There is something truly amazing about being deep underwater; sailing along with the marine life. The only sounds are the regulators and the crackle of coral. Both Monique and I love scuba diving, we had qualified as Open Water divers in South Africa.
Neither of us had been scuba diving for a while and we were really missing visiting the underwater world. So with some vacation days that needed planning for, we decided we should go diving in Bali! More specifically to further our qualification and do our Advanced Open Water Diver course.
Scuba Diving in Bali
Bali is not short on scuba schools and resorts. If you drive around Seminyak, Kuta or any other coastal towns you will see one after another. Bali is definitely a popular dive destination and for good reason!
Having spent a while on Google the most prominent site that kept coming up (and every google targeted ad that I started getting) was PADI rated Adventure Scuba Diving Bali. It is highly rated on Trip Advisor and seemed to be located in a good spot in Seminyak.
Upon further research we found that ASDB is situated in the Green Palms Bali hotel and you get a 10% discount on your course if you book into the hotel as well. We booked our room through booking.com. ASDB then asked for the booking confirmation so that they could give us our discount.
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Adventure Scuba Diving Bali offers a wide range of courses and dives. Bali also has dozens of potential dive spots. A bucket list item for both Monique and I was to dive with the Manta Rays; so here’s what we booked:
What we booked
There are 2 options for the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course. You can do just the 5 qualification dives over 2 days or, what we chose to do, 7 dives over 3 days. This option includes going to Nusa Penida where you may, weather permitting, get the opportunity to dive with Manta Rays.
We were a little concerned with doing 7 dives in 3 days. apart from snorkeling around the beaches of our little island home we had not been for an extended dive in a few years. In the end it was tough but we managed to push through without any problems; we just slept really well those evenings!
The 7 dive course cost us each $449, plus $149 for the e-learning materials, but that is before our discount for booking into Green Palms. The 2 day, 5 dive course is only $330. The course includes a lunch (delicious!), all transport and gear rental.
We also booked the PADI Enriched Air course. We’d never really considered the benefits of becoming qualified to use Nitrox but when we saw what it does for your no decompression time limits, I would highly recommend it to anybody who is considering it! The course cost us $125 each and includes Nitrox for all your dives.
Having not dived for a while we also needed to do a pool refresher which cost $39.
Before the actual scuba diving
The team at Adventure Scuba Diving Bali is really efficient. I had millions of question and we got a email thread to nearly 50 emails! But they were always in touch promptly, answering the questions fully. As soon as our course was paid for they sent us our PADI e-learning login and details so we could start the theory work.
For our Advanced Open Water Diver qualification we needed to do 5 adventure dives from a list of specialties. 2 are compulsory; deep and navigation. The other 3 were up to us to decide. There is a massive list that you can choose from that includes; photography, video, fish identification, wreck, night diving, drift, peak performance buoyancy, naturalist and many more. We settled on wreck, underwater photography and peak performance buoyancy.
Before you can do the dives you need to have studied the theory behind each specialty. Each dive requires you to think about and look for different things. The actual reading material is not difficult and doesn’t take a lot of time but our instructor was telling us that a lot of students don’t bother with the theory until the night/morning before. Don’t be that person. It just stresses everyone out and takes away from the diving experience
For the Nitrox course we were also required to complete an online course. The course work can get a little tedious as there is a lot of repetition throughout the videos and audio. But, as was drilled into us numerous times, diving with Nitrox improperly can be fatal, so some repetition is not that bad!
Diving Gear and other resources
Gear rental in included in all the prices which makes travelling much easier! All the equipment was in good condition and very comfortable to dive with. The dive pool is at the Green Palms hotel which meant we could also spend our evenings sipping Bintang and lazing around in the water.
Nitrox is supplied at no extra cost to any Nitrox qualified divers. Because we were doing the course we had enriched air for all our dives, which was great!
