Bali has always been considered one of the more exotic dive and travel locations.† Itís not one of the premier dive spots in the world, but it certainly has some interesting diving!
Bali is easy to get to on several major airlines.† Our trip from Pittsburgh was via Houston, Hawaii, and Guam, arriving in Denpasar, the capitol of Bali.† We had an unexpected overnight in Gram, but that part of the story is written up in our Wakatobi review.†
After arriving back in Sulawesi from our Wakatobi adventure, we flew from east to west Sulawesi, then back to Denpasar, in one day.† We were met at the Bali airport for our transport to Mimpi Resort on the northeastern coast of Bali, a trip that was supposedly three hours.† Unfortunately, it was dusk, turning dark, and raining.† Once out of Denpasar, we headed into the hills; even more unfortunately, it was really pouring there!† Traffic began backing up and eventually came to a halt.† Water was gushing down the road, getting high enough to float cars!† Plus, it was impossible to see the deep ditch running along the side of the road.† It suddenly became very quiet in our van, but eventually our intrepid driver got us off the main road, zigzagged through a rice paddy, and back on our way.† We finally reached Mimpi at midnight, after a four-hour drive.
The Mimpi grounds are very pretty, with flowers and plants everywhere.† Our room was in a cluster of four.† Each room had a lockable wooden door that opened onto a private courtyard.† To the right was a large open-air daybed, overlooking a fishpond and the resort walkway; lights and a fan made this a cozy nook for reading or napping.† A rattan blind could be lowered to screen the area from passerbys.† To the left of the courtyard were glass doors that opened into the bedroom, which had a large bed, small refrigerator, and nightstand.† The closet had storage shelves and a decent sized safe.† Through a slatted door was the bathroom, with a covered, outdoor shower.† It looked great, but we ran into two problems:† mosquitoes had easy access to the bedroom through the door slats, and at night, when neighbors burned every mosquito coil they could find, the smell flowed into our bedroom, clogging our sinuses and giving us headaches.† We finally hung a long towel over the bathroom door, which solved most of the problems.† A regular door, or even better, an indoor bathroom, would have been nice.† At the end of the week, I opened the closet door to pack, and a horde of mosquitoes flew out!† Amazingly, we didnít actually get many bites, probably because it was still the beginning of the rainy season.
The dive shop was less than a minute from our room, next to the restaurant.† They seemed to be well organized; once they had our name and room number, we were pretty much able to do what we wanted.† We did one dive with a guide to find the Liberty Ship and get a feel for its layout.† After that, theyíd ask when we planned on diving next, and our gear would be ready for us.† After diving, we trekked back to the dive shop, stripped off our gear, threw it in one of the three rinse tanks, and the staff took over, rinsing and hanging everything.† All gear was locked up at night.† The shop usually closed about 9:00 each evening, which left plenty of time for night dives, since it gets dark about 6:00 P.M.
The beach diving is great.† Besides the Liberty ship itself being a good dive, there are all kinds of neat fish and critters living in and around the wreck.† There is also good muck diving straight off the resort, and a wall with coral to the right.† If you want to go farther, you can arrange transport in outriggers that look like water-strider bugs when they move across the water.
The only problem with all this great diving is getting to the water; the beach is made up of fairly large, round lava rocks that are feet-killers!† But there are easy solutions and tank sherpas are one of them.† Tank sherpas are tiny Indonesian girls and women who carry one or two tanks on their heads, BCs and regulators attached, using a towel for cushioning.† Itís absolutely mesmerizing watching them walk the ten-minute stretch to the Liberty wreck with two tanks on their head, sometimes a weight belt over each shoulder, wearing only flimsy flip-flops on their feet!
Just walking across the rocks hurt our poor, wimpy feet, so we started wearing our thick-soled sandals over our boots; when we arrived at the entry point, we took the sandals off in the water and used a weight belt to attach them to one of our tanks.† Diving straight out from the resort is only a few steps to the water, but we still used the sandal method.
We also dove off the resort for two days, driving up to one hour each way with another dive operation.† The diving was not terrific and the coral was sparse and beat, but we were able to see some critters that we didnít see at Mimpi, like leaf fish and cuttlefish, and we got to ride in the water-strider boats.
The food at the resort was plentiful and cheap.† Breakfast was American or Indonesian style; lunch and dinner were from the same menu, or a sandwich menu was available.† There were also several local restaurants and other resorts to visit.
Although the diving would not be considered world class in Bali, we saw plenty of interesting things and were very satisfied.† Next time we go to Bali, weíll stop back at this resort and then make a grand tour of Bali, stopping for a few days at various locations to see what the diving is like, and viewing the beautiful countryside.† We hear thereís some more really weird stuff that we still have to see!
Downey Diving 213 Summerfield Drive Baden, PA 15005 (724) 869-1989