A week diving in Nusa Penida

On schedule, the nearby mosque blares their prayers at 4 am. At least I’m up already; I usually bolt upright around this time anyway. I drift back to sleep after the prayer ends, and rouse the next time my alarm pings, which varies depending on the tide times.

I’ve been in Nusa Penida, an island off Bali, this past week. With an additional week off before the start of my new job, and having just come off an awesome vacation in Greenland and Copenhagen plus a side trip to Sydney, I jumped at the opportunity to come here to take my dive rescue certification. I’ve been wanting to do this course for a while, but I was reluctant to use precious vacation time to do it.

It’s also my first time traveling alone for this long; it’s different. Then again, I’m not really traveling per se. I’ve just parked myself for a week here in Nusa Penida, where I spend my days at the dive shop or in the ocean, and come back straight to the guest inn where I’m holed up. While on my rescue course, I didn’t really have time anyway to explore in between, as I would be reading up on the theory in the evenings after class. I did have a couple afternoons where I could have hired a scooter to explore (or more precisely, hire a guy to drive me around, since I’m not confident I can ride one safely on my own), but I’ve elected to chill in the cool shaded comfort of my air conditioned room. It’s much too hot to go hiking. 

I’m very happy I took the rescue course, along with the emergency first responder course. It’s a great refresher on safe diving techniques and skills, and I’ve gained more awareness in the different scenarios that could occur on a dive trip, as well as confidence of what I can do to help, both myself and others. My goal for this course was to become a much more self reliant diver, and I feel that I’ve definitely achieved that. Hopefully I won’t forget these lessons in a hurry!

My rescue course mate, Krystal, a nurse from Minneapolis. It was really good to have someone else take the course with me, since that afforded us more opportunities and scenarios to practice, not to mention someone else to commiserate with!
Krystal and I with our course instructors, Suna and Nick, and dive master candidates aka “rescue victims” Cut and Tess

My secondary goal was to spot some mola molas, lol, given that this is the season for it. Alas, it wasn’t to be. The others saw some on the days I was doing the rescue course – we did shallower dives then, and were mostly focused on skills. Oh well. But I had some really awesome dives, both during the course and for leisure: spotted lots of manta rays at Manta Point (the one dive spot so named where I’ve reliably seen them each of the three times I’ve been there); green and hawksbill turtles, orangutan crab, mantis shrimp, Napoleon wrasse, a banded sea snake, two snowflake morays, a bamboo shark, three thresher sharks, and a hammerhead shark.

Enroute to Crystal Bay, back from Manta Point. The cliffs here are stunning

It’s a good simple life, this kind of island life. No wonder there are so many foreign divemasters and instructors at Blue Corner, my dive school here on Nusa Penida. Some, like my instructors Nick and Suna, have been living and working permanently as dive guides on islands in South East Asia. While others come for a few months, to take their divemaster certification or to freelance as dive guides while getting dives in. Maybe that’s something I could think about, the next opportunity I have time off in between jobs… Hmm.

For now though, I’m grateful for this past week, for the incredible sights underwater, and for the opportunity to use my brain again and stretch myself.

This is primarily a photo blog, but unfortunately I don’t have any underwater photos this trip: I lugged my camera and strobe all the way here before I realized I forgot my housing. Lesson learnt, and hopefully remembered!

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