During our research on Indonesia, one thing was clear: world class marine life was waiting for us. After spending 10 days checking out the hipster cafes of Canggu and relaxing in Ubud (more on these to come at a later date), I was longing to get into that clear blue ocean. First stop, Amed
Nestled along the North East coast of Bali, expect a lengthy four to five hour drive to Amed. After passing through the built-up central areas, we zipped along the coast before winding through lush rice terraces and a misty mountain pass. We arrived to the small village filled with dive shops alongside a smattering of warungs and hotels.
The next morning, keen to check out the underwater delights on offer, we hopped on a bike and zoomed away to neighbouring Jemeluk. Hmm. Maybe ‘crawled along at 20km per hour’ may be more appropriate. Regardless, Jemeluk Bay doesn’t look like much but is known for its incredible corals close to shore. We rented two snorkels, masks and fins for 80,000 IDR ($8 Australian / £5) and waded straight into the sea!
The rumors weren’t wrong: the bay is absolutely teeming with vibrant fish and corals. After swimming out just a few metre, we were surrounded by schools of fish almost instantly. You can also spot an underwater temple!
I found it hard to tear myself away from Jemeluk Bay but Jamie had his sights set on bigger things. In the opposite direction, the USS Liberty shipwreck in Tulamben is one of Bali’s most famous dive spots. The majority of visitors seem to do dive sessions here but we pulled up, rented some more snorkel gear and swam straight in. The water here was much cloudier but after following the trail of divers bubbles, we found some friends…
I haven’t been able to find out what type of fish this is but they surrounded us completely, swimming close by without a care in the world. It even topped my Great Barrier Reef snorkelling experience! While I’d highly recommend diving to explore the shipwreck, our hour snorkelling in Tulamben was well worth it.
Our next stop is a speedy 45 minute fast boat journey from Amed. After a slight hitch finding our accommodation – impressive on such a small island – the relaxed vibe was all around here. Think lots of reggae (even Adele wasn’t spared) and beachfront bars along fine sandy beaches.
We checked out a few snorkelling spots off the coast of Gili Air but it ended up rather less idyllic than planned. Two words: sea lice. Who even know they existed? It turns out that they’re tiny jellyfish larvae that give quite a nasty sting if you unwittingly swim into a patch. It was unbearable after 10 minutes meaning that I had to rapidly leave a beautiful coral garden.
Perseverance is key however and undeterred, we booked a snorkelling tour of all three Gili islands. Most tours include several snorkel stops and lunch on Gili Meno, an even smaller, more laid back island. Honestly, it was a little underwhelming but it may have been because our first stop couldn’t be beaten! I have always wanted to see a turtle and this moment was unforgettable. Swimming serenely alongside a turtle with rays of sunlight surrounding us was incredible. I can’t describe the feeling of watching it peek its head out of the water before it descended below us. Perfection.
Unfortunately, our boat ride out of Gili Air wasn’t quite so tranquil but you’ll have to click the link below to read about that…
Read more about Indonesia: