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Leave on a tropical island far from everythingIt's good to be in the water. But to immerse yourself in a tropical sea, it's better... For me, happiness is under water! This time, it happens in Lombok, Indonesia, near Bali...
New underwater adventures
July 6, 2015. Today is a big day: I'm going back under the surface!!! My new bubble pool : Sekotong Bayin the southwest of Lombok (the island that faces the eastern coast of Bali).
I don't want to do it anymore. I have been on a small island for two days, Gili Asahanand I finally recovered my bag of travel, "forgotten" by Emirates 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.
The fishes and nudibranches have to be careful... I'm coming !!!
Photographing the coral
The bay of Sekotong and the "gilis" (islands) of southwest Lombok are still little known, little visited, few dives. Here, I was told, the bottom is less damaged by dynamite fishing, tourist traffic and water heating (which makes the corals 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 the visibility under water, very bad - and it doesn't get any better as the days go by. There is a lot of plankton and particles in suspension, which make the water "foggy" and do not make my task any easier, as far as pictures are concerned...
But by dint of perseverance - I spend my time readjusting the angle of my only flash and playing around with the sunlight - I end up getting good pictures. It must be said that there is no lack of photogenic subjects: large coral tables, giant sponges, delicate gorgonians, swarms of glass fish...
As far as fauna is concerned, we did not meet many "big" fishes, except some turtles, napoleons and big star fishes. But on the "small" side, there is a lot to enjoy.
So, I went a little crazy with the macro lens...
Diving, diving, diving
Five days fly away like a string of bubbles towards the surface... I dive every day, too happy to find the underwater weightlessness and the small fascinating 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 at Sekotong as "nice" (especially when you go to the gorgonian sea fans filled with pygmy seahorses), that is to say, at the level of what one can usually expect in Indonesia. It is worth diving there during a visit to Lombok, but I will not make it a diving destination in itself (maybe I am getting picky, too?).
Anyway, Sekotong is an interesting area to explore. The "gilis" of the area are really superb, quiet and authentic on the "earth" level.
Some practical information
In this summer 2015, there are (to my knowledge) only two dive structures located in Sekotong Bay itself : Dive Zone and the center Odyssea Divers of the Cocotinos Hotel.
I opted for Dive Zone (which has recently joined forces with a well-known Indonesian structure, 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 dive center, which has its own annex on site. (There are other possible accommodations on Lombok itself or the surrounding islands, but it is less convenient to go diving every day).
The resort in question consists of a handful of comfortable bungalows (made of hardwood) and simpler ones (made of bamboo) set in a beautiful garden facing the sea. The place is beautiful and very quiet (I regret that the management and the food are not at the same level, as far as 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 rock, beaten by waves and currents, off another bay, Belongas Bay, about an hour's drive from Sekotong.
Only divers considered as experienced (with more than 100 dives) are accepted, as the conditions can be sporty, even difficult. I cannot recommend caution enough, more than elsewhere, on this very particular site. The reward is that you can meet big animals... I will tell you more about it, since I went there.