Diving in Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

There are two things that I love to hear underwater. The first — pulsing squeaks and a high frequency clicking noise. These sounds may initially be mistaken for your diving kit, but it doesn’t take long to realise that the wonderful melodies are being created by an approaching pod of dolphins. The second — the urgent clattering metal pointer stick on an air tank, indicating that someone has spotted something exciting.

In Nusa Lembongan, where diving is in an entirely different league, both sounds are common.

The Manta Rays of Lembongan

Most divers will come to Lembongan because of the great reputation that is has for spotting mantas. The all year round supply of plankton keeps them coming back to feed and British diver and owner of Big Fish Diving discovered a cleaning station that they regularly visit. They’re such regular visitors here that the Marine Mega Fauna Foundation have a permanent base here (one of only three in the world).

Manta rays at the cleaning station in Manta Point

Manta Point isn’t always accessible. Situated around the cliffs on the west side of Nusa Penida the seas can sometimes be too rough for dive boats. However if you’re able to dive on one of the calmer days, you may be lucky enough to spend some time with some mantas.

Manta Point was the first place that I saw a manta ray. Although I was expecting to see them, when they emerged out of the blue they by far surpassed all expectations. Mantas are much larger than I imagined, their wing span can reach 23 ft long and can weight in excess of 1.3 tonnes. Yet they move so slowly and gracefully, and if I’d been dreaming I would have thought that they were some mythical creature.

The Best Dive Sites of Lembongan

Manta Cove and Manta Point

Manta Cove is another excellent place to spot manta rays, however there are regular snorkel trips that head over here from Bali, who clearly don’t emphasise enough how to behave around mantas. I’ve witnessed snorkelers grab a manta ray’s tail and they have contributed to destroying the site (click here) — this was filmed at manta cove.

Crystal Bay

Crystal Bay is named so because of its exceptional visibility. The site is stunning, an underwater garden of exquisite corals and macro life. You’ll find box fish, frog fish and nudibranchs here. It’s also the famous site of Lembongan to see mola mola. After searching for a week, I was lucky enough to find one of these alien-like creatures here on my last dive here at a depth of 30 metres.

Crystal Bay is also home of the mushroom, a large coral structure that resembles a giant mushroom sat on the sea floor. This has to be one of my favourite places to dive. It’s an underwater city, home to thousands of fish going about their daily business.

One small side of the mushroom

The North Wall Sites : Buyuk to SD

Great for drift diving, the northern wall of Nusa Penida looks like an underwater canyon. Barely moving, you feel as if you’re in a computer game. All you have to do is position your body left or right to avoid obstacles and let the strong current do the rest of the work. We were joined on this dive by a pod of dolphins. They’re such fun and curious animals that proactively try to interact with you — although one did try to interact a bit too much with one of the other divers.

We also spotted several eagle and marble rays on the same dive here.

Green Turtle

Dive with Big Fish Lembongan. They’re an awesome diving company with really great, knowledgable and enthusiastic dive masters. As they also run several dive master internships, there are always a good bunch of people to hang out with.

Recommended Diving Level — Good or confident. Although all dive shops run beginners courses, the island does have strong currents including rip currents. If you encounter a rip current the easiest solution (easier said than done) is to remain calm. You won’t want to use your oxygen up by panicking. Rip currents are shaped like vortices, and I was once caught in one whilst my dive master — a metre away, wasn’t. I was hanging onto the coral to prevent myself from being taken deeper whilst my dive master calmly took my arm and brought me out of it.

Nusa Lembongan

Combine all this incredible diving with a small, stunning island and you’ve got the perfect mix for a diving trip. There are many great places to eat and grab sundowners. The sleepy island is also a great spot for yogis and surfers.

Sunsets on Lembongan