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On Tuesday, May 25th 2015 our Nautilus Diving Bali team took a group out to Manta Point, a dive site at the southern end of Nusa Penida. Nusa Penida is an island in the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok – 40 minutes trip by speedboat from Padang Bai on Bali’s east coast.

Nusa Penida itself affords some spectacular coastline and soaring limestone cliffs, while as the name suggests, Manta Point is a cleaning station for the majestic Manta Ray (Manta birostris).

These ocean giants frequently glide around the large rocks below the surface, allowing small cleaner wrasse fish to eat parasites off their flesh.

About halfway through our dive we came upon the Mantas, looming large into the outskirts of our visibility range. The mere sighting of the rays sent shivers up my spine, but what was to follow completely blew my mind, which can now never be unblown!

Three Mantas – one very large (approx. 3.5m wingspan) and two smaller rays with a wingspan of about 2m ach – lazily glided past our group, giving ample opportunities for us to swim alongside as well as underneath the rays. One of the smaller rays was almost completely black, while the others had the more standard ‘white-underneath’ colouration.

I even swam along with the larger Manta, flapping my arms and pretending to be a Manta in the hope that it would play with me… alas, it simply gazed contemptuously at me from the corner of its eye for about a minute before flicking its wingtips and heading back to the cleaning station.

We were even treated to the appearance of a fourth Manta, swimming around the cleaning station in the opposite direction to the initial trio… all in all we spent a magical 25 minutes in the presence of these majestic and humbling sea giants.

I can’t wait for my next Manta experience – I strongly recommend it, to date it has been one of the most fulfilling interactions I have ever experienced in 28 years of venturing into the natural world…

dive safaris25/04/2014

This dive shop is situated on Jalan Drupadi in Seminyak. It’s well-organized shop with easy to understand materials, a variety of offerings for divers and snorklers, and plenty of gear to get you outfitted properly.

I did my Open Water Diver course at Nautilus. Per other reviews, Olaf was a great resource and explained all the options to me, scheduling, and what was included in the best choice for me (we decided it was the Open Water Diver option). He also scheduled my exam and trip to the dive site. Olaf’s role isn’t just administrative, he is also an experienced diver and joined us with a group of divers that wanted a refresher course in Tulamben. He was great company!

The Open Water Diver course consists of 1 day of study, 1 day of review and testing with an instructor, and two days of diving in Tulamben (about 2-3 hours from Seminyak in northeastern Bali – the trip is overnight and the accommodation, transport and equipment is included in the rate I was quoted). Am I completely spoiled by this experience of 4 dives in a beautiful part of Bali including a ship wreck? Yes.

The best thing about Nautilus is the staff. Aside from Olaf, I interacted with Pablo, Christophe and Werner (the owner).

Being a novice, I relied heavily on the PADI materials and then my instructor, Pablo. Pablo is professional, knowledgeable, thorough, calm, cheerful, clearly loves diving and enjoys teaching. I was hesitant and worried about a few of the skills. But, he slowly and calmly explained it would be straightforward and not to worry. He explained how it would work, demonstrated out of the water and in the water and then had me practice until I felt confident to move on.

He has experience working with divers of all types and anticipated questions or concerns before I thought of them. He began nearly every answer to a question in this format, “the answer to your question is X, why is this the case? reason for this is Y, let’s say this other related thing happens called Z, here’s how you handle that too and why.”

Christophe was enthusiastic and patient. A master diver in training and under Pablo’s supervision, he explained the gear to me, how to use it, and how to care for it. All of this is covered in the book, but the demonstrations are what matter to me since I learn by doing. His explanations were thorough and he answered all my questions easily and completely. Christophe also acted as my dive buddy and even made sure I didn’t fall with all my heavy gear walking out into the water – even though he had the same gear on himself.

I only got to meet Werner (the owner) twice, but each time I found him relaxed, organized, and funny.

Overall, as a first time diver, I was nervous about strapping a tank of air onto myself and breathing out of a tube 18 meters underwater. The fact that every single person I interacted with at Nautilus was consistent, organized, easy to communicate with and very knowledgeable put me at ease and instilled confidence in me about the experience.

Good to know: If you’re like me and you have lots of frizzy hair, you might want to bring some hair conditioner for the overnight in Tulamben (this is the only toiletry the resort doesn’t provide, otherwise it’s perfect).

Like in other places in Bali, mosquito repellent is very useful, especially when you’re taking meals and/or taking a surface interval.

If you bring a camera, make sure it’s good to 18 m (for the US AT Liberty) or (12 m for Coral Gardens). If you plan on using your GoPro, Pablo and Christophe explained to another diver that red filters for the lens help cut out the green/blue tones that typically wash out video and photos underwater, making the color and fish that much more vibrant.

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