The majority of diving around Nusa Penida (and in many parts of Indonesia) is drift diving and the currents can vary from almost nothing to drifts where divers cover 2km of shore line in just 40 minutes! Whilst some divers love the exhilarating thrill of ‘flying’ along the reef others find it a daunting and nerve racking experience, however, there are some general guidelines which can help making diving in currents both safer and more enjoyable.
– Follow the directions of your guide and only enter the water when instructed to do so.
– Stay close to the reef or the bottom as currents here will be weaker. During the dive stay behind your guide.
– Secure all dangling equipment.
– Control your buoyancy and let the current move you along.
– Use reef formations as shelter if you want to take a breather.
– Do not fight the current – it is easy to become overexerted.
– To determine current direction look at indicators such as soft coral and reef fish (which generally swim head-on into the current)
– Carry a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) and make sure you are familiar with how to inflate it.
– If you become separated from your group look around for one minute – if you don’t find them, go up and you should be re-united on the surface.
– If you cannot see your boat upon surfacing or if you have any doubt about whether your boat has seen you do NOT wait in strong surface currents – swim across the current, towards the shore if possible.
Tidal currents vary according to the time of the tide because the vertical rise and fall of the tides also creates a horizontal movement of water moving either from the open ocean in towards shore on a rising tide or from the shoreline to the open ocean on a falling tide. There are also periods (at high tide or low tide) when the horizontal movement of water is minimal or non-existent and this is termed ‘slack high’ or ‘slack low’. As a general rule, diving on slack high is preferable as visibility is usually much better. On days when there is a large tidal range (such as close to new moon or full moon) currents can be expected to be faster as there is a greater horizontal movement of water. When there is only a minimal range (neap tides), currents are least ferocious – neap tides occur twice a month in the first and third quarter of the moon.
Time your dives with the tides, remember the general guidelines and go with the flow!