Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tulamben Fun Dives

Yet another dive trip has passed last week before I get the chance to write about the previous one :P Okay, this one is about my dive trip to Tulamben (again) last month. My plan after the certification would be to the Gilis, but too bad I couldn't take a leave from the office. So, in May, we just went to a dive site that was accessible for the weekend.

As usual, here's the dive report... We did 3 dives on the first day and 2 dives on the second day. I'm gonna do the dive numbering based on my log book (starting from #5). The number looks ridiculous compared to the dive numbers my senior diver friends have, but for me it can be a personal reminder and a motivation to dive more. Haha...

Day 1

#5: The first dive of the day is at USAT Liberty Shipwreck. We enter the site from a passage near Ocean View Tulamben hotel, not from the usual place near the public parking lot. On our previous dive trip, our dive gears were carried to the shore by porters, but this time we carry them by ourselves. There's a 2-step steep stairway from the passage to the shore. The tank is sure heavy for a walk like that! I don't want to sound like a spoiled diver, but the tank is about half of my body weight... seriously. I think I need to hit the gym :P About the dive, at first I have a problem descending because it's not easy for me to put myself in a vertical position. I use bigger fins, and it feels like my legs tend to float. I can descend after some times :P Some of the fish we see during the dive are the schooling jackfish (of course!), pufferfish, oriental sweetlips, leaf scorpionfish, and napoleonfish.

#6: Not long after we descend for the second dive in Drop-off, we see the great barracuda! Actually, it is a very famous dweller of Tulamben, but this is the first time I see it. Just like in our previous trip, the current here is stronger than in the first dive. I don't know if it's always like this because of the dive site or because of the time (the current seems to pick up in the afternoon). Beside the usual suspects like pufferfish and a school of yellowstripe scad (as seen in the picture), we also see stone fish.

#7: We do the third dive in Coral Garden at about 3.30 p.m... so I've already expected the current. This time we see a moray eel, lots of small shrimps, cute boxfish, nudibranch, and my favorite: juvenile emperor angelfish. I love the the pattern and the electric blue color of the fish, kind of like a shiny batik. Hehe... The blue stripe is more vibrant when you see it directly than from a picture :P This time, Fajar also take a video of clownfish playing around the anemones.

Day 2

#8: We dive at the shipwreck again. We see a turtle swimming fast upward at the beginning of our dive. Great start! This time Renaud, our guide, take us to explore the wreck further. We go inside, pass through the cavities in the wreck, and even go into a narrow opening in the bottom of the wreck. It's a lot of fun! It's also a great way for us to hone our buoyancy skill. By the way, here's the video taken by Fajar to show some of the swim-though inside the wreck (I was right in front of him with the unflattering over-sized BCD) Excuse us if the video shows too much of my fins :P

#9: We dive in Coral Garden, but this time we head north. It's the first time I've been to this particular spot. There's a framework with marine plants in it, just like in the southern part. We see 2 beautiful lionfish in the structure. North from this place is mostly a barren sandy area with occasional sighting of corals. I don't know why but this place kind of gives me an eerie feeling... maybe because it's desolate? When we head further north, Renaud suddenly clank his tank and point to the shallower water. There's a black-tip reef shark swimming fast to the opposite direction! Whoaaa this is the first time I see a shark while diving, and I just freeze until Renaud give me a sign of "are you OK?" Hehehe... What a newbie. And then, not long after the encounter, we see the great barracuda again! It just lingers near the sand getting cleaned by some smaller fish. This time we get closer, and we can see the sharp teeth and the big eyes (I still remember how it felt to see those teeth and those eyes... very exciting).

So that was our dive trip in May. Great dives, lots to see! Oh how I love weekend in Bali :D The most memorable thing for me is the great barracuda of course. Fajar regretted that we couldn't take a clear picture of it since my camera was fogging from the previous dive, but I'm still very happy to finally see it with my own eyes. I mean, isn't that the point of diving? Hehe...

Dive center: Dive Concepts, Tulamben (
Price: Rp 1mio for 5 dives
Include: dive guide, full equipments
Exclude: meals, transport to Tulamben, accommodation

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Certified (part II)

This post is about me taking an open water course 2 months ago. If you have no idea of what I'm talking about, please see my previous post :D

After completing the theory and pool sessions in Sanur, we went to Tulamben the following weekend. Tulamben is a small fishing village in the eastern part of Bali, about 2.5 to 3-hour ride from Kuta. It's very popular among divers for the shipwreck that lies only about 30 m from the shore. We stayed at Paradise Tulamben, a nice dive lodge just beside the beach. We were going to do 4 ocean dives in 2 days (12 m on the first day, 18 m on the second day), and our skills would be evaluated during these dives. Here's the dive report: (written in present tense to give a sense of immediacy :P)

