Friday, 3 July 2009

Diving With Mantas: Nusa Lembongan

Few creatures on the planet are as outlandish as the Manta Ray. I arrived on Nusa Lembongan, a speck of rock south-east of Bali, with the intention of seeing them first-hand. There´s not much else to do on the island but dive, so a couple of days was going to do it. I stayed at a very nice place called Bungalow No7, which handily had a dive shop attached to it. I couldn´t be bothered wandering around in the heat trying to barter, and the German guy who ran it was a nice fellow.

We headed out the next day to Manta Point, just off Nusa Perida, further east. We kitted up quickly, as Mantas had been seen every day for the last few weeks. Dropping into the cool waters, I was amazed at the visibilty. At least 25m compared to what I´d been used to on the wrecks in Coron. We drifted silently towards the natural ampitheatre ahead, warily watching the surf crash onto the rocks above us, and waited. Our patience was rewarded as the infinitely graceful creatures came into view, gliding above into the oxygen-rich water. It was breathtaking...fifteen of them, three or four at a time, flew above and around us...some of them a good 3m in span. At one point Sven and I had a Nurse Shark for company, inquisitively swimming below him, inches from his legs. I´ve never had a better dive, wrecks aside. When we´d finished the air, we just got the snorkels and jumped back in. they were barely a few feet from us the whole time, and aren´t shy. Incredible creatures.

And if I thought the visibilty was good at that site, I was shocked by Crystal Bay. A good 40m of the underwater domain was visible here. Plenty of interesting fish, and a nice current to drift on. Not the cheapest diving I´ve done, in fact it was the most expensive, but I´d do it again. If you´re diving Indonesia, do not miss out on this one.

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