Week 2 of Indonesia divemaster course: Intro to Nusa Penida scuba diving

Jul 23, 2021 BY Cara Rees

This is a mini diary of the second week of my Indonesia divemaster course. It is combined with the Indo Ocean Project internship program offering marine conservation. This post includes a day to day guide of what I have been doing plus an introduction to Nusa Penida scuba diving to give you an idea of what the area offers.

Nusa Penida scuba diving Nusa Penida Photo by Cara Rees

After only two weeks on Nusa Penida, I am starting to fall in love with this island life. Plus I have already had some amazing scuba diving experiences.

Intro to Nusa Penida scuba diving

Nusa Penida is part of an archipelago with 13 smaller islands. The surrounding 20,057 hectares of ocean has been a Marine Protected Area (MPA) since 2010.

The waters are thought to have about 300 species of coral and 600 of reef fish, not to mention the other inhabitants. Diving here I have experienced this abundance and it is mesmerising. It comes as no surprise to me that Penida has been known in the scuba world for years for it’s world class dive sites.

Nusa Penida dive sites

There are currently 23 dive sites around Nusa Penida. The majority of which are less than 1hr transit from the Reeflex dive centre where IOP is based. The dive sites offer a variety of topography. Many are shallow reef slopes with drift diving where you allow the current to carry you along. I really enjoy this.

Boat scuba diving in Nusa Penida Photo by Cara Rees

There are also a number of deep wall dives. It’s an incredible experience having a wall of underwater life on one side and the deep blue with schools of fish passing on the other.

There are also surreal underwater landscapes of large boulders and pinnacles including some exciting swim throughs. I also like the sandy areas, seeing sting rays piled up like pancakes or watching cuttlefish flash their colours. I would highly recommend a Nusa Penida Open Water scuba diving course in Indonesia if you want to learn.

Nusa Penida scuba diving: Wildlife?

I was attracted to complete my Indo Ocean Project internship in Nusa Penida by the probability of seeing; Manta, Turtles, Sharks and Mola (Sunfish). So far I have seen turtles and many reef manta rays, it’s great!

There are 3 main dive sites to see manta. Secret Manta and Manta Bay are areas where manta feed. Manta Point is a cleaning station. Hawksbill and green sea turtles are seen feeding and chilling at the reef sites.

Manta Ray during Indonesia divemaster course with Indo Ocean Project

From July to November deep sea currents well up around Penida bringing colder water and the chance to see Mola. Crystal Bay is renowned for Mola sightings, I’m very excited by the possibility of seeing them while I dive in Nusa Penida.

Week 2 of Indo Ocean Project internship program

This is a mini diary of what I have been up to on my second week for Indo Ocean Project internship program. The goal of this Indonesia divemaster course is to finish with the PADI or SSI Divemaster qualification. You can read more about days one to seven in my week 1 Indo Ocean Project Diary.

Day 8: Rest and relax

Today was my rest day from the project. Daily Nusa Penida scuba diving, learning and training is exhausting for a newbie like me, but so worth it! I spent the day doing a little homework, some chores and relaxing. Plus I treated myself to a Balinese massage, much needed for my aching muscles.

Sunset Crystal Bay during indonesia divemaster course in Nusa Penida Photo by Cara Rees

I also experienced my first sunset at Crystal Bay – beautiful! I can’t believe I’m really going to be living on this island paradise for another 11 weeks while gaining marine conservation experience and qualifications to become a scuba divemaster.

Day 9: CoralWatch dive in Crystal Bay

My day started watching monkeys! The IOP intern dormitories are at Namaste bungalows which have a jungle view dining area. I have really enjoyed seeing the local macabre monkeys cavort and play as my breakfast entertainment.

Macabre Monkey Nusa Penida Photo by Cara Rees

Today we did a CoralWatch dive. CoralWatch is an international programme where anyone can help record and monitor the health of coral reefs. IOP monitors 20 coral in Crystal Bay. It was a challenge to find the right coral but very rewarding to be part of something so important.

