long first day of travel, our small group wasted no time on our second day. We quickly chartered a boat and headed straight for the world famous dive site known as Manta Point. We were understandably tired after air and overland travel, but fortunately for us, the Artotel Sanur hotel afforded us a good night’s rest and smooth transition to underwater adventure. The divers in our group were all smiles when we realised the walk to the dive boats was only a five-minute stroll from the hotel doors.
To be honest, my expectations were low. I’d been to Manta Point before but unfortunately did not see any mantas so I never really understood the hype. Part of me was skeptical about the rave reviews this site has received over the years. However, this trip totally changed my mind.
We were really lucky that day as the sea was flat and Manta Point actually had calm waters! We jumped in right away and were greeted by three bamboo sharks within the first few minutes of the dive. As I was distracted and busy trying to get a shot of one of the sharks, the shadow of a behemoth passed right above me. As I looked up, I soon realised that a squadron of six mantas was swimming alongside us, and would stay with us the entire dive. I savoured every minute of it. I remember thinking to myself “so this is what Manta Point is all about”. I fell deeply in love with Bali that day.
Every time I dive with these majestic creatures, I can’t help but feel humbled by their sheer size and grace. It was truly magical. But naturally I couldn’t help but think that every other dive that followed would pale in comparison after such a wonderful first dive. Our boat circled around Nusa Penida to the more sheltered side of the island. Who’d imagine I’d have such fun at the dive sites Crystal Bay and Toyapakeh too.
The quality of both hard and soft corals was amazing. I was surprised to see minimal signs of bleaching and breakage, which indicated a healthy reef despite the large volumes of tourists Bali sees each year. It’s also remarkable that a reef so intricate is just a day trip from the busy vacation centre that is the south, with Kuta and Denpasar just a stone’s throw away. The biodiversity at these dive sites was incredible, with plenty of reef fish. Where there’s plenty of food means there are predators around too, but they stayed well hidden on this occasion. Still, it was a day worth remembering.