Bali- Manta Rays on Nusa Lembongan -Feb 6&7

We heard the diving would be amazing in Lembongan but we had nooooo idea why. There’s tons of manta rays there, that’s why!

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They are not threatening to humans, as they don’t have a stinger or vicious teeth or an appetite for flesh. They filter feed on plankton, sweeping it into their mouths and grinding with their more than 2000 “teeth”. These teeth are the reason they are so hunted by humans. The Chinese believe some bullshit that eating ground manta teeth will filter their blood. These animals are threatened with extinction if it’s not stopped.
We went to a manta ray talk by a scientist living on Lembongan. She works for Aquatic Alliance and only studies manta rays. Her and her associates have been slaving for years to get the government of Indonesia to recognize the damage their manta fisheries are doing, a huge one located just one island over from Bali on Lombok. Just a week before we arrived on the island, they were successful in getting federal protection for the manta rays! Not sure if that will mean the hunting will actually stop, but it’s a great start. The woman cried as she was telling us about it. Talk about passion in action! Very inspiring work.

We scuba dived at a spot called secret manta. Theres nothing secret about this spot. Dozens of boats were already there when we arrived at 9am.
The mantas swam back and forth above us in a very heavy current. at points we had to hold onto rocks to keep from floating away. And after only five minutes our guide decided we should swim away and go look at other shit. I was so so soooo upset. I nearly cried on the boat when we were leaving the dive site to go to a different place to dive. I asked if instead of leaving we could do another dive with them and actually STAY with them, but I was out-voted. It baffled me that we weren’t automatically doing two dives with the mantas. That’s the main attraction on Lembongan. There were a half dozen mantas just swimming around. I just knew we had to come back the next day. I needed more manta time.

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But at our next site we saw another rare, amazing fish, the mola mola. Holy mola mola, that sucker was big… and weird! The picture below of the mola (also called a Sun Fish, or Moon fish if you’re European) is not of us. I just grabbed one online to show what a massive fish it is. The one we saw looked just like that. He was stoic! The current was insane there as well. We held onto rocks for dear life at 30 meters to sit and observe the mola. Even though I enjoy scuba diving to look at corral and small things, there’s nothing like swimming with the big creatures of the ocean world. Nothing! These dives made me want to seek diving destinations based upon seeing more large fish and sharks rather than just beauty. We want to see whale sharks,

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The next day we went out to Secret Manta dive site and I made it perfectly clear that we were to spend the entire dive watching and filming the mantas. We hung out with them for 45 minutes! Being underneath them is sooooo cool!!! Like a snowflake, no two mantas have exactly the same markings. So they are easy to name, spot, and track. We swam with one with a giant W on his belly. The current was much less strong and so it was easier to stay put and just allow them to swim by. They are very curious, sometimes swimming right at you and then corkscrewing in front of you.
They are technically a fish and they never stop swimming, even to sleep, eat, or give birth. We watched a video of a manta in captivity giving birth. The baby comes out and begins swimming right away, abandoned forever by it’s mother. After an uncomfortable twelve month pregnancy, I can see why! Nobody has ever witnessed a manta give birth in the wild.

After our dives (only one with the mantas) I insisted we hire a boat to go back out and snorkel with them one last time. I noticed the snorkelers were having a much different experience with them. They got a lot closer because the mantas swim along the surface.

By the time we got back to secret manta, all the mantas (and boats) were gone. We drove the boat slowly all along the island until we spotted one and jumped in. We did this three separate times and spent about an hour swimming privately with the mantas. What a treat since the scuba dives included about 25 other divers!

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There was so much trash in the water we could not believe it. At times it was hard to even see the mantas through all the trash. The trash comes into the bay areas the same way the plankton does, by the current. They both collect there, and that’s why the mantas go there to feed. It was so sad to see plastic floating around and getting into their mouths. During our snorkeling the trash was so thick at the surface it kept getting stuck in my hair, and sometimes we couldn’t see the mantas coming at us. I even found a tiny crab in my hair when I got back to the hotel and started shampooing the trash out of my hair! I photoshopped the trash out of my photos as much as I could, but there was so much. And despite the nastiness of all the plastic, swimming with the mantas was an amazing high to wind our trip down with.

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Bali- Nusa Lembongan island Feb2 – Feb7 part 1

All the days have successfully blended together for us on Nusa Lembongan. We spent the entire week relaxing hard!
The view of our hotel from out in the water

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There was a bit of snorkeling. We went out into the water in front of our hotel. The surf break out about 400 meters from shore is named Shipwreck. Everything this side of the break is super calm and would be amazing for snorkeling if there was anything interesting to see down there.

