The thunder made the windows jump in their frames and mum and I jump from our beds.
It was louder than any I'd heard before, a tempest right over our heads. Grinning at each other like little kids (we love a good electrical storm!) we decided to go outside. An epic storm was raging outside, lightening, thunder and rain pounding down on Sanur.
"Uh oh," Mum said, "We're diving in the morning..."
One of the highlights of my Bali trip (aside from seeing my mother of course) was going to be diving with her at the famous Manta point dive site. Every diver has a few creatures on their list of 'must sees' and one thing that's pretty much universal is the desire to see a manta ray. This particular site promised almost guaranteed manta sightings and the whole holiday had been arranged around which days Crystal divers went there.
The morning dawned bright and blue, the only indication of the previous nights fireworks being an ever higher level of humidity than usual. We ate breakfast and then hopped in the doorless van (safety!) that would take us to our boat. The swell was huge thanks to the full moon and storm and I thanked my lucky stars that I never got seasick.
|Never get sick of posing too, amirite?|
Once on board our lovely guide for the day Robyn (who was my mum's instructor for her DM) informed us that we'd go to manta point however there was no guarantee that with the conditions we'd be able to dive there.
|Robyn teaching his AOW students|
The ride over was rollY and bumpy, especially in a small boat, but as the island of Nusa Penida came in to view all I could do was watch the incredible scenery roll by. I wish I could have taken out my camera and take some shots but I think it may have flown overboard! Rainforests turned abruptly in to sheer cliff faces pounded by blue and white waves occasionally giving way to small coves or little outcrops.
|This was also a nice sight - lots of spray!|
A few boats were coming from the opposite direction, all signalling that Manta Point in the swell would be a no go but Robyn wanted to see for himself... Unfortunately when we got there we realised it would be way too dangerous to dive and had to head around the other side of the island where it was sheltered and had far less swell..
|Still just as beautiful!|
Trying to hide my acute disappointment (and reminding myself that this would not be my last trip to Bali) I got excited about doing drift diving, something I hadn't experienced since doing my OW qualification in Egypt...in 2006! Meep...
Thankfully we had a star DM to be my buddy...my Mum!
One of the reasons the reefs around Bali are so bautiful is the strong currents, bring lots of fresh water, nutrients and fish life. Drift diving however is a very different kettle of fish to the diving I'm used to out of Cairns.
I also hadn't dived much for a number of months and it certainly showed, especially in a very strong current. I soon learned not to kick and to control my speed by getting close or further away from the reef. It's a bit like being on a roller coaster and once you get your bouyancy right you can relax and watch as the reef slides by like a film.
|Another DM the gorgeous Lumi!|
I was really impressed with the reef coverage, and it made me realise just how badly affected the Barrier Reef out of Cairns is already.
|So close to shore and such lovely coral!|
We were really hoping to see one of the elusive 'Mola Mola' or Sunfish, a strange creature that is known for lurking in the waters. However it was not to be my day, although an awesome sea snake and turtle sighting more than made up for it!
|You can see the farms in the water above|
During our surface intervals I was more than happy to watch activity on the shore, lovely examples of real Bali life. There are seaweed farms just off shore and you could see the little posts sticking out of the water everywhere marking boundaries.
|Seaweed farms from above. Photo via Twisted Sifter|
By the time we jumped in for our third and final dive I felt like I'd got my mojo back and really enjoyed the current despite it being the strongest one we'd experienced so far.
As we came to the end of a lovely dive the current picked up even more and all of a sudden the vis went from 20 meters to almost nothing as we encountered a cross current! The temperature jumped up and down about 10 degrees and we were whirled around from current to current - not the most fun safety stop I've ever had... Of course all our dive professionals were well used to this sort of thing and before long we were all back on the boat watching as the surface of the water churned and swirled around.
I was very glad that it wasn't until we were back on dry land that my Mum informed that the dive site - Jack point - had been where 7 Japanese divers had gone missing just a few months before after getting stuck in a huge unexpected current. 5 were found but 2 died with one of those turning up in Java four weeks later...with no head!!!
Our groups head's were intact though and we made it back to Sanur, more than ready for a well earned beer!
|A religious ceremony takes place on the beach at Sanur|
Oh, and a few more photo opportunities too of course!
|Fishermen wading out on the beach at low tide|
My lovely housemates were kind enough to lend me their Go Pro for my trip and so rather than snap pictures I made a video of my diving experiences! Enjoy :)