Mysterious Sand

Although Kuta’s main beach, Pantai Segar, is often overlooked due to the more beautiful white-sand beaches outside town, a closer look reveals a rather extraordinary natural phenomenon.

Each tiny grain of sand looks like a hand-chiseled work of art. Sure, the perfect little spheres are pretty, but walking across them is like walking across a miniature boulder field. Every step of the way, you sink in up to your ankles. Yes, it’s exhausting, but worth the picture. (And no, the grains of sand aren’t really that big, this is just a serious macro shot.)

The Sasak Tribe

Our journey across Nusa Tenggara, the island chain that stretches across central Indonesia from Lombok to Alor, should carry us through a series of different tribal groups that call the region their home. The Sasak people are the first of those tribes, and we had the opportunity to witness a bit of their life in the small village of Sade, located just 10 km north of Kuta, Lombok.

Sade is no isolated tribal enclave cut off from the outside world but rather a living village struggling to survive in the 21st century. Locals supplement agricultural income by selling their weavings and showing visiting tourists around their beautiful hilltop villages.

Having seen dozens of such tourist-oriented tribal villages around the world, I have to say I was quite Continue…

Beaches of Southern Lombok

Sane Visitors to Indonesia don’t necessarily associate the name “Kuta” with pristine nature and tranquility… or do they?

Kuta in Lombok has the same name as Bali’s (in)famous tourist hub, but Kuta Bali and Kuta Lombok have very little in common. Although both are known for epic waves and endless beaches, Kuta Lombok lacks the hordes of tourists and horrific overdevelopment which plague its tacky sister city.

Although the town of Kuta, Lombok itself is nothing to write home about, the small fishing village turned tourist center sits along a vast stretch of undeveloped coastline featuring stunning beaches and quaint rural villages. And despite its proximity to Bali, the postcard-perfect white sands here in southern Lombok are almost completely deserted.

Perhaps, that is somewhat due to the Continue…

Tulamben Underwater Pictorial

As Thomas mentioned in his piece on independent diving in Tulamben, one of our major goals during our 14 dives here was to practice our underwater photography skills.

We spent hours exploring every inch of the U.S.S. Liberty as well as the neighboring sites of Coral Garden and the Drop-Off. We sat at 25 meters waiting next to small cleaning stations where eels and fish allowed themselves to be cleaned by half a dozen species of cleaner shrimp.

We experimented with ISO, flash output, shutter and aperture settings, and custom white balance to see what would produce the best pictures. And gradually we got better. Underwater photography isn’t easy especially with the limited equipment we carry with us. Staying still underwater while focusing on something that is half an inch long requires some serious effort. Despite the challenges, we have produced our first complete underwater pictorial. Even Jacques Cousteau had to start out somewhere. 🙂

Shooting Pygmy Seahorses

While we were in the Philippines diving off the tiny island of Malapascua, we were introduced to one of the weirdest and most wonderful miracles of evolution, the pygmy seahorse. Due to the fact that our underwater camera had been lost in an accident off of Verde Island, we were unable to photograph (or rather attempt to photograph) the tiny little creatures for ourselves, so we had to use an open source photo to introduce this miraculous animal to our visitors.

Here in Tulamben, we’ve had the opportunity to dive the U.S.S. Liberty several times and to visit that ever-so-famous fan at 31 meters to find and photograph these amazing creatures on our own. AND IT’S NOT EASY! Continue…

Independent Diving in Tulamben

When we heard from other travelers that Tulamben was a great place to dive independently without a costly guide, we were thrilled to say the least. For a while now, we have wanted to “waste” some dives to practice our underwater skills, especially our underwater photography skills. But the high cost of diving has so far prohibited such a luxury – at least until Tulamben came along with its relatively cheap and easy shore dives.

Many divers, especially novice divers, express concerns about diving without a guide. They wonder who’s going to show them around, point out animals or solve their problems. The reality is, dive masters are not underwater gods who know and see everything. A much better approach to diving is to Continue…

This One’s for You, Dad

Apparently, our hotel in Tulamben was preparing for a visit from my dad rather than me. The bottom of the hotel’s pool had been decorated with a mosaic of the Harley Davidson logo. Now that’s some serious Harley love!

So here you go dad, what could possibly be better than a tropical resort with a Harley Davidson theme? 🙂

The U.S.S. Liberty

In 1942, the U.S.S. Liberty was struck by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine. Two US destroyers attempted to accompany the damaged boat to a port in Singaraja, Bali, but when it became clear that the boat was taking on too much water, it was intentionally grounded on the shores of tiny Tulamben where the military was able to salvage the cargo. The ship sat grounded for 21 years until neighboring Mt. Agung erupted in 1963. The resulting earthquake pushed the boat into deeper water just offshore creating one of the world’s most rewarding shore dives.

The U.S.S. Liberty is consistently ranked as one of the top dives in the world, but what’s really cool about the site is that Continue…

Loving Tulamben

New two-month Indonesian visas in hand, we’re back in Bali and this time we’ve come up to the northeastern corner of the island to do more diving.

In contrast to the traffic-ridden mini-Los Angeles that has formed in the southern part of the island, little Tulamben is a breath of fresh air. (Literally.) And the trip over the beautifully terraced mountains to this little hideaway was icing on the cake. It feels like we are Continue…