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Nusa Penida, Nusa Caningan und Nusa Lembongan
These islands are located in the southeast of Bali in the Lombok Strait between Lombok and Bali. Nusa Penida is the largest of the small islands. To the northwest lie two smaller islands called Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan. Bali and Lombok are separated through a deep water ditch. This line is also a geographical border called Wallace-Line. Therefore Bali and Lombok show a different flora and fauna. One is more in Asian and the other is more in Australian influence. It was impossible for the plants and animals to cross this geographical border because in this Strait water is exchanged between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Measurement shows an annual mean transport of around 1.7 million cubic meter water per second. This means in the end you will find here a very strong current! Most of these dives are not for beginners! Here you will find often very strong and unpredictable currents and undertows. The underwater world is very rich of species and you will find them in huge numbers because with all the cold and fresh water comes also plenty of nutrient to feed all this numbers of animals. The visibility is absolutely clear and the sight is more than 30 meters. The dives will be around the high tide because then the currents are smoother.
You will find here some really remarkable animals - the Mola Mola sunfish as well as large pelagic fish such as tunas, rays, manta rays, different kind of mackerels and sharks (even grey reef sharks, white-tip sharks) or turtles in pristine hard coral reefs.
All dive sites are steep slopes or walls which go down very deep. If you want to have an impression of the currents in this area have a look an this satellite maps from the University of Hamburg:
Nusa Penida is a dive site to be conservative because of the strong currents! Always stickclose to the reef! In difficult dive sites we will go only with one customer for one diveguide. Listen to the advice of your dive operator and the boat skipper, and always stay near with your group than the conditions are, if not easy, at least manageable.
Nusa Penida is the largest of the three islands and shows many interesting dive sites. Do you want to see a Manta Ray? You will have a very good chance because there is a Manta cleaning-station at the south of the island. From july to september you can have the fortune to see sunfish (Mola mola). Mola molas belong to the family of Puffers and reach a size of three meters. Therefore they are the biggest bony fishes on the earth. In Padang Bai and here are the only places in the world where you can see them regular from July until September. Usually they live in the deep blue. Here in Bali are some cleaning-stations where the sunfish get clean by banner fishes. In spite of there huge size sunfish have only a tiny little mouth to suck for example jellyfish.
1. Crystal Bay
Nusa Penida´s Crystal Bay is part of the Ceningan Channel which divides Nusa Penida from Nusa Ceningan. Outside of the bay there is a strong current because the water which flow down the Lombok Strait has to pass this Channel between Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan. Inside of the bay you will dive in sparkling clear water protected from the current and it is possible to go snorkeling as well or relaxing at the white sand beach of this beautiful bay. The visibility here is very good! At the wall you can see sunfish cleaning station where Mola molas get cleaned by groups of bannerfishes. But you can see so much more marine life at this place like sharks and eagle rays or large school of glasfish as well as redtooth triggerfishes, schooling bannerfishes, doctorfishes, anthias, and angelfishes everywhere.
Approximately ten meters under the surface you will find the entrance to an underwater cave. Inside the cave there is a hole where you can see the sky and on the ceiling of this cave bats are sleeping.
2. Gamat Bay
The conditions of this dive site are nearly the same like in Crystal Bay. Gamat Bay is located between Crystal Bay and Toyapakeh. Inside the small Bay in some shallower areas you will find similar no current. Here it is possible to snorkel between nice coral formations, mantis shrimps, leaffishes, nudibranchs and dragonets. If you swim to the corner of the bay the protection ends and you will start a drift dive along a beautiful wall where the boat will follow the dive group. Here you can see eagle rays and sharks and sunfish.
This little bay is located at the beginning of the Ceningan Channel in the northwest of Nusa Penida where the ferries from Bali arrive. This little Bay is partially protected from the strong current flowing through this small channel. You will find the same conditions in this Bay like in the other ones in the Ceningan Channel. You will see pretty hard and soft coral formations like gorgonians, huge table corals and pillars. Big group of fish can be seen as well as sunfish and sharks. South of the bay where the Ceningan channel begins there is a beautiful wall with rocky overhangs and caves. If the current is not to strong and the waves not so big we can do a nice drift dive along the wall.
4.SD (Sekolah Desar)
At the top in the north of Nusa Penida you find the dive sites Sekolah Desar (SD), Sental, Ped and Sampalan. At this point all the water which flow down from the Pacific meets the cost of the small island and divides. Some water flow down the west coast into the Ceningan Channel and some flow to the east side. The conditions you can expect are fast currents which sometimes change there direction.
Try to stay together in your group but this can be difficult and the distances covered during the drift dive can be amazing and your air bubbles will rise behind, in front, below and in whirls around you. It is a wild ride! And only possible for experienced divers, good dive guides and very good skippers.
These dive sites are steep slopes and walls covered with corals and sponges. The best dive site is probably SD. It is possible to see large pelagics like manta rays, white tip and black tip shark, barracuda, tuna, sun fish or even very rare whale sharks!
The conditions at the southeast cost of Nusa Penida can be quite rough. The coastline is wild with divided high and white limestone rocks and high waves tossing against it. The conditions do not allow diving here all the time. Depending on the large waves crashing against the high cliffs we can sometimes not reach this dive site all the time. We dive in two bays which are a little bit more protected. Because of the high waves you will find nearly no corals here. The only reason to dive this site is to have a look at the mantas! The cleaning station operating with huge groups of wrasses can be found in four until twelve meters. Therefore it is not necessary to dive deep the mantas are gathering around this shallow cleaning station and we can wait for them. These huge animals with a span of seven meters seem to arrive out of the deep blue. It looks like they are flying under the water. In the time when they will be cleaned you can carefully swim closer to them. Diving with these huge animals is an amazing feeling!
Depending on the tide the dive conditions can change at this dive site at the northwest corner of Nusa Lembogan very fast. Therefore this dive site can be only strongly recommended for experienced divers. Refer to the other dive sites you should dive here at the time around the high tide as well to avoid the strong current. Sometimes you will say after the dive this dive side is the greatest I have ever seen or you will say outright boring or dangerous, depending on the current you will find. But if there is no current at all large animals are rare. And if the swell getting up from the south with big waves the visibility can be very bad. But if all conditions are good this is one of the best dive sites in Bali. You will dive at this dive site for a longer time at 30 meters into a wide canyon. Therefore you will need a dive computer. You will follow a steep slope with overhangs and outcroppings. When we start our dive we will first try to hide behind some of these outcroppings or overhangs to protect ourselves against the current. Some of the big fish will do the same. If we are lucky we will see manta rays and bannerfish as a sunfish cleaning station.