PADI Open Water Diving in Lovina, Bali.
Bali is the home of some of the most amazing coral reefs in the world, and it is a great and cheap place to dive and get your PADI open water diving card. If you’re already in Bali you will of seen dive shops on every corner offering dives all around the country.
July (2016) was my year to learn to dive and I ended up doing this in Lovina, Bali and here’s why I think it’s a great place to dive.
The north of Bali has two of the post popular dive sites in the country; USS Liberty and Menganjan Island. We we’re already heading north to avoid the party life of Kuta and had a tip of from two fellow travellers of USS liberty in Amed as a great place to dive.
We landed in Lovina after travelling from Mount Ijen and needed a couple days to relax after tackling two volcanos in one week. Whilst here you are pestered to do two things: “see the dolphins?” and “dive?”
Since we were staying here I decided to ask around about the diving and also asked around the local dive shops to get an idea of what you get and for how much.
Why you should dive in Lovina?
Lovina is in the middle of the two main dive sites in the north of Bali around 1-2 hours drive from each. You can’t stay much closer to Menganjan island and Amed doesn’t have as much going on as Lovina.
Lovina is a small little town which receives a lot less tourism that the south of the country. However there is still plenty here to do. There is regular live music in the bars, a great selection of shops and markets, great food is abundant in a range of budgets and the sunsets are awesome. Compared to popular neighbouring town Amed where USS liberty is, there is a lot more for you to do here after your dive, or if you are with someone who isn’t diving they are stuck alone in a small diving town and can venture around the quiet streets of Lovina.
You have the option to go on dolphin trips here but it’s really up to you. From what I heard it’s not really amazing and is more like a group of petrol guzzling boats chasing around 5/6 dolphins in a small area of the sea.
Who to dive with?
If you happen to be in Lovina already here are my tips for who to chose for your diving.
The people on the street are generally selling packages for Malibu Diving. They will offer you a good price and include accommodation as part of the price also. They will match any price you get elsewhere and be very keen to sign you up.
It only takes a google to see the reviews for this place and it was because of this I decided not to bother and go for a more expensive option. That been said they are listed on the official PADI dive site and there are good reviews out there too. It’s really up to you.
The latest addition to the Lovina dive scene is Arrows dive. Clearly the newest equipment, great staff and a very clean and looked after shop. This shop caught my eye for these reasons walking past. There is no accommodation included in their price but they are up for a bit of bargaining on their listed offers.
For the PADI open water course you have three days of diving. One day in the pool and in the classroom picking up the basics. One day at Menjangan island at two separate dive sites, and your final day doing two dives at USS liberty.
These guys have the most and best reviews online so it’s an obvious choice if you have a little bit more to spend budget wise.
The final place was spice dive, recommended by my hotel owner after I told him Malibu was not for me. They are tucked away inside a beach bar just down from the dolphin statue in Lovina. At first I really wasn’t sure I wanted to go with Spice, even though the price was great and they were offering the same package as Arrows. Their office is little dingy on the main street but don’t let that fool you, make sure you go to their main office down the road and you will be reassured. It’s a clean place with a really nice pool for learning the basics.
I managed to bargain down to 4m IDR for the package which I was quiet happy with as in the end I had one on one tuition with my instructor Immanuel. Immanuel was a great instructor, very calm and collected and by the book, which is what you want when learning to dive for the first time.
You are picked up form your hotel on the two dive days and taken to the dive sites which also includes a lunch. The staff are really friendly and the equipment is well kept.
The reviews are great online however there are a lot less than their are for Arrows. The thing that swayed me was the slightly lower price than Arrows and that I learnt Spice were the first dive company in Lovina and had been diving the sites since 1989!
As a conclusion my advise would be to stay away from the street salesmen. You want to learn to dive as well as possible for your PADI open water and having a great instructor and good equipment could be the difference between life and death and some point (you never know) Make sure you haggle on the price as they can move down by quiet a bit I found. Lovina doesn’t get much tourism with backpackers so these people need to get as much money as possible.
Although you can get your PADI open water for around 2m in Amed, you only get the option to dive at one dive site; USS Liberty. Although USS Liberty is one of the top ten dive sites in the world, Menjangan island is a government protected coral site which makes for some really great viewing whilst on your dive.
Hope you found this useful and if you have any further tips please leave a comment below.
Things I’m glad I took
A dry bag comes in very handy whilst crossing islands, your bag is boung to get wet and very often the boat doesn’t go too close to shore so you have to wade through the water, great for keeping things dry! The gopro float is a no brainer, you don’t want to be that guy who has to watch his gopro slowly sink into the depths. The red filter is great too, will really help when it comes to editing your videos