Diving in Lembongan is famous for the Manta Rays found in the south of Penida and the Molas found in Crystal Bay. These dive sites can all be seen in just one days diving. What about the other sites that Lembongan and Penida provide? The long stretching north coast of Penida and Lembongan, are home to most of the dive sites around the islands. There are 7 main dive sites that run along this coast line. It is these sites that have the best coral life of the area.
Due to the conditions of south coast, it is hard for the more sensitive soft corals to grow. The harsh tidal and wave movement that bashes the south coast, quickly damage coral spawns or make it almost impossible for them to grow. In saying this, there is still coral found on the southern dive sites. These corals are more robust, spreading low and wide along the rock formations. Due to this, most of the coral life in the south are hard corals.
Better Conditions, Better Coral:
Divers looking for the bright colours and fields of soft corals, should be asking to dive the north coast. The north coast is more protected from the waves and sea conditions, making it an easier environment for soft corals to grow. The water currents help bring more coral spawns to the area, as well as bringing in nutrient water, creating great conditions for the corals to grow.
The thermoclines that happen yearly due to the currents in the area, also help to keep the waters cool for the coral life. It is this cooling of the water that helps reduce the effects of global issues like water warming and bleaching.
With all the factors coming together, it allows divers to experience amazing coral life while diving in the waters around Lembongan and Penida. This healthy coral life also creatures homes for smaller creatures, like; nudibranchs, crabs and shrimps. With these small creatures living among the reef, reef fish are able to prey and feed on them. With healthy schools of reef fish, feeding and living on the reef, larger predator fish are able to enter the reef to prey and feed on the reef fish. This ecosystem and the cool creatures that divers get to see, all stems from a healthy reef.
It is not all about the food chain when talking about a healthy reef, larger fish, also use the reef fish for cleaning. Manta Rays and Molas both enter reef areas, to have their bodies cleaned by the resident reef fish. Again, adding to the great attractions for diving the area.
North Coast Sites of Penida:
The 5 dive sites that run along the north coast of Penida are similar as they are one continuous reef that spans the full north coast and around to the east coast. The reef starts around 5 meters, just in front of the seaweed farms that are scatted along this coastline. This reef slowly slopes down to a small plateau. At the edge of this plateau, the reef starts to slope down again. This gentle slope, drifts off into the depth before leveling out around 50 meters. Most of the coral and fish life is found in the first 25 meters of these sites.
There are larger fields of colourful soft corals in the shallower parts of the sites, and as you make your way deeper, the stretching, flat, hard corals and whip corals start to increase. At around the 20 meter mark, is where you are likely to see the larger fish, like; tuna and trevallies. It is also in these deeper parts of the sites that you are likely to find the cleaning stations for the Molas, while in season.
Most of the diving along these sites are drift dives. The current that flows here is not crazy strong or sucks you down. Generally speaking, the current is simple a gentle push along the coastline. When diving at these sites, we jump in, check the current direction and just drift along, with the current softly pushing us. At the end of the dive, the boat picks up the divers, where they surface.
North Coast Sites of Lembongan:
The main site, that many people dive or snorkel on the north coast of Lembongan, is The Mangroves. The dive site is not located inside the mangroves, but it is the reef that is out the front of the mangrove forest. Like the north coast of Penida, The Mangrove dive site is rich in coral and reef life, but is slightly shallower. Most of the time at this site is spent around 10 – 15 meters. This reef also starts around 5 meters, which is why it is so often used for snorkeling. This 5 meter reef also slopes down to a plateau that ranges from 10 – 15 meters. This plateau is much large than that of the one in Penida. You need to swim far from the island to get a lot of depth at this site.
The Mangroves is also one of the drift diving sites in the area. The current is sometimes a little bit faster compared to the sites of Penida, due to its flatter reef formations. The current is also very linear and almost always pushing towards Lembongan Bay.
As you drift along the reef at The Mangroves, you will see a very large mix of colourful hard and soft corals. Even though the north coast of Penida is very rich in coral life, The Mangroves is just that one step up, in terms of coral diversity. Besides the common reef fish; large triggerfish, single barracudas, larger pufferfish, and turtles are common sightings. During the right time of day and with the right current, it is possible to spot dolphins on the surface or underwater at the end of the dive site.
The last dive site on the north coast of Lembongan is Blue Corner. Blue Corner is a site that is not dived often by many of the dive centres. The main reason for this is the strong currents that can be found there. Blue Corner is located at the end of The Mangrove dive site and is a large contrast to the other sites on the north coast. As the reef starts to curve around the coastline of Lembongan, it suddenly drops deep. This drop from the shallow reef of The Mangroves, is the start of Blue Corner.
The reef at the top of Blue Corner, lays in about 10 meters of water. This 10 meter deep plateau reaches out from the island of Lembongan before dropping down to around 40 meters. This drop forms somewhat of a wall. With the fast drop from shallow to deep, the current speed, from The Mangrove site, suddenly increases, pulls away from the island and runs along the wall of Blue Corner. This current can also pull down off the plateau, in the shallows, causing some down currents.
Blue Corner is one of the dive sites in the area that it is possible to find larger creatures. Molas are very common at this site during the right season, as well as, sharks, dolphins, eagle rays and very large marble rays.
Due to these quickly changing reef formations and the fast currents, this site is only dived by experienced divers and only on the correct tide. For more information about the more experienced dive sites around Lembongan and Penida, check out our Diving the Channel blog!
With the large stretching reef of the north coast and the exposed deeper ocean, it is possible to get some special creatures passing by, if you are lucky. Thresher Shark, Hummerhead Sharks, Whale Sharks, Molas and Manta Rays, have all been spotted in the last few years, passing by.
For more information about the north dive sites, check out our dive site page!