To go diving, we travelled to Lombok in the first week of December from Perth Australia, via Bali. We got great deals on our flights and ended up paying just over $300 AUD Perth-Denpasar-Lombok each for the return flights with Jetstar and Wings airlines.The flight between Denpasar and Lombok is a very short one of about 25 minutes taken on a propeller plane. The scenery is beautiful (even if the flight can be a little bumpy) so if you can request a window seat we highly recommend it! You get to see the coastlines of Bali and Lombok and as Lombok airport is in the south of the Island you catch glimpses of the so called ‘secret gillis’ of Lombok. The only complaint we have is that we didn’t stay long enough! After seeing these beautiful islands from the plane and reading about the great surf we just wish we had longer on Lombok.
Can You believe this video?! Our Dive Instrustor Mohni took this on our camera!
We decided to go with Lombok Dive to get Tara certified in her Open Water diving. You can visit their website here for more information. They had 2 locations in Sengiggi, at the art market on the main road Jln. Raya, and the Sudamala Suites and Villas, and another shop on Gili Trawangan at the Aston Sunset Resort.All of our 6 dives took place off the coast of the 3 Gili Islands, we were picked up from our hotel every morning at 8am and driven 20 minutes from downtown Sengiggi to Teluk Nara Harbour where the boat was loaded up with our tanks and gear, and then launched into the bay headed to the Gili’s. All we had to do was finish our breakfast in time!Once on the boat, we drove about 30 minutes over to Gili Trawangan where we picked up our fellow divers or snorkelers for the day, and after a debrief we would be off to our first dive site.It was a very big day, with 2 dives, an hour lunch break in between on the island. Including transport to and from our hotel we were away from 8am to 4pm each day. This was fine for a dedicated dive trip, but Sha and I had never been to Lombok and were DYING to explore! Unfortunately we were just too tired to attempt some sunset navigation and potential night time scooter driving, so we just stuck to the main drag of Sengiggi for meals and massages. You can read my restaurant reviews for this trip here!
We were charged $735 Australian dollars for Tara’s open water course, which included five skills dives and one fun dive, and a further six fun dives for Shabir. We were picked up and dropped off at our hotel every day, and no lunch was included as we were free to roam Gili Trawangan and eat were we chose during an hours free time on the island. We really enjoyed re-visiting Gili T as it had been 4 years since our last trip there. (We could definitely tell it had become much busier since then).
My dive instructor was Mohni, and he was super cool calm and collected throughout teaching me. This was good, because I freaked out.Multiple times.I’m not kidding.(If you look closely at my eyes in this photo you might be able to see the panic haha just kidding, I think….)
I’m going to share my freak outs- not to deter anyone because I’ve decided diving is absolutely AMAZING!But because although I was told that most people freak out when they commence diving (it is pretty unnatural, after all), I just thought it must have been me, and there were definite moments (my entire first dive of 45 minutes being one of those ‘moments’) where I was sure I was just not cut out for this mermaid business. I want scardy cats like me to know that they will be OK! Breath deeply think happy thoughts and just get your senses used to it and you will be fine if you stick it out!
So here’s what happened for me. Dive one, I was only supposed to learn how to clear my mask of any extra water that seeped in. Push the top and breath out through your nose. Simple right? Well not for this girl. I was convinced I was drowning because my nose was in water.I clearly wasn’t drowning as I was breathing through my mouth quite easily.Despite Mohni’s best efforts and Sha’s look of disappointment at my failure (haha), we resurfaced so I could clear my mask, ‘get some air’ (apparently I needed that), and I could calm down.
We descended again a few minutes later, and we were in a slight current, so I literally floated while Mohni held onto my arm and I concentrated on breathing and not freaking the f%*k out. I didn’t swim at all on this dive, and I had a doubt surfacing in my mind that our dreams of diving exotic locations and becoming a real life mermaids were going to crash just as quickly as they started (and thats saying something because our dreams surface and change pretty quickly as it is).
Dive two. Mohni passed me onto an equally experienced and calm dive master to continue my training. I was told we were going to clear our masks, take them off swim around and then put them back on and clear them again.Cue freak out number two.You want me to do what?Didnt you hear about my decidedly un-mermaidy behavior the first time?Cant we just skip that part?! I blurted this all out, having a mini panic attack and I wasn’t even in the water yet?!I could feel the anxiety creeping in, and I knew this wasn’t good. How could I keep calm under water if I was freaking out above the bloody water?? Well I was right, and I couldn’t stay calm. I had to resurface twice on this dive to get my breathing under control.
As Sha helpfully pointed out afterwards I was Lucky our dives were very shallow at this point and there was no issue with me popping back up to the surface without decompression stops- I guess these dive masters planned ahead because they’re used to people freaking out hey? (haha) I completed more skills at the end of this dive, swapping air with my instructor, and removing and replacing my own regulator.
I was feeling much more confident after this one, but I still had some niggling doubts- I was over the feeling of the mask suctioned to my face by the end and was kinda waiting for it to finish.The next day we started fresh and I completed my two dives and the extra skills practice easily. I was starting to get used to life unda da sea!How could you not stick it out when you get to hang with Nemo when you’re a diver??
The best part about the Gilli’s were the TURTLES! We saw so many! They are such cool dudes, the species we saw actually had claws on their flippers so they could dig up their food. We also saw an abundance of fish- huge schools were in most places we looked. There were also starfish and sea cucumbers (I feel like they are both quite underrated personally, I think they’re pretty cool- have you ever seen a star fish swim?!?!).
The only draw back of diving off the Gillis is that the reef is just not happy. A lot of the coral is just dead, literally not even attached anymore, and I can only put this down to the increase in tourism to the island, which we can definitely see since our last visit 4 years ago.
There are many more people, and unfortunately irresponsible tourists and tour operators wreak havoc on pristine underwater environments. Manta point has been renamed sunset point because the Manta’s stopped coming two years ago apparently. That’s pretty sad.
If you want to reduce your impact when holidaying, reuse water bottles when ever it is practical (ie safe drinking water is available), find out if there is recycling available for your rubbish, and always, always put your rubbish in the bin so it doesn’t end up in the streets or in the water. Travelling in the off season is another way to decrease strain on the environment, read more holidaying tips here.
When diving- make sure you secure your things on the boat, rubbish included, so it can’t blow into the water, and don’t wear sunscreen or tanning oils in the water- cover up or tan naturally instead! The oils and chemicals are damaging to the delicate corals, and with more people more of these are released into the water everyday. You can read more about alternatives here. Another thing; always do your best not to touch the coral reef, buoyancy is super important for this- practice makes perfect! Definitely don’t hold onto live coral to prevent yourself drifting in a current- use a rock if you have to! Hopefully your dive school will tell you this- but if they don’t- why not make friends with the other divers and share this with them.
We can’t fix the damage done to the environment already, but we can lessen our impact in the future!
So, is diving on your bucket list? Or are you already certified and obsessed with life unda da sea like us? Tell us your favourite dive location in the comments!