How much do you really know about Drift Diving in Bali? Have you heard some of these misconceptions about diving in currents?
Here we dispel and bust the most common myths about drift diving!
1. Drift diving is only for experienced divers
Myth Busted! There are currents in all bodies of water everywhere on earth, so actually a huge percentage of divers learn to dive as beginners in drifts! Drift diving isn’t a more ‘difficult’ type of diving, it’s just a different type of diving. Just as you need to plan any dive, and follow basic principles, the same applies to drift diving. Plan your dive and dive your plan!
If you haven’t dived in drifts before and are exploring a new area with currents, you should be given a briefing before the dive in which any special procedures are explained. Listen carefully to briefings and if you are not sure about anything, ASK!!
If you are planning to go drift diving we recommend that you brush up on your buoyancy skills if it’s been a while since your last dives. Buoyancy control is extremely important so you can avoid making contact with the reef and stay close to your buddies during your drift dives.
Drift Diving is Physically Challenging
Not True!! Drift diving is the opposite – it’s actually the lazy way to dive because very little swimming is involved! Drift diving literally means diving with the drift or going with the flow.
The main technique in drift diving is to establish neutral buoyancy and then allow the current to move you along while you simply relax and enjoy the show!
Drift diving means you have to swim into the current
No, absolutely not true. In drift diving, we dive with the current (see above) which means that we do not try to return to our entry point at the end of the dive. Drift diving opens up opportunities to explore new dives sites which are only possible to dive as drifts because swimming back into the current is not practical. On Nusa Lembongan, we dive from boats so that you can go with the drift and the boat will collect you from where you finish your dive.
Drift diving is scary
Not with a proper briefing! If a diver is not familiar with currents and they are not given a briefing then yes, drift diving could be a scary experience – the same as any situation which you were not expecting. A thorough briefing and instructions equip divers with what they need to know, what to expect, and reduces anxiety.
You can’t drift dive from a boat
Drift diving from a boat is the best way to drift dive! Our team of boat captains and crew are trained in drift diving boat procedures which include tracking divers’ bubbles underwater and looking out for delayed surface marker buoys. These procedures enable the boat crew to maneuver the boat to the divers’ exact pickup point.
It is also possible to make drift dives from shore in some areas but you will need adequate supervision on land to track your dive and meet you at your entry point.
You need special equipment to drift dive
False! Drift diving requires standard dive equipment plus a Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB). A DSMB allows you to deploy your surface marker buoy prior to surfacing because it is attached to a reel or cord. For most divers, a signaling device is part of their standard equipment. All World Diving Divemasters and Instructors carry all essential items and additional spare gear so you do not need to have your own when diving here.
You have to make a negative entry and fast descent when drift diving
Myth Busted! When diving along the north coast of Nusa Penida we have kilometers of stunning coastline and reef to drift dive. There is no need to make a negative entry and a fast descent because you will not miss the dive site. In some areas, when diving on a small submerged site or when trying to reach an exact point, a negative entry may be required but this is usually not the case around Bali.
You don’t see as much when you are drift diving.
Not True! When you are drift diving you see even more! Imagine riding a bicycle uphill for an hour versus going downhill. You will cover much more distance when going downhill because you don’t get tired – and this is exactly the same as diving in drift! The current moves you along rather than you expending energy which means you cover a greater distance and you don’t have to turn around at halfway and swim back – you continue in the same direction for the duration of your dive. If you want to see as much as possible, then drift diving is the way to do it!
All diving around Bali and Lembongan is drift diving
False! There are two factors that affect if a dive is a drift dive or not: the location and geography of a site, and the tides and phases of the moon.
Not all sites are drift sites:
Several of our sites are not drift sites because of their geographical location, some examples of these include Lembongan Bay and our House Reef, Manta Point, and Manta Bay. These sites are positioned in coves which are unaffected by the main current flow due to the shape of the reef and positioning of nearby landmasses.
Not all drift sites always have currents:
Our main drift sites have variable currents from no current at all through to faster drifts. The moon phase affects the tidal differences which affect currents. Around the time of full moon, there is the biggest difference between high tide and low tide which means between these two times a large body of water is moving a greater distance, so it moves faster. During neap tides, there is very little difference between high tide and low tide so the tidal exchange is very low meaning much less, to no current.
Diving on or around high tide and low tide at any time during the lunar phase will result in much less current as the tidal exchange is mostly static. This gives us the ability to time our dive trips according to when conditions are best, unlike operators on Bali who are limited by their trip logistics and need to dive at the same time each day regardless of tides.
Diving Techniques for Currents
Here are a few tips to help you on your next dives:
- Stay behind your group leader, if you find yourself in front, wait and allow the leader to catch up and take the lead again
- Stay close to the reef where the currents are not as strong
- Try not to kick. Establish neutral buoyancy and allow the current to do the work!
- Stay close to your buddy
- Plan your dives carefully or request a thorough briefing if the planning is being handled for you
- Shallow up as you progress through the dive
- Check your air frequently and head to your safety stop at 70 bar.
- Surface using a delayed surface marker buoy.
- Have fun and enjoy the ride!!
Takeaway Drift Tip…
If you are diving in an area that is known to have currents you have the opportunity to experience some phenomenal diving. To ensure you get the maximum enjoyment from your dives, choose a reputable operator, and insist on a briefing before each dive. We have over 20 years of diving experience in this region and our team has made thousands of dives at our dive sites. This local knowledge and experience allow us to plan our dives and optimize comfort and safety.
You can also get prepared for your dives in advance by working on your buoyancy skills or taking the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Course. If you want to fully understand and master drift diving, take the PADI Drift Diver Specialty Course, or, if you are an Open Water diver, sign up for your PADI Advanced Open Water Course.
If you plan on taking the Advanced Open Water Course here in Nusa Lembongan, we recommend taking drift diving and peak performance buoyancy as two of the optional dives included in your course.
We hope to welcome you soon to diving in Nusa Lembongan!