Tag Archives | winner-2013

Friends friends and more friends!

It seems to be the season for travel!  I am one lucky girl and have had lots of people come to visit me in Bali.  Most recently my best friend/former housemate from Thailand.  Alex is living in Cambodia and got some time off work to visit me in Bali.  It was a short trip, only 4 days,  but we had a blast!  We spent most of our time lounging on the beach and going out in Kuta.  Now to recover, hehe.

Ladies day in Ulu Watu.

Ladies day in Ulu Watu.

Me and AlexMe and Alex

Me and Alex

Fun Family Time

Me and the Family in Menjangan

Me and the Family in Menjangan

Well,  the family has come and gone.  My parents and my brother were in Bali for about 2 weeks.  We had a blast!  I got to teach my family how to dive and show them all my favorite sites in Bali.  We also got to spend 4 beautiful days up at the Menjangan Resort in northwestern Bali.  I also brought them to southern and central Bali to visit Uluwatu and Ubud.  It was a great trip and so nice to have everyone around.  I can’t wait to see them again at Christmas!

On the road to Ubud.

On the road to Ubud.

The Tumolo Family Comes to Bali

The countdown has begun!

Guess what?  The whole family is coming to Bali!! My parents and brother decided to come out for Thanksgiving.  They will be arriving in Bali on November 12th and I could be more excited!  Not only will I get to show them Bali and my life here, but I get to teach them to dive, yippeee!!!  More updates soon :)

The Tumolo Family

Look out Bali, here they come!

Gas Blender Certified!

My first TecRec Specialty!

Look out Nitrox divers, I am officially a Gas Blender!  Blue Season Bali was nice enough to give me the chance to do my Gas Blender specialty.  This means that I am now certified and trained to fill Enriched Air tanks.  I also learned a lot more about compressors and how they work.  I had multiple compressor workshops with the two compressors that we have at Blue Season.  I learned about all the safety procedures required when working with oxygen.  I also learned the formulas for blending specific gas blends.  I feel like a more aware diver now that I understand how the air is compressed and put in my cylinders and how to blend different mixes.

Nitrox tanks

Nitrox tanks waiting to be filled.

Happy Days: Old Friends Come to Bali

It is that time of year, school vacation in Thailand.  That means that quite a few of my friends have had time off.  And where did they choose to spend their holidays you ask?  Why Bali of course!  It has been a busy couple of weeks, hence the absence from the blog.  I have had 8 different friends from Thailand come over to Bali and spend a few days with me :)  We spent some time traveling around to all the beautiful beaches.  We also danced some nights away in Kuta.  The highlight of the visits?  Teaching the beautiful Leah her open water course!  It was such an amazing expierence to show my friends what my life here is like.


Me and LeahMe and Leah

Me and Leah on her visit to Bali.

Kuta Bimo

On the way to Kuta for a night of dancing!

Scuba Radio Interview

Hey everybody!

I was lucky enough to do another interview with Greg the Divemaster on Scuba Radio.  For those of you who don’t know Scuba Radio is a show for scuba enthusiasts that broadcasts out of Orlando, FL every Saturday from 3-5 pm EST.  The show is great and covers some really interesting stuff like new scuba technology, different dive destinations, and other interesting dive stories.  Greg’s a great guy and very entertaining to listen to!  I went on the show last week and talked a bit about my experience in Bali and what it is like to be the winner of the best dive job in the world.  Check out the show!


Open Water Course Day 1

Guess what?  I have my first open water students today!  Marcel and I will be team teaching with the help of Charlie.  I am so excited to put everything I have learned into action!  Check back later for some more updates :)

Marlies Tumolo: Certified PADI Instructor!

Guess what guys?  I finally made it!  I am now a certified PADI scuba diving instructor :) It was a long road and there are many thanks to be given so here it goes!

So happy!!

So happy!!

First of all I would like to thank my parents, my brother, and the rest of my family for always believing in me and pushing me to reach for my dreams.  Without them who knows if I would have had the courage or confidence to go for something like this.  No matter what crazy scheme I come up with you guys are always 100% behind me.  Thanks so much for always being there.  I love you guys!

Next I need to give a huge thanks to Blue Season Bali.  Thank you John and Tom for putting all your hard work into the Best Dive Job in the World.  This truly has been a life changing!   Thank you to Aqua Lung for providing me with a fantastic diving equipment package.  This equipment is so great that I actually feel like it is a part of me when I dive, how cool is that?  I also need to give a never ending thank you to Henley Spiers (my divemaster mentor) for always taking the time to teach me and explain any questions I had.  I have become a great diver and instructor because of your teaching.  Also a big thanks to Stefan Schneider for teaching our IDC and helping us become real PADI material! Finally I want to thank Charlie Smith, my first real Bali friend, for the million times she studied with me, jumped in the pool to practice my skills, and told me that she believed in me.  I love you sugar!

The Best Dive Job in the World was a difficult competition and it has been a long road to get here.  There are so many people that campaigned for me, helped me make movies and run events, and just generally supported me.  A special thanks to Jackie Davis for being there for me 110% and being my # 1 supporter!  Thanks to Biggie, Kiko, Marisa, Alex, Megan, Crystal, Steph, Anthony, Adam, Leah, Addy, Sunshine Divers, my wonderful 8, and all the others who stood by my side and showed that they supported me.  Also a big thanks to Greg Holt at Scuba Radio for recognizing my passion and taking the time to put me on his show.  It is a fantastic show for scuba enthusiasts and you should all take time to check it out check it out!

And last but not least I want to thank team awesome (aka team green), Katarina, Beth, Marissa, Tegan, Marcel, and Bryan for going through this whole thing with me.  It was a long 28 days and you guys really helped me through.  We were a fantastic team and I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Team Awesome becomes instructors!

