Scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan is located in the Coral Triangle of Indonesia. Together with Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan, it´s an archipelago with about 250 species of coral and 600 species of fish. But most people visit the islands in Bali to see the impressive Manta Rays and Molas.
The best time to see a Mola, also known as Oceanic Sunfish, is between June and October. At this time the water temperature drops to 18-20 degrees in some dive sites like Manta Point or Crystal Bay. The Mola feels very cosy at this temperature. But for humans, it can be quite uncomfortable.
The impact of cold water on our body
When it comes to diving in cold water, sooner or later you will start to freeze. In the first place, your air consumption will increase. But you also need to know that water reduces the heat of a human body 25 times faster than air. And when your body begins to shiver, it’s even worse.
On land, shivering helps to rewarm your body, but underwater it supports more heat loss. This can cause hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body’s temperature drops below that level for normal metabolism and body functions. That can be very dangerous.
So if you are freezing underwater, it’s better to end the dive earlier. But don’t ́t worry, you can prevent that very easily. Here are our four tips for diving in cold water.
Wear a proper wetsuit for diving in cold water
The right wetsuit is the most important piece of your dive equipment to stay warm. A wetsuit is a neoprene insulation suit. It’s not meant to keep your body dry. Instead, it traps a thin layer of water between the wetsuit and your body. This layer of water is warmed by your body, which prevents you from losing too much heat in the water.
So it’s very important that your wetsuit fits perfectly. Otherwise, it can´t keep the warm water inside. If the wetsuit is too big, cold water will constantly float inside the suit. This can cool you down very fast. Not only the size matters but also the thickness of the diving suit. Neoprene is made of small bubbles that are trapping heat inside. The thicker the neoprene is, the warmer the wetsuit will be.
For diving in cold conditions of Nusa Lembongan, we recommend a 5 mm thick wetsuit. If you are very sensitive to cold water or the temperature is very low, you can also use a 7mm wetsuit. It´s only 2 mm more, but you will feel the difference.
A hood, gloves and booties are the icing on the cake
Every part of your body that is not covered by your wetsuit is losing energy in the water. Usually, these parts are your head, your hands and your feet.
Our heads are heavily supplied with blood and so they lose the heat very quickly. So if you are cold, you can feel it first on your head. Wearing a hood protects your body from losing heat too fast. A diving hood is also made of neoprene and comes in different thicknesses.
The same goes for your hands and your feet. Everybody knows the uncomfortable feeling of cold hands or feet on land. But how does this affect you underwater?
When it comes to diving, If your hands are getting cold, your fingers can feel stiff. That makes it difficult to use the inflator on your BCD or to do dive signals. And with cold feet, it´s harder to kick. Wearing gloves and booties protects you from that.
Dive shallower if you feel cold
Usually, the water temperature drops the deeper you dive. But also the ambient pressure increases. And this is more of a problem if you feel cold.
As we said, the neoprene of your wetsuit is made of bubbles that enclose the air inside to keep you warm. With the higher ambient pressure, those bubbles compress more and more and can keep less air inside.
At around 30 meters they are essentially flat and your wetsuit has no insulation anymore. So when there is no special reason, like a wreck, a Manta or Mola just dive a bit shallower. You will feel much more comfortable.
Stay warm while your surface interval
Not only in the water, there are some hacks to stay warm but on the surface interval. Bring a towel to dry yourself after the dive. A fleece and a hat will heat you up and they can protect you from strong winds on the boat. Remember you are on the ocean and the winds can be quite cold, especially when the boat is moving.
The cold water takes a lot of energy from our body. So to replenish heat and glycogen, drink hot drinks such as sweetened tea or coffee. And last but not least, a quick sunbath will bring back your heat very fast.
It´s all about preparation for the cold
Most important is to prepare yourself. Because nothing is more uncomfortable than freezing underwater. Only a few little details can make a big difference. If you worry about what to wear, ask your instructor or divemaster. They definitely know the best equipment for the current situation or dive site.
As you can see, it isn´t that complicated to enjoy a dive in colder water without shivering. Especially when you are surrounded by Manta Rays or a Mola. So prepare and enjoy your dive.