I have to admit that we have been so disappointed in the beaches of Bali. If you google images of Bali, you’re sure to find photos of beautiful clear water, turquoise ocean, white sand beaches….well, reality is, not so much! The beaches we’ve seen thus far are covered in trash and the water is a grayish brown color with floating cups and bottles, and even if one decided to swim, the riptides and undertow are a huge issue. I see many surfers out there but red flags are posted everywhere to warn people about dangerous water. Along with this disappointment, there are no sailboats because it’s not a great destination place when it comes to the water. Those two things left us sailors feeling rather perplexed when we first arrived, but we figured we’d embrace the island itself while here – and there’s plenty to embrace!Our friend, Max, has flown in from New Zealand to visit us, and given him being here as well as the fact that little miss Mycah will be 18 on Friday, I thought it’d be fun to surprise the creatures with a ride out to the outer islands.
Nusa Lembongan is about 8 km squared and the smallest of the three outer islands. Nusa Penida is the largest, then Nusa Ceningan. They are separated from Bali by the Badung Strait. We had been told by several locals that those islands are the place to go if we want to be in the water, so that’s just what we did.
You know you’re in Bali when doubled up yoga mats are used as fenders on a boat!
It took about 30 minutes to motor out to Nusa Lembongan, and all of us commented at various times how we each felt an aching for Tanda Malaika as we could feel our bodies sway to the movement of the oceanl. It felt so good. So free. So like home. Many small homes line the shores of Nusa Lembongan, and the wonderful texture of coconut palms were their backdrop.
When the sun shone on the water, that familiar calypso blue color stretched parallel to the shore as far as we could see.
The first place we were taken to was Manta Point, and it’s obvious how it got it’s name…
At one point I swam belly to belly with one.
Their wing span is so huge, reaching up to 22 ft and weighing 3000 lbs.
It was so fun to see the creatures back in the water.
Our second stop was Crystal Bay. The reef there is so healthy, filled with soft corals and copious amounts of reef fish.
Clarke’s Anemone fish played hide and seek with us as we watched them dart in and out of the anemones.
Some anemones were long and stringy while others were short and stubby.
I love watching them!
In Crystal Bay we saw hard corals in colors we hadn’t seen anywhere else.
Our next stop was Gamat Bay. On the way there we passed closely by some rock walls that Aidan was dying to cliff jump off of. We’ll have to do that on another trip!
Gamat Bay had several pinnacles of hard coral with overhangs where fish love to hide.
Large open areas with acre after acre of healthy coral and abundant life. It felt like heaven.
Each time the boat stopped the 6 of us were the first in the water and last back on board. We loved being out in the open at the stern, rather than sitting inside the cabin. At one point one of the other guests dropped a fin and the staff tried to dive down to retrieve it but it was too deep. They were floored to watch Mycah effortlessly free dive down and return to its owner.
Our last stop was called ‘The Wall’, and was named that because of the rapid drop off from fairly shallow to extremely deep. The water there had some current so we drifted down quite a ways and met up with the boat farther down. In this area the water was either freezing cold from natural springs seeping up through the ocean floor, or it was lovely and warm. The reef was especially healthy and the reef fish in even greater abundance.
It was like being inside an IMAX movie! When the sun peeked through the clouds, life brightened up even more.
I could have stayed down there for hours! Each time I turned my head, another exquisite scene lay before me.
This, is my happy place.
We are so grateful to have eyes to see the beauties below the surface. By the end of the day we were all tired but completely filled!
Aidan’s hair was a topic of discussion among some of the girls on the boat. They loved it and were so envious. He really stands out in a country with straight black haired people.
I have no doubt that tonight we will all be swimming with mantas and reef fish in our dreams, suspended over fields of soft corals swaying gently from side to side.