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Diving on Nusa Lembongan

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The islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida collectively offer almost 20 dive sites with spectacularly diverse and abundant marine life.

The lion(fish)’s share of the best sites are in the waters off Nusa Penida. Only three sites are actually around Lembongan, but most of the dive shops are based here. The megastars of this underwater show are undoubtedly the curious mola mola (oceanic sunfish), which cruise through between July and October, and the graceful manta rays, which can be seen year round. A host of other notable performers include several species of sharks (whale, bamboo, wobbegong and white tips), humpback whales, turtles, dolphins, seahorses, octopus, lionfish and cuttlefish, as well as a dazzling coral garden.

Sometimes you don’t even need to get wet to see a manta. Photo taken in or around Diving on Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Sometimes you don’t even need to get wet to see a manta. Photo: Sally Arnold

The clear waters around here, especially off Penida, are known for their strong and unforgiving currents and are much colder than you would assume for the tropics. If you’re learning, Bali is more suited to absolute beginners. That said, you can still learn to dive on Nusa Lembongan, just don’t expect to be taken to the more demanding sites (fatal dive accidents have occurred in these waters).

Popular sites include Toyapakeh (meaning salt water in Balinese) in the channel between Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan, which offers macro life, a diversity of corals and large pelagics; you can take a wild guess as to what you’ll find at Manta Point off Nusa Penida, and near Nusa Lembongan, Blue Corner offers rugged topography and crystal-clear visibility, but the treacherous waters are only for very advanced divers accompanied by a divemaster well versed in the locale.

Mola mola too. Photo taken in or around Diving on Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Mola mola too. Photo: Sally Arnold

The Marine Megafauna Foundation have been studying the local manta ray population and to date have identified 600 individuals (each manta has unique markings). Sadly manta poo studies (it’s a thing) have discovered a diet largely consisting of plastic—something to think about when buying a plastic water bottle or mindlessly accepting a plastic straw or bag. The foundation offers free talks on Tuesdays (local marine life) and Thursdays (manta rays) at 18:30 at Secret Garden Bungalow in Jungut Batu. You can also help support their work by adopting a manta.

A number of reputable dive companies operate around the island with comparable rates, many based in Jungut Batu. Several offer packages that include a range of accommodation options. Shop around to find both a deal that fits your budget and an instructor that you’ll be comfortable with. A three-day PADI course will set you back around 4,000,000 rupiah, while the Advanced Open Water costs around 5,500,000 rupiah. Single dives cost around 600,000 rupiah, with discounts offered for multiple dives.

The following companies have good reputations but there are many others to choose from—always check their licence, condition of the gear and experience before signing up. Sites visited may vary due to seasonal demand and conditions.

British-run World Diving is the original dive company on the island. They also offer a range of accommodation packages to suit all budgets. Spanish speakers may prefer Spanish-run Planet Nomadas (and non-divers may wish to check out their Spanish restaurant). Big Fish Dive offer diving and yoga packages as well as a range of accommodation. They are also the hosts for the Marine Megafauna Foundation. Two Fish Divers run dive shops around Bali and other islands in the archipelago; if you are planning on venturing further afield from Nusa Lembongan, they offer dive safaris. Lembongan Dive Centre (LDC) offers courses in English, French and Indonesian. Bali Diving Academy is based in Sanur and has dive shops around Bali, including on Nusa Lembongan. Blue Corner has locations in Jungut Batu and Mushroom Bay.

Bali Diving Academy
Big Fish Dive
Blue Corner
Lembongan Dive Centre (LDC)
Planet Nomadas
Two Fish Divers
World Diving

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