Lembongan is Bali’s wild side, famous for the chance to see mola mola (oceanic sunfish) and manta rays. Chris Mitchell talks to long-time Lembongan resident and dive shop owner Tim Birkett about how to best explore the island
Mola Mola, Blue Corner, Nusa Lembongan, Bali © Chris Mitchell
Diving Lembongan – Dive Happy Episode 17 Show Notes
- Big Fish Diving, Tim’s dive and yoga resort on Lembongan
- My 2008 Bali Dive Safari article, covering Lembongan, Tulamben and Pemeturan, for Sport Diver magazine
- Diving Bali podcast – Bali is a world-famous tourist destination but it’s also a largely underrated diving destination, with scores of great dive sites that range from macro wonderlands to big critter encounters. Simon Pridmore explains Bali’s underwater allure.
- Manta Rays Of Black Rock, Myanmar – The remote dive site of Black Rock in Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago is one of the world’s hotspots for manta rays. Pioneering manta ray researcher Dr Andrea Marshall explains why.
Indonesia’s Main Scuba Diving Areas
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Diving Lembongan – Dive Happy Episode 17 Transcript
[00:00:06] CM: Hello and welcome to Dive Happy. This week, I’m talking to Tim Birkett, who is the owner of Big Fish Diving on the island of Lembongan just off the east coast of Bali.
[00:00:17] CM: Hi, Tim.
[00:00:19] TB: Hey, Chris!
[00:00:20] CM: It’s been a long time since we’ve actually seen each other and it’s been a long time since we dived together. I think it was about 12 years ago that I was on Lembongan with you.
[00:00:29] TB: Yes, it is. Yeah, it’s a fair old world. I was just reading through the article you wrote back then for the Scuba Diving magazine in the States I think it was and reminded me how long ago it was.
[00:00:42] CM: Yeah, that’s right. I’ve been sent there by Sport Diver magazine I think, and they wanted me to do the whole Bali Dive Safari to Bajangan and Lembongan. I thought it was all going to be like fluffy easy diving, floating around over pretty reefs. Oh, boy! When I got to Lembongan, I certainly had work cut out for me.
[00:01:05] TB: Oh, yes. The waters are a little bit colder and the current moves a little bit quicker, so you certainly have to have the brain dive mode switched on, especially when you jump over the side of a cliff.
[00:01:19] CM: Tim, but you’ve been – I said that was 12 years ago and I think you’ve been living on the island for the last 15 years. What has made it so special top you that’s basically made you live most of your life there?
[00:01:31] TB: Yeah, 13 years maybe or so now I think I’ve been on Lembongan. Just a year before that, I was working in Gili Trawangan, not so far away. Before that, I’ve been in other places. But like most diving instructors like myself, I guess you start somewhere and you end up – You do it because you want to explore the world and face all these amazing dive sites. So I’ve been doing that for quite a few years, working and starting in Thailand, Ko Tao, moving to Utila in Central America, the Red Sea, and come back this way as well. Then I came into Indonesia and into Gilis. Then I got a job opportunity to work in Nusa Lembongan.
I’d never been there before. I’d heard little about it. It was just a day tripping destination for Aussie and other tourists coming over from Bali. I didn’t really know much about the diving. Then the guy who offered me the job said, “Hey, [inaudible 00:02:18] and you can come for a dive and see what it’s like and see if you like it.” I did that and, wow, it just blew my socks off, to be honest I was. I was amazed by it. So, yeah, that was – It’s a pretty easy sign up for a job.
Then in that first year that I was there, I got to know the people in the island and just so many boxes were ticked for me. An amazing dive and obviously we’ve already mentioned that but the amazing surfing, sunsets, really friendly locals. The Hindu nature of Bali is very welcoming and to see them in their ceremonial dress, walking around in the ceremonies, and just generally very smiley people in Indonesia. The proximity to Bali as well, that was another big factor for me. Living in the Gilis was a little bit further away to get somewhere but more modern shall we say, rather than just living on the island life.