Wow!  That was a lot of thank yous!  To be honest, I am sure that there are more people out there that I should be thanking.  Don’t think that I’ve forgotten you!  My final thank you goes to all those that I don’t know, who read my application or watched my video and supported my dream.  This whole thing shows that we have the power to make our dreams come true.  Thanks for believing.

We made it!


Team green ready to go!

Team green before IE.

Well, we are about half way through!  So far everyone has passed the dive theory and standards exams and the confined water portions of the instructor examination.  In about an hour we will do our knowledge development presentations.  Wish us luck!!

Mock IE, check!

IDC Days 15 & 16

We spent the last two days doing a Mock IE at Blue Season Bali.  Basically we ran through everything that would be on the IE as a practice run.  I passed!  Actually we all passed!  We are ready to start the real thing tomorrow.  Check back on Sunday to find out how it went!

IDC Day 14

IDC Day 14: open water presentations, DSD workshop, adventures in diving

Today was our last day of IDC.  We spent the day diving in Nusa Penida!  Our first dive was a drift at SD.  It was amazing to be back in the water again :)  During our next dive we went to Lembongan Bay to practice doing the discover scuba diving program.  The water was freezing that day, 18 degrees C (64 degrees F)!  Tomorrow we start the mock IE.  This will really show me if I am ready.  Check back in a couple of days and I will let you know how it went!

IDC Day 9-13

IDC Day 9: confined water presentation, teaching open water

I did my first confined water presentation! It was really cool getting a chance to run part of a course. I was able to manage the group well and got a decent score on my presentation. I still have more work to do though! We also did a presentation today on teaching open water courses. It was really useful to get more information on how to organize and sequence a course. I know that I will use all this once I start teaching.

IDC Day 10: knowledge development 2, theory exam, confined water presentation, rescue practice

We are trucking right on through IDC.  Today we worked more on theory and did another confined water and knowledge development presentation.  It is great to practice and get so much feedback from Jon and Stefan.  I know that I will be more than prepared when we get to the IE.

IDC Day 11: open water presentations, standards exams

Today we did our first open water presentations and boy was I nervous!  It was completely different controlling students in ocean and there were so many more things to thing about!  I had to present 2 skill and I passed both :) Lets hope the same thing happens in the real IE 😉

IDC Day 12: presentations on adventures in diving, rescue, and divemaster, confined water presentations

Henley and Me

The best divemaster mentor ever!

Today we spent time talking about how to conduct the adventures in diving, rescue, and divemaster courses.  I think the most interesting was the divemaster slideshow.  I found myself thinking a lot about Henley and my own divemaster experience.  I am really lucky to have been through such a great program.  Henley is a fantastic mentor and continues to support me as I work towards my goal of becoming an instructor.  Thanks Henley!

IDC Day 13: knowledge development presentations, 4E’s, risk management, confined water presentations

Wow, we are almost done with IDC!  Today we did a knowledge development and confined water presentations.  We also talked all about the duty of care for PADI professionals and managing risks as dive instructors.  I already knew how important it was to follow PADI standards as a diver and instructor, but now I am even more convinced.  I am lucky to be doing my internship at a place like Blue Season Bali that puts such a high value on safe diving practices and following PADI standards.  It is really important when you look for a dive shop or somewhere to further your diving education that you find a place that is professional and puts diver safety first.

Tomorrow is our official last day of IDC.  We are heading out to Nusa Penida to do a few workshops and have a little bit of fun together.  I can’t wait to get back in the ocean and do some diving!

IDC group

Almost finished with IDC!

August IDC Day 6-8

IDC Day 6: orientation, theory exams, pool sessions

Today we officially started the IDC!  We started the day with Jonathan Cross giving us an orientation about the components of the IDC and the IE (Instructor Examination).  It was good to take time to really understand what would be required of us during the IE.  I am also totally confidant that we will be prepared after completing the IDC here at Blue Season Bali.  We also took some more theory exams for practice.  I passed every section this time!  Now I know which areas I am weakest in and can take time to study more about them.

Taking a dive theory exam.

Taking a dive theory exam.

IDC Day 7: CESA/descents/ascents workshop, knowledge development prep

Today we go to go out in the ocean, yay! We spent some time practicing the CESA skill in open water. It is proabley one of the most difficult skills to control and asses properly out in the ocean. It was really nice to be able to practice and get feedback from our instructor.

IDC Day 8: knowledge development presentations, confined water presentation prep, rescue workshop

Today we did our first knowledge development presentations in class. I felt really comfortable and it was nice to be up teaching again! We also prepared for our confined water presentations that we will do tomorrow. I have to demonstrate regulator clearing. I have everything all set but I’m still a little nervous about tomorrow. I hope it goes well! I will let you all know what happens. Talk to you soon :)

August IDC Day 5-7

IDC Day 5: e-learning

Today Stefan presented the e-learning presentations to the August IDC.  It was very interesting to think about all the ways I can apply my training as a PADI instructor.  One of the coolest things about becoming a PADI instructor is that it allows you to draw from all your past experiences.  Worked in business? Great!  Worked in marketing? Fantastic!  All these skills make you a more valuable employee and allow you to market yourself.  Diving is a such a diverse industry and it allows you the chance to really highlight your strengths.  I already have some ideas, keep checking back and I’ll let you know how they play out!

IDC Day 6: e-learning, EFR instructor training

Today we took some time to finish up the e-learning presentations and begin our EFR instructor training.   We learned about marketing EFR, a introduction/refresher to primary and secondary care as well as care for children.  Despite being a long day in the classroom we still had a lot of fun :)

Refreshing my skills.

Refreshing my skills.

IDC Day 7: EFR instructor training

We added a new member to our IDC team today.  Meet Carlos, our infant CPR mannequin.

