Nusa Penida Diving: Mola-Molas and My Near-Death Experience

I could have died there. Not because I was diving in Nusa Penida next to a giant mola-mola, though. Oh, no: but because I was so elated (and high on nitrogen) by the sight that I’d unknowingly drifted down to 40 meters (131 feet) deep.

That’s 10 meters (~33 feet) over my PADI certification limits.

Nusa Penida diving mola-molas

My body felt tightly squeezed; chest compressed to the point where my breaths were nearly silent.

Worse yet? I was over 20 meters deeper than my dive buddy. Alone.

That’s creepy as heck after going through my rescue diver course.

If Ucal, dive master at Dive Concepts, would have stopped tapping its tank to catch my attention… Or if the giant mola-mola wouldn’t have stopped looking straight into my eyes and dashed into the deep blue, who knows what would’ve happened

I have no idea what I was thinking. Under nitrogen narcosis though, anything can happen. This is why I’m getting a dive computer ASAP!

Nusa Penida Diving: Other Great Sights

Thankfully, my Nusa Penida diving experiences go beyond a near-death immersion.

Besides giant Oceanic Sunfish sightings, I enjoyed exhilarating drift dives both in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Some of my favorites include:

  • Sampalan: stunning variety of healthy coral, coupled with teaming reef fish schools thanks to fast-and-furious drifts.
  • Pura Mas Gading: cold currents, but worth the shivers. Drift by spotted box fish, coral groupers, red-toothed triggerfish, huge red scorpion fish, and schools of bluefin trevally–some of the site’s cool residents.
diving in Nusa Penida, scorpion fish

scorpion fish by Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten, Flickr

  • Buyuk: mild current, 20-meter visibility and where my mola-mola sighting occurred (and I almost kicked the bucket…). Quite special to me, of course.
  • Crystal Bay: between August and October, your best chances of spotting the elusive mola-mola are at this site.

If it weren’t for the choppy seas, I could have dive with huge manta rays in Nusa Penida as well. The sweetest spot for these giants is Manta Point, a site where they are seen year-round thanks to its cleaning station.

I cannot lie: I was pretty upset when Dive Concepts canceled a boat trip there for safety reasons. Yet, they surely made up for it. No disappointments there!

Nusa Penida diving, Manta Point

While Dive Concepts is actually located on Nusa Lembongan, most dive sites are around Nusa Penida–a beautiful boat ride away. Around this hidden gem is where I did most of my immersions.

Trust me: if it weren’t for my short three-night stay, I would have explored more dive sites in Nusa Lembongan. Experienced divers particularly recommend:

  • Mangrove Point: spectacular drift for snorkelers and divers alike. Astounding variety of both flora and fauna; even whale sharks have been spotted here. Regularly named one of Nusa Lembongan’s finest sites.
  • Blue Corner: advanced divers only. Intense currents typically equal big pelagics territory. White tip sharks, marble rays, bamboo sharks, and even schools of dolphins have been spotted here. Surreal coral and rocky terraces serve as background.

Three immersions and two dive days in Nusa Penida were certainly not enough for me. Yet, given the fact I spent the other four in Amed Bali, I still said farewell to Indonesia with a huge grin on my face.

Huge thanks to Manu from Dive Concepts for allowing me to have a glimpse of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida diving free of charge. I was not paid for a positive review, though. All views and recommendations written here are honest and 100% based on my true experiences. Can’t wait to see you again, Bali!

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About Maria Alexandra

Maria Laborde, aka latinAbroad, is an open-minded, highly-energetic woman with the spirit of a child. A world citizen, Puerto Rican at heart, carrier of an American passport. A passionate translator and writer, sprinkling Latin spice around the world!

4 thoughts on “Nusa Penida Diving: Mola-Molas and My Near-Death Experience

    • yeah, tell me about it Sarah! Nusa Penida diving was freezing and that made it a little tough, but it was sooooo beautiful! And those drifts, WOW! Exhilarating!

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