Come Dive with Us Hosted Trip October 2022
October 2022 found us in the simply stunning country that is Bali! Three years after the originally planned holiday, thanks to the pandemic and subsequent travel disruptions, we finally made it! Read on for what we found it offered and our thoughts…
We will warn you that it is a long way from the UK. There are many a flight choice to consider, whether it be via Dubai, Singapore, Manila, or Hong Kong, or even Doha – the bottom line is that the travel is going to take some time!
Our group of 16 divers opted to fly direct from London to Singapore, and then on to Denpasar, with Singapore Airlines – the best baggage allowance (35kg) available for one, and secondly, a Premium Economy offering rather than the traditional Economy or Business choices the other airlines offer. 13 hours for the first leg, followed by another 2 hours 45 minutes to Denpasar. All in all, you are going to be in the air for around 16 hours.
Arriving in Denpasar was an experience. Health checks, visa purchase, baggage collection and customs declaration were all impressively organised, resulting in the time taken from landing to exiting the airport was a mere 90 minutes for our large group.
We took a few minutes to buy local SIM cards in the Arrivals Hall (cheap as chips!) and then made our way out of the terminal to the awaiting transport. Our guide insisted on taking group photos to welcome us to Bali to post on social media, and we then boarded the air-conditioned bus to take us to our next stop, a local hotel. Our dive bags followed in a separate truck, which meant we travelled in comfort and space – a highly valued thing after our long-haul flights!
Bali itself isn’t huge – only 95 miles long, and not much wider, but travelling to our resort would take 3 to 4 hours – circumnavigating volcanoes, rainforest and mountains means the roads aren’t particularly straight, and traffic (cars, vans, buses, trucks, scooters, mopeds, cyclists, and cattle) can slow things down considerably. So, after a long flight, we decided it far more sensible to get to a local hotel, shower, relax and recuperate and generally settle in to holiday mode.
The Segara Agung Hotel, 30 minutes from the airport, was our place for respite – a wonderfully genuine welcome from the staff, bags delivered to our rooms and then after a quick shower had us sitting by the pool with local beers in hand! This super cute hotel was less than 50 metres from the beach front, and the area gave us plenty of choice for an evening meal.
After a great sleep in very comfortable, incredibly clean rooms and a great breakfast, we were off! Rather than spending the next 4 hours in a bus going straight to our resort, we opted for the ‘tourist’ route instead. We often travel to remote parts of the World and see nothing but what is under water. This time, and especially given the beauty of the scenery, we took advantage of a local tour guide and stopped off along the way at waterfalls, rice-terraces, and yes – volcanoes! It was a great decision as the journey was amazingly beautiful! Our dive bags travelled separately, giving us space and freedom. After a very authentic lunch on a terrace over-looking rice fields in a thunderstorm that would wake the dead, we made it to our home for the next two weeks – Bali Villa Dive Resort in Tejakula, just 25 minutes away from Seraya, the well-known macro dive site and home of the Liberty Wreck.
Bali Villa Dive Resort (BVDR) is a beautiful ocean front resort in its own grounds, with an infinity edge pool, on-site dive centre and neighbouring temple. This German owned, 10-room resort with an additional 4 stand-alone villas is stunning. Expect everything to be immaculate, and everything to work! The rooms are beautifully furnished, very comfortable and are big too – big enough for dive bags, cameras, clutter and everything else we divers take with us on trips!
BVDR has a wonderful ‘show-kitchen’ with glass walls, and the confidence that the catering staff have is reflected in the food! Big breakfasts with fruit, cereals, home-cooked pastries and bread, together with made to order eggs and omelettes, Nasi Goreng, fresh juice and much more. Lunch was a lighter meal normally, with proper Balinese offerings, spicy soups and salads – all delicious and served with a smile.
Evening meals were varied – a pizza night (homemade dough and baked in the wood-fired oven by the water), fresh fish cooked on an open fire wrapped in banana leaves, Reistafel banquets and many local favourites – again, without exception, delicious! Vegetarian and vegan offerings were well received by those who ordered them, and any preferences or allergies were noted on day one and catered for exceptionally well. I don’t happen to like cucumber, and not one drink, meal or side of something was garnished with these green things from hell!