Carlos and Marcel

Carlos and Marcel

Today I officially became an EFR instructor!  We spent the day practicing what it would be like to teach the course.  It was great fun!

We're EFR instructors!

We’re EFR instructors!

We also learned more about providing O2 to divers.  Here are a few pics.

Learning how to provide O2.

Learning how to provide O2.

August IDC: Day 3 and 4

We are moving right along in the IDC!  After a nice long study session with some of the instructors and my fellow IDC candidates I think I finally understand dive physics!  If was tough figuring it out but hopefully I’ve got it now.  My next study hurdle? Physiology.   Here is a little about what we have been doing here during our IDC days.

IDC Day 3:

CV, Equipment, Compressor, and Project Aware Workshops

We started off our day talking about Project Aware and how we can use it as a tool for environmental outreach in our community.  As we all know our oceans are facing some terrible challenges, such as pollution and shark finning,  and the more we know about them the more we can do to change them.

Next we learned how to disassemble and reassemble basic dive equipment such as regulators and BCDs.  This skills are very useful if you encounter basic equipment malfunctions while out on a dive trip.

Putting together our equipment.

Putting together our equipment.

Afterwards we had a compressor workshop with the very talented Dayne Pigors :)  He taught us all about filling tanks, bleeding the compressor, and even some information on filling nitrox tanks.  Thanks Dayne!

Me and Dayne

Me and Dayne after the compressor workshop.

IDC Day 4:

Open Water Workshop

Today we had our first day diving during IDC.  We headed off to Sanur to do an open water workshop.  We spent the morning focusing on how to conduct open water dives 2 and 3.  It was nice to practice out in the water.  Environmental factors made teaching that more more challenging.  I am really enjoying learning with our IDC group, we work very well together :)  It was also the first time I used my new Aqualung wetsuit in the water.  I loved it!  It fits me great and it was really nice to be wearing a 5mm.  No more shivering!

Blue Season Bali August IDC Candidates

Blue Season Bali August IDC Candidates

August IDC at Blue Season Bali


Well, I have finally made it!  IDC has begun.  Here is what we have done so far:

Day 1 of IDC:

There is a group of 7 candidates from different places around the world participating in the August IDC.  The first day was very exciting and we were all a bit nervous.  We had some time to get to know each other and to learn more about what we will be doing for the next 28 days.  In the afternoon we jumped in the pool and practiced our skills.  I was really happy that I had the chance to perfect my skills during my divemaster program!  I can tell that I have a lot of work ahead of me but that I will also be learning tons!

Day 2 of IDC:

Today was another information packed day.  We started off our morning with an exam, EEEEKK!  After taking the exam I was really happy that I am doing the 28 day program, I still have a lot to learn.  Luckily Stefan reviewed all the answers with us and taught us how to do the problems and explained the concepts we didn’t understand.  In the afternoon we got some real live instructor training.  We jumped in the pool and practiced control and organization during open water confined sessions.  It was fun having the chance to practice being an instructor.  I can’t wait until I can do this for real!

Cavern Diving Speciality

I took another step in my diving education this week.  I was lucky enough to be enrolled in a cavern diving course with the very talented Tom West.  Juliette, Aoibheann, Lucy (other DMT’s) and I spent 3 days improving our diving skills and learning how to penetrate caverns.  This course was really interesting because it forced me to take a long hard look at my diving skills.  When entering overhead environments it is very important to be streamlined so that you don’t disturb the bottom.  Tom is like a diving god.  I was amazed at the amount of information he was able to teach us in just 3 days.   I can’t even imagine how much you would learn doing tech with this guy!  Going into the cavern was unreal.  It feels so small when you are in an inclosed space, but also calm.

Cavern Dive!

Setting up our equipment for our first cavern dive.

Mystery Rocks

Entering the water for our first cavern dive at Mystery Rocks.

As luck would have it we had perfect conditions at Crystal Bay a couple of days after finishing our cavern course.  What does that mean?  We got to go inside the bat cave (I guess it should be called bat cavern)!!!  Most of the time it is not safe to go inside because of the current and waves, but on this particular day conditions couldn’t have been better.  We swam upp through a swim through that started at about 14 meters.  When you get to the top you surface inside a cave that is filled with bats!  Light streams in from a hole leading outside.  Pure beauty!

Inside the Bat Cave!

Inside the Bat Cave!

Exiting the Bat Cave.

Exiting the Bat Cave.

Water Park Adventures!

What is the best thing to do on your day off?  Head to Water Bomb, the giant water park in Kuta!  Last Sunday Jules, Aoibheann, Tegan, Laura, Lucy and I decided that we needed a few more water filled adrenaline rushes.  We made some vodka drinks to go and jumped in a taxi to spend the day riding water slides.  This place is great!  My favorite slide was called the Climax.  You stand at the top on a trap door and it  drops out from under you sending you down a huge tube.  Pure awesomeness!

Aoibheann and me :)

Aoibheann and me :)

The Water Bomb Crew

The Water Bomb Crew

Aoibheann after riding the Climax.

Aoibheann after riding the Climax.

Chillin in the lazy river :)

Chillin in the lazy river :)

I made it to 100!

Getting ready for my 100th dive!

Getting ready for my 100th dive!

Guess what?  I finally made it to 100 dives!  The tradition is to do your 100th dive naked, but I was assisting on an open water course with a very nice family and thought that might be a bit inappropriate 😉  So, the decision was made to wear fairy wings.  I felt like a princess underwater 😀  I think that everyone should dive in costumes all the time!  It was good fun and lots of pictures were taken, here are a few.

My fairy dive!

My fairy dive!


Guess who’s officially a divemaster?!?