Day 1

#1: We start the first dive just in front of our lodge, at a dive site called Paradise Reef a.k.a Coral Garden. There are a structure resembling a small plane and other artificial reefs which become shelters for a lot of fish. This place is good for snorkeling since there are a lot marine life in the shallower water. Among the creatures we see are ribbon eel, nudibranch, and leaf scorpionfish. This is also a really nice place if you love Nemo. I've seen some cute clownfish and anemones when snorkeling before, but not as many as in this place. There's a table coral surrounded by lots of anemones with clownfish in each of them. We can see the clownfish playing from one anemone to another... so cute :3

#2: After the surface interval, we do a wall dive in Drop-off in the southern part of Tulamben coastline. The landscape is a slope, starting from 1m to 40m+, which leads to a wall formation. We see a moray eel in the crevice of the wall. We also come across a big pufferfish, giant gorgonian fans, and a bumphead parrotfish. By the way, I never thought that bumphead parrotfish would be that huge! :P The current is quite strong, so we need to stay close to the coral. I'm a bit afraid that my legs would get cramps since I only use small fins and swimming against the current is getting exhausting (fortunately, that didn't happen... hehe)

Day 2

#3: I was woken up in the early morning to visit the USAT Liberty Shipwreck, remains of World War II freighter lying not far from the shore. This dive site is so popular that some say diving here is like being in a market :)) That's why we dive very early to avoid the crowds. I've been snorkeling here, but apparently it was like merely 1% from the overall wreck experience :P The ship is huge... it's about 120m long and 30m deep. It's now covered with marine plants, but we can still see the parts like the helm and the gun. The animals are also great. There are green humphead parrotfish, napolean wrasse, garden eels, oriental sweetlips, and of course the schooling jackfish (I even saw them when snorkeling). This time, we get very close to the schooling jackfish! Apparently, beside of the regular-sized jackfish, there are also 2 super-sized jackfish... like, 4 times bigger. I think they look like the guardians "patrolling" the school. Haha... It's also great to do a swim-through inside the wreck. Oh, on this dive, I realize that I've been able to equalize without having to pinch my nose. Yippeee...

#4: We dive in the shipwreck again, but now we have to perform a navigation skill based on the previous dive. I have to lead the group to the shipwreck, and Fajar will lead the group to the shore at the end of the dive.

By the way, there were some skills Pak Sabra (our instructor) asked us to perform in the beginning or the end of each dive, but I forgot which ones on which dives... (well, it's been 2 months :P) Some of them were retrieving and clearing regulator, sharing air with buddy, and clearing mask underwater... basically stuff that had been taught in the pool session. Beside the ocean dives, there were also a theory exam and a skin-dive session (diving with only snorkeling gears in shallow water, maybe 4-6m). For keen snorkelers, this skin-dive thing is absolutely no problem. Hehe...

So that's it! We went back to Sanur after completing the four dives. We headed to SSI headquarter and got the diving license right away. Overall, I'm very pleased with the course. The price is reasonable (take into account the weakened USD :D), the instructor is professional and helpful, and the dives are great!

Dive center: D Scuba Club, Sanur (
Price: $300 for SSI Open Water Course (4 days, 4 ocean dives)
Include: lunch on all days, full equipment
Exclude: transport to Tulamben, accommodation

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Certified (part I)

I wanted to write about my dive trip to Tulamben last weekend, but I thought it wouldn't be completed if I didn't write about my diving course first. I was determined that I would write down all of my logged dives here, just as I saw in a diver's blog. But apparently I found it very hard to push myself into it (as you see, the last previous post is from August 2010 -_-) Well, I finally did an SSI Open Water Course 2 months ago. It might be quite strange that it took me so long since I had been living in Bali for almost 3 years then. I mean, even some of my friends that live far away from the sea had done that. Maybe I didn't feel the rush for taking the diving course because I used to be very happy with snorkeling once or twice every month here, and I could do some skin-dives... However, I knew that sooner or later I would want more.

So I took the course with D Scuba Club, a dive operator in Sanur owned by my former PM :D The schedule was quite flexible, the duration was 4 days and I requested that it was split into 2 weekends so I didn't have to take a leave from the office. The first weekend was for theory and pool sessions which were conducted in Sanur, and the second weekend was for the open water sessions which were conducted in Tulamben. What I really like from the course is that it was not crowded. It was only me, my boyfriend, and the instructor.

There were some tests required before the pool session. First we were asked to swim 200 m continuously using any style we wanted and without any gears (swimming goggle was permitted), and then float in the water for 15 minutes. Then we were taught essential skills for scuba diving like how to set up the equipments, descend/ascend, control the buoyancy, clear mask underwater, deal with emergency situation, etc.

We went to Tulamben the following weekend to complete the open water session. I'll write about this in the next blog post...