Do you like haunted houses? Do you like being startled at every turn? Me neither. And although the Jetty, a dive site off Padang Bai, has a bit of an eerie atmosphere and gently reminds me of a haunted house, it happens to be one of my favorites in Bali.
As you enter, the sunlight trying to trickle down to you is intercepted by the jetty’s pillars, and by the schools of catfish and porcupinefish hovering above you. This dim lighting and the strange shadows it casts make for a dive unlike any other.
As you continue swimming the length of the jetty, you’ll notice debris scattered about the ocean floor and stuck to the pillars. A little off-putting at first, yes, but then you’ll also notice that on the pillars it is intermingling just fine with the soft corals and small sea fans, and that on the ground the fish have made homes out of it. So why not turn over a few pieces of trash and see what critters you can find?
If you like muck diving and collecting sightings of strange, uncommon fish, then you will love this unique brand of muck dive. Because, good news: You don’t have to search scrupulously, squinting about with your torch and your magnifying glass in tow — at The Jetty, the fish seem to creep up on you. Waiting to reveal themselves at the turn of every pillar are suspects like ornate ghost pipefish, stonefish, the elusive Rhinopias, scorpionfish, pygmy seahorses, octopus, mantis shrimp, lionfish, cuttlefish and frogfish. This haunted house has a cast of characters you won’t soon forget.
Navigation at the site is also very easy: Go one way, and when you’re at the agreed-upon turning point of the dive, do a 180-degree turn and go the other way. Come up a little shallower and marvel at the resident school of catfish as they swim together, then swim apart, only to get back together again. You can even be a hero and use your dive knife to de-tangle a struggling porcupinefish stuck in a fishing line — and take the line with you, while you’re at it.
If being pulled left and right by surge is not your idea of fun, then the best time to visit The Jetty is the two weeks before and after the full moon, when the currents are calmer and the visibility is best. Apart from being able to maintain that nice, neutral buoyancy, so that you don’t kick up too much silt, you needn’t be a very experienced diver to enjoy this site — just have a healthy appreciation for the small stuff. Happy macro hunting!
Depth: 26 to 72 feet (8 to 22 m)
Water Temperature: 66 to 77F (19 to 25 C)
Visibility: 32 to 82 feet (10 to 25 m)
Location: Padang Bai, Bali