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On the south western coast of Lombok Island, beyond Sekotong Bay and about 2 hours drive west from Lombok’s Kuta area lies Belongas Bay facing the Indian Ocean. This is another exciting pristine diving destination that offers the opportunity to meet some of the big fish in the Indonesian seas. The star in these waters is the fascinating Hamerhead Shark.
The bay itself is fairly large and is sheltered and scenic with long sweeping white sand beaches and rolling green hills. But pass the narrow mouth around the tiny Gili Wayang island where the dive sites are, the sea gets rougher with a strong surge. Therefore, this is the place to be for the relatively larger marine life such as Tuna, White and Black tip reef Sharks, Barracudas, Eagle Rays and schooling Hammerhead Sharks. Considering the waters’ conditions, the bay may only be fit for advanced and experienced divers who are used to strong surge, up and down currents and negative buoyancy of water entries.
Currently, this area is only accessible via a pretty rough road over the hills and through numerous small villages. However, for the adventurous soul, the splendor that awaits at the bay is more than just worth the trip.
An unspoilt underwater paradise with pristine reefs, an intact environment, and impressive diving with huge marine creatures: these are what dive sites around Belongas Bay have to offer.
‘The Magnet’, is the name given to the furthest and most prominent dive site around the bay. This is the site where divers can encounter schools of hammerheads, as well as grey reef sharks and white tip sharks. Bear in mind that there is a season for hammerheads sighting: from June to early November. This pinnacle can be reached by boat in half an hour and is located in the open sea, rising up to the surface from 80m with waves crashing on top and over it creating a big surge that can be felt down at 15 meters. Divers need to enter the water negatively buoyant so they can go down fast to 20-25 meters where the spectacle starts. Tuna, Barracuda, schools of Mackerel swirling around, and a lot of White and Black tip reef Sharks will certainly create an awesome spectacle. It is an adrenalin rushing site only for the experienced diver.
Just a little to the east off the bay lies the tiny island of Gili Anak Ewok and also another magnificent dive site interestingly named ‘The Cathedral’. It's the second most famous dive, and features a large pinnacle with 2 main peaks. This site is notable for the schools of eagle ray sightings and other big fish such as White, Black tip and Grey reef Sharks, Tunas, Mackerels and Barracudas. There are also a lot of sea snakes gliding around, thus it is not surprising when a diver spots as many as 15 sea snakes during a single dive.
Minimum Prerequisites for diving the “Magnet” and the “Cathedral” are an advanced certification and, from November until end April, 50 logged dives, while from May until end October, 100 logged dives. The dive center reserves the right to ask for a check certificates before diving at these sites.
Aside from the Magnet and the Cathedral there are also other dive sites around the bay that offer equally fascinating splendors. Next to big fish sightings, the Gili Sarang site by the Magnet, also features incredible small creatures such as Nudibranchs, Shrimps, Scorpion fishes, Sweet lips and Surgeon fish. As the name suggests, the Boulder City in the east features a lot of big rocks that form hundreds of swim-troughs for various fish and other sea creatures. The Coral garden in the west is sheltered from the big waves and offers a relatively easy dive. All pinnacles here are covered completely with soft colorful Corals in yellow, orange and purple. Beautiful Gorgonian fans, Whip Corals and Anemones along with the sea creatures that dwell can be found here. Wollis Pinnacle is actually the closest site to the coast, and the first one divers encounter coming out of the secluded bay. It is a large rock that rises up from the sandy bottom at 20m until 5m beneath sea level and home to Nudibranches, Frog fish and Ribbon Eels, and other sea dwellers.
Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and a number of domestic airlines fly to the Lombok International Airport located in Central Lombok. SilkAir flies to Lombok from Singapore. From the airport it you can stay at Kuta Beach or stay at Sekotong Beach, closest accommodation to Belongas Bay.
Belongas bay is located around 50 km from Mataram, capital of West Nusa Tenggara and can be reached by a 3 hours’ drive by car. You can take the route from Mataram to Cakranegara-Banyumulek-Gerung-Lembar-Sekotong Tengah-Belongas.
Alternately –if you feel adventurous enough- you can also use public transportation with the similar route but finish at the Sekotong terminal. Using public transportation, you have to ‘hop’ from one route to another starting with Mataram-Cakranegara route (IDR 3,000), Cakranegara-Gerung (IDR 5,000), and Gerung -Sekotong Tengah (IDR 6,000). From Sekotong, motorbike taxis are the only available options to get to the bay.
Bear in mind that you will find some parts of the road still rough and quite bumpy, so better prepare your vehicles and obviously yourself.