Bali. It’s a name synonymous with a tropical island paradise, conjuring up images of emerald rice terraces, an exotic, vibrant culture and friendly people. This jewel of the Indonesian Archipelago is also a magnet for scuba divers, drawn by a bevy of attractions ranging from to tiny jewel-like nudibranchs to enormous mola molas. Once you’ve been, you’re hooked!
Twenty hours and several stopovers after leaving snowy Toronto, I finally arrived in Bali on a sultry tropical evening. The heavy rains that delayed our departure in Singapore had given way to a vibrant sunset, and I was feeling cautiously optimistic about the weather. On hand to meet me was my driver Alit, who would take me on the two and a half hour drive to my first stop of the trip, Scuba Seraya Resort on Bali’s northeast coast. Still groggy from jet lag, I slept for most of the way, and before I knew it, we were pulling into the resort’s driveway. The grounds were quiet, with the only sound being crickets and the occasional dog barking in the distance. After grabbing a quick drink, I retired to my room to assemble my camera gear.
The next morning, the skies were gloomy but my spirits were high as I wandered over to the dining room for an early breakfast. After a kick-start with a cup of strong Balinese coffee, I was eager to get into the water. I headed over to the dive shop to get my gear sorted out. There I met Degeng, who was to be my guide. It also turned out I was the only diving guest that day. Sweet!
When owner, Patrick Schwarz, first developed the property, no one had any idea as to the treasures that lay just offshore. Now, this innocuous corner of the North Bali coast is something of a mecca for muck, attracting divers the world the world over to experience the myriad of critters that can be observed here. And I was going to have it all to myself!
Despite having my “critter shopping list” handy, I asked Degeng what he had seen recently. Upon hearing the magic words “boxer crab with eggs”, there was no doubt as to where the first dive would be! After gearing up and doing a final check on the camera, we walked the scant few metres to shore and our entry point. The unsettled conditions had resulted in strong surf, which made our shore entry a bit awkward to say the least! Fortunately, conditions were somewhat calmer underwater, and we swam down the gentle slope of black sand (...)