Lembongan, for me, was just a half an hour speed boat ride from Sanur, which is on the mainland of Bali. From there, it’s cinemas. It’s shopping malls. It’s everything you need. Not completely like London and cities like that, of course, but there’s certainly a lot more than – When you’re an outdoor island person, then it’s a lot more accessible. It’s great. I love it. Lembongan is fantastic.
[00:03:28] CM: Awesome. I mean, it’s great to hear that it’s obviously somewhere you feel very happy and very at peace, and it’s great to have discovered that kind of relatively early in life. Although I guess I suppose you moved around quite a lot before, so maybe it was time just to stop. You mentioned diving. Lembongan, first of all, it kind of foreign as you first started going there. More about the surfing, right, rather than the diving?
[00:03:53] TB: That is correct. Yeah, yeah. Going back a bit, so Gili was a bit of hippie hangout, so that’s why tourists first went to Gilis and started diving there. That’s sort of the hippie backpacker trail. Then they realized that they had homestays and whatnot, and divers went there. Then Lembongan is a slightly different story. Yes, surfers who’s come over mostly I think from Australia came to Bali. As the surfing spots became more busy in Bali, then they started exploring. Thus back in the day in the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was not a treacherous journey but it’s certainly an interesting journey, getting over from Bali mainland to Lembongan. We’re talking small outrigger boats with a sail sort of chugging over for a few hours to get over to Lembongan.
That’s why Lembongan developed here, so the small homestays. Homestay obviously is a family who have a bit of land and they have some rooms in the house and they let foreigners stay there. So it started from that. Then as word grew, spread from that, people started diving there, and it was like, “Oh, wow! Hang on a minute. There’s something really going on here on the diving site.” So, yeah, it expanded from that.
[00:04:54] CM: Wow! I am totally clueless about surfing but all the – I know that Lembongan is famous for its surf breaks. Is that because of the currents that we just alluded to? Is that the same cause of it or is that completely different?
[00:05:10] TB: No, pretty different actually. The Lembongan – Why does it have such good breaks there? It’s the way it faces for one thing. The swell is coming up like the surf breaks in Bali, the west coast like Kuta, Uluwatu, the famous ones. They face west and south a little bit. Lembongan has got that same sort of aspect where it faces that way. A swell comes up from let’s say the Western Australia as it comes up and it pushes through. It rolls through this channel between Bali and Lembongan, and it just seems to turn around and break perfectly on the reefs that we’ve got on the west coast of Lembongan.
That’s incidentally not a diving area, so that’s – We’ve got these two separate areas for diving and surfing. They’re quite separate. So, yeah, there’s reefs that protect the main harbor and the swell rolls over those reefs and forms into beautiful waves. It’s such a – Yeah, it’s fantastic.
[00:05:57] CM: Wow! Now, the other thing is about Lembongan. You say it’s just off Bali, but it’s basically what’s facing out into the ocean. It’s kind of like the break between Bali and the full ferocity of the ocean essentially, isn’t it?
[00:06:13] TB: Yeah. That’s something we’ve thought recently. A couple of years ago, there was some not tsunamis but there were some earthquakes over in Lembongan, and everyone was thinking about the effects of tsunamis and if there was bigger environmental catastrophes like that. But I’ve always felt very safe on Lembongan. It seems to be protected. It’s somewhat shielded by Bali from big things like that but it still manages to receive a nice swell that comes through the surface. It’s – Yeah, I feel very safe living there.
[00:06:42] CM: Yeah. That’s the thing is that being like, first, by the ocean. It gets these incredible – These currents that come up from really deep, deep in the ocean. That’s kind of what makes it so special that – How do you say it? Like the proximity of that you can be a diver in the water and suddenly very quickly you can be in very deep water with all the [inaudible 00:07:04] things that come up from the deep.
[00:07:08] TB: Yeah, absolutely. We’re pretty much right next to the Lombok Straight that separates Bali on the west side and then Lombok and the other islands on the east. It’s a very, very deep trench. The currents flow from the north. From Philippines, they’re coming down through. They’re flowing through all these islands, and so we have an amazing drift diving along the north of Penida and Lembongan.
