Scuba diving has always been more than just a hobby for me; it’s a way to give back to the environment and to show others the magic of everything found under the surface. Recently, I took this journey a step further by diving with Ceningan Divers in Indonesia, a renowned PADI Eco Center and one of the top two most eco-friendly dive centers on Earth, according to their Green Fins environmental impact score. This experience opened my eyes to how sustainable the dive industry and dive centers around the world can be by not only making as little impact as possible on the marine environment but also regenerating degraded habitats.

Diving in Nusa Ceningan

Located on the tranquil island of Nusa Ceningan off the southeast coast of Bali, Ceningan Divers offers access to a remote paradise. The surrounding sea is rich in marine biodiversity, offering divers the chance to soar along healthy coral reefs during exciting drift dives. But the island and its neighbors (Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida) are even more famous for their manta ray and mola mola dive sites, which regularly offer up pelagic encounters. All three islands are encompassed the Nusa Penida MPA. This is a fitting backdrop for a dive center that focuses heavily on ecological sustainability and conservation efforts.

a manta ray photographed from below

Arrival at the Dive Center & Dive Prep

From the moment I arrived, it was clear that diving with Ceningan Divers would be different. The dive center is a PADI Eco Center, meaning they are a Green Fins Member and participate in Adopt the Blue among many other eco initiatives. Everything they do is geared towards minimizing environmental impact and promoting ocean health, and this is evident from the very moment you walk into the dive center. In fact, you’ll notice one of the initiatives even before you arrive, as all the paperwork is done online, meaning there is no paper, energy or ink waste for this part of a dive day.

Onsite, our day started with the most thorough briefing I’ve ever received (shout out to Angga for his flawless delivery). It not only included info about the dive site but also about how we could ensure our diving did no harm to the ocean. We were instructed in the Green Fins Code of Conduct and given a run-down of the rules of the local MPA. We discussed the importance of buoyancy control to avoid damaging the coral reefs, and we were reminded not to touch or disturb the marine wildlife. We were also told how we could contribute to citizen science research should we spot and photograph any marine megafauna or find any marine debris. It’s one thing to know you should protect the ocean; it’s another to see a dive center put those principles into action so conscientiously.

Ceningan Divers resort in Indonesia. The image shows their restored mangrove forest.
Image courtesy of Ceningan Divers

Boat Briefing

Diving at Ceningan Divers is a masterclass in responsible diving. After our thorough on-shore briefing, we were led through the dive center’s beautiful mangrove forest, which they restored over the course of several years, and onto their dive boat, which is powered by the most environmentally-friendly gas-powered engines.

Once onboard, our Divemaster Angga, Boat Hand Gusti and (Captain) Pak Desi showed us around the vessel. We each received a sarong to use for the day (more eco-friendly than towels as they require less drying power), and the defogger onboard was biodegradable, made from natural ingredients. Between dives, we would be offered fruit and a homemade snack in reusable containers – no single-use plastic in sight!

Diving with Ceningan Divers couldn’t have been easier. Our equipment was all set up and ready to check. And, although it’s not an eco-specific initiative, I personally loved that rental gear included a personal DSMB for safety.

mola mola in bali

Scuba Diving

Our group explored two drift dives that day with a respectful curiosity. The dive sites around Nusa Ceningan are spectacular, featuring vibrant coral gardens, steep drop-offs, and a colorful array of marine life, from tiny nudibranchs to majestic manta rays. Not once during either of the dives did any of the divers or the staff make contact with the reef. In addition, the dive staff went as far as instructing other groups of divers in environmentally safe underwater etiquette during the dives.

One of the most memorable aspects of diving with Ceningan Divers was how much the staff cared about the environment. Each of them took an active role in preserving and cleaning the oceans, ensuring that they removed any and all marine debris we came across on our dives and during our surface interval. This would later be logged in the Dive Against Debris app to feed into a larger database in an effort to inform scientific research and influence policy, both locally and globally. What we had been briefed about was put into action time and time again during our two dives. Although there wasn’t much debris in the water, we did remove some old fishing line, picked up some bits of metal and found a dive weight.

Robert, one of Ceningan Divers’ co-founders, remarks, “Our team is highly-motivated and takes great pride in knowing they are trained to follow the highest code of conduct in the industry. We go above and beyond with weekly workshops, training, certification programs, etc. We believe this investment in our employees and team has earned us a great reputation and allowed us to retain our team – who share the pride of being part of our success story.”

Diving with Ceningan Divers was not just about enjoying the spectacular underwater world but also about understanding our role in preserving it. Every dive was a learning experience, reflecting the center’s commitment to PADI’s Pillars of Change. Not only is learning more about ocean conservation an important part of diving with Ceningan Divers, the dive center also runs a online conservation training centre with nine workshops on conservation and marine life for both divers and non-divers.

Staff of Ceningan Divers clean up rubbish above the water
Image courtesy of Ceningan Divers

Go Eco!

As I reflect on my time with Ceningan Divers, I feel a renewed sense of responsibility. Diving with a purpose, with a focus on conservation, has transformed the way I view every dive. I am not just a visitor to the underwater world; I am a guardian of its future.

If you ever find yourself in Indonesia, I recommend checking out Ceningan Divers and learning more about their eco-initiatives. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or just starting, their dedication to eco-friendly diving and marine conservation will enrich your diving experience and deepen your connection to the ocean. Alternatively, find another PADI Eco Center near you or in your destination of choice. After all, to dive with a purpose is to dive for a better future.

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