DMTs Hardy's Challenge

DMTs Hardy’s Challenge

That’s right, I made it!  As of Sunday I am officially a PADI divemaster (along with Juliette and Hermie)!  During our weekly Sunday BBQ all the interns celebrated by what was dubbed the Hardy’s challenge.  What is the Hardy’s challenge you ask? The interns were placed in buddy teams and each person was given 100,000 rupiah to pick out the most ridiculous outfit possible for their buddy.  Not only did we get outfits, we got props.  All of this fabulousness (see above picture) ended up in Kuta dancing the night away.   It was perfect :)  Now for the next couple of weeks I will be working as a DM.  In August I move on to start my IDC!  Check back soon for more updates :)

Me dress for the the Hardy's Challenge

Me dress for the the Hardy’s Challenge

Divemaster Training: Guiding Workshops with Wayan and Ketut

Wayan and Ketut leading Guiding Workshops

One thing that makes Blue Season Bali really special is their local guides.  We have some guys on staff who have been diving in Bali for 10+ years!  They can tell you anything from reading the currents to finding local marine life.  A couple of days ago the divemaster interns were lucky enough to do a guiding workshop with Wayan and Ketut, 2 of our very experienced local guides.  They took us out to Nusa Penida and spent time teaching us how to read the currents, in what conditions we are likely to see Mola Molas, and good spots to find other local life such as pygmy seahorses and ornate ghost pipefish.  We had a great time and I feel really lucky to be gaining so much knowledge from these guys!

Chilly Penida

Jules and I all bundled up!

Jules and I all bundled up!

Brrrr, Mola season here in Bali means chilly water (which is a good thing because it means we see Molas)!   All the DMTs have been going on warm gear shopping sprees so we don’t freeze out in the water.  Check out Jules and I all bundled up :)

Divemaster Training: Specialties

Me, Aoibheann, and Lucy searching for Molas!

Me, Aoibheann, and Lucy searching for Molas!

Well it’s been another busy week at Blue Season Bali!  This week I knocked out 3 more specialties, including Project AWARE, Coral Reef Conservation, and the brand new Mola Mola Diver specialty created by our very own Stefan Schneider.  Let me fill you in on what these are all about.

First I learned all about Mola Molas, also known as the Oceanic Sunfish.  First, let me give you an idea of what a Mola Mola is.  These guys are huge!  They weigh around 2,000 lbs and can be up to 10 feet tall.  If you look at a Mola Mola straight on all you would really see is a thin line of a body with a large dorsal and anal fin.  But when they turn to the side they are gigantic!   They are quite funny looking and never close their large mouths.  Nusa Penida is one of the few places in the world where you can see them regularly.  They come up from the depths of the ocean to be cleaned and can be seen around 20 meters.  During this specialty we learned about the anatomy of the mola mola, it’s behavior patterns, and how to approach them in the wild.  I am excited to apply these new skills when I see one of these guys in real life!

Next we moved on to the Project AWARE and Coral Reef Conservation specialties.  We are really lucky because Blue Season Bali has their own marine biologist on staff, the extremely talented Niels Rijneveld.  But really, Niels is awesome.  Not only does he have ridiculous amounts of knowledge to share but he can make classroom learning fun.  I now know more about coral than I ever thought I would know, and it’s cool to be out in the ocean and have a more in depth understanding of one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth.

This week I am trying to finish up my divemaster studies.  Check back soon to see how it’s going!  Peace :)

Malaysia International Dive Expo

Blue Season Bali booth at MIDE

Blue Season Bali booth at MIDE

This week was very exciting!  I got to take a little trip outside Bali and head to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysia International Dive Exposition (MIDE). We spent 3 days promoting Blue Season Bali and meeting some wonderful people.  It was really cool to spend time at this event.  I have never seen so many divers in one place before!  I loved being able to talk to everyone about their experiences diving, where they were working, and just generally swapping stories about the things we all love.  I checked out lots of places to dive and am excited about setting up some upcoming dive trips.  And an extra bonus, I got to see the beautiful Jadelyn Goh, my best friend from college in San Francisco :)  What an awesome couple of days.  Thanks Blue Season Bali for taking me to MIDE!

Divemaster Training: Fish ID

Humpheads on the wreck

Can you name those fish?!? I can! Humphead Parrotfish.

We spent the last few days doing an overnight trip at Tulamben.  Tulamben is a diving area that is about 2.5 hours north of Sanur.  It is home to the USAT Liberty wreck, a 125 m ship that was beached after being hit by a Japanese torpedo during World War II and then pushed back into the water when Mt. Agung exploded in 1963.  Juliette and I joined Henley, Baz, and Tom MacKenzie on an overnight to assist them with some Advanced Open Water courses.  It was a lot of fun and great company!

We also completed our Fish ID specialty while we were there.  T-Mac and Henley spend a lot of time going through fish books and drawing pictures explaining to us how to identify different species of fish.  Then we completed 2 dives with out slates and wrote recorded all the different species that we could identify.  I learned a lot and am now much more comfortable identifying the fish I see while diving.  My new favorite, surgeon fish!



Chicken Attack!

Seraya Beach

Seraya Beach

Seraya.  One of my favorite dive sites.  A macro lovers dream.  The only bad thing about Seraya?  The chickens.  Seraya is beautiful.  When you arrive you set your gear down on tables in little huts on a deserted beach.  And then the chickens come.  They’re not so bad when you are gearing up.  But when lunch comes it is on.  They will do anything to get your food!  This one stole my chicken club sandwich.  Everyone else was rolling on the ground laughing.

The killer chickens.

The killer chickens.