On day two when we donned our masks and took a swim out, for the first two minutes I was completely captivated by all the underwater seaweed farms. And then I realized there are hundreds of them covering every bit of shallow water surrounding Lembongan and the two neighboring islands just east of here but still part of Bali (Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida).

Seaweed cultivation and exportation is Nusa Lembongans big industry. Many families grow, harvest, dry, and sell their seaweed to Japan. All along the coasts and in between buildings there are tarps laid out with drying seaweed. The entire place fucking reeks of seaweed. Heat from the sun plus seaweed equals yucky smells.

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The current price for seaweed is 10,000 rupiah per kilo. That’s 38 cents per pound! The locals are stoked, because just a few months ago they were only getting 2,000 rupiah per kilo.

It’s hard work being a seaweed farmer. They are always working. The crops have a three week cycle. Daily they go out in their boats, or on foot at low tide, bring a few baskets of seaweed in, remove the pieces from their securely tied strings, pick out the good ones, break them in half and string them back together with the “bad” ones and put them back underwater to grow bigger. Then they sort and dry and wait for the “big boat from Bali” to come at the end of the month and pick up the finished product. That one boat buys all the seaweed on the three islands.

Lembongan is the first place on this trip where I feel like I’m submerged in local “daily life”. Everywhere we go, people are working, mainly farming and construction, not just doing tourist stuff. They are up very, very early working, and I see dozens of seaweed farmers beginning work at low tide at sunset and working late into the night with flashlights.

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Lembongan folk are also extremely friendly. On our last night we pulled up to a market for water and Nick was greeted with a shot glass and a smile. A few locals were gathered around drinking, and listening to music bumpin loud on their motorbikes sound system.

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We had scooters the entire time and traveled all over the island, and even crossed a little bridge over to the smaller island Nusa Ceningan.

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On Ceningan there is a cliff jumping spot where you can pay 50,000 rupiah to jump from 13 meters and then climb a ladder back up. The swells were much too big to jump. We imagine the waves would smash a person into the rocks before they could swim to the ladder. The spot was so beautiful though, we had to stop and enjoy the big waves.

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We met a few new people who wanted to jump too. One was ready to go, safe or not! Crazy Canadian, ay.

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Never mind Nicks hat, he only had it for one day before someone stole it off his bike. He was relieved.

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The Balinese kids are awesome! We stopped in a tiny little village on the other side of the island and bought a bracelet from these kids.

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I mentioned that kids start driving young. On our ride around the long side of the island, we were greeted by these three little dudes who were so excited to have their picture taken.

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Some other random pics from our awesome time on Lembongan.

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We took a boat tour through the mangrove forest. Can’t lie: it was a little boring, but still beautiful. Felt nice to support a hard working man who is trying to support his family. He told us he wishes he could visit America and places he sees on TV but has to work everyday to support his family. Another local we met who has never been off this island.

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Bali – Exploring Nusa Lembongan on motorbike 1Feb14

We slept well in our new posh place. Finally Nick had a few extra pillows to cuddle with.
For the first time on our trip, I got up and out of the room before Nick and went for a walk down the beach. This is the kind of beach that isn’t very comfortable to go long distances while barefoot. The sand is course, with corral pieces mixed in. It’s also, unfortunately, not a beach very friendly to runners. There’s a lot of trash and sea weed and corral at the tide line, and a boat tied down every ten to twenty feet. The ropes stretch far up the sand and bob up and down with the waves. It would be like running hurdles through trash. I chose to just trudge through the soft sand.

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We had our free omelets and tea right on the beach and just sat to enjoy the view for a while before renting motorbikes. We got two of the staff members personal bikes, one with a pimped out loud pipe.

We took off to explore the island. The main road along the main surf break goes up into the hills and winds around to little villages where all the locals live. We loosely followed the map, but mainly just explored by feel. Nick led us down a tiny dirt road that opened up to huge green fields over looking the ocean. We found our favorite place of the entire trip so far.

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After sitting and marveling over mother earths great beauty, we set out to find a better view of the giant crashing waves, and found this sensational rocky point.

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We met a curious local names Frey, who insisted on taking tons of pictures with Nick.

A little concerned we would get dumped on at sunset, we headed back to our place at Turci Bungalows. On the way we found a cemetery. You don’t see many cemeteries in Asia because they do a lot of cremation. This was my favorite, random grave site, among many other randomly placed ones.

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