Waterfalls and Manta Rays

20th September 2017 to 26th September 2017

Ubud, Sanur, Nusa Lembongan

Please excuse the formatting of the videos.  I will work on changing those when I get access to a computer…

Our fourth week started in much the same way that our third week had ended, a water based adventure activity with Jenny and Mark (see, I told you he would feature again!). This time, it was a trip to Aling Aling waterfall for a chance to slide down the middle of a 12m waterfall and jump off waterfalls of 5, 10 & 15m. It promised to be an exhilarating day.

But first, we had to get there. Aling Aling Waterfall is situated about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Ubud and it transpired that it was anything but a standard day trip destination for people based there. As such, it was less than straightforward to arrange our drive up there, particularly as we also had to change hotels that same morning as the one we were staying in was fully booked when we tried to extend our stay. In the end, we found a driver who would take us to Aling Aling and stop at a few other locations along the way for 800k rupiah (£45). Not bad for a full 8-9 hour day.

The journey north was a travel sickness inducing lurch-athon as we weaved in and out of traffic, along windy mountain roads steadily climbing to the summit. The descent was little better. All in all, by the time we arrived at Aling Aling, I was feeling less than top notch. However, our day was about to get significantly better very rapidly from here.

Guided entry to the waterfalls was 125k rupiah per person, which seemed very reasonable, particularly as our group of 4 was given 2 guides. Our tour started with a walk to Aling Aling Waterfall, which was by far the biggest of the waterfalls that we would be seeing today. No jumping off this one!

Seeing the waterfall and the pristine water below, ramped up the excitement for what was to come.  It was scary to think that the next one of those that we saw, we would be sliding down the middle of!

It was only a short walk to Kroya falls and Mark and I were soon being guided up to the top ahead of our descent, whilst Kim and Jenny took photos from down below.  As I stepped into the cool water at the top of the falls for a briefing from one of our guides, there was a moment when I wondered what on earth I was doing.  This feeling only intensified when the safety briefing amounted to relax and keep your head up!

I lay in the rushing water at the top of the falls, breathing heavily and waiting for the guide to set me on my way.

3…2…1…I was off.  Right turn. Left turn. Splash.  It was over in an instant.  Before I knew it, I was swimming upwards to catch my breath in the plunge pool below.

What a rush!

Mark followed quickly after and we were soon excitedly swapping accounts of our descent as we walked back round to where Kim and Jenny had been watching.

Now it was time to get Kim to have a go.  This was going to be no easy task, as sliding down a waterfall was one activity that she always said that she wouldn’t do.  However, we both knew that if she were to do it, she would love it.  With some trepidation, she followed me to the top and eased herself into the pool waiting for her turn.  I slid down again and waited for her at the bottom, willing her to take the plunge.  After an agonising wait, Kim came sliding down and plunged into the water below.  Predictably, she was buzzing when she popped up!  So much so, that Kim then went up and did it again with Jenny.

At the same pool, there was a 5m jump that was a doddle after what we had just done.

Now things started to get a bit tricky again. We had graduated to a 10m jump at the next waterfall down river.  My major fear was slipping as I pushed off the rocks, so I very deliberately pushed myself out and away from the cliff.  What I should have worried about, was the depth of the pool.  After breaking through the surface of the water, the next sensation was my foot hitting the rocks on the bottom of the pool.  It was a very gentle contact, but it certainly made me worry for a split second!

It was then a very chilly wait in the pool at the bottom while Mark built up the nerve to jump.  He gave it some real thought, but once he had done it, he absolutely loved it.  Jenny and Kim decided that this one probably wasn’t for them.

The 15m jump was one Waterfall further down river again.  I had a very nervous wait at the top whilst Jenny, Kim and one of the guides went down to the bottom for prime photography and rescue spots respectively.  I couldn’t look whilst I waited.  I nervously paced with my back to the drop.

Once everyone was in place at the bottom, I walked purposefully to the top.  Quickly checked my route down and threw myself into the water below.  Had I waited, I would have lost my nerve!  The adrenaline rush was incredible, the fall seemed to go on forever compared to the smaller jumps.  There was no chance of hitting the bottom in this pool, given that it was 8m deep, but that depth did mean that it took what felt like an age to resurface after the jump.