Divemaster Training: Guiding Workshops

Guiding workshop with Baz and T-Mac

Guiding workshop with Baz and T-Mac

The last few days I have had the chance to work with the infamous Thomas Barret (Baz) and Thomas McKenzie doing guiding workshops.  Basically these workshops consist of them showing us good practices for guiding guests and then we have guide them around while they critique our skills.  I have learned a ton in the last few days, especially some tricks for spotting some cute macro critters like squat shrimp and various species of nudibranchs.  I have also learned how to predict diving conditions and judge currents.   I will be spending the next couple of days doing an overnight in Tulumban with these guys and am sure I will learn even more.  Check back in in a few days to see how it goes!

Divemaster Training: Mapping

Mapping Seraya

Working on a map of Seraya.

Today I worked on my mapping project for my divemaster training.  Juliette (another intern from New Jersey) and I worked together to map out a dive sight called Seraya.  Seraya is a muck diving site and is known for macro including lots of nudibranch, shrimp, crabs, and the occasional frog fish!  We spent a total of 4 dives writing down landmarks, distances, topography, sites of interest, marine life, depths, and other information about the dive site that would be helpful to someone who is diving there for the first time.    It was cool to take a closer look at the site while thinking about what types of information other divers would find useful.  I also enjoyed navigating the site by myself, it gave me a chance to apply the navigation skills I have been learning.


Diving at Padang Bai

Cuttlefish Swimming

Cuttlefish Swimming

Today was my best day diving so far!  It is amazing to me how ever dive here just gets better and better!   Today we went to an area called Padang Bali which is about half way between Sanur and Tulamben on the east coast of the island.  The first dive started out a little rough with a pretty strong current.  After the current passed the dive was incredible!!!  It was almost like the reef became even more alive after the rough waters.  I saw my first cuttlefish!!  This little guy was about a foot long and looked like an alien.  I was so intrigued by him that I spent about 10 minutes hoovering over him and just watching as he shifted colors.  Cuttlefish are part of the Chephalopoda family just like octopuses and squid.  They are usually from 15-25 cm long and can be up to 50 cm.  They live mostly in shallower waters but can go to depths of up to 600 m.  The coolest thing about cuttlefish is their ability to camouflage!  As they swim across the reef their skin changes to match their surrounding.  It is amazing how quickly and drastically they change.  Cuttlefish are also some of the most intelligent invertebrates.  When I was watching the fist cuttlefish we saw he was definitely watching me back!  You know when you get that feeling and know someone is looking at you?  We were making eye contact and I could just tell that he was thinking about me, it was awesome!  On our next dive we saw 2 more cuttlefish, a turtle (also a first for me!), a cow fish and a lot more cool nudibranchs.  This day was perfect :)

First dive in Padang Bai.

Very happy after our first dive in Padang Bai.

Divemaster Training: Peak Performance Buoyancy

Checking out a barrel sponge.

Checking out a barrel sponge.

I am moving through my divemaster program at Blue Season Bali and loving every second of it!  I am lucky enough to be taught by the talented Mr. Henley Spiers and it is the perfect mix of fun and learning.  In the last couple of days I have be signed off on quite a few skills.  Yesterday we took care of our Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty.  We spent 3 dives adjusting our weights, hovering, swimming through hoops, and practicing controlling our movements through breathing.  I now feel much more confidant with my buoyancy and feel more comfortable getting very close to things underwater.  This means that I am finding much more to see!


Gearing Up at Divemasters

The day I had been waiting for finally came.  I got my own Aqualung diving gear!  The staff at Divemasters opened up an hour early to give me first class service when I was choosing my new equipment.

Special Hours

VIP treatment at Divemasters.

When I walked into the store I felt like a little kid in a toy store!  I looked around and I couldn’t believe all the stuff I saw; I wanted to buy everything!   I started off looking at computers and decided to get a Suunto D4.

Looking at Dive Computers

Looking at the Suunto D4.

Next we moved onto BCDs.  I already had an idea about which one I wanted to buy so I tried on the Aqualung Pearl i3.  The Pearl i3 is special because it is designed for women, this makes it much more comfortable in the water.


Trying the Aqualung Pearl i3 BCD.

After that I moved on to regulators.  After a lot of thinking I decided to get an Aqualung Legend LX.  Everyone told me I would feel the difference breathing underwater.  I knew that it would be better than the regulators I had been using, but when I got in the water I was blown away at how easy it was.  Breathing out of this reg is almost easier than breathing normally!  I also decided to buy Aqualung Slingshot fins.  You can adjust the stiffness on these guys so it makes them compatible to many different diving conditions.

Slingshot Fins

Trying on my new Slingshot fins.

Once I got all the essential gear sorted I bought some extras including a dive knife, an extra mask, smb, and a torch.  Thanks Blue Season Bali for all this great stuff!!!

New Mask

Testing out my new mask.

Right now I am on a weekend trip diving in Tulamben.  We are doing 6 dives while we are here which gives me a chance to practice with my new equipment.  It’s always a little strange when you switch gear and takes some getting used to.  Hopefully with the help of Blue Season Bali I’ll soon be a scuba ninja.  I’ll let you all know how it goes!

World Ocean Day Beach Clean Up

Visiting Schools to Teach About Project Aware

Our Group for the Clean Up

My group for the beach clean up.

This week has been truly inspiring.  I took a couple days out of the water to participate in an educational outreach project and beach clean up with four independent schools from around Sanur.   On Wednesday I went with Holly from Crystal Divers to one of the schools to talk about Project Aware and the environmental problems they are combating, such as ocean debris and shark fining.  The students we were teaching were 3rd and 4th graders.  These kids were crazy smart!  They were really engaged and aware of the problems we are facing.  They asked tons of questions and came up with some great solutions to battle ocean debris.  Being back in the classroom reminded me how much I love working with kids.  It is so important to get the next generation thinking about the problems that our planet is facing.  These kids are already changing their habits and attitudes, which is what will really start to make a difference.

Beach Clean up with Sanur Schools

Collecting Data

The students weighing the trash they collected and recording the data to send to Project Aware.

