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Leave on a tropical island far from everythingthat's good. But immersing yourself in a tropical sea is better... For me, happiness is underwater! This time it's in Lombok, Indonesia, near Bali...
New underwater adventures
July 6, 2015. Today is a great day: I'm back below the surface again!! My new bubble pool: Sekotong Bay, in the southwest of Lombok (the island that faces the eastern coast of Bali).
I do not care anymore. I have been on a small island for two days, Gili Asahan, and I finally recovered my bag of travel, "forgotten" by the Emirates airline in Dubai.... Inside, there are a few indispensable things for my underwater and photographic excursions: my diving equipment and elements for the waterproof housing of my camera.
Fish and nudibranchs just have to behave... I'm coming!!!!
Photographing the coral
Sekotong Bay and the "gilis" (islands) southwest of Lombok are still little known, little visited, few dives. Here, I have been told, the funds are less damaged by fishing with dynamite, tourism and the warming of water (which makes the coral bleach) than in the northern gilis (Air, Nemo , Trawangan).
My verdict, after several days of diving: yes, there are beautiful sites in Sekotong Bay, with coral in great shape!
But at first, the photographer that I am is a little disappointed by underwater visibility, very bad - and she's not getting any better as the days go by. There are a lot of plankton and suspended particles, which make the water "foggy" and don't make my job any easier, as it's a question of atmospheric photos...
But with perseverance - I spend all my time adjusting the angle of my single flash and trickery with the sunlight - I end up getting decent images. It must be said that there is no shortage of photogenic subjects: large coral tables, giant barrel sponges, delicate gorgonians, clouds of glass fish...
When it comes to fauna, there are few "big" fish, apart from a few turtles, napoleons and imposing starry balloon fish. But on the "small" side, there's plenty of fun to be had.
So, I got a little loose with the macro lens ...
Diving, diving, diving
Five days fly like a string of bubbles to the surface ... I dive every day, too happy to find the underwater weightlessness and the fascinating little world of the coral ecosystem ... ????
The sites accessible from Gili Asahan and the nearby Lombok Coast are usually gently sloping reefs, down to sandy bottoms or littered with coral debris. The islands of Sekotong Bay offer quite a bit of different spots, which always allows a B plan when there is too much current at one place ...
Overall, these are sites accessible to divers of all levels. Nothing amazing underwater (we are not at Komodo nor to Sipadan nor to Raja Ampat), but I would still describe the dives in Sekotong as "nice" (especially when you visit the gorgonian sea fans filled with pygmy seahorses), that is to say at the level of what we can generally expect in Indonesia. It's worth diving there during a visit of Lombok, but I won't make it a diving destination in itself. (Maybe I'm starting to get picky, too?).
Anyway, Sekotong is an interesting region to explore. The "gilis" of the area are really beautiful, quiet and authentic on a "land" level.
Some practical information
In this summer of 2015, there is (to my knowledge) only two dive structures located in Sekotong Bay itself : Dive Zone and the center Odyssea Divers from the hotel Cocotinos.
I opted for Dive Zone (which recently joined a well-known Indonesian organization, Two Fish Divers, which also has centers in Bali and Manado) and I stayed at Pearl Beach Resort on Gili Asahan. This accommodation is a partner of the diving center, which has its annex on site. (There are other possible accommodations on Lombok itself or the surrounding islands, but it is less convenient for diving every day.)
The "resort" in question consists of a handful of comfortable bungalows (hardwood) and simpler bungalows (bamboo) arranged in a beautiful garden facing the sea. The place is beautiful and very quiet (it's a pity that the management and the food are not of the same level, for what I experienced during my stay... but it can be improved).
Finally, Dive Zone is also the only dive operator to bring people to the site The Magnet. It is a spectacular pebble, battered by waves and currents, off another bay, Belongas Bay, about an hour's drive from Sekotong.
Only divers considered experienced (with more than 100 dives) are accepted because the conditions can be sporty or difficult. I can not recommend too much caution, more than elsewhere, on this very particular site. The reward is that we cross big beasts ... I'll talk about it again, since I went there.