Bali diving draws people from all over the world to Indonesia. It’s easy to see why when you take a look underwater at Menjangan Island, just off the northern coast.
As a certified, open-water, scuba diver, I appreciate the beauty, diversity, and serenity of the earth’s oceans. Over the past 20 years, I have made dozens of dives in various countries. Now, as an early retired, international vagabond, I often find myself in some of the best diving locations on the planet.
Review of Bali diving trip to Menjangan Island
This Bali diving trip stands out for a few reasons. First, they forgot me! It’s true. Despite having a confirmed reservation (not yet paid), and sending a reminder text message, somehow the driver of the pick-up vehicle neglected to collect me on the Friday morning of the scheduled dives. After waiting an hour, then contacting the office, word was that the transport van was already miles away, heading toward the boat transfer point; I would have to go another day.
Not a big deal. But our Airbnb host felt bad. She had arranged the excursion with the nearby Tirta Dive Shop and confirmed the arrangements via text the night before. Still, being that we were staying in our Lovina bungalow for a month, I easily rescheduled for the following Monday.
Part of the reason I didn’t mind the Friday screw-up and Monday reschedule was the very reasonable price offered through our housing host. The price of 850,0000 Indonesian rupiah ($60 USD) included: pickup, ground transportation, boat to the offshore reef, all dive equipment for two dives, lunch, return transport. That is a real value for a two-tank dive trip.
Obviously, I got the ‘wholesale’ rate — no markup by our housing host. She said the same trip is peddled by other resellers for whatever they can get – usually 1.2 to 1.5 million rupiah ($85 to $105 USD).
I remember paying $60 for two-tank dives – but decades ago. Since then, the cost of dive trips, like most everything else, has crept upwards. Now, around $100 is what can be expected, even in developing countries. I was also told the weekend price would have been higher with Tirta. If nothing else, the $60 cost can be used as a baseline price for dives in Bali.
Perhaps the low cost was necessary to convince customers to make the trip. It was a long drive. The ride in each direction to the boat launch point was over 90 minutes. Most of it on the busy, two-lane, Bali road that circles the island. Further, those unaccustomed to Indonesian driving might take issue with the frequent passing into oncoming traffic and constant chaos of scooters, pedestrians, animals, construction, slow-moving trucks, etc.
For me, the air-conditioned, round-trip drive was part of the fun. I got to see the mountainous northwestern part of the island in addition to the diving. Still, those with limited vacation time might not want to use a whole day for this excursion. Unfortunately, good dive options (reefs) require about 90-minute drives either west or east from the north central island area around Lovina, Bali.
Once at the boat it was another 20 to 30 minutes to load up, then 20 more minutes to get to the reef/wall on the north side of Menjangan Island, off the Bali West National Park at the northwest tip of the island.
Northern Bali diving: really good
The dives were really good. There were eight to 10 other boats conducting scuba and snorkel operations – maybe 50 people total in the water, but plenty of space. Our boat had a few snorkelers and one beginner scuba couple.
I had my own dive master and we completed both dives along a reef wall that dropped to about 40 meters. Our maximum depth was 26 meters; lots of colorful marine coral and marine flora – especially blues and purples – and many tropical fish (one lion fish seen).
The water was warm (no wet suit needed), very little current, and bright sunlight overhead.
In all, the day I ended up diving was an enjoyable experience with Tirta Dive Shop. And I would recommend Bali diving – especially if you’re looking to save a few bucks. My total cost including a tip to dive master Frankie and a beer on land afterwards was under $75 USD.
Just be aware of the drive times involved. And if you are coming specifically for diving, perhaps pick lodging that is closer to the reefs.
As always, happy trails and more beer. Life is now.
(Editor’s note: Tirta Dive Lovina’s web link was removed on October 4, 2022, because the link was no longer valid. No other information about its website or dive operations was available.)
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