Sarah has been the most wonderful easy, fun and accommodating guest to Monicofamilytravels, and it was a huge treat to fulfil her one big ask from the trip – to go snorkelling. Fuelled with intel and intros from our Javanese volunteering friend Pras, we pre-booked a trip from a diving shop on Nusa Lembongan, an idyllic island located Southeast of Bali.
Getting on the ‘ferry’ from the mainland to Lembongan was the first of our hurdles. The picture below does no justice to the huge swell that day, and the ‘pull’ of the tide which dragged the sand away from under our feet. Unprepared, we had to wade thigh deep into the sea with our bags held high over our heads, and clamber over the 4 feisty outboards to get to our hard plastic seats. It was one of those ‘sit-at-the-back-if-you-can’ boats to minimise bruised bum syndrome. Luckily we are fully wised up to this tactic!
Once transferred across Lembongan in the back of an open top truck, kitted out with equipment and dutifully taken on the key points from fairly minimal safety talk, we set sail again for our day of snorkelling. We treated ourselves to a private boat so we could go at our own pace. It was a dive boat though, so no comfy padded seats, just more bum-crunching as we sat on the sides and rode the waves.
The day consisted of 3 different dive sites, and the first was in a spectacular cove which was described as being like a ‘fish tank’ under water.
Sarah was next in after the girls:
Our first shot at snorkelling in this first location was somewhat of a terrifying one. The swell was huge and the current even stronger. If you took a distracted moment to enjoy what was under the water, the next moment you lifted your head to find yourself pretty much out to sea.
We were a somewhat concerned that we’d over-faced ourselves, but apparently the conditions can change in a matter of minutes, so we took a break, and went back in 20 minutes later for the most incredible snorkel of our lives. I’ve had more than my fair share of amazing reef-gazing experiences in the sea, and this one was tough to beat. A highlight was the gigantic neon-coloured ‘fan’ and ‘brain’ corals which we hadn’t yet experienced in our reef surveys off Simelue. It was impressive to see the reef in such good shape given the number of boats that had converged on this particular cove. The array of fish was extraordinary. Lots of regular favourites (Morrish Idols, Parrot Fish), and lots that were excitingly new to us.
Our second dive was a drift snorkel, so very relaxing as we essentially floated with the current over the top of the reef for about 25 minutes until the boat picked us up again. The dive site interestingly consisted of a a cliff/shelf but unusually near the shore edge, so a wonderful drop-off and the chance to see some of the bigger fish that hang out in the deep. When I escorted Emily back to the boat for a rest we found a humungous tuna hanging out just under the keel. He was clearly hiding from the fishermen!
Another short break, and then our 3rd snorkel. As Sarah mentioned in her blog, this one was somewhat disheartening as the majority of the coral was dead. Not so much bleached, but smashed to pieces from dynamite fishing. This practice is no longer tolerated in Bali, but it takes a LOOOOOONG time for the poor reef to recover. The waters were really shallow though, so it did give us a chance to scrutinise the fish close up, and enjoy following them going about their business so close up it felt like you could reach out and touch them.
Just as we were climbing back on board our boat to head home, an opportunistic speed boat driver spotted Bel and Em, and correctly identified some willing customers for inflatable fun. We were fairly unimpressed by his willingness to negotiate a fair price, but Amazing Godmother/Great Aunt Sarah stepped in and indulged the girls in some banana boat bezzing.