scuba in the Gilis

Posted from West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

It's hard to say no to go swimming in these waters. Apart from deadly currents that surround the island, that is.

It’s hard to say no to go swimming in these waters. Apart from deadly currents that surround the island, that is.

Crystal blue waters. A balmy 30C at depth. And plenty of fish. There’s no better reasons to do some scuba in the Gilis of Indonesia.

After my great diving experience on Koh Tao, Thailand I knew that I wanted to pursue diving a bit deeper and get some more advanced training. I figured what better place to do this than on Gili Trawangan just east of Bali.

As I’ve learned SSI I also decided to stick with my SSI training and continue down the road set forth by this school. After my open water I could’ve done five adventure dives and gotten my advanced adventurer – which is equivalent to the PADI advanced open water. But I decided – nope.

Instead I opted to do specialties. In these courses I do theory, take tests, and do dives to show that I have the necessary knowledge and skill to have a specialty in a certain area. For instance, my first course was deep diving. In this specialty I gain the privilege to descend to 39 meters. But I also have to understand the dangers of diving at this depth.

After I read the course material, did the test and talked over some questions I had with my instructor, Levi, we started to go deep. Levi had narc tests for me that I had to complete at depth to show that I was or wasn’t narcing out. At depth nitrogen becomes a narcotic and people who are affected by this do some really weird things. I heard stories of people giving their regulators to fish, singing to turtles and even trying to climb out of their BCDs. It’s called nitrogen narcosis.

I didn’t narc-out though, to Levi’s dismay.

The deepest we went was 37m.

Aquaddiction has two boats for your diving pleasure.

Aquaddiction has two boats for your diving pleasure. The bars are there for waves.

On one of the deep dives we saw a baby shark and a school of 39 parrotfish bumpheads. They were massive, and we were on a drift dive, so it was really freaky at a few points when I wasn’t sure if we were gonna drift right into them. But it was also amazing.

The seas here are full of Hawksbill and green sea turtles – some of them quite massive. On some dives I only saw one or two, while on others I saw 10 or 20.

I also saw a dragonhead fish and my first time actually seeing a cuttlefish. And I saw two of them. I don’t think I ever noticed them before because they look nothing like fish. I think they’re aliens. There’s no way they can be fish.

I also saw the biggest lionfish I’ve ever seen. This thing was the size of a laundry basket.

All the usual suspects were there too. Including triggerfish. Fucking triggerfish.

The dive sites are all around the three Gilis (gili just means small island) and there’s no lack of variety. The currents here mean some of the dives turn into drift dives – and you just go sailing with the current. One day I heard a dive had to be aborted because the current was just too strong. They came up after eight minutes. Doing a current check is essential.

Apart from that, there are wall dives, wreck dives, deep dives, shallow dives, artificial reefs, pinnacles and ridges.

At the front entrance to the dive shop all these seats are usually full. I'm guessing everyone is down for a dive.

At the front entrance to the dive shop all these seats are usually full. I’m guessing everyone is down for a dive.

The only issues I had with my dives were blisters from my fins and a terrible RA flare that partially crippled one of my feet. It was difficult to do some maneuvering under the water as the pain would shut my breathing down. Like a trooper, though, I sucked it up and didn’t let it hold me back. But there were a few moments I wanted to cry.

So after my deep specialty I did my Nitrox course – with perfect buoyancy thrown in at the same time. The interesting thing you learn with Nitrox (our air mixture was 32% oxygen 68% nitrogen) is while you can stay at depth longer because you’re not breathing is as much nitrogen, you cannot go as deep as oxygen becomes toxic the deeper you go.

But I loved my Nitrox dives.

I dove a sunken pier, but was far too scared to do the swim-thrus after I finned my instructor on one of them. This is also when I began to realize I really needed work on my buoyancy. Enter the course.

Perfect buoyancy is damn hard. And I think I may suck at it. But I am getting better at and plan on working at the skills on my next fun dives, where ever in the world they may be. But I am more confident with my ability to do a swim-thru now.

I had to stop diving at one point though. I woke up with a nasty chest infection and didn’t think it wise to put my lungs under pressure, especially when I was prone to fits of coughing. But I had three new specialties under my belt and my love for scuba diving grows with each dive.

There’s also good diving on the mainland too, like real wrecks, but that’ll have to wait until another time.

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