Staying at Green Palms meant we were at the main starting point for every trip. As long as you are in the Seminyak, Kuta or Sanur areas a pick up is included in your booking. The first 2 mornings we made stops along the way for other divers. Just a quick traffic note, traffic in Kuta is horrendous, it is a nightlife/party area but you can get stuck in traffic for hours around there!
Suunto D4i – dive computer
Dive computers can be rented but it was recommended that we buy our own. After looking over the various options we settled on the Suunto D4i. It is the mid-range model that also has Nitrox settings.
It was a stretch because of having spent so much on our vacation already but it was such a good choice. The computer is simple to use, clearly displays all the information and is small enough to wear as an everyday watch.
If you can afford it I would suggest investing in one, it made us so much more comfortable and confident in our dives!
Tulamben – Diving Day 1
Wreck – USS Liberty
The order of our specialty dives was determined by the appropriateness of each of our dive sites. On our first day we went out to Tulamben which is on the opposite side of Bali. Bali may look small but the drive there still took nearly 4 hours.
Tulamben is most famous for the Liberty Shipwreck. The USS Liberty was torpedoed in 1942 by the Japanese as it was crossing the strait of Lombok. She was eventually abandoned on the beach at Tulamben. In 1963, with the eruption of Gunung Agung, the shipwreck was pushed into deeper water and split in half.
The wreck sits between 3m and 30m making it a great wreck for beginners. It is also encased in coral and swarming with thousands of fish. This was the location for our first qualifying dive!
The actual dive was straight forward. We needed to show our instructor, Caro, that we understood the dangers of wreck, that we could keep a safe distance and behave responsibly. Occasionally we needed to point out hazards.
For our first dive in Bali it was spectacular. As you swim through the water towards to the site the shape of the boat slowly looms out of the blue. Marine life has taken over completely. Apart from the unnatural shapes, it could just be a rock formation!
On this dive some of the fish we saw included; Scorpion, Puffer, Trumpet, Surgeon, Oriental Sweetlips, Harlequin Sweetlips and a few Nudi Branchs.
If you decide to dive at the Liberty Wreck, expects lots of people. The dive was still amazing but there were LOTS of people. It is one of the most popular dive spots in Bali and is considered one of the top wreck dives in the world.
Navigation – Coral Gardens
The place chosen for our navigation dive was Coral Gardens. This scuba diving spot has lots of small statues and other structures that have been sunk for coral to grow. It is delightful to swim along and see these little gems studded in the sand.
Unfortunately we could not just sight-see, we actually had some serious navigating to do! In this dive we needed to show we could use a compass underwater and work with natural navigation. We did some compass work on land before the dive, which was a breeze, so we were pretty confident going into the water.
The first thing we needed to do was determine the distance of our kick cycles by swimming 10m. Then we had to navigate away from the starting point in a straight line and come back with the compass. The second to last thing we need to do was navigate in a square, this is where the wheels fell off a bit!
Monique and I took turns using the compass and keeping an eye on depth. But it is amazing how oblivious to depth and direction you can become when you are focused on the other. It definitely highlighted how important a buddy is in diving! Apparently though our struggle was not unique to us, so if you’re doing this course don’t feel too bad if your square isn’t too great.
We finished off with some natural navigation. This was easy because of all the little landmarks that were around us!
Some of the fish we saw on this dive included; Unicorn, Clown, Sole and Redtooth Triggerfish.
Nusa Penida – Diving Day 2
Manta Point – fun dive
This was the day we were most excited about; our dives at Nusa Penida. It was about an hour long boat ride to get to the dive spot, Manta Point, and just days before everything had been closed off because of weather. Luckily the sea had calmed down enough for us to dive! Unfortunately the increased wave activity meant that visibility was incredibly low but you take what you can get.
Manta point is, as the name suggests, a great place to go scuba diving with Mantas. Being wild animals there is no guarantee that you will see any, but luck was on our side this trip.