Then on the south, on the other side, that’s where the swell comes from, so it’s very different diving on the north and south of Lembongan and Penida. One side is sheer cliffs on the south that take the brunt of all this big swell coming in. Then on the north, you never get any big swell at that. You would never be able to surf on the north of Penida. There’s just no swell. It’s flat but that’s also where the current is coming, so you get amazing drift diving and coral reefs along the north there. So very different north and south of the Penida and Lembongan with the diving and what you can expect in the water and even the land as well. Big cliffs on one side and then beaches on the other side.
[00:08:08] CM: Yes. I mean, you mentioned Nusa Penida, which is –
[00:08:11] TB: A neighboring island.
[00:08:12] CM: Island that it’s kind of next door, right? There’s another one in between as well though, right?
[00:08:18] TB: Yes, Chinigan. So, yeah, three islands. Pretty much like a lot of places around the world too. If you think of Ko Tao, that’s Ko Tao personally. I can’t remember the other one. Koh Phangan. Then in Utila as well. Those are Utila and the other islands there, the bay islands. It seems like everywhere I go there’s always three islands next to each other. I don’t know what’s going on there. Gilis have three islands; Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, Gili Meno. Lembongan, Ceningan, and Penida. There seems to be this trilogy thing going on.
[00:08:44] CM: Yeah. Because you’ve got the three islands, that’s when you get the chance to see the two kind of big drawers. The things you already see in the advertising for Lembongan is always the mola mola and manta rays. You talked me through it. With the mola mola, you kind of have to be – I seem to remember, you have to be there a specific time of year and you have to go to specific places to even be given a chance of seeing. Would that be about right?
[00:09:13] TB: Yeah, that’s about right. The mola molas come around living around our area because of the water is colder. We only have two seasons here, so we’ve got the wet season and the dry season. In the dry season, which would run let’s say roughly from sort of kind of like eastern time until end of October and November. Then the water is the coldest in the main tourist season, which also coincides with the dry season as well, so you’re talking June, July, August, September, October. The water is much colder. People wouldn’t believe how cold the water can get around this area, considering we’re in the tropics and just below the equator. The water can drop down to 14, 15, 16°C. Where else can you get that in the tropics? Everyone is like, “Oh, let’s go to Thailand. Let’s go to Philippines. Let’s go to Bali. Let’s go swimming, lie on the beach.” Yup, that’s normal 30° water, 32 maybe.
But here in our peak season, the water is cold. But that’s why it’s so amazing as well, because the mola molas, they love that cold water, and I think that’s primarily why this is the place to come and dive. Yeah, come and dive and see them in the world. Although you can see them in lots of places, they hang around us, our area [inaudible 00:10:22].
[00:10:23] CM: Yes. Lembongan is kind of almost like the Malapascua in the Philippines. That’s where you can go if you want to a really good chance of seeing [inaudible 00:10:31].
[00:10:34] TB: Absolutely. You’re right.
[00:10:36] CM: The same for Lembongan. It’s like if you want a good chance of seeing mola mola, that is the place to go. It’s not guaranteed but it’s the best chance you’ve got.
[00:10:43] TB: It’s either that or go to Italy and hire a little fishing boat and hang out in the Mediterranean somewhere and try and find a small one. The chances you could say is not so high there, yeah. But they do have them, of course.
[00:10:56] CM: I mean, given that you have been in the water for so long in Lembongan, like you must’ve seen mola mola in all kinds of different circumstances. Typically, do you have to go deep to find them or what’s your general sense of how it works over a season?
[00:11:13] TB: It’s a good question actually. Sometimes, we go diving and then I come up and I told the captain. He’s like, “Oh, yes. We have another couple today.” [inaudible 00:11:20]. Sometimes, it’s pretty weird. The captain is seeing the breaching on the surface while we’re down looking for them, and I think, “Oh, they must live on the surface.” Then other times, it’s like only the advanced divers see them because they’re obviously a little bit deeper than the shallow water diving. It’s just one of those things that you can’t really pinpoint all the time. They’re coming from very deep water and then they follow those upwellings of cold water and they’re coming up towards the surface for various reasons. Yeah, generally, we would say that to be an advanced diver, you’ve got a greater chance of seeing them because we’re going to go a little bit deeper and see if we can spot them.
