Saturday, November 01, 2014

Bali Trip Report, August 2014

It’s now 2 months after my 9 day diving trip to Bali, but as they say, better late than never.  It was a fantastic trip indeed.  I spent the first half of the week tech diving with Leon and the second half focusing on photography in Tulamben.

It was a very interesting and varied week.  We started out diving in Lake Batur, a crater lake in northeast Bali.  Our mission was to take some video to help a local government geologist in his research on what’s going on in the lake.  Our video proved to him the existence of lava flowers at the bottom of the lake, which was something nobody knew or expected.  So the 1m vis and 22 degree water was worth it.

Leon and I then went on to do a few tech dives at Gili Tepekong and Padang Bai.  I had a catastrophic wing failure at our 60m dive at Gili Tepekong.  I’m thankful for my GUE training and good buddy, which made the consequences of the failure an inconvenience rather than a problem.  I managed my buoyancy with my drysuit and SMB and got through the dive and 30 min of deco stops.  At Padang Bai, I saw my first ceratosoma magnificum and janolus sp. just below 30m but could not get a decent shot of them as I had my wide angle lens on.

Then we did Nusa Penida, which was hugely disappointing as our dive boat refused to go to Crystal Bay or Manta Point.  Nusa Penida is completely overrated unless you see mola molas or mantas, which is the whole point of going there.

Then we went up to Tulamben to dive the USAT Liberty and surrounding area.  The Liberty is one of my favorite wrecks.  It is covered in soft coral and all manner of marine life have made it their home.  There are huge groupers, snappers, sweetlips, and lots of small critters all over the wreck.  With Leon, we dove the wreck on doubles and stages and did 2 very long deco dives, which gave us a lot of time to explore the wreck thoroughly.

Finally, my last dive with Leon was a 2.5 hour staged dive with a 75 min deco, which he calls the Traverse.  It starts at the Drop Off in Tulamben and ends at Macro Point.  We spent most of the dive at 45m and saw some very healthy reefs along the way that rarely get dived.  We saw a large reef shark, a whitetip shark, barracuda, snapper, and lots of cleaning action.

After Leon took off, I changed gears to focus on photography.  I checked in to the Liberty Dive Resort in Tulamben.  I had reached out to Jeff Mullins at to request a dive guide who was experienced in dealing with photographers, and I wasn’t disappointed with my guide Tisnu.  We would wake up at 5am each day to do a dawn dive on the Liberty and shoot the school of bumphead parrotfish as they left the wreck for the day, then spend the afternoon muck diving and looking for tiny critters.  He found me every critter on my list and more, and planned our diving schedule to maximize the photo ops and minimize running into other divers.

I am continually impressed by the diversity in the diving Bali has to offer.  From the deep sloping reefs of the southeast, to the black sandy critter hunt of the northeast, to the Liberty wreck, every dive in Bali is a totally different experience.  And now that there are legitimate technical diving options available with Living Seas, there are no limits on diving in Bali.

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