After a week of educational outreach came the main event: a beach clean up at Mertaseri beach in Sanur.  There were 250 kids from Sanur independent schools helping the staff from Blue Season Bali and Crystal Divers clean up the beach.  We spend two hours picking up trash while the kids tallied the types of garbage we found so we could send the data to project aware.  We had all kinds of contests for the kids including who could pick up the most trash (we weighed the bags) and who could find the weirdest piece of garbage.  Everyone had a great time and spirits were high.

World Ocean Day Beach Clean Up

World Ocean Day Beach Clean Up

A night of FUNdraising for Project Aware

That night we had a fundraiser BBQ at Crystal Divers.  There were tons of different activates to raise money for Project Aware including silent auctions and a jail where you could pay to lock people up.  It was a great night with lots of laughing and dancing, and the best part is we raised $10,127 for Project Aware!

Stuck in Jail

Jon, Desi and Niels stuck in jail.

MANTAS!!! Swimming with Mantas with Blue Season Bali

Manta Sighting with Blue Season Bali

Today we were at Manta Point.  I was super excited to get into the water and when we did the visibility was great.  Usually it is a bit difficult to see at Manta Point due to the high amount of plankton in the water (which is part of what attracts the mantas), but not today!  We got in the water and could see a good 15 meters.  We started out Manta search and within 10 minutes we had spotted them!  We were lucky enough to see 2 giant manta rays swimming together.  And what was even better was that we were the only divers around.  Charlie got a great video of our Manta Ray Sighting.   It was the most magical experience.  The mantas look like giant birds flying underwater.  It makes you feel so small when you watch them.  As we continued the dive we got to see 3 more mantas making a total of 5!  What a great day :)


Becoming a Rescue Diver with Blue Season Bali

Rescue Diver Course: Day 1

Our instructor Niels and divemaster Dayne.

Our instructor Niels and divemaster Dayne.

I arrived at Blue Season Bali yesterday morning ready to start my rescue diver course.   For those of you who don’t know a certified Rescue Diver is someone who is trained to handle diving emergencies.  Becoming a rescue diver gives you the skills and knowledge that you will need to be a leader should you ever encounter a problem while diving.

Day 1 began in the classroom where we did some theory and completed our knowledge reviews.  This gave us the foundation that we needed to start practicing our skills.  We spend the next couple of hours in the pool practicing everything from approaching panicked divers in the water to surfacing an unconscious diver.  It was great practice and I found it more difficult than I expected to react quickly during the practice scenarios.

Rescue Diver Course: Day 2, Out in the Ocean

Day 2 was when the challenges really began.  We spent the day diving at Sanur and practicing all the skills that we had learned.  The idea is for you to experience as close as possible what it would feel like to be in a real situation.  With this in mind our instructor sends out divemasters Tegan and Dayne to play the victims.  We had to practice doing search patterns to find unconscious divers.  We also practiced surfacing them and giving them rescue breaths while towing them back to the boat.  It was a long day and super tiring but also really fun.  We really had to be on our toes, knowing that a diving emergency could happen any time.  Now I feel like a much more capable diver.  It is nice to know that I will know what I can do to help if an emergency should ever happen.

Soon to be rescue divers!

Soon to be rescue divers!

First Dives at Nusa Penida

Diving Nusa Penida: Manta Point

Me pretending to swim like a Manta Ray.

Me pretending to swim like a Manta Ray.

Today’s dives were amazing!  We headed out to Nusa Penida for my first time.  Since Penida is only about a 45-minute boat ride from Sanur beach we were lucky enough to get in 3 dives.  Our first dive was at Manta Point.  Manta Point attracts manta rays all year round due to the fact that the waters are rich with plankton on which the Mantas feed.  The Mantas are known to be friendly and often come very close to divers.  Unfortunately on this dive we didn’t see any Mantas, but I can’t wait to go back and go Manta searching again!

Charlie and Me fun diving :)

Charlie and Me fun diving :)

Crystal Bay Fun Dive

Our second dive was at Crystal Bay which is a shallow bay that drops off into a coral garden.  This is also the site that is famous for Mola Mola sightings (usually August-October).  The Giant Sunfish come to Crystal Bay to allow cleaner fish to peck away at their parasites.  My first dive at Crystal Bay was one of the most fun dives I have had so far!  Charlie (another DMT) and I had the chance to fun dive and just explore the reef.  We played around with our buoyancy and just took time to explore the reef in a relaxed manor.  It was awesome!  We also took a lot of silly pictures.

Sakenan: Drift Diving!

Me and Charlie on a drift dive.

Our third dive of the day was a drift dive at Sakenan.  This was my first drift dive so I was both excited and nervous.  Drift dives are great because it is very little work for the diver.  The dive boat will drop you into the water at one point and you will drift along the reef with the current.  When you reach the end of the dive you but up your safety marker buoy (SMB) and the boat will come and pick you up.  Piece of cake! When the dive started I found it a bit difficult to control my speed and buoyancy.  By the end of the dive I was much more comfortable.  It was awesome being able to drift along and look at all the reef life, I felt like on of the turtles in Finding Nemo!  At the end of the dive I had a chance to practice putting up my SMB.  It was a bit challenging at first but I got it up on my first try. That is something I am going to have to keep on practicing.  It is so incredible being here!  I am learning so many new things every day thanks to my teacher Henley and the crew at Blue Season Bali.  It is so cool studying something that I love so much, I don’t even mind waking up before 6 every morning!  I will be starting my rescue diver course next week.  Stay tuned and I will update you guys on how it goes.


A Trip to Paradise: Blue Season Bali at the Menjangan National Park

Beginning our Trip

It is almost impossible to describe the beauty of Menjangan in words.  This place is breathtaking!  We jumped in the Blue Season Bali van around 7 am and began the 4-hour drive up to the resort.  We stopped along the way to see some of the gorgeous scenery that northern Bali has to offer and also picked up our team mascot for the trip; a giant pink bear we named Mandy.