But I’ve done DSDs, Discover scuba dives, customers in Crystal Bay and we’ve had mola molas right next to us at 10 meters on the mooring line. There’s not much chance for a snorkeler I would say. But certainly, for most divers, you’ve got a good chance of seeing them in the season for sure. But obviously a greater chance if you’re an advanced diver. You can go a little bit further down 20, 25, 30 meters, something like that.
[00:12:18] CM: What would be like the typical profile of a dive like that? Is it literally like just go down and wait in one spot or go down and follow along a wall? Or what would be the expectation?
[00:12:30] TB: Of course, that’s a good point you’ve raised actually because for us diving here all the time, we do, of course, get a lot of people who just want to see the mola molas. We try and make it a little bit more interesting than just to drop in and sit at one point. But certainly, at the hotspots where you’re going to go and find the mola mola is Crystal Bay and Blue Corner, wherever. It’s all about the mola mola when they come. People are seeing a lot of coral reefs but this is a massive wish list item fish to see, so we try and plan a dive and get the maximum chance of seeing them.
It’s normally a question of – Depending on the current, it will be a drop in. Let’s get down to the reef as quickly as possible. We normally have the guide go a little bit deeper than the customers so that the others can save their air and deco time a little bit longer. Then once you get that rattle tattle tattle of the sign or the fist waving. I seem to remember that from your last [inaudible 00:13:20]. I’m waiving my fist at you. Then the excitement is emitting from the guide and everyone knows. Okay, he’s seeing something, right? Let’s get down there and have a look and make some memories with this amazing creature.
Then obviously, we’re going to think about a lot of things so it’s deco time if we’re down a little bit deeper. It’s air consumption, all those sort of things that us guides and instructors do. So we try and keep it as safe as possible as well. Unfortunately, some people just go mad and just go on – They want to go down as deep as possible and as long as possible where you do have to remind them that there are other considerations as well.
[00:13:53] CM: Yeah, not so awesome. Not so awesome. We don’t want to [inaudible 00:13:57]. I hadn’t really thought about that. Of course, you must get a lot of divers that have not done that much diving and just want to sort of see the mola mola. Yes, there must be quite logistically challenging sort of to look after everyone.
[00:14:17] TB: It can be sometimes, yeah, and very, very different because obviously we haven’t mentioned it yet but we do have those other big fish beginning with them as well, the manta rays. From diving, planning point of view is a completely different process. It’s almost like that’s just a walk in the park. Let’s just drop in. We’re pretty shallow. We don’t really – We can stay down an hour easily with them. For the molas, there’s much more planning and really thinking about the dive and the experience levels of the divers and keeping the group sizes really small and manageable. Safety has always got to be number one, so it’s a very different planning. But, yeah, wow when you see them.
[00:14:52] CM: I mean, the mola are – I mean, yeah, it kind of blew my mind when I saw them. I mean, it’s really – One of the really great things about is it does not matter how many beautifully taken photos you’ve seen of these different creatures in magazines or whatever. Nothing prepares you for actually seeing it in real life. I think when we dived, my memory is quite hazy now, but I’m pretty sure we saw six at the same time, which I really wasn’t expecting, and they were a good size. I mean –
[00:15:24] TB: Oh, yeah. [inaudible 00:15:25].
[00:15:28] CM: Yeah, exactly.
[00:15:29] TB: I think maybe you in particular because [inaudible 00:15:30] two of us.
[00:15:34] CM: I was going to say but can you often tell with your head? I mean, has there been one particular encounter where you’re kind of like, “Well, that is easily the biggest sunfish I’ve ever seen.”?
[00:15:43] TB: [inaudible 00:15:43]. Actually, no. For me, it’s more about the numbers rather than the size. Most of the ones I see are a pretty standard size actually. It’s almost like a reef manta ray but on its side. That’s sort of three-meter sort of size. But for me, it’s more about if you’ve seen a lot in one time. When we saw those six, that for me was definitely one of the memorable ones as well. It’s not often you see that many together, unlike the mantas where you can go down and see 30, 40 in one hit. With the molas, it’s often just one or two. You don’t often see them in a group together like that.
