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The Dive Log is a series where we take you with us as we explore some of the world’s best dive destinations.
Nusa Penida is one of the fastest-growing dive destinations in Bali. Just a few years ago, divers primarily based themselves in Nusa Lembongan and shuttled to and from Nusa Penida’s sites to dive. Back in 2016, even finding a decent homestay was a challenge. There were only a handful of dive centers on Nusa Penida and I’m sad to say, some of these dive centers were not up to international standards.
Today, Nusa Penida is quickly developing into a dive destination of its own — rather than being Nusa Lembongan’s sidekick stop.
Enter Karma Diving, a boutique dive center based in the heart of Nusa Penida, just steps away from where boats offload visiting guests.
Owned by two ocean-lovers Raphael and Laura, Karma Diving is an SSI accredited dive center that teaches courses (discover scuba, open water, advanced, rescue, and dive master) in English, Spanish, and French.
In this post, we’ll take you inside the shop and along for some dives with the friendly guides at Karma Diving.
Though Raphael is an avid diver, his eyes really light up when you hear him talk about all the innovative conservation programs taking place in Nusa Penida. Last year, we published a video on the painful impacts of plastic pollution and how devastating this has been to local manta ray populations.
Karma Diving has partnered with nonprofits like: Coral Guardian, a program focused on restoring and conserving coral reefs in Bali; Trash Hero, a group of passionate environmentalists who clean Bali’s beaches and work on ways to prevent plastic from entering the sea; and Refill My Bottle, an initiative that allows divers (and travelers) to refill their water bottles at participating dive centers. This makes it an exciting place for divers who love to give back while they dive, as the dive center frequently hosts educational and social conservation activities.
At the shop
Karma Diving is a renovated older building along Jalan Sanjaya. It’s a bit unassuming at first — at least until you notice the beautiful blue and orange mural spanning across its front.
Raphael told me, “We wanted Karma Diving to be in a building that already existed–rather than using resources to create a new dive center.” Reuse is one of the major principles of conservation. With the development pressure that Nusa Penida is under already, this seemed like a wise move.
Inside Karma Diving, you’ll find a rinse area in the back, seating area out front, and dive gear storage space inside the center. It’s small, clean, and quirky — a site where the people make the shop.
Scuba diving with Karma Diving in Nusa Penida
We walked from the shop to Nusa Penida’s main harbor and loaded our gear onto the boat. I am a stickler when it comes to gear quality and was impressed that the dive equipment was in pristine condition–passing our gear checks. Since it’d been a while since I set up my own gear, one of the dive masters in training walked me through the set-up, explaining every step of the way.
Our first dive took place at Manta Bay, a dive site renowned for its local population of manta rays. Unfortunately, Manta Bay happened to have quite a bit of surge during the dive. The surge and current kicked up sand at this site, limiting our visibility. When the dive master or dive master in training spotted a nudibranch or macro creature, I had to fin over quickly before the surge carried us away. Luckily, I caught short glimpses of anemone fish, nudibranchs, and an Orangutan crab before they turned into nothing more than a blur.
Many divers get nervous in strong surge or current conditions. Fortunately, my guides (I was lucky to have an instructor and two dive masters in training on my dive) constantly checked in to see that I was feeling calm and comfortable.
Crystal Bay is always an enjoyable dive if you’re hoping to spot sea turtles and beautiful corals. Unlike the Manta Bay, the current at Crystal Bay was nil and we had plenty of time to hang out with a hungry sea turtle and watch a peacock mantis shrimp scurry from one hiding spot to the next. Scorpionfish masterfully camouflaged themselves within the reef. Eels poked their heads out at us and looked comical with their open mouths. Technicolor reef fish zoomed between coral bommies. After a hectic dive in Manta Bay, Crystal Bay was just the spot to relax and enjoy the water.
Should you dive with Karma Diving?
We highly recommend Karma Diving if you’re looking for a safe, environmentally-conscious, and fun-spirited dive center in Nusa Penida.
Karma Diving is great for:
Nervous and new divers: Small group sizes (4 per instructor or guide) and personalized service means that you won’t be lost in the crowd or ignored. The boat takes up to 15 divers per trip and the staff at Karma Diving are very attentive.
Families: Karma Diving is a great place to learn if you have kids (aged 10 and up) or are diving in a group with mixed abilities.
Experienced divers: You won’t be babied or hand-held if you don’t want to be during your dive.
Karma Diving is not for:
Party animals: The small shop and location means it’s not the type of place you’ll chug beer after beer and take Joss shots.
Tech divers: Karma Diving does not offer technical diving courses.