Nusa Penida Dive Masters

“Experience is passed down to a growing generation of dive masters.”

My favorite waters to dive near Bali are off Nusa Penida, a largely uninhabited island that used to be reserved for prisoners from Klungklung Regency.

Steep cliffs jut from the ocean on the south side. The channel between Ceningan and Penida is notorious for down currents and has claimed many divers’ lives over the years. Still, if one wants clear waters and large marine life with fun drifts, this is a great playground.

Getting to know the dive masters who live and work in these treacherous waters, it has been great to see a younger generation expanding on the experiences gained from the pioneers.

The older dive masters all know each other well from the early 80’s and 90’s when there were but a handful of dive shops in Bali. As diving tourism has proliferated, experience is passed down to a younger generation.

One such example is Putu, who works at Atlantis out of Sanur. A few years ago when I first met him, he was friendly but shy and struggled with his English. Since then, he has developed into a confident and masterful diver from the teachings of his older colleagues.

Recently, Putu was put in a situation no dive master ever wants to experience. Diving with a group of divers claiming to be experienced, four of his clients ran out of air at depth due to struggling with down currents.

Putu had the divers grab on to his legs and BCD and grabbed on to the coral, using it to climb up against the down currents. His mentors were proud how he stayed calm and relied on his training. Putu had four divers clinging to him, then gave both his first and second stage regulators to his clients so they could use his tank, knowing that pressure would release a little bit of air in their empty tanks during the slow ascent. He was then able to suck bubbles from their nearly empty tanks and complete the rescue.

Unfortunately, the dive masters do not always know the level of experience of their clients each day, even though PADI or SSI certification is required and verified by computer before taking a group out for the day.

These are some good dudes who excel at enjoying life on, and under, the water.

-NK

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