Pramuka Island, a part of the Seribu Islands. 1.5 hours by speedboat from Ancol Marina, North of Jakarta. All the way there and met an Italian couple from North of Italy at the center’s housing and lounging area, Ody dive center. “So, are there a lot of dive centers in Jakarta? This is the only one we could find online that arranges trips.” They asked.
Well, well. How did I end up with Ody at the first place? To be honest, I’m not quite sure either. The whole diving madness started from a number of different moments happening at the same time. Started with my junior high school buddy who took her license about 3-4 years ago when I was still busy chasing dollars (and then Rupiahs). She got addicted to it so much that she’d go to Seaworld to dive when she doesn’t have much time to do an island trip, which is an experience on its own. My impression was “Meh. I’d do it one day. Seems so complicated. I don’t need another expensive addiction.”
And then suddenly within the last year, a group of friends from different walk of lives started taking diving certificates and going to dive trips when I was still finishing school in Australia. The pictures, oh my goodness. I can’t let go of that Facebook picture of a non-poisonous jellyfish found in Derawan. In all its majestic jelly-like glory.
The next aha moment was when I got a job offer from Perth. A comment from a friend tipped it over “Get your certificate now as you’ll be near all the Eastern Indonesia great diving spots and of course Perth dive spots”. Not sure about the Perth one as I heard sharks were attacking humans all over the coast, mostly surfers as I found out later on. And so the planning started.
I was to go straight to Nusa Lembongan, get my open water certificate and dive the Eastern part of Indonesia once I work in Perth.
And as life changes at warp speed these days, so it happens that I had to do a change of plan allowing me to have more time in Indonesia. As this other friend started saying “Go to Bali to enjoy the dives once you’re good. Don’t study there and ruin the corals.” and the fact that there is a higher chance of seeing Mola-Mola closer to August, a change of plan it is. Get the Open Water license in Jakarta and perhaps do the advance part later in Nusa Lembongan.
Roaming the web for a diving course that could make it happen within a week in Jakarta, I found a few names by Googling Jakarta Dive Course, and these names came up SeaPearl in Grogol, BubbleDive in Kuningan, PlanetDive in Sahid, OdyDive in Menteng, GuerillaDive in Cilandak, priced from Rp. 3.8 mio to around Rp. 5.5 mio. At the end of the day my choice was based on the trusted Indonesian method of words of mouth. Negotiating between price, time and location I chose an instructor name referred by a friend without knowing what dive center, if any, the instructor is teaching under. A bit of a meh-whatever-impulsive move on my part. However, as I am not planning to stay in Jakarta for too long I didn’t think that a community would matter much. Had I planned to live in Jakarta, I’d probably also put community into consideration as it would sort of shape your following dive trips experience. And just so happen that the instructor is attached to OdyDive in Menteng with the pool dive portion being executed in the filthy, filthy, filthy swimming pool of Pertamina Simprug. The filter was broken apparently. I still shudder just to think about the amount of filth.
For Padi open water certificate at Rp.4.2 million that includes books, Island trips, accommodation, lunch, dinner, countless Teh Botol dingin, the course and trip was very well worth it in my opinion. I ended up being the only student and I must say I love the full attention I got and that the course could go as fast as I could progress. Though meeting new friends through the course would’ve been nice and a lot more fun, the attention whore in me was having a blast. You win some, you lose some eh.
In regards to the course itself, it’s pretty standard. Padi open water has 5 sections of theory and 5 pool sessions where you practice all sorts of skills. Mainly to make sure you have the fullest experience of your underwater escapades and most importantly to keep you alive and well throughout and after the journey. Some places do it over 2 weekends, some places do it over 2 days like I did. Added to that an open water trip to an island and usually each dive centers have their own islands that they’ve set up shop at. The ones based in Jakarta would most likely go to Pulau Pramuka and Pulau Sepa from what I heard. And it’s not bad at all to get a taste of what’s the water got to offer.
As the dive centers have their lists of dive enthusiasts, it was no trouble that the instructor managed to rouse up two girls to come along to the trip. One girl went for the day and the other girl stayed overnight. And that’s where the community comes as new divers are most likely to keep diving once they meet people and keep getting that sense of ‘peer pressure’ in the kindest sense to keep exploring new places. But fear not, I don’t seem to have a shortage of fwd (friends who dive) as I found out as of late. And so the journey continues.
But yes. To answer the couple’s questions. “There are a lot of dive centers in Jakarta.” Dive centers, take note! Make your website easily discoverable to non-Indo speaker please!