Bali and East Sumbawa

Scuba Travel's office manager Daniel have explored both Bali and East Sumbawa Island which is west of Komodo. If you want to know more about the trip, the destinations and the resorts, you can read Daniel's travel story below.

Part 1. Bali Dive Resort & Spa – Tulamben, Bali

“Sometimes in the office we get the opportunity to go away and enjoy some of the destinations that our customers go to. This time it was my (Daniel Benér) turn to take the pulse Bali Dive Resort & Spa. A dedicated diving resort in Tulamben, Bali. Many of our customers have loved their stay here as it offers great diving, relaxing days by the pool and relaxing massages. All at a very good price which is always attractive!

Bali

The first stop on my combination trip with Bali and East Sumbawa is Bali.  I land here on Denpasar Airport after a pleasant but long flight (almost 20 hours). We recommend our customers stay at least 9 nights because the flight is so long. After I collect my luggage, I go through security. Outside here, Nyoman Suartawan, my driver, is waiting for me with a sign.

An incredibly nice man who tells a lot of exciting things about Bali during the 3-hour long transport to Bali Dive Resort. During the normal season (October-November & March-June) and the low season (December-March), the transport takes 2-2,5 hours. 

Feed monkeys and marvel at the scenery

On the way, I get the opportunity to feed monkeys and also see a lot of the beautiful rice fields that adorn the Balinese landscape. Once at Bali Dive Resort & Spa, I am met by staff who take care of me after the long journey from Gothenburg to Tulamben. They show me to my room and make sure I get settled. Even the resort's manager Pauline takes the time to welcome me.

The large rooms are well equipped with everything you need and are of a good standard. My room was a deluxe room with a pool in front of the exit. The pool is shared with the other rooms in the same building (4 rooms in total). I am struck by how spacious the rooms are and there are also bungalows with sea and garden views that you can choose from if you are 1-2 people going on the trip. If you are a family, I recommend you choose a family room that has a double bed and a single bed. These rooms are extra large and spacious so it is no problem to bring in another extra bed so that you can stay 4 people in the room.

Amazing sunrises

One day you should get up just before 6 am to witness the amazing sunrise. The light grows stronger with each passing minute and the sky shifts from red, orange and yellow. Finally the sun looks up over the horizon and after only 5-10 minutes the sun has "shot" over the horizon and begins to heat up the landscape. Incredibly beautiful and brightens the rest of your day!

Breakfast is served every morning from 7am and you choose from an à la carte menu. It feels good to avoid the breakfast buffet, and having the opportunity to choose different types of breakfast every day feels luxurious. After breakfast at 8 o'clock, it's time for diving (however, you decide for yourself when you start diving)!

Diving day

The diving is very relaxed. Where you will dive the next day is settled with you as a customer the day before; you decide where and when to dive. When all the paperwork is completed and the rental equipment is tested, it's time for the dive. You never have to worry about your equipment, the staff will take care of it. You just hop on the car that takes you to the dive site.

Once at the dive site, porters receive the equipment and carry it down to the beach where they assemble it for you. It is then easy to get off the beach and start your dive. At some dive sites you need to take a dive boat out to get to dive sites that are a little further out. The days are brightened by beautiful dives and my dive guide Sas makes sure that I get to see as much of the underwater life as possible.

Mud diving and corals

The diving is a mixture of muck and coral reef diving. For those of you who don't know what muck diving is, it involves swimming over the black lava sand and looking for the little weird animals that live there. Nudibranchs, shrimps, crabs, morays, etc. The coral reefs in many places are very beautiful and have large schools of fish around them, which is always nice to see as it indicates a healthy reef.

I recommend you try the house reef which is straight out to the left of the dive center. It is a small reef that contains a large amount of wildlife and is a decent dive to end the day with. We see 3 ribbon eels on one and the same dive, which is really nice. Of course, you should also do a dive on the famous wreck Liberty, which is only 5 minutes from the diving center.

Liberty wreck, Bali's most famous dive site

Around the wreck you can see a family of humphead parrot fish patrolling the wreck as well as squid, large groupers and turtles. The wreck itself is still spectacular despite being there for many years. I also recommend doing a full day trip to Amed as the diving there offers larger coral reefs. Here we also get to see reef sharks.

