Tossing and turning all night I reminisced about the two introductory scuba dives I had gone on in my life. One in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and one in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. Both times went swimmingly and I enjoyed my adventures in the underwater world. However, this time I knew diving in Nusa Lembongan would be different.
I’d be on my own, 18m below the surface of the ocean. If we passed my SSI open water course, we would soon be able to dive underwater without the guidance of an instructor or someone watching my every move.
Diving in Nusa Lembongan – What to Expect
Learning how to dive is something that both Cameron and I have been wanting to do for a long time. We love to snorkel and see the many strange creatures that live beneath the ocean’s surface. We meant to spend a month on Bali, but when we learned we could go diving in the baby blue waters around the Nusa Islands we left Bali.
After a few days on Nusa Penida, we made out a way to Nusa Lembongan. It’s the most popular and developed of the Nusa Islands with plenty of dive shops and surf schools. We were after one thing on Nusa Lembongan and that was the chance to become divers, and possibly see a giant manta ray or mola mola.
After one sleepless night and a bit of anxiety, we made our way to Dive Concepts. After doing much research we found that Dive Concepts had the best online reviews with the best prices at €240 to get certified. They are also one of the most experienced schools on the island which is a great way to determine reliability. We would spend the first day in the pool learning theory and safety techniques, before graduating to open water the next two days.
Prior to the course we were granted access to the SSI app and told to study up. These materials were included in the dive course, and having them before we started the course really freed our time to learn scuba in the course. The materials are broken down into courses and each one takes about 30-40 minutes to read and take a brief quiz. This meant by the time we arrive on the morning of our course we had already completed five courses of theory and had a good understanding of scuba.
Upon arrival to our course, we met up with Cedric, our French dive instructor who would be with us every step of the way for the next three days. The courses at Dive Concepts never exceed four people to ensure learning. We got lucky with only one other person in our group. Our whole group had done an introductory dive before and were ready to take it to the next level. After introductions, I expressed how I was a little nervous to begin the course.
“No worries, this is going to be a piece of cake!” Said Cedric cheerfully.
First up we took to the pool to learn about our gears operation and basic scuba principles. Learning in the pool first is pretty much mandatory for all PADI and SSI dive courses. Instructors want people to get used to the feeling of breathing underwater, familiar with the equipment, and safety procedures before attempting in the ocean. In the pool, you learn all about your equipment and trying to maintain buoyancy.
We also went through emergency scenarios and how to react. Things, like losing your mask, running out of the air, and losing your regulator are all practiced. Our whole group did great, except for me who freaked out when I had to simulate losing my mask and putting it back on. I knew this would be my number one fear the next three days. Cedric said he would work with me until I felt confident, which I couldn’t appreciate enough.
Our second day with Dive Concepts was spent at two dive sights around Nusa Lembongan. We had to prepare our equipment and tank ourselves before diving in and feeling comfortable in the water. Open water divers may not go deeper than 18 meters, and our first day we went to about 15 meters. Cameron and I both agreed that the first two dives were our favorite. The coral was in fantastic shape, we saw a variety of colorful fish and even a sea turtle. The best part of all was the lack of other divers around as these weren’t the hotspots around the island.
When we returned to land we had two hours of classroom time – this was our longest day. The class was spent going over what the courses on the app had taught us, but having a real teacher to explain things more in depth was great. Plus with two dives completed it put it all into perspective. The second day ended with our theory test which was straightforward and we finished it with ease.
I was beginning to feel more confident with the whole dive thing. Maybe I wouldn’t have dreams about drowning anymore? We had trips planned to The Maldives and the Philippines – both are known for their amazing dive sites.
The third day was completely spent out in the open water. The third day of the course was also the most important – This was the big day. Not only was it the day we would have underwater “tests,” and pass our class, but we were also going to Manta Point.
Manta Point, located right off the coast of Nusa Penida is a well-known dive and snorkel spot. I’m sure you could have guessed by the name, but there is usually a very good chance of spotting Manta Rays here. Mantas are filter feeders and the plankton around Manta Point are in abundance.