After several minutes at depth the first ghostly form glided out of the haze. Mantas are magnificent to see swimming around. They look like they are flying through the water. Their swimming is really calming to watch and they are mostly unfazed by divers.
We spent the whole dive eagerly pointing our the next Manta to sweep past, marveling at these beautiful creatures. We could have stayed down all day if our air wouldn’t run out. Swimming with Mantas has been one of the most amazing things I have done and I would love to do it again.
Deep dive – Crystal Bay
Our deep dive was at crystal bay. This dive saw us going down to about 30m where we needed to observe the differences in going to such a depth. For example, the colour red is completely lost. Caro pulled out a coke bottle and the labeling looked black until she shone a torch on it. We also played with a tomato that looked like a kiwi because it had lost all its red!
There wasn’t too much to see but the few fish we did see included; Cornet, Puffer (huge) and a bright blue Nudi Branch.
Mangrove Point, Nusa Lembongan – fun dive
Our final dive was another fun dive but this was in a drift spot next to a reef. We were pretty exhausted by this point so having a current just pull us along was great. This site was also very crowded with scuba diving groups and we nearly had an incident where another group tried to just swim straight through us causing several hard collisions. Many of the divers looked very inexperienced and completely unaware of their surroundings, so watch out for that if you go diving in Bali!
The coral was stunning. It was full of life and again there were thousands of fish. Visibility was also much better so it was a beautiful dive. We were even treated to a little Bamboo shark and some massive Napoleon Wrasse
Padang Bai – Diving Day 3
Peak Performance Buoyancy – Jepun
Having used our 2 fun dives the day before we had 2 focused dives left; photography and peak performance buoyancy. Caro decided to do PPB first because the buoyancy skills we practiced would really help us take stable photos.
We dived down to a sandy spot, away from the crowds and worked through several scuba diving buoyancy skills. Playing with buoyancy is lots of fun and I found such a comfortable sitting Buddha position that I honestly could have been left hanging around there all day!
We also played with touching our regulators to a peg Caro put in the ground, floating around upside down, passing around weights to each other and practicing some different kicking techniques.
We saw almost no fish on this dive but we had lots of fun playing underwater. I would really recommend PPB for anybody looking at doing their advanced course!
Underwater Photography – Blue Lagoon
For our last dive we moved to some better coral to take photos. Monique and I shared a camera so one of us could keep an eye on depth. The waves had stirred up a lot of silt again so visibility wasn’t amazing and a lot of our photos ended up being to hazy to use, but we had fun anyway!
At one point we were attacked by a fiesty little clown fish who decided we had swum too close to his home. He went straight for Caro’s mask and then her SPG, and he had a stand off with me. There were 2 small cowfish swimming around, the one got very inquisitive but the other was really shy.
We also spotted a gorgeous Zebra lionfish towards the end of our dive and had a school of long-jawed mackerel swim through us on our safety stop. It wasn’t the best dive of our whole trip but it was still great just to be underwater.
Should I do an advanced scuba diving course?
If you have your open water qualification I would really suggest that you do the advanced course. Becoming more skilled in scuba diving only makes it more enjoyable. There are just some many more skills at your disposal to make the most of diving.
As the skills become second nature you can focus more on what is around you and just enjoy your diving for what it is. I am going to start looking into continuing to get my Dive Master qualification and perhaps even dive instructor!
Adventure Scuba Diving Bali
As I said at the beginning of this post there are a huge amount of dive schools or resorts to choose from in Bali. We only used Adventure Scuba Diving Bali so I cannot do a comparison but I feel that I can recommend ASDB with confidence
Our time with them was fantastic. All the instructors and staff were friendly and helpful at all times. They were always ready to answer questions and I never felt like I didn’t know what was happening or what was expected of me.
Before we arrived in Bali communication was simple and clear and I never had to wait more than a few hours for my emails to be replied to.
I am under no obligation to write this review, I am only adding this so if you too are looking to do a dive course you can have just as good an experience as I did.
Blue skies and happy travels!
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