The on-site dive centre had put individually labelled crates outside of our room, and after we had emptied our kit into them, the staff humped them across the garden to the dive centre and got us ready for our first dive! Throughout the holiday, BCDs and regulators were mounted on tanks and either left on benches or carried to the dive boats. Be prepared to never have to change your tank, or even carry it – the staff do all of this for you, and indeed take umbrage if you don’t let them help! For an old croc like me, this is great!
The house reef is easy access. You can kit up on shore and walk down the slipway or walk into the water and kit up there. Black sand forms the seabed, and small coral bommies pop up everywhere, supplemented by an artificial reef with glass bottles cemented together, a stripped out car, and frames for coral planting. I will admit to being perhaps a little disappointed at the start of the first dive - but then my eyes tuned in to the environment and the plethora of amazing creatures started to appear! It is just WOW!
Boat dives are done from BVDRs super-fast, extremely spacious and comfortable dive boats. Dive sites are only 10 to 15 minutes away and offered amazing variety. Lots of corals, more unusual critters, and big smiles from everyone.
And so, it continued daily – two boat dives each morning and house reef diving in the afternoon. Our eyes tuned in more and more, and with the guides expert help, we found everything - and I mean everything – on our bucket list! Candy crabs, blennies, hairy squat lobsters, mantis shrimps, box fish, pipefish, seahorses, pom-pom crabs, harlequin shrimps -you name it, we saw it! Even a blue-ringed octopus came to play! Banded sea snakes, octopi, squid and porcelain and decorator crabs helped the list grow, and then came the sexy shrimp, ghost pipe fish (ornate AND robust), pygmy seahorses, crinoid shrimps, frogfish, whip coral shrimp and nudibranchs galore! And if you think the list ends there, it doesn’t! Orangutan crabs, ribbon eels, leaf scorpion fish, snake eels, razor fish and so much more!
More underwater images can be seen here.
But it wasn’t all muck diving and critter hunting– the famous Liberty Wreck is close by, and we arranged two separate excursions during our stay. Some divers went once, others twice. The dive site is shallow enough to make it a long dive, and with plenty of places to penetrate, the wreck is absolutely covered in corals and marine life! Again, this is an easy shore-entry, and within 3 metres of the shore you are submerged on a coral garden on your way to the wreck. After the first dive, we trekked just a few hundred yards to our second dive – Coral Garden. A wreck and muck dive in one day – just brilliant!
Then there was the slightly further afield trip to Nusa Penida for the famed Manta Point. We have all dived so many ‘manta this that and the other’ or ‘sharks live here’ sites across the world, but this Manta Point delivered – and in buckets! 5 big beasties one day and those that did the excursion a few days later
encountered 11! The mantas seemed unbothered by the divers and stayed in the area for the entire dive!!! Simply amazing!
Special thanks to Chris Bush for these amazing images!
After all the underwater excitement, there was of course the pool and bar (as if we would do that?!) but we must mention the spa! Sat right on the water’s edge and open to the sea, this simple and comfortable spa was a real treat. A relaxing 60-minute full body massage cost 30 euros, and all you can hear is the sea – it really doesn’t get much better than that! For the brave, there were deep tissue massage or ‘beat the living daylights out of you’ torture massages, and again, all at the same price point! Chocolate body treatments and couples massages are also available. Booking was very easy, even on the last day when everyone wanted a session!
In summary, this is a country that we fell in love with. Stunning scenery, wonderful people, and a real sense of calm wherever you go make the experience. Bali Villa Dive Resort is stunning – big enough to have some privacy and small enough to feel like home. The open-air restaurant, delicious food, always open bar, and infinity edge pool were just perfect.
The dive centre is immaculate, supremely organised, and everything works how it should work. The eagle eyed dive guides found everything we asked for and when something is so well managed, there aren’t any more words required!
But what really sets Bali apart, and BVDR, is the people. They are some of the warmest and friendliest we have encountered, and the service they provide is immaculate. The owners have recruited extremely well, but it is more than that - the whole staff feel like a family, and there is no higher endorsement than that.
Would we go again? Yes! We are already organising our next trip for 2023! Come Dive with Us!
Key Facts :
Getting there : Flights with Singapore Airlines to Bali depart from any major UK airport via Singapore. From London Heathrow it was a 13-hour flight with a quick one hour layover followed by a 2 ½-hour flight to Denpasar. Emirates is also an option with a 7 hour flight to Dubai with a 2 hour layover followed by a 9 hour flight to Denpasar. 30 to 35kg baggage allowance is typical.
