Tim RockBali Dive Expert

Tim Rock:
Bali Dive Expert

Tim Rock was born in Minnesota and lived most of his early life in landlocked Nebraska. He attended the journalism program at the University of Nebraska, Omaha from 1969 through 1974, then did a stint in the US Army in Vietnam. A frequent visitor to Bali, the majority of his professional life has been spent in the Western and Indo-Pacific regions. Tim is a big supporter of marine preserves in his home island of Guam. Over the years, he has won many awards for documentaries, television shows, photography and has worked as a correspondent for numerous Pacific Rim magazines as well as co-authored Diving & Snorkeling Guide to Bali (Manta Ray Publishing 2013).

When was your first visit to Bali?

In 1984 when I flew in from Guam. Continental and Garuda had just joined forces for direct Bali flights. One side of the plane was painted as Continental and the other as Garuda, resulting in a rather schizophrenic looking plane. But Guam people loved Bali and I was on one of the first flights. On my first dive in Bali, I met TT Yan who ran a wonderful dive operation called Gloria Maris Dive Centre. At that time there were probably only three dive shops in all of Bali. Hadi Purnama had one and I think Loky Herlambang had just sold his operation before moving to Manado where he started the Nusantara Dive Centre. They were the Bali diving pioneers. With TT Yan, I later did the first postcard series of underwater images of Bali and also the first diving guide in 1989 that had all of 20-pages and a dozen dive sites.

What was diving in Bali like in those early days?

I have been in love with Bali diving ever since I first went below the waters of Menjangen in 1984. I used to stay in a small inn in the rice paddies at Tirtagangga (banyak nyamuk!) so that I wouldn’t have to make the exhausting drive from Kuta to the Tulamben area and back every day. Tulamben was just an arid cow pasture with a bunch of cactus. No village at all. I asked TT Yan how much the land cost and he said it was very cheap. I said why don’t we build a place for divers to stay and he said, “Oh no, Mr. Tim, no one would want to stay way up here.” Missed opportunities!!

What’s so special about diving in Bali?

Bali is one of the most diverse dive destinations in the world. Just about everything a diver needs to see can be found along the slopes of Tulamben, in the northern bay of Pemuteran or in the offshore islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Factor in the idyllic nearby Gilis on Lombok and the Bali experience for divers is really hard to beat.

Do you have any personal favorites?

My favorite area still remains the eastern coast and some of the deep cleaning stations off Scuba Seraya and the Liberty Wreck. I also really like diving at Pemuteran and Menjangan and anywhere along the Amed Coast. Nusa Penida is truly great for bigger marine creatures like mantas and molas (see https://www.facebook.com/SunfishResearch).

Do Bali dive businesses adhere to professional standards?

There are a lot of Bali dive shops now and the good news is PADI and SSI have become quite active in getting compliance from their affiliates and working to shut down or least get signage removed from those who are non-compliant. So it is best to follow our advice, be selective and do some homework.

What inspired you to write Diving & Snorkeling Guide to Bali?

The genesis of this book was a conversation between longtime friend Simon Pridmore and myself about the deficiencies and omissions in my 2001 Lonely Planet guide. It was not so much the case that my earlier book was inaccurate. It was more a matter that times and Bali had definitely changed over the space of a decade. I suggested to Simon that we write a new book, which turned out to be a true pleasure, bringing back great memories of dives, venues and especially dive friends. I also wanted to continue my history of creating Bali dive guides. Having an expert like Simon based in Nusa Dua was a great opportunity to get crucial input for the guide and for other planned future endeavors.

How does your book compare with other dive guides to Bali?

We think our guide is not only more up-to-date and offers a wider coverage of the diving scene in Bali, but fills in the gaps left by the other books. It also encourages divers to look beyond the big draws of Tulamben and Nusa Penida. Other criteria we adhered to when writing it were that it should be easy to carry around, easy to use as a planning tool and make a good souvenir of a dive trip to Bali.

Are there any new dive sites covered in the book?

This is the first guide to cover the dive areas being set up by village co-operatives along the island’s north coast in Kubu, Puri Jati, Penuktukan and Les. We also expanded a great deal on what was previously published about the Amed Coast and identify other top new sites such as the Cruise Ship Jetty in Padang Bai.

There are around 300 dive operators on Bali. Why don’t you recommend any specific ones?

We thought about this long and hard and eventually decided not to include a recommeded list of operators. Specific recommendations can be a slippery and litigious slope that we prefer to avoid. We have dived with many Bali-based dive operators over the years but these still represents less than 10% of the total. Many operators are friends of whom we think highly and any list we make would naturally include them. This would be good for these friends but not fair to the many other good dive operations that we have never dived with. A reader might assume that any operator not on the list was not good. Instead, we decided to offer general advice on how to select a dive operator.

How may you be contacted?

Facebook page: www.facebook.com BaliDivingSnorkelingGuide. I would love to hear any tips or recommendations from people who have used our book, such as opportunities for divers to participate in reef rehabilitation or mola identification programs or any terrific small sites on Bali to be found where you may not expect them.

For anyone interested in being considered for Siapa, please contact: <pakbill2003#yahoo.com>
Copyright © 2014 Bill Dalton
You can read all past articles of Siapa at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz