South Lombok is one of Indonesia’s best kept diving secrets, and it’s a great place to start Sidemount diving. Here are six reasons why you should consider taking your TDI Sidemount course with us in Sekotong.
Get away from the crowds
Sekotong and the South Gilis are also known as the ‘Secret Gilis’. Whilst almost any visitor to Indonesia has heard about their northern counterparts, these islands still have the laid-back, unspoilt character you’d expect from a picture-book tropical island. For diving, this means having dive sites to yourself and sometimes not seeing another dive boat for a whole week. For your Sidemount course it means having time to discuss the finer points of equipment configuration with Jake, your instructor, before and between the dives … and possibly even over dinner.
Great learning conditions
The dive sites around these islands have gentle currents, if any, making them a great place to practice skills that require time and patience like hovering, specific propulsion techniques, tank handling including removal and replacement underwater and so much more. For many recreational divers, this course is the first time that they are asked to complete skills whilst hovering in trim for an extended period of time. Sounds easy, but if you haven’t had to do it before, it can be challenging nonetheless. It certainly helps, then, to have a calm surface and relaxed in-water conditions.
Lucky for most divers that Sidemount actually helps your balance in the water and naturally supports a trim position. This makes it easy to stay in one place, take a really close look at the beautiful soft corals and critters in the area and also helps with photography.
Challenges along the way
However, it wouldn’t be a TDI course if there weren’t a few more challenging elements. One of the things that are great to practice here are different water entries. Whilst it’s usually calm enough on the surface to kit up in the water by the side of the boat, there are also dive sites that warrant a negative entry, meaning all equipment needs to be donned on the boat. With two tanks attached to the diver’s side, that’s certainly a new experience for most.
Something to look forward too … exciting swim-throughs
Whilst there are many reasons to enjoy Sidemount diving, the main reason for the existence for this gear configuration is cave diving and the need to squeeze through small spaces. What better way to practice this – once you are a bit more comfortable in Sidemount – than by working your way through a couple of beautiful swim-throughs. This is when the low profile of Sidemount really shines, giving divers more space and flexibility. Then, all you need to decide is whether you can work your way through the space as you are or by extending tanks forward.
Even more excitement … Belongas Bay
For those with a sense of adventure and a bit of diving experience already under their belt, Belongas Bay and its hammerhead sharks and mobula rays beckon. Situated on the ‘wild side’, the very south coast of South Lombok, this is a place for putting your newly gained Sidemount skills to the test. If the boat is headed for the Magnet, the hammerheads’ favourite pinnacle, you’re looking at a negative entry before enjoying the calm, stable diving that Sidemount offers. Nearby Gili Serang, usually the second dive of the day, makes for a more relaxed water entry and offers a few good swim-throughs … as well as mobula rays.
Last, but not least …. your instructor!
Jake has been our manager in South Lombok for nearly three years now and knows these dive sites inside out, but has also kept a passion for discovering new places to dive in the area. Like so many Sidemount diving journeys, Jake’s started out of necessity when we wanted to explore the tech diving potential of Belongas Bay before moving twinsets to the area.
Since then, he’s done more exploration diving and guiding before investing in his own gear and becoming a TDI instructor. What are you waiting for?