The Nusa Islands have some incredible dive sites offering the chance to see a diverse array of marine life. The most popular marine life that attracts scuba divers to the island are manta rays, turtles, mola mola fish and even the occasional whale shark! But the two common questions we get from scuba divers, experienced and inexperienced, are the same. Are the currents that strong? Where are the best drift diving sites?
We have all the information to help guide you on currents and drift diving around the Nusa Islands.
Now before we go any further, we need to make this crystal clear – currents are awesome and when you catch them right, you get to experience drift diving! Drift diving is like flying, but underwater. It’s an incredible experience for a diver of any level!
The most important thing we recommend for any scuba diving enthusiast is simple. Gather information on the types of conditions you are submerging yourself into. This ensures you are aware of what conditions may occur or how conditions may change whilst on a dive.
Currents vs Drift Diving
The currents are seasonal around the Nusa Islands. The effect can not only be strong currents, but thermoclines as well, which are steep changes in water temperature within the water column.
Types of currents around the Nusa Islands
Vertical currents can vary in power and amount of time they may last. When diving it’s important to educate yourself on the risks and dangers in the location you have chosen to dive. This helps in awareness for potential risks.
Down currents often happen close to underwater pinnacles with steep drop-offs into deep water. Steep thermoclines and rapid change in water temperature can also be a cause of strong currents.
From July through October these can be more frequent as the currents from the oceans push cold water up from deep in the ocean and pull warmer water down. This is also mola mola season on the island! These creatures usually live up to 600m deep and tend to come up with the cold water.
If you are diving, and caught in a down current, it is important that you stay calm so you can think on how to escape it. There are a couple of useful things to keep aware of should the situation arise:
1. The width of the down current is rarely massive, so you should be able to kick diagonally/horizontally out of it.
2. Look out for any rocks or objects that may provide shelter. A reef hook will also come in handy to latch onto any objects. Doing this will help you conserve energy whilst you scope out the area and come up with a plan to get out.
Horizontal currents are also dangerous as a scuba diver – either being with the current or against the current. If you going against the current you may find yourself kicking and kicking but going nowhere depending on the strength of the current. Sometimes you may be kicking as hard as you can but going backwards.
It is important not to panic in this situation. Diving with a reef hook would be wise. This would allow you to hook on and take a rest from the current whilst you compose yourself.
Often with these types of currents you can vertically ascend or descend into calmer water.
When scuba diving with the current you are able to experience something spectacular. The feeling of flying underwater is the only way to describe it.
There is very little need to kick, just try and keep yourself horizontal and enjoy the ride.
Here’s an example of taking a ride on a drift dive:
This is one of a few drift dive sites around the Nusa Islands called Ceningan. The Ceningan dive site lies between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida.
Blue Corner dive site is also a great dive site for drift diving on the islands. Blue Corner is located right at the top of Nusa Lembongan and is also one of the spots where you can see mola mola fish.
This very short checklist contains recommended information.
Now, I know some of these may be common sense to some, especially to more experienced divers. But it’s good to have things written down and visualized to begin with until it sticks!
1. Water Temperature – this may determine the type of wetsuit you choose to dive in. The water temperature can drop as low as 16-22 degrees Celcius between June and October. In the warmer months from November to February the water temperature can be as high as 29 degrees. All divers are different. If you know you get cold when you dive, wear the appropriate wetsuit.
2. Weather Conditions – is the time of year you plan on visiting the right time? It’s good to bear in mind some dive locations are seasonal.
3. Marine Life – like weather conditions, some ocean creatures are seasonal. Are there particular animals you have your heart on seeing? like the elusive mola mola, manta rays, or even a whale shark. It’s best to check when the best time may be to see these creatures and plan your dive trip during the right season.
4. Currents – we always recommend asking the dive shop in your location of choice. Especially if you have few dives or experiences in current. Some scuba diving shops only allow advanced open water divers into current dives.
I recommend having a look at general sea information before diving. There are many options, but we use this sea temperature website.
You can book a boat from Bali directly to the Nusa Islands. The average time of the journey is around 30 to 40 minutes and there are usually three departure times a day.
Always check in advance for availability which could change depending on high/low season as well as ocean conditions.
We recommend using Marlin Fast Cruise to get to the Nusa Islands but you can find many options online. For ease, your accommodation in Bali should be able to arrange the boat for you or you can contact us.
Here at Scuba Center Asia we take pride in having expertise in the best scuba diving sites around Nusa Penida. We also have experienced staff who can read the ocean and navigate dangerous situations, so scuba diving remains a safe adventure into an alien world!