One of the main reasons we wanted to go to the Gilis was for the scuba diving. There were a few other reasons, but mainly our love for the water had got us really interested. We had heard the diving was spectacular and that turtles were in abundance. Like I said in an earlier post, we had always wanted to see a turtle, but had been unlucky on our previous nine dives. Hopefully this time would be different. The water was to be crystal clear, with excellent visibility and dive sites close to the island meant you didn’t have to sit on a boat for 2 hours. Sometimes this can be good though as you get to meet new peeps, chat and hear some interesting stories, but when there is a lot of diving to be done and a limited amount of time, close dive sites make more sense. After walking the Island and speaking to a few dive centers, we settles with Trawangan Dive. On an island like this, all the dive centers have basically the same rates, so your choice of a dive center, depends solely on the person you speak to. Our instructor Adam said all the right things, and we felt very comfortable with his knowledge and personality so we we signed up immediately.
We had chosen to progress up a level in our diving certification and do the Padi advanced adventure diver course. The course consists of five adventure dives, of which two are mandatory (deep and navigation) and the other three are open for you to choose. So there are actually a few options to choose from: Wreck, photography, nitrox, buoyancy, night, identification and a few others. We ended up going for the night dive, the photography dive and nitrox, only because they didn’t have a decent wreck to explore. Once we had signed up it was going to be a busy two days. We would do three dives our first day and two the next with a bit of knowledge review in between. Our first day would start at 8am with a deep dive (basically going down to 30m), then a nitrox dive at 2pm and finally a night dive around 6pm. Hectic schedule, but doable!
Our first stop was ‘shark point‘ for our deep dive. All I can say is ‘WOW!’ What an experience. The visibility was like nothing I’ve seen before and the colors were just out of this world. It wasn’t called shark point for nothing, as we saw two white tipped reef sharks and of course on our first dive a majestic turtle was floating about. Unbelievable!!!! To top it off, we saw a banded sea snake. I had never seen a sea snake before, so this was a first for me. It had black and white stripes like a zebra and was just so beautiful. The way it moved through the water was like poetry to your ears. The snake was the water and the water was the snake. Great stuff to see!!!!
Dive 2 was going to be the ‘Nitrox dive‘ or as some people call it ‘enriched air’. I’ll try explain a little bit about nitrox, but my knowledge of it is very limited. Nitrox refers to any gas mixture composed of nitrogen and oxygen. This includes normal air. However, in scuba diving, nitrox is normally differentiated and handled differently from air. The most common use of nitrox mixtures containing higher than normal levels of oxygen is in scuba, where the reduced percentage of nitrogen is advantageous in reducing nitrogen uptake in the bodies tissues and so extending the possible dive time, and/or reducing the risk of decompression sickness (also known as the bends). So basically the main reason people use ‘enriched air’ is to simply gain more bottom time, have shorter surface time intervals and reduce the chance of getting the bends. Our Nitrox dive was something we hadn’t expected. All I will say is ‘drift’ baby. I remember him telling us to get in, quickly decend or we were going to miss the site. At first I didn’t realize what was going down, but quickly understood what he meant. We went down, got on Current Gili and had a thrill of a ride. We were moving so fast across the ocean floor the whole time. The feeling was unbelievable. Fish, coral and everything under the water was flashing by, like when you are a passenger in a car and you look out the window and everything around you is changing second by second. Wow! I loved everything about the drift dive. I mean in the beginning it was a little scary, because you’re moving so fast, but when you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun!
Dive 3 was the night dive at Biorock. We were all a little nervous about this one, but in the end it turned out to be really amazing. Just being under the water with only a flash light, always sounds a little scary, but when you’re under, it’s really beautiful. You see what you point your light on. It’s a little different on a night dive as you have to really stay calm, not move as much and really get up close and personal with the sand to get your worth. So many things to see down there at night. The colors are totally different and the sea creatures you don’t normally see, come out to play. Another strange thing you see is sleeping fish. Yes, fish do sleep. There was one point on the night dive, where we all settled down on the sand, turned our flash lights off and waved our arms and hands up and down. There were these glowing particles or I don’t what they were, but when you did the wave, all these creatures would light up around you and because there were five of us under at that time, the amount of glow was pretty significant. I was totally amazed. What a dive! On the dive we also got to experience some conservation efforts to preserve the dying coral. The whole project is called Biorock.How it works is, that these wire cages are built and placed in the ocean. They are then charged with an electric current which speeds the growth of the coral. We have been told the coral grows 5 times faster than normal. Apparently Gili T was one of the first places to use this technique and we’ve been told it’s working really well. Well done Biorock!
After dive #3 for the day, we were finished. We had a beer at the pool bar, then hit the sack. We were exhausted! We still had two more dives the next day, so we needed to conserve our energy. We woke up early, got some brekie and made our way to Trawangan for dive number 4. Photography at hidden reef! Yee-ha! This is one we had been really excited about, mainly for the opportunity to get really close in and have some memories on photo for life. What more can I say! There wasn’t much to the knowledge review. We were told a little bit about the cameras, and the best way to take photos under the water. Some advice we had been given, was to take photos at an upward angle, always looking up towards the top of the ocean. Another was to use the flash on close ups and to turn the flash off for topography of the ocean floor. Let me tell you though, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I mean when you’re under the water, you have a lot to think about. There’s current, there’s other divers, there’s your buddy, which you need to keep your eye on and stay together at all times and then there’s a camera which you need to handle. I actually got in trouble for losing my buddy. Hahaha! I remember snapping away and not even thinking about where Angela was. This is not good people. Always stay with your buddy! Lesson learned. To take really good photos, takes some real practice and understanding how the cameras work under water. Our first attempt was difficult, but we had a great time and got some decent pics. The dive site was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. The coral formations and sea life were everywhere. Once again the colors were unbelievable, so I’m super happy we were able to capture some of it on camera.
Finally we had dive # 5. Navigation at bounty wreck. This was one of the mandatory dives you have to do when completing an advanced certification. You learn about using a compass, how to navigate underwater, plotting dive routes, and natural navigation. This basically means taking notice of the topography, looking for landmarks, things to help you remember where you are if you lose your way. It only covers the basics of navigation underwater, but when you move higher up the courses, and do your dive master, this gets covered in a whole lot of depth. Our skills were done in no time, so we had the rest to explore the area and a sunken pier. The sunken pier was the so called wreck and I must say it was rather interesting. There were loads of fish, and coral had starting forming on the pier itself. I’m sure in the next few years, it will be something amazing to see. All in all I think we covered a lot of different dives. We had only chosen five, but ended doing a ‘drift’ and a so called ‘wreck’, so we were over the moon with the whole experience. After 13 dives I will say Gili Trawangan has been the best to date. I would recommend all divers to go and have a swim.
Here are a bunch of photos I took on the photography dive. I hope you enjoy them!