At a dive show in 2018, I started planning my May 2020 Komodo and Lembongan trip. Fast forward to March 2020 and the dreaded Covid meant it had to be rescheduled and on the 4th attempt, I finally made it there in July 2022!!!
I booked everything as a package through Dive Worldwide, who I have to say have been bloody brilliant sorting everything out with the multiple reschedules. Flights to Bali via Dubai with Emirates went ahead as planned. One thing to note in case that kind of thing bothers you, face masks are compulsory on the Emirates flights to Dubai and Bali and in the airports for both places.
After a long journey I was transferred to the Akaya hotel in Sanur for a night's rest and refresh before joining the Mermaid II liveaboard the next day for the Bali-Komodo-Bali itinerary. I had originally booked the budget cabin below deck but was bumped up to the standard cabins upstairs instead. I took top bunk and loved looking out the window to look at the sea and stars at night. We slept with the window open (and air con off) and the lovely crew closed the window to if it was a rough crossing and I might get splashed by waves in my sleep lol. Cabins are very small but I liked the views and was mainly upstairs in the shaded deck or sun area anyway so it was just somewhere to sleep.
The crew on Mermaid II were excellent and it is only max 4 divers per guide. My guide Bob was insanely good at spotting things and as a result I saw my first Shaun the sheep nudis, pygmy seahorses, more nudis than I could keep track of, ambon scorpionfish, bigger sea horses and critters galore and of course mantas, turtles and sharks. It really was a fantastic experience and mix of large and small marine life. We didn't get down south to Manta Alley due to weather conditions but still saw a couple at other sites and I was very happy with that. Dives were around 60-70 mins in length, water temp mainly around 27-29 degrees and good visibility, often 20m+. I generally don't like night dives but ended up doing 3 of them as the critter spotting opportunities were too tempting. Ended up doing 17 out of the 19 dives offered (skipped 2 night dives I didn't fancy). The biodiversity was truly spectacular. The food was delicious and the crew unbelievably nice. I came up from a night dive and you all have numbered towels for post dive, they had warmed them up for after the night dive and the crew draped one round me as soon as I was out of my wetsuit. I wasn't remotely cold but appreciated the gesture - I could do with this service at freezy UK dive sites in Winter lol. I would definitely go on a Mermaid liveaboard again!
Also got to go on land and go Komodo dragon spotting which I had also really wanted to do! It was mating season so hard to find them as they were busy and hidden but we did see a female walking down the track and a very unphased baby one which sat nicely for photos .
After the liveaboard part of my trip was finished I transferred by ferry to Nusa Lembongan for 4 nights and 2 days diving to wind down before heading home. On Lembongan I was diving with World Diving Lembongan and staying at the Pondok Baruna Gardens. This was such a good way to relax and just do 2 dives a day and see somewhere different. 2 of the girls off the boat also transferred there so I still had some buddies to hang out with in the evening as well. Lembongan is very chilled and I treated myself to a massage and pedicure as well. Didn't see the elusive Mola Mola at Lembongan but did see mantas at the aptly named Manta point and had 4 lovely drift dives. I was very happy with the dive operation and boats and we got a delicious packed 'lunch' for between the morning dives. Pondok Baruna is a very relaxed resort just up from the beach with a nice pool. It offers B&B only but has a restaurant just round the corner serving excellent home cooked food. I also enjoyed the cocktails at Fin Island just across the road.
Then it was back to the mainland via ferry (the crew have some serious muscles loading all the luggage and keeping it out the water as they wade out to the boat!) a brief stop at a hotel with a day pass and then a late night flight home.
Happy to have come back to the UK while it is enjoying lovely weather and feeling incredibly grateful and happy that I finally made my trip. It was absolutely worth the wait.
I haven't posted pics here as the facebook links expire quite quickly on here but my Instagram account is public and I put a few highlights on there under my handle @smileydiver if anyone is interested.
If anyone has any questions, fire away!