Why Nusa Lembongan / Penida is the best place to learn to dive in Bali ?
- Coral is diverse and colorfoul. The reefs are well preserved and hosts a rich marine life.
- You can spot manta rays year round.
- Nice drift-diving spots (SD, Toyapakeh, Mangrove …)
- Prices are cheap, as of 2016 about 200EUR for the Open Water course.
- Reliable and well-established dive centers.
- Possible to spot the rare oceanic sunfish (Molah Molah in Indonesian) especially from July to October.
Please do yourself a favour and don’t dive in Gili. Corals are almost all dead because of the dynamite fishing are there is way too many people underwater, it scares off the fish.
If you wanna lower the costs, choose to take SSI Open Water instead of PADI. It has the same level of recognition among all dive centers in the world and it costs you less money (SSI are trying to tackle the leadership of PADI so they are a bit more aggressive on prices).
If you wanna later take a Advanced Open Water course, your SSI first level has the same value as PADI’s.
Which dive center choose ?
I don’t intend to test and rank every dive center on the islands. I had a good experience with Dive Concept. It’s run by a French team. The teaching is solid and they are quite cheap. Gear can be a bit old but nothing dramatic.
If you are a bit more experienced and wanna avoid herds of OW students, Two Fish Divers located just in front might suit you better. They are more expensive though. I did dive with them in Bunaken and I confirm they deserve their highly professional reputation.
If you are looking for the best deal to get your Open Water Certification, Nusa Lembongan might be a better choice though.