Given his trepidation at the 10m jump, I wasn’t sure how Mark would cope with the larger jump, but he barely gave it a second look as he chucked himself off the cliff.

It had been well worth the long drive for what had been an absolutely unforgettable experience.  It might not be a common day trip from Ubud, but what a day trip it had been.  We also had an opportunity to stop off for a great lunch at a local warung on the way back, as well as a visit to Bratan temple and Sangeh Monkey Forest.



As we left Ubud, we said goodbye to both Mark and Jenny, with Mark continuing his holiday in Bali, whilst Jenny’s next stop was Hong Kong.

We had intended to go to Lembongan, but couldn’t book ourselves onto a boat, so had a quiet day down in the beach resort of Sanur instead.  It was much quieter than Seminyak and was a relaxing place to catch up on writing by the pool in our hotel.

This slow pace of life continued for us on the island of Nusa Lembongan, once we had managed to get a boat across.  We largely spent our days learning Spanish and planning the Borneo leg of our trip either on the beach or by the pool in our hotel.

Whilst we didn’t do a great deal on Lembongan, what we did do was some of the best snorkelling the world has to offer.  3 out of the 4 mornings that we were on Lembongan, we took a boat tour to some of the snorkelling hot spots that are largely based off of the neighbouring island of Nusa Penida.

In theory, all 3 trips were supposed to visit the following spots:

  • Mangrove
  • Crystal Bay
  • Manta Bay

In practice, we also visited:

  • The Wall
  • Gamat Bay

Manta Bay was the headline spot, due to the almost guaranteed opportunity to swim with Manta Rays.  It did not disappoint.  We were afforded the opportunity to swim with these gentle giants on every morning that we visited.

On the first trip, Manta Bay was our first stop.  It was a baptism of fire.  The water was cold and choppy and there is freneticness to the atmosphere there as all the boat captains try to make sure their customers see Manta Rays.  It was noisy from the boat engines and people shouting out where the Mantas were, it stunk of diesel and you were never far from a flipper in the face.  We saw Mantas, but it was anything but fun!

On the second trip, Manta Bay was the final stop and this seemed to mean that there were less boats to compete with.  This was an altogether more enjoyable experience.  There was plenty of time where it was just me and the Manta, at least in terms of my field of vision.  One of the Manta rays even did four backflips right in front of us, almost as though it was showing off for the myriad of GoPros pointing in its direction.  That visit was a truly magical experience.


The third trip was different once again.  There were very few boats when we first arrived but the sea was incredibly rough.  For the first time, we had to really search for mantas.  When we found one, only three of us (out of twelve) got in because it was so choppy.  We immediately lost the Manta, only for the boat to find another one a long way from where we were.  We battled through the swell over to them, past squid and huge shoals of fish, only to lose that one too.  By now, more boats had arrived and found the original Manta again back where we were.  We swam back.  By now I was exhausted and about to give up, but then the ghostly black figure of a Manta Ray came gliding past me.  I used the last of my energy to follow alongside it, before diving down below it for a view of its impressive white underside, then returning to the boat.

The other sites all offered some spectacular coral reef snorkelling, with a staggering variety of fish.  Even without Manta Bay, the area would be a fantastic place to snorkel.

Mangrove offers the biggest area of continuous reef for snorkelling and it was here that we saw pipe fish, barracudas and pufferfish.  The water is also wonderfully warm here compared to the other spots.

Gamat Bay and Crystal Bay both offer some very colourful coral and fish to match.  Here we saw Zebra fish, Angel fish and some huge Unicorn fish to mention just a few.  I have never snorkelled anywhere like here for variety of fish.

The Wall is exactly that, a coral wall that drops off sharply, offering the opportunity to drift along the face of it to meet your boat back at the other end.  The water here was bizarre, ranging from temperate to absolutely freezing in patches along the length of the wall.

Normally, I would find somewhere in a blog post to talk about the food.  However, the food in Lembongan has not been particularly special.  Menus have consisted of the typical dishes that we had found in warungs in Bali, but are generally more expensive and of lower quality.  Roll on Borneo and our return to the variety found in Malaysian cooking!

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