I've been wanting to learn how to scuba dive for years and, I think, it's the right time to dive on in (pardon the pun!), brought about by a recent visit to Bali where I had the pleasure of seeing some really fabulous resorts that cater to dive enthusiasts of every level, from beginners to the hard core. One of the most popular areas for this is in the north east coastline of Bali, well away from the maddening crowds of Kuta and the shopping and nightlife of Seminyak - up over the hills, past the delightful village life of Candi Dasa to a place far removed, where peace and complete serenity prevail.
Two resorts in particular stand out as a go-to for beachside bungalows, reef excursions and offshore diving in a rustic and beautiful setting. Not forsaking any kind of comfort whilst you're there though - take Siddhartha Dive Resort & Spa (pictured above) as a fantastic example of a luxury boutique-style hotel where stunning architecture, great dining and a really divine spa make for the perfect ambience. Situated under the shadows of Bali's sacred Mount Agung, in the small village of Kubu on a terrace-style tropical estate, Siddhartha is informal and relaxed for those mad keen on enjoying the very best that the reefs of north-eastern Bali have to offer. It offers the highest quality Dive Centre, run by divers for divers, and now under the management of Barbara Ebel and Stefan Brand. And it's also become increasingly popular with honeymooners, and couples seeking out a resort for their destination wedding that also offers an adventure-filled honeymoon! And it has a great spa where treatments offer ample blissed out moments following a day of diving on the offshore reefs!
Choose from the Superior bungalows, the Deluxe bungalows or one of five oceanfront Deluxe bungalows, or the dreamy "Santai" and "Pantai" villas which have their own private swimming pools. Siddhartha Dive Resort & Spa is a part of the collection of hotels and resorts by local diving legend Werner Lau - he also created the Alam Anda Dive & Spa Resort (pictured below) which is a scenic drive (aprox. 30 minutes) further along from Siddhartha.
Alam Anda has been an insider's tip for many years and today, it's almost got a cult status among the diving crowd. Hidden behind the coconut and orange plantations with a picture perfect seaside location, Alam Anda consists of nine Seafront bungalows, twelve Deluxe Garden bungalows, two Losmen, the double bungalow Ambu Ambu, two Behari villas and the villas Lumba Lumba and Purnama.
Tulamben is only 40 minutes by car, where you can dive off the wreck of the Liberty or the coral gardens and the spectacular Tulamben Drop Off, a lush overgrown sea wall that drops down to 60 metres.
I honestly don't know which resort suits my style more - the beautiful, boutique style of Siddhartha Dive Resort & Spa, or the more rustic and tropical style of Alam Anda Dive Resort & Spa. Might just have to make my next Bali trip extra long, and try them both out for good measure!