By The Secret Traveller
So, you’re off to Bali for the adventure of a lifetime? Exploring ancient temples, sipping on fruity cocktails, snagging market bargains, lounging in the sun for hours on end, and diving one or many of the incredible dive sites off its shores. It may be one of the best regions for diving south of the equator, but it can also be pretty dangerous for those not in the know.
Here are six of the biggest dangers to be mindful of when diving in Bali.
Many Bali dive sites are renowned for their unpredictable currents, serving up some of the strongest and most erratic in the world. Waters that are calm and serene one day can be completely wild the next, and even experienced divers can get into trouble if they’re not careful. Respect the power of the ocean and be sure you stay across all warnings on tides and currents. If you’re a bit of a diving greenhorn, only dive with reputable PADI-certified operators and follow their advice. They’re the experts, not you, despite how many travel guides you’ve read or YouTube videos you’ve watched.
Research, research, research! If you’re planning on diving in Bali with a company, do your research. And I don’t mean researching to find the cheapest deal. Most dive operators are totally legit, but there have been incidences of “companies” doing some pretty dodgy things, like using sub-par dive equipment, not following proper safety procedures, and basically putting people’s lives at risk.
Make sure the operator and the instructors you go out with are all PADI-certified or hold an open water diving license that is recognised in New Zealand, otherwise you won't be covered by most travel insurance companies. Do your research, speak to operators, speak to other divers, and go from there. You’re heading underwater – this is one time when you want to err on the side of caution.
There are countless dive sites around Indonesia, but not all of them are suitable for diving newbies. Don’t be an idiot and act like you know what you’re doing if you don’t. Diving is extremely fun, but it can also be dangerous if you’re out of your depth. Bali has an abundance of dive spots, catering to all abilities. So, choose the one that suits you. Don’t let that weird dude at the hostel talk you into going to his “secret dive spot” unless you know it’s safe and you have the skills to handle it.
Buyuk Nusa Penida is great for newbies, the USS Liberty Wreck dive site is must-see for all underwater explorers, while advanced divers’ searching for their next watery adventure should head to The Magnet, home to scalloped hammerhead sharks, great hammerhead sharks, mobula rays, barracudas, and more.
One of the most magnificent things about diving in Bali is the sea life. Colourful fish, huge manta rays, sharks, sea snakes, vibrant coral. All of this and more, and it’s going to take your breath away. But be careful. This is their home, not yours, and not all creatures are friendly, particularly if you get up in their business and start poking around. Use your common sense and always listen to the advice of your dive leader. If you’re told to steer clear of an underwater critter, do it.
Unless you want to be hobbling around for the rest of your holiday, wear appropriate coverage on your feet when you dive. Stonefish and sea urchins are common along the reef and seabed, and their spikes deliver a nasty sting if you tread on them. Also, be careful of the coral. Not only will it deliver you a nasty cut or painful sting, you’ll probably injure or kill the unique underwater animal.
I get it – you’ve arrived in Bali and you’re keen to get out and dive as soon as you can. Word of advice – give it 24 hours. Flying often dehydrates your body (particularly if you enjoy a few G&Ts on-board), putting you at greater risk of the bends. Besides, a flight often takes it out of you and leaves you feeling tired, something you definitely do not want to be when you dive. So, just chill for a day. Settle in, recharge, and take to the Bali waters when you fully refreshed.
Have a fun, safe & enjoyable holiday with our guide to staying safe in Bali.
1Cover’s UK Survival Guide is packed full handy hints, tips and tricks from those in the know.