South Lombok has long been renowned as a destination for surfers. But little do people know, below these waters, an incredible underwater world exists and one which rivals nearby established dive spots such as the Gili Islands and Komodo. We caught up with Marie and Shannon, managers of Blue Marlin Dive in Kuta to find out more about the diving adventures in the area and why diving is so special in the south east coast of Lombok.
Reef Property: Marie and Shannon, lets get straight into it! You have worked all over the world, diving in amazing places. What makes South Lombok unique for diving? Tell us about why you love to dive here?
Shannon: Lombok has been attracting scuba divers for a really long time, but this has mostly always been in the Gili Islands. Blue Marlin were the first dive shop to set up in the Gili’s and that was over 30 years ago. Up until now, scuba diving primarily focused itself there. A lot of people come to South Lombok for surfing, but no one really attempted to discover the diving here because these same waves that attract surfers can also make it difficult conditions for diving.
Marie: For us, the diving here in the south east of Lombok is as good as famous spots such as Komodo. The area is full of untouched coral and pelagic fish. It’s heaven of the macro stuff, we’ve found some species here that we’ve never seen before elsewhere. For example, on our first dive here, we found three mandarin fish which is one of the rarest fish to see when diving.
Shannon: The topography of the dive sites is also perfect with deep walls and swim through caves; it’s as if they have been designed just for scuba diving. From our dive site Gamechanger, a swim through cave, we have seen dolphins and masses of schooling tuna.We also recently just discovered a manta cleaning station and in September its possible to see whales migrating. The area offers year-round diving and a diversity of species that we haven’t seen elsewhere, it’s the perfect place for divers looking for adventure and exploration. Plus, so far its only us out there!
Reef Property: How was your initial time setting up the business and discovering dive sites? How did you go about mapping / discovering where to dive?
Shannon: So when our boss decided to set up shop here in Kuta a couple of years ago we were tasked with finding the dive spots. We had many false starts and aborted missions, doing lots of 20 minute dives trying to discover sites. We had all but given up but eventually our efforts paid off. We had heard of good snorkelling conditions to the east of Kuta near the well-known Pink Beach, so we decided to check it out over there. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The journey out there was smooth with crystal clear water perfectly protected by islands and bays. And the diving we discovered was incredible.
Shannon: Fast forward to now where we head there almost daily and we’re still blown away by the area. Even today we’re still discovering new sites and new species as we travel further East towards Sumbawa. There is so much life below these waters and each dive is a chance to discover something new.
Reef Property: Can you tell us about what courses and day trips you run?
Marie: Sure, we run all the usual dive courses from first timer discovery dives through to Dive Master. We have dive sites suitable for both advanced and beginner divers.
Aside from the diving part of the trip, a day trip with us is an amazing off the beaten track journey. The drive from Kuta to Telong Elong in the east is such a scenic journey through rural villages, stopping now and again to let the passing buffalo by. The whole day is so much more than just diving and is a unique and adventurous experience into the rural side of Lombok life. We get plenty of non-divers who want to come along just for the journey, enjoy the blue waters and a spot of snorkelling.
Reef Property: Asides from diving, how do you like to spend your time in Lombok? What would be on your holiday itinerary?
Shannon: We love to get away to Tetebatu in the north of Lombok. Nice to feel some fresh, cold air now and again. The area is surrounded by rice paddies so its really green and peaceful. The perfect place to clear your mind and enjoy nature. I also love to spearfish and have discovered some really cool spots just off the beaches close to Kuta.
Reef Property: Finally can you tell us a little more about your side business Blue Marlin Lifestyle? And how that came about.
Marie: When the pandemic hit and tourism ground to a halt, we were forced to close the dive shop for a few months. I had always wanted to learn macrame, so I decided to use this time to teach myself. Macrame homewares while popular in Bali aren’t really made in Lombok so I got the idea to sell these products to expats and villas and hotels here. I asked our dive shop staff if they’d like to learn macrame too and from there our brand Simpul was born. It’s been such a great way for us all to learn something new, keep busy and still earn a living during these tough times.
We now run workshops where our staff are teaching tourists and locals the art of macrame and we also have an online shop where we ship our products globally. We make a variety of products including wall hangers, bags and purses, All products are made by our hands using local Indonesian cotton.
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