I wasn’t there unfortunately but a friend of mine that was diving at Blue Corner, one of the hotspots for the mola molas, he went down and – Oh, wow! He said it was like a train. He literally went down and was just tucked in behind some rocks out of the current. He said until his computer started bleeping at him, it was literally just mola going past mola, mola, mola, mola, mola. He just said like his battery was going dead on his camera and then his phone was – Not his phone. His dive computer was bleeping at him and it was like, “Oh, so many mola molas.” I would be amazed to see that, but yeah.
[00:16:54] CM: Yeah. Well, I think it was — Again, if memory serves us, I’m pretty sure the Blue Corner that we went to when we saw the mola mola but there’s a scene to remember. We’d actually been out of luck. We’ve been in the water like for three or four times, and that was your last chance of seeing them.
[00:17:10] TB: It was the last dive and the last day, yes. [inaudible 00:17:14].
[00:17:17] CM: Exactly, yes. You mentioned the mantas. Now, I remember we didn’t get quite so lucky with them. We did see them at Manta Point, which is again a very famous site, isn’t it, because you can both snorkel and dive there. Is that correct?
[00:17:34] TB: Yes. Actually, we’ve got – I think since you were there with – I kind of rediscovered. I think it was another dive site called – We’ve now got a Manta Bay, which is much closer to Nusa Lembongan on the way out there. [inaudible 00:17:47] a further Manta Point as well, which is the original manta site where we see the manta rays. At the moment, generally, I would say more of the snorkelers go to the Manta bay, because it’s much closer. Then the five boats and the divers tend to go further to the Manta Point, so you do get this sort of segregation a little bit of where people see the mantas. But certainly, yeah, divers and snorkelers in the water at the same time with the manta rays.
[00:18:11] CM: You just said about now it’s possible to see 30 or 40 mantas on the same dive, which would be absolutely incredible. I mean, is that a sort of fairly regular occurrence or [inaudible 00:18:22].
[00:18:25] TB: Yeah, that was a special one for sure. To be unlucky, I think you’re only going to see one or two in the water. On a good day, we’re looking at – There’s going to be 8, 10, 12, 14 manta rays in the water at the same time, yeah. Manta Point is much more concentrated as well. I don’t know if you remember but it’s a big rock, and then the – Obviously, we’re kind of just hovering around this rock and allowing the manta rays to come in and hover above it for the cleaning stations. It’s a much more concentrated experience, whereas Manta Bay it’s a much bigger bay. There’s no specific particular cleaning spots, so it’s more that the manta rays are coming there to feed as plankton gets pushed into the bay.
In that one, the divers and the snorkelers are much more spread out, and then mantra rays swim around the bay through all the cracks and crevices and whatnot, and then you just get them passing over the top, whatever, going around doing their loops as they go through the water and sieving up all the plankton. A different experience from the different manta dive sites, snorkeling sites.
[00:19:23] CM: Sure. With the manta sites, I mean, I already seen that some of the currents there tend to be quite strong as they are in the channel.
[00:19:31] TB: That [inaudible 00:19:32] back to what I was saying before with the Nusa Penida positioning of it. On the south of the island where those manta sites are, there’s pretty much no current. When you drop into both of those sites, I’d say it’s an easy dive site to guide, to dive. We can take open water divers there on the courses. It’s very relaxed there. Very, very different to the north, which is where the current is coming down and creating the drift dives, so very, very different on the south area. You occasionally can have a little bit of a current but pretty much no current on the south there.
[00:20:03] CM: Right. Typically, when people – We just talked earlier about people come there. It’s a bucket list item. They want to see a mola mola. But you also must get quite a few experienced divers, and they want to stay on Lembongan for several days and have a whole sort of like the smorgasbord of all the different kinds of diving you can do. Obviously, we’ve talked about the mola molas and the mantas. Would you typify the rest of Lembongan diving as sort of drift diving or are there nice micro sites you can go and just bub around and be out in the current and stuff like that?