After some rest after the dive, I have a well-deserved massage (remember not to book a massage too close to the dive) which is so cheap that it's hard not to. Even if you're not used to massages, I recommend you try this while you're here, and I promise you won't be disappointed. Now afterwards I wish I had time for more of them!

No time for land trips unfortunately

For those who want, there are many different excursions you can do if you want to have a day without diving. Among other things, you can visit one of the many temples in the area or climb the active volcano Mount Batur. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for any of the trips because I prioritized the diving over everything else! But if you want to climb the volcano, keep in mind that you are not allowed to dive the day before because the summit is 1 meters above sea level.

You will start the climb around 2 - 3 in the morning in order to reach the top in time for sunrise, it is important that you are up early because you will be picked up at the hotel around 1 in the morning. You are back at the hotel shortly after lunch. Make sure you have a really good pair of hiking boots and you should have good basic fitness.

At Bali Dive Resort & Spa you will be truly pampered at an attractive price that makes it worth coming back several times and exploring more places around Bali and East Sumbawa and more in Indonesia. Something that I choose to do next on my trip…”

Part 2. Kalimaya Dive Resort – East Sumbawa Island

“Now it's time for a little adventure. It is not only Bali but also East Sumbawa that should be visited. Through a couple of contacts, I have heard about a brand new diving resort that has been built on East Sumbawa Island. According to them, the resort should be something really extra. At the time of writing there are no other dive centers on the island and this has made me suspicious, why are there no other dive centers on the island? Is the diving really that good if there are no other dive centers? The questions were many but the answers were few so I decide to extend my stay in Indonesia and visit Kalimaya Dive Resort to form my own opinion.

After a very relaxing stay at Bali Dive Resort & Spa, I am excited with anticipation for the upcoming diving adventure. Stage two of the trip where I combine Bali and eastern Sumbawa is the Kalimaya resort further east in Indonesia.
From Denpasar in Bali, I take a propeller plane that takes me straight to Bima (the capital of Sumbawa Island). We recommend having at least one safety night between the international flight and the domestic flight, unless you have a few days stay in Bali before Sumbawa Island.

Arrival to Bima and Sumbawa Island

The airport at Bima is small and really only consists of a paved road and a building that acts as the terminal. When I have picked up my luggage, I meet up with my driver and we leave for the resort. The drive takes us over the mountains through winding serpentine roads. I quickly realize that this is a very poor area as the houses are rather sheds and the garbage disposal leaves a lot to be desired.

After 2 hours of travel we arrive at the sea. I am now excited with anticipation of what will meet me. After we drive through a very simple fishing village where lots of children meet the minibus as it drives along the streets, we drive up a simple dirt road which I first perceive to be a bicycle path. The road is full of potholes and it will be a bumpy ride. The driver cheerfully turns around and says "only 1 km left!". I think to myself “is this really right? Have I jumped into the wrong car?”.

The only thing that feels right is that we are close to the sea, otherwise it feels very strange. After a couple of minutes of skimming, the car comes over a steep edge and then I see an idyllic bay spread out, it's Kalimaya Dive Resort.

Arrived at Kalimaya

When the car has stopped, I am received by the staff. It feels like you've stepped into a completely different world after what I experienced during the drive here. A pure idyll with 6 beautiful bungalows located right by the sea with a very fine build quality considering that we are now in the middle of no man's land. It feels like you've arrived in paradise after all the impressions you got during the car journey.

Stuart and Tegan who are managers of the dive center receive me and make sure I get settled. They are incredibly social and safety-conscious, which creates a sense of calm in me immediately after the long journey. I still find it hard to let go that they have managed to build this boutique resort in such a remote location and to such a high standard. At the main building you will find the lobby, the dining room, the relaxation area and the saltwater pool.

We sit down to enjoy dinner together. All meals are enjoyed together at a long table, which creates a very cozy atmosphere, and you get the opportunity to meet and get to know the other guests.

Good food

Since you can only buy 1 berth at the resort, like a liveaboard, it works very well to go to this resort on your own without feeling left out. You can of course pay to get a single room if you would prefer this. Because the resort is so remote, it is not possible for them to provide an à la carte menu. Therefore, you get to choose the day before what you want to eat the following day.