We ended up seeing three Mantas while diving around Manta Point. Although we’ve seen them in both Mozambique and The Galapagos they were really far away and quite shy. Here, near Nusa Penida they could be observed and admired up close. The only problem was every dive and snorkel operator heads to Manta Point on a daily basis in what seems like the same exact time. So, we were also observing with felt like 100 other people, making the journey less amazing than we thought, unfortunately.
Our last stop was Crystal Bay. This would be our longest and deepest dive at 40 minutes and almost 18 meters. However, about 15 minutes of that would be spent practicing the emergency scenarios we had in the pool the first day. To pass the course we had to simulate the things like running out of air and losing our mask at 15m deep. Many of these situations would hopefully never happen, but just in case a life or death situation arises while diving we were trained with how to react.
Having already been to Crystal Bay while we were exploring Nusa Penida a few days earlier I can honestly say I enjoyed it much more diving from the water than the shore. It’s called Crystal Bay for a reason, and that’s because the water is crystal clear blue. It’s a fantastic snorkel and dive spot with a stunning reef and it’s the spot to see a mola mola. Crystal Bay would sadly be our last dive of the course and we were trying to hold onto all the 40 minutes of it.
As we surfaced Cedric shouted “You all passed!” and we were all smiles knowing that now we could scuba around the world!
Overall, we felt getting dive certified on Nusa Lembongan was a fantastic choice. I know that you can do it in Bali, but wanting to escape the mass tourism that has engulfed the island I’m happy we chose elsewhere. Plus the coral and waters around the Nusa Islands did not disappoint, and we had two sunny and marvelous days in the beautiful water at a fraction of the price we would have paid elsewhere.
If you want the same great experience we had Dive Concepts is the company to go diving with on Nusa Lembongan. Not only because the staff were friendly, but the training was efficient and we didn’t have to shell out megabucks to get certified.
Cedric was a great instructor for us. Funny, friendly, and charismatic and out of the water and completely serious and helpful under the sea. Seriously, half the reason why I felt so confident and comfortable during this course was because of him. I think your experience with your instructor can make or break your course. So if you are a little bit of a nervous swimmer with a sense of humor request him!
As for us, we are off to the Maldives to do more diving!
Where to stay on Nusa Lembongan
We didn’t go basic or super cheap on Nusa Lembongan and set our budget to $50 a night for accommodation. What should get us a beachfront guesthouse is most of Southeast Asia got us far less on the Nusa Islands. We picked up a cute Airbnb, which had great gardens and grounds, a nice pool, comfortable rooms, and a hot (but saltwater shower).
The place was quiet and perfect for relaxing. It wasn’t the deal of the century, but it was far better than some of the backpacker options there are. Prepare to spend more on accommodation if you are traveling during the high season.
Other accommodation recommendations on Nusa Lembongan:
- Batu Karong: One of the best places to stay on the island, but also one of the most expensive. This is the luxurious places to stay on Nusa Lembongan.
- The Niti Hut’s: A great mid-range option that offers a beautiful garden with a pool and free breakfast.
- Bukit Taman Cottages: Good for couples or solo travelers on a budget. The rooms here are comfortable yet affordable and offer sea views.
- Bong Hostel: Hostel vibe and hostel prices.
Plan your trip to the Nusa Islands
- Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads is ideal for flexible and great plans!
- Water: The tap water in Indonesia is not drinkable. Make sure to bring a travel water bottle and fill up from the large tanks which can be found almost everywhere. Indonesia and the Nusa Islands have a huge plastic waste problem so try your hardest not to contribute to it. One of our favorites is the Lifestraw Go.
- Adapter: Indonesia uses the Europlug. Pick up a good universal travel adaptor before you arrive.
- Packing: It can get real dusty riding around the Nusa Islands on a motorbike. Wearing a buff will protect your face from all the dirt.
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