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February 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 35, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Two Fish Divers, Lembongan; Alam Batu, Bali, Indonesia

two destinations, one for reefs, one for muck

from the February, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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For many divers traveling to Indonesia, Bali is a stopover en route to a primary destination, allowing a few days to blow off the fog of jet lag and get a few warm-up dives. For others, it's a diving destination in an exotic culture, with time spent touring the countryside and enjoying the crafts of Ubud. Either way, there's plenty of good diving, and this month, we're running shorter reviews of two destinations that can serve either as a stopover or a primary destination.

* * * * * * *

mantas and molas and mantis shrimp, oh my!

Dear Fellow Diver,

Two Fish Lembongan pool and barThink Cozumel drift diving, only with five times the coral and fish life. Add mola molas, the giant oceanic sunfish. And giant mantas, too. And you've got it.

On my first two dives -- Toyopake and PED -- I kicked down 75 feet, to sloping reefs with huge mounds of staghorn coral, multi-colored sponges, brittle stars and clownfish nests, to enter a busy intersection with spadefish, jacks, fairy basslets, tangs, Moorish idols, bannerfish, and bandit butterflyfish rushing in every direction. Visibility was 75 feet on both dives, but so was a one-to-two knot current, a norm in these parts. So I left my big-rig camera in my room, a wise choice. My buddy, a retired Englishman, had carried his, but the current didn't let him snap one shot.

I was there during the first half of November, the lowest of the low season (and the end of mola mola season), so I roasted in mid-day humidity during the 82- to 90-degree afternoons; mornings and evenings weren't much cooler. The upside was fewer divers on the boat: only four the first day -- two 60-ish Swedish women, the retired Brit, and me. Two exuberant Luxembourgers who were getting their divemaster certifications came along to practice their rescue exercises while we drifted the technicolor coral gardens.

I know Bali well, but I had never been to Nusa Lembongan, an island off the southeastern coast. I chose Two Fish because of the great experiences I have had at both its Lembeh and Bunaken resorts. A 45-minute van ride from the Denpasar airport to the "Rocky Fast Boat" and a 45- minute fast bumpy crossing to Lembongan Island led to the final transit to the resort, a 15-minute ride on bench seats in a swaying openback van. Ten rooms surround a pleasant little courtyard, with a pool and bar at one end, a tilefloored dining area at the other, and a 200-meter walk to the boats.

At the beachfront dive shop, Valeri, the Ukranian dive manager, gave me a thorough briefing, explaining they planned dive times around the tides and wave forecasts -- the huge swings in daily tides sometimes made it impossible for the boats to get out. We were twice delayed 30 minutes to let the tide rise. During peak season, Two Fish has a maximum of four divers per guide; my buddy and I joined Frankie, a silent type in his early 30s who, as it turned out, I dived with at Two Fish Bunaken 10 years ago; he even remembered a dive where I had a sea urchin stuck to my knee pad. While not chatty, Frankie kept a hawk's eye on us underwater, occasionally signaling to change directions to avoid the downcurrents that are common here....

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