For lunch you choose between two starters and two main courses and for dinner it's the same. A dessert is also added to the dinner. The food is incredibly good and well prepared, which leads to many quiet moments when the food is served, as everyone enjoys the good food.

So far everything has been painless and the resort is of a good standard, but I'm still excited about the diving. Will it measure up, or won't it be worth the long journey? Expectantly, I jump into the dive boat on my second day at 8 am, and we set off for our first dive site, which is about 45 minutes away. It's quite a bumpy ride out as we need to cross the open sea to reach the dive site. After a thorough safety briefing and description of the dive site, it is finally time to jump into the sea.

Was it good diving?

The best coral reefs I have ever seen, the diversity is absolutely outstanding and the size of the corals is astounding. I can't say that I have been a diver who is particularly fascinated by corals but here comes a turning point in my life as a diver. To see such healthy reefs is a real joy and to enjoy them completely alone with a small diving group makes the experience absolutely fantastic. During the week at Kalimaya Dive Resort we encounter only one passing liveaboard, otherwise we are completely alone at all dive sites. There are few places like this left on earth.

Each new dive site we visit gives more and more impressions and it feels like the reef is doing everything to impress us divers. We get to see fish that I have never seen before; several different Rhinopia, Ghostpipe fish, a multitude of different nudibranchs, Frogfish, lots of crabs, Cat shark, reef shark. There is also the possibility of seeing manta rays, but unfortunately it is not something I get to experience.

The layout of the diving

The diving is arranged so that you go out at 8 in the morning to carry out 2 boat dives. Once back at the resort around 12-13pm, the common lunch is eaten and then it is free to go diving on your own at the house reef. Husrevet is absolutely incredible and offers so much diversity that it is difficult to grasp.

I complete a night dive on the house reef that I would like to call my best night dive ever! The dive guide Sam is absolutely incredible at finding the weirdest little creatures. It's a good tip to stay close to him. If you feel that the diving is enough, I would like to suggest reading a good book in one of the cabanas (loungers with mosquito nets and roofs) that are available or just taking a small afternoon nap.

The resort is currently being expanded with 4 more bungalows. These will be great for families as they are built as 2 bungalows that are wall-to-wall. When these bungalows are completed, the resort will be able to house 20 guests in total. They are also in the process of building a dive center with its own camera room which is scheduled to be ready in January - February 2018.

Who is Kalimaya Dive Resort suitable for?

If you want to experience incredibly fine diving and accommodation in a fine boutique diving resort, this is perfect. You must be prepared that it is a long transport to get to Sumbawa Island. It might be a good idea to take a few days in Bali as a stopover. Bali Dive Resort & Spa is then an excellent such stop.

You can go as a solo traveler, in a couple or in a group and get the same great experience. Since the meals are taken together, a lovely community will emerge and the arrangement is very similar to what you find on a liveaboard. The combination of Bali and East Sumbawa here becomes a fantastic experience.

Some familiarity with strong currents is necessary

As a diver, you should feel comfortable with currents. At times the currents can be very strong and a reef hook is a must. To be able to dive at all dive sites, you need to be certified as Advanced Open Water (or similar) and have completed approx. 50 dives and some of them in flowing water. The staff on site will decide which dive sites are suitable for you.

If you don't feel like testing the dive sites with the most current, only 30 dives and an Advanced Open Water certificate are needed. During the fall of 2017, the diving resort will acquire another diving boat. This means that the choices increase for those who want to do simpler dives or more rapid dives. It is important to mention that easier dives do not mean worse diving, the diving is still great at the dive sites that do not have as much power.

Season and booking

As East Sumbawa Island is a new destination, the season is still being evaluated. But the rainy season is between December and March and then I wouldn't recommend you go there. The mid-season is between March-May and October-November and the high season is between June-September. As I said, I based these seasons on the rain. If you look at the wind, it blows the most during the time it rains the least, so if you want a little wind, you should go in the middle of the season when the wind subsides.

I hope we will have the opportunity to help you with a similar trip with a combination of Bali and East Sumbawa that I have now experienced and do not hesitate to call in case you would like a full quote for this destination.” 

Text by: Scuba Travel's Daniel Benér