Henley and Mandy

Henley and Mandy admiring the view.

Day 1: Arriving to Menjangan Resort

Menjangan Resort

Menjangan Resort

When we got to Menjangan resort I was overwhelmed with how peaceful this place is.  There was a nice warm breeze and the only sounds you could hear where coming from the jungle.  We had a delicious buffet lunch and then checked into our rooms.  After getting all our stuff set up we headed down to the dive shop.  Our first task would be a beach clean up.  We split up and spent about 2 hours cleaning the beaches.  I was shocked by the amount of trash that had washed up on the shores in paradise.  People don’t think about the fact that all the trash they throw on the ground ends up the ocean.  We took notes of the types of trash we found and will send the data to Project Aware.

After finishing the clean up everyone was ready to get in the water.  We set off for a night dive in Bajul Bay with the goal of finding some Madarinfish.  Mandarinfish are small (up to 6 cm) neon colored fish that generally dwell in reefs.  Menjangan is special because it is a Mandarin fish breeding

The BSB crew after our first beach clean up.

The BSB crew after our first beach clean up.

ground.  Around 6 pm in the evening these guys pop out of the coral to get freaky for a few minutes.  And guess what?  We saw some!!  We arrived a little late so didn’t get to see the Mandarinfish above the coral but with some torches we were lucky enough to locate some inside.  These guys are very cute!


Day 2: Diving and Beach Clean Up

Sunrise on the Dock

Sunrise on the dock as we get ready for the days dives.

The next morning we headed out to Menjangan Island for some more diving.  Our first dive was at a site called Eel Garden and was a wall dive that reached about 40 meters.  The conditions of this dive were the best I have experienced so far!  The water temperature was 28 degree Celsius (82.5 Fahrenheit) when we jumped in and the visibility was 25+ meters.  The vibrancy of the reefs was incredible.  There were so many species of coral and fish that I was unable to keep track of what I was seeing.

After our first dive we went to Post 1 for another beach clean up.  This time we spent about 2 hours.  It is amazing what a few people can accomplish!  When we got to the beach it was covered in trash.  By the time we left it was clean.  It felt great leaving for our second dive and knowing that we had given something back to the ocean.  When we were loading the trash we picked up onto boats we met a local named Nono who has come up with his own project to combat the pollution we are seeing in our oceans.  Nono has started a project where he teaches locals to make handbags by recycling plastic waste.  This has a great impact in educating the local community because it not only brings awareness to problem of pollution but also provides a skill that local populations can use to support themselves.

Our second dive in Anchor Wreck had similar conditions. Because of the size and age of the ship all that is left of Anchor Wreck is a few poles.  The wreck is thought to have been an 1800’s trading vessel or possibly a slave ship that anchored at Menjangan and sank soon after.  To find the wreck you follow the anchor chain down and find the mast at about the 30 meters.  What surprised me about this dive was the amount of light you could see between 30-40 meters where wreck lies.  I am talking clear blue water!

Our second beach clean up.

Our second beach clean up.

As I hovered around 30 meters I could see all the way to the wreck as well as all the way up to the surface.  These are dream diving conditions!

Later that night we went to the local bar and had a barbeque and a few drinks.  It was really nice to spend some more time with the BSB crew.  I got to talk with people and find out more about them.  It’s a good feeling to be building a little family here.

Day 3: Final Dives and Saying Goodbye to Menjangan

Ready to go diving!

Ready to go diving!

Our final day at Menjangan was similar to the first two.  We woke up in the morning and went for a beautiful dive at Temple.  Next we went to the beach at Post 2 and spent another couple of hours cleaning.  After lunch we went on our final dive at a site called The Bat Cave.  When arriving to this site on the boat we could hear all the bats that were living in the cave (hence the name bat cave).  It was cool when we took a peak inside and saw that some caves had over 150 bats hanging from the walls.  During the dive we could even hear some of the bats underwater!  Conditions for the dives were just as great as the fist two days.  The water temperature was around 29 degrees Celsius and the visibility was 20+ meters.  On this dive I even got to see a big Moray Eel swimming which is something I hadn’t seen before.  It was a fantastic way to end an amazing weekend.  I feel so grateful to have spent such a peaceful weekend exploring the beauty that Bali has to offer.  I am already counting the days until I get another change to dive Menjangan!

My first Scuba Diving Certification at Blue Season Bali

I am on my way to becoming a rescue diver!

It has been a busy few days at Blue Season Bali!  I have officially started my training towards becoming a rescue diver and am now certified in EFR.  The course was way more fun than I anticipated!  We started the morning learning about primary response care.  I learned how to go through the cycle of care as a emergency responder.  As the day progressed “accidents” happened around the shop and we were in charge of handling the situation.  It was cool to get the chance to apply all the skills that I had learned.  Since the accidents were unexpected it felt a bit like a real situation forcing me to think of my feet.  After finishing the course I feel much more confident in my emergency response skills should I ever encounter a real emergency.


EFR Practice Scenario

Practicing saving lives!

Adventures around Bali

Today was my first day off.  My friends Erin and Charlie and I decided drive around the island on our scooters and do a little exploring.  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place!  We headed down south to Ulu Watu.  It took a little while to get used to the Bali roads the reward was worth it; we found some of the most stunning beaches I have ever seen!

First drive around Bali

Stuck in traffic during our first scooter adventure around Bali.

It was an incredible feeling driving on the scooter with the beautiful scenery in the background.  I felt so free.  The magic of this place is already showing itself and I can’t wait to spend more time exploring the Island of the Gods.  Once we got to the beach we spent the day swimming and relaxing.  Next time I will have to remember to bring my mask and snorkel.  After our day at the beach we stopped at a cute little island restaurant and had dinner.  It was the perfect day, the only thing that would have made it better would have been diving!

