Dive The Biodiverse Gilis, Sekotong Bay
On the southwestern coast of Lombok lies Sekotong Bay, a very large bay that offers a degree of protection from the strong currents of the Lombok Strait, and for this reason became the playground of many unique sea dwellers.
Located within the West Lombok regency about 2 hours drive from Mataram, capital of West Nusa Tenggara, the Sekotong Bay Area is a vast stretch of rough coastline decorated with beautiful white sandy beaches overlooking the chains of islands including Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak, Gili Gede, and more. While it may as yet not be as famous as Senggigi Beach or the trio islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air in the northwest of Lombok, this south west area offers pristine splendors especially for those who love underwater adventures.
With over 3,500 of species inhabiting Indonesia magnificent underwater world, Sekotong Bay is considered as one of the sites that has the richest marine life diversity to be found in this Indo-Pacific region. In comparison, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia has just 1,500 species and the Red Sea of the Mediterranean has only 600. Among some of the sea dwellers that divers can meet here are sea turtles, white tipped reef sharks, cuttlefish, moray eels, frog fish, ghost pipefish, and a whole lot more.
This bay is also notable for its pristine reefs with an abundance of amazing and unique soft and hard corals since it has not been damaged by dynamite or cyanide fishing.
There are varying conditions throughout the bay of Sekotong: from easy and relaxed conditions in the protected bay to thrilling and adventurous diving around the tip of Bangko-Bangko Peninsula and further to the South. This makes diving suitable for both beginners as well as advanced divers.
Located near the island of Gili Nanggu, the Hadiah Reef or literally meaning ‘present’ reef, it is truly a gift of nature where divers can find an array of hard and soft corals, and most likely to be greeted by Lionfishes, Sergant fishes and many different species of Nudibranch. For beginners, the Gili Kura-kura dive spots located not too far from the shore with hardly any currents is the best place for an encounter with some of the unique sea dwellers such as Moorish idols, wrasses, spider and porcelain crabs, and slipper lobsters.
The waters around the islands of Gili Gede, Anyaran, Renggit, and Layar, are also filled with numerous underwater splendors. The sloping area west of Gili Renggit is truly a paradise for Macro-photographers. Here, the reef consists of huge table corals and other colorful hard and soft corals filled with a collection of Nudibranches, cleaner shrimps, different species of Frogfishes, and many other fishes. The site is also a pleasant dive spot for every level of divers. The slope on the east of Gili Renggit is also a great dive site which is covered in colorful soft corals and Feather stars with lots of shrimps, glass fishes and Ghost pipefishes swimming freely. There is more than a good chance that divers will encounter Moray Eels, Cuttlefishes and Blue spotted rays on this site.
The Sunken Island is the dive site that lies along the East coast of the island and covers quite a large area that starts from a shallow water and continues sloping into terraces that get gradually deeper, to a plateau at about 24 meters. The sandy bottom has an assortment of hard Coral and soft Coral gardens. The overhangs are filled with Soldierfish and Copper Sweepers. Divers will also get the chance to see a numbers of Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles as they feed on Hydroids. Along the deepest part of the site divers may also spot White tip reef Sharks, giant Trevallies and schooling Barracudas.
On the tip of the peninsula at the west end of Sekotong Bay, there are three notable dive sites perfectly fit for advanced divers. The first is the Stairs to Medang where diving can be more of a challenge with the currents, but with the reward of the opportunity to see the larger marine life. Lots of small and larger reef fish and different species of Shark swim around the waters, while the majestic Manta Rays have been frequently spotted. In the shallow part on top of the reef, Turtles and lobsters are not an uncommon sight.
The Lighthouse is the name given to the 2nd site which features a descending plateau which at 14 meters leads into a deep valley covered with huge coral formations. This is a place where divers may encounter schooling Mackerel, Sweetlips, Groupers, Emperors, Surgeon fish and White tip Reef Sharks.
The last of the three is the Batu Gendang and Batu Mandi Dive site. At a depth of 25 meters you will find massive blocks, hence the names Batu Gendang (Drum stones) and Batu Mandi (Bathing stones), scattered around. This labyrinth is home to different species of Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus) and bigger marine life such as Napoleon Wrasses, Tunas, Trevallies, Baracudas and White tip Reef Sharks.
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