Corals are animals that live in a mutualistic relationship with algae. The coral cannot survive long without the algae. The algae gives the coral colour, lots of colour/pigment indicates healthier coral. When coral turns white it is called coral bleaching. This is an indication that the coral is stressed and might die if the algae does not return soon.

Day 10: Boat dives and BRUV workshop

This was another fun packed busy day including two boat dives and a BRUV workshop.

Due to the island’s location, Nusa Penida scuba diving offers lots of drift dives. It’s cool entering the water at one point, letting the current carry you along the reef to exit at another point. At first I found it challenging maintaining good buoyancy close to the reef while relaxing and letting the current carry me along. But as I gain experience my enjoyment of drift dives keeps increasing.

BRUV Station Nusa Penida scuba diving photo by Serena Stean of Reeflex Divers

BRUV = Baited Remote Underwater Video. It is one of the data collection methods IOP uses. It is non-invasive with 1Kg of bait caged and attached to a frame with a GoPro which records for 1 hour.

The video is then reviewed to determine the number of sharks, rays, turtles and commercially viable fish species present in the area. I found it interesting learning why BRUV is a useful method of data collected. We also learnt how to deploy the BRUV, I look forward to getting involved.

Day 11: Culture and shore dive at Crystal Bay

I’m finding the Nusa Penida culture endearing! It is a mainly Hindu island and there are lots of little shrines. This is one of the Namaste bungalow shrines.

Hindo shrine in Nusa Penida Photo by Cara Rees

The black-and-white checkered textile is a traditional Balinese saput poleng (saput means “blanket,” and poleng means “two-toned”). The saput poleng symbolises balance and is placed on shrines, statues and trees to protect the spirit within.

Every day on this Indonesia divemaster course my skills are improving and I’m learning more about Nusa Penida dive sites. Today was a fun shore dive in Crystal Bay. We went along the left side of the bay which I hadn’t done before. The highlight for me was watching a school of bigeye barracuda in the blue.

Day 12: Diving Manta Point and party

Today we dived Manta Point again and it was amazing. Right at the end of the dive, during the safety stop there were three large reef manta Ray dancing/tumbling together. I can’t believe I got to see such a spectacular scene!

Cocktail party during indonesia divemaster course in Nusa Penida Photo by Cara Rees

Tonight there was a divemaster graduation celebration for a couple of the interns. The ceremony included a snorkel test where the graduates had to drink through a snorkel. It was a great party with lovely cocktails!

Day 13: Rest day (party recovery)

Rest and party recovery day. Delicious brunch, time relaxing by the pool and live music at Coco Penida tonight. I feel so lucky!

Coco Penida beach Photo by Cara Rees

Day 14: Two boat dives and nudibranch workshop

A brilliant end to week 2 of my Indonesia divemaster course with two more beautiful boat dives and a fascinating nudibranch workshop.

In preparation for becoming a survey diver we were practicing fish ID. We have special underwater sign language to communicate including for key species. It’s hard not to chuckle when someone is miming opening a can of tuna. My highlight was drifting side by side with a hawksbill turtle for about 15min, it was awesome!!!

Hawksbill turtle Nusa Penida scuba diving photo by Serena Stean of Reeflex Divers

Nudibranch are a shell-less mollusc commonly known as sea slugs. They range from tiny about 15mm to large at 40cm. They come in all sorts of patterns and wondrous colour combinations, not what most people would expect from a slug. Nudi means naked and branch refers to their gills which are external. I found the workshop fascinating and can’t wait to see my first Nudibranch when scuba diving.

This mini diary is an extension of my microblog on Instagram and Facebook. If you’ve enjoyed please follow me at these links or look up Conservation_Cara.

Asia, Crystal Bay, Indian Ocean, Indonesia, Nusa Penida, Penida Marine Park, South East Asia
Scuba Diving
Conservation, Coral Reef, Divemaster, Manta, Turtles
Travel Articles

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