AquaMarine Diving Bali (AMD-B) is a full-service dive travel company based in Bali. They offer the full range of PADI dive courses, ‘dive safari’ packages for any number of days diving in Bali, and a dive travel consultancy able to book dive tours throughout Indonesia.
From the perspective of diving in Bali, they run a number of mini-buses, have three boats based in Padang Bai, and have relationships with a number of resorts and restaurants close to their operations and dive sites. So whether you are holidaying in Bali, and want to add in a couple of days of diving, or whether you want them to organise a complete two-week dive safari around the whole island – they are an excellent choice. They offer accommodation to suit every budget. Letting someone who dives lots of sites around Bali everyday look after all the logistics makes a lot of sense and lets you enjoy your diving and the downtime between dives.
They have all the gear you could possibly need to hire, and they carry this all for you to the point of entry into the water – whether that’s a shore or boat dive. You can take your own gear, though personally, as the gear was a good as my own, I just took my mask and computer.
They have guides who know the dive sites inside out. They have skippers who know the waters. They have drivers whose job it is to drive safely and are not tired from the day’s diving activities, because they have a small army of the additional crew who do all the ‘heavy lifting’.
AquaMarine Diving Bali has a head office in Kuta, but they will pick you from wherever you want.
AquaMarine Diving Bali have relationships with a number of resorts and restaurants close to their operations and dive sites. They can offer accommodation to suit every budget at each destination along the way.
I did two separate day trips with AquaMarine Diving – Bali, to Tulamben and Gili Selang and this is how my day went: the minibus picked me up from my resort spot on time and I was driven in one case direct to the dive site, and in another directly to the port of Padang Bai. There is bottled water available throughout the day from the moment you step into the air-conned minibus. For the shore dive (of USAT Liberty) we were based at a resort on the waterfront, which full amenities of showers, toilets and their restaurant and R&R area. For the boat dive, we parked ourselves in a café prior to the dive, and returned to the same place for lunch after the dive.
All the boats are comfortable and spacious, and have enough horsepower to make the ride smooth and relatively quick. All have working toilets; a spacious front cabin – where you can escape the sun; a well organised custom-designed open dive deck areas, and a solid roof for sun-baking for those so inclined.
You can get onto the boat dry, and change into your wetsuit before the boat lives the mooring. There’s plenty of dry storage space up front for dry cameras etc. They also provide a wet tub for wet cameras. Once at the site the dive guide gives a detailed briefing of the site, what to expect in terms of topography, possible currents and what you might expect to see where. Max depth and dive time are agreed.
On our boat – the smallest of the three AquaMarine boats – there were two crew in addition to the skipper, and three dive guides, for just 5 guests. All the gear is set up for you, and the crew assist you into it. All you need do is check it, buddy check it and backward roll into the water.
The dive guides will assess the conditions and take you around the site pointing out as much as they can along the way. Our guide had clearly dived the site many, many times before and knew the spots where certain ‘resident critters’ hide, as well as the best spots where you are most likely to find other critters known to be around the site.
At the end of the dive, we did our safety stop on the top of a ref at 6m and could continue photographing right up to the point where we got out of the water. Exit is by de-kitting in the water, and walking up the ladder.
The surface interval was spent in the shelter of the bay, and then slowly motoring up to the next site enjoying the scenic views of the coastline and the fishing communities that inhabit it.
The second dive follows the same pattern as the first, and our dives were not unnecessarily curtailed by any fixed schedule. The guides were there to ensure we got the most out of each dive, and enjoyed an unhurried day.
Having said that, after the second dive, the gear was stripped down quickly and stowed; and within five minutes we were motoring back to port and a delicious freshly made local lunch served in a pleasant restaurant.
Likewise the shore dive, all the heavy gear was taken in a hand cart to the steps about 8m from the water where we were helped into our gear. The guides are very good at sharing the run-sheet for the day, so you know when each dive will start, when lunch will be served and so can organise you between dive time accordingly – whether you want to write up your dives, stroll around the area and take a few photos, or relax in the shade.
At the end of the day, the gear is packed up quickly, and you can be on your way without any of the ‘hanging around time’ associated with less organized dive operators.
The trip back was as comfortable as the trip up, and as we were the last drop, the driver even made an unscheduled stop off and to allow us to grab a few provisions.
On both day trips we joined guests who were doing ‘multi-day safari’ trips. Without exception, their experiences were as positive as ours.