[00:20:41] TB: I think there is – I definitely think that most people think of this area as a drift diving place for sure. With the currents that are going along the north there, it’s a drift diving heaven this one for sure. There are other areas where there isn’t any currents. Crystal Bay, it’s kind of protected in the channel. You do get some surge and a bit of swell coming in there, so it’s important for the dive operators to choose the time, the moon phases and the high tide, low tide. Very important to check those. But it’s not really known as a micro site but you can see a lot of macro here as well.
On Ceningan, we often see heaps and heaps of nudibranchs, a very colorful world along there. We’ve got a whole bunch of other macro site but it’s not – Most people go back to Bali up to Amed, Tulamben, Pemuteran. I think you mentioned earlier on for the mac diving sites. That’s sort of the dark sand looking in the small areas around there for the mac diving. We’re a big fish drift diving area I would say to sum it up.
[00:21:40] CM: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, there were – I don’t know. A few years ago, there were a couple of issues with divers getting in trouble and stuff like that. Has that all been sort of clamped down on? I think it was just due to some operators really not following the rules or whatever.
[00:21:56] TB: Yeah. Unfortunately, that is the case, yeah. I’ve read a few negative reports about the area but I think people are coming, and they wanted to come and dive in here. It’s just so important with anywhere you go in the world that you just pick a reputable dive center or someone who’s been there for a while. They’ve got good reviews. They’re very careful about where they dive when they dive., keeping group sizes small. There’s a lot of – Unfortunately, there are a lot of dive shops out there that aren’t so on to those things. Maybe they don’t have auction on the boat or they don’t use guides or experienced, so things like that.
There are occasionally some accidents. For me, it’s all about how they deal with those accidents that really values the dive center. What do what they do to make things good again and recover everything? That’s the important thing.
[00:22:40] CM: Yeah, absolutely. Over the last 10 years or so, I mean, has the island sort of developed considerably or is it still kind of that laid back sort of surfer island beach vibe kind of thing?
[00:22:53] TB: That’s good question. It’s definitely developed. That’s for sure. It’s – Sometimes, I don’t realize how much because when you’re living there, you don’t see the day-to-day changes. But when you go away and then come back, you’re like, “Oh, hang on a minute. There’s quite a few more boats coming in now.” You’re living in your little bubble, aren’t you, sometimes. You don’t realize what’s going on around you.
[00:23:12] CM: Sure.
[00:23:13] TB: It’s definitely developing, yes. There’s a lot more hotels, accommodation offered on the island. It’s not just in the villages over there. It’s spread out the whole island as well, different parts of the island. Nusa Ceningan and Penida as well is getting way more developed now. We also have a yoga shack at the dive shop where I am as well, and there are a lot of the other yoga places as well. For yogis who want to go to the island and escape maybe [inaudible 00:23:35] yoga. They want to get some beach and sun as well, so it’s a nice alternative for them to come down. It has other things to offer apart from the divers. But, yeah, the development has certainly come along. It’s not crazy though. I mean, I still walk around. You can ride a scooter but lots of people are still riding bicycles around and walking around. Yeah, I don’t think it’s got out of control. That’s for sure. It still feels pretty good to me.
[00:24:01] CM: I was going to say that if there are a lot of yoga places there. I like yoga but I’m not really a yoga person. If there’s a lot of yoga places there, I always take that as an indicator that things have not got too crazy and too developed. It means there’s still like the chance of peace and quiet if you’re out first thing in the morning and that kind of stuff. It’s not –
[00:24:22] TB: Yeah, that’s very true.
[00:24:23] CM: That’s really cool.
[00:24:25] TB: There’s no taxis on the island. No taxes. It’s more just people rent a scooter or they walk around. They’ll cycle around. So it’s not as laid-back as the Gilis where there’s no cars at all or no scooters. We do have some cars and scooters. People go around. But I think it still got a nice atmosphere about it though. It’s not crazy.
[00:24:42] CM: Right. I read that there’s a suspension bridge now between the islands. Is that correct?