Air temperature : Tropical – average daily temperature throughout the year is 28-30°C, with the humidity at 85-90%. The rainy season is considered to be November to March with peak rainfall in January.
Water temperature : 27-30°C. A 1-3mm full suit or shorty will suit most.
Visa requirement : Tourist visa is purchased on arrival for £30 or IDR 500,000.
Health protocols : When we travelled in October 2022, visitors were mandated to download an app “Pedulilindungi”. This required us to upload our proof of COVID vaccination and booster and approval was received within 24 hours. Upon arrival, we provided a QR code generated by the app, had our temperature taken and then we were off.
Currency : Indonesian rupiah or Euros on resort. We often find the exchange rate is better at the destination country. ATMs and exchange desks are readily available at the airport. Any driver was happy to stop at an ATM while on the road and the resort was able to make a few small currency exchanges. The resort also accepted credit and debit card to settle bar bill and excursions with a small 2% processing fee.
Electricity : 230V with European style (round pin) two-prong plugs. Our adaptor worked without issue.
Internet and Wi-Fi : Wi-fi is available at no charge at the resort. The best signal around the resort was at the restaurant, but we had very little issue accessing the internet in our villa. We purchased a SIM card for £10 for 50GB of data to stay in touch with the office back home.
Accommodation: Bali Villa Dive Resort is an established and beautiful resort. We especially liked the fact that we were on the water’s edge, far away from the crowded areas of Bali. You are just steps away from the pool, restaurant and bar and the dive centre, but not so close you feel on top of other guests. Every room has a view and is spacious. Aircon and ceiling fans kept us comfortable. The staff was amazing, knew us all by name and greeted us with a smile every day!
Diving: Warm and clear water make for the best diving! We did occasionally experience a bit of current, but the dive guides are quick to make adjustments if needed. Two boat dives are offered daily, and the house reef was always available. We had a dive guide for every 4-5 divers, and they are some of the best spotters we ever experienced!!! Tanks have DIN connections and always had 200+ bar fills. Excursions to Nusa Penida, Seraya, Sidem and the Liberty Wreck were easy to arrange, and our dive guides, tanks and gear went along on every one. The excursion dives were part of the 20 dive package we had arranged with a small sur charge that covered transport, meals, and guides. Not a bad deal at all!!!
Price Guide: Expect from £2999 per person based on two sharing for a 13 night itinerary with full board. Dive package includes 20 dives plus unlimited house reef diving. Return flights, transfers and overnight hotel on arrival are all included.
Our Advice: Stay as long as you can! With a long travel time at least 10 days would be best in our opinion to get the most out of the holiday. And with numerous routes from the UK to choose from, any duration can easily be arranged.
Tourist Visa : £30 purchased on arrival.
Food & Drink : Speciality drinks, adult beverages, sodas and snacks at Bali Villa Dive Resort. Fancy coffees, milkshakes, sodas, beers, wine, and cocktails were always available and affordable. We enjoyed a few afternoons in the pool with beers and snacks. Beers £2, Cocktails £5, pringles £2, made to order spring rolls £3, etc.
Dive Excursions : ranged from £25 for the nearby wreck and macro sites to £60 for the further afield Nusa Penida. Again, these included the transfer, meals, dive guides, and tanks.
BVDR Spa Treatments : Massages, Manicures and Pedicures are available and all extremely well-priced – from £25
Tips : We would suggest a minimum of £50 to cover the dive centre and resort staff. Individual tips for special service are up to you!
Things to Pack :
Dive boots with thick soles : The shore line is rocky for a few metres before the volcanic sand so sturdy boots will help you keep your balance.
Dry bag or backpack : A small dry bag for daily boat dives is always handy to keep your personal items together and protected. And a backpack for excursions days was helpful for a towel, change of clothes, water bottle and a few IDR if you want to buy a t-shirt or other souvenir.
Bug spray : When the sun went down, the mozzies came out!
Medicated or drying ear drops : On a long trip with lots of diving, our ears tend to get a little sensitive so we try to be prepared.
Rechargeable personal fan : Found on Amazon these have become a traveller favourite! Handy on the plane or in the airport when you’re adjusting to the temperature and humidity!
Refillable water bottle : Just want to note that you won’t need one. Bali Villa Dive Resort provided each of us with a labelled refillable water bottle. Filtered drinking water is available all around the resort.
Want to see more underwater images from our trip? Check out our Flickr album here.
Come Dive with Us!!!!