[00:24:47] TB: Yes, there is actually. It was actually there when you were there. Maybe we can go over it. The Yellow Bridge it’s called. There’s a yellow suspension bridge that connects the island of Lembongan where we based over to Ceningan, the next island over. It’s actually – You can walk across there at low tides. You don’t need the bridge. But obviously, when the tide comes in and the locals want to get back with support, so they’ve built this suspension bridge, and it’s become a bit of a Instagrammable hotspot. I must say it’s beautiful. It’s great. There’s a lot of people but they don’t take photos off the bridge. It’s become a bit of a tourist attraction in itself.
[00:25:28] CM: Is there like – I always thought Nusa Penida was largely uninhabited but I think there’s like homestays and tuff on there now? Or has that exploded into another tourist hotspot?
[00:25:39] TB: It definitely hasn’t exploded but it’s certainly on its way. It’s definitely caught the limelight and actually not because of diving I would say, because people were already diving around Penida. I think it’s more. It came about and it’s growing up because of Instagram. The south side of Nusa Penida has got some amazing, amazing cliffs that just drop down with amazing views and whatnot. If you look on Instagram and type in Nusa Penida, you’re going to see some amazing photos and people have just been Instagramming it completely, like out of this world. It’s got very popular because of that. Day trip is coming over and wanting to get their Instagram shot on Penida. But it’s a massive island compared with Lembongan. It’s very big. So at this point, it doesn’t feel crowded at all. It feels like Lembongan did at least five, six years ago.
[00:26:28] CM: Right. Awesome. Tim, thank you so much for talking to me about Lembongan. It really makes me want to come back and I really hope we can go diving together again.
[00:26:38] TB: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:26:40] CM: We can go find those six mola mola again.
[00:26:43] TB: Yes, and so many more places. We’ve discovered more dive sites and we’ve got a little cave we’ll go into. There’s so much I want to show you actually. We’ve got a wreck as well. I didn’t mention the wreck. It just went down last year. It’s nothing like the Tulamben Wreck but it’s just a local boat. It must be about 12 meters long or something like that. We’re hopefully going to start doing some wreck dives on that. It’s just in the Lembongan Bay in the front.
[00:27:05] CM: This is deliberately sunk or did it have an accident?
[00:27:07] TB: No.
[00:27:09] CM: Okay, that was a mistake.
[00:27:14] TB: I think maybe that it was one of these boats that had a drop down door on the front, so you could go up a beach and then a car or a truck could drive onto it. I think maybe that door might have been left down and [inaudible 00:27:24]. Maybe the water went inside, and it went down.
[00:27:30] CM: Oh, no. Actually, that reminds me of a good final question. Is that – How – Given like you say you’ve discovered so many more sites. Someone like me, I do like to sort of like see all of it rather than just chasing after one thing. For like a Lembongan Dive Safari, I mean, how many days do you think would be good to [inaudible 00:27:51]? Maybe like four or five days?
[00:27:54] TB: I would say absolute minimum of two days, because you’ve got to see the difference between the north and the south. The south has got the manta rays and the north has got the spectacular, the drift diving. But I would say really definitely a minimum two days, so that would be four dives because we only go out and do to dives every morning. But if you can double that, then you’re going to see a lot more as well. Depending on your experience, then we can get you to some of the foster moving drift dives shall we say in Ceningan, Blue Corner. A bit more variety and different from the North of Penida.
[00:28:26] CM: Yeah. Of course, you probably want to schedule it in a day or two for actually just being out of the water and enjoying the island.
[00:28:32] TB: Relaxing [inaudible 00:28:32]. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, man. There’s so much to do as well. Take a scooter. Spend the day towing around. Go and get your photo taken at the Yellow Bridge or sit in a hammock with your feet lapping in the water or see an amazing sunset. There’s so much to do here. It’s fantastic.
[00:28:47] CM: All right, Tim. Thank you so much.
[00:28:49] TB: Thank you very much, Chris. Great to catch up again with you.
[00:28:53] CM: Yeah, you too. Cheers.
[00:28:55] TB: Okay. Bye.
[00:28:57] CM: Thanks very much for listening to the Dive Happy Podcast. You can see the show notes for this episode and browse all the other episodes at divehappy.com/podcast. You can also sign up for the Dive Happy newsletter, so you get notified when the next episode comes out. Sign up at divehappy.com/podcast. I pinky promise, I won’t spam you.
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