Beautiful Beaches

The first beach we found.


My dream dive: Menjangan

I am super excited about what is in store for me in the next few days.  Blue Season Bali is taking the interns and some instructors to the famous Menjangan Resort.  It is located on the northern part of the island in the West Bali National Park.  This place has world-class facilities to enjoy plus the diving is supposed to be some of best on the island! Menjangan is famous for having Bali’s most beautiful wall-diving. The walls descend to depths ranging from 20m – 60M+.  It is also the breeding grounds for Mandarin fish.  I am crossing my fingers that I get the chance to see some of theses beautiful little guys!  I’ll be gone for the next couple of days diving at Menjangan, but when I get back be ready for an update about how wonderful it was.  I am so excited I don’t think I will sleep tonight, this is even better than Christmas!!


My first days in Bali – Meeting the Blue Season Team

My first day in Bali

Well, I am finally here!  After about 24 hours of travel I reached Bali.  My first day was a bit of a blur.  I arrived in Bali at about noon on the 16th.  The BSB crew picked me up at the airport and brought me back the shop to meet everyone.  On the drive they gave me a nice little welcome packet that helped get me oriented.  It also had information about all the dive sights, which was super exciting to read!

After I met everyone in the shop the team brought me back to my accommodation.  I met some of the other interns who are living in the same home stay as I am.  They were nice enough to invite me to dinner and start to show me the ropes.  Afterwards we went out for a few drinks and I met some more of the BSB crew.  We went to the local hangout, a cute little bar with giant comfy beanbag chairs and live music.  First day in Bali was a total success!

My first dive in Bali

The next morning I got up bright and early and headed to the shop around 6 am for my first dives in Bali.  After the morning dive brief we jumped in the van and for the 2-hour drive to Seraya, our dive site for the day.  You all know that I am not a morning person, I passed out the entire drive, I think I might have even drooled a bit.  Seraya is known for its muck diving sights.  It is a stunning isolated beach where you can find everything from beautiful nudibranchs to blue spotted stingrays, to mimic octopi.  We entered the water from the beach, which was very different to the giant stride entry I am accustomed to.  I was nice to be able to walk right into the water and also made navigation a bit easier.

Check out this video taken before my first dive in Bali: First dive at Seraya

Muck diving was a really cool experience.  At first glance the site looks like boring brown sand.  When you look closer life starts to appear all around you like magic!  I saw all kinds of things that I have never seen before.  My favorites were the toby puffer fish and the shrimpgobies.  Shrimpgobies are really cool because they always come with a shrimp.  The shrimp digs out a hole while the goby protects it.  If a predator comes near the goby will dive into the hole and push the shrimp behind him.  They are cute little buddies!  I sat and watched a pair for a good 5 minutes.  Toby puffers are officially my new favorite fish, I might even start a “toby count” to see how many I can find during my stay here in Bali.  They are tiny little guys who range from about 1 ½- 5 inches in length.  They are really funny to watch because they swim around awkwardly so they look pretty silly.

Well, that’s what’s going on here in Bali.  I start my EFR and Rescue Diver courses on Sunday.  I will let you all know how those go!  I should also be getting an underwater camera soon so expect some pictures.

My journey to Bali – From Koh Tao to Blue Season Bali

Saying Goodbye to Thailand

The time has finally come for me to say goodbye to the land of smiles.  As I write this I am on a bus on the way to the airport in Phuket.  By noon tomorrow I will be starting my new life in Bali.  I couldn’t be more excited!!  So lets catch you up on my last week in Thailand.  I left Chiang Mai on the 12th.  It was hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful people in my life there.  I had made a lot of close friends and it is hard to leave not knowing when you will be able to see them again.  They sent me off in style with a wonderful weekend at the houseboats.

Next I went down to Koh Tao to visit all my friends at Sunshine Divers.  I am so grateful to them for showing me my passion.  I got to do some fun dives with some great people2.  It will be nice to have everyone come visit me at Blue Season Bali.  So now the final leg of the journey.  Chiang Mai- Bangkok- Koh Tao- Phuket- Bali!  I can’t wait.  Diving again this last few days reminded me again how much I love being under water.  I am so excited to be a student again and to be studying something I love with every fiber in my body!  Heading to Bali has me excited and nervous all at once.  It is bitter sweet leaving Thailand.  I have never been this happy about the next step in my life but it is always hard to move away from something you have become comfortable with.  Thailand has been a really personal journey for me and it will have its own special place in my heart.

What’s coming next?

As I write this I am on a ferry heading from Koh Tao to Surat Thani.  When I get to Surat Thani I will jump on a bus and take the 5 hour drive to Phuket.  From there I get to spend the night in the airport waiting for my 6 am flight.  ETA in Bali is 11:45 am.  The Blue Season Bali team is going to meet me at the airport and bring me to my new home.  I can’t wait to get there and settle in.  I’m going to sign off now, take some time to reflect on where my life has taken me in the last year and dream about what is in store for me in the next 7 months.  So many adventures await!

Here is a picture of me arriving at the airport, tired but happy!  Check back soon to read all about my first few days in Bali.

Arriving to Bali International Airport

Arriving to Bali International Airport

The excitement of moving to Bali for the best Dive Job in the World

As my date of departure for the Island of the Gods nears I am bubbling over with excitement!  Bali has started to consume my every thought.  There are so many things I am excited for.

The Diving

The first, and most obvious is the diving!  I have been dreaming of diving non-stop since the first time I sunk under the waves and now I am getting the chance to become a diving professional at an incredible dive shop!  Is there anything more exciting than that?!  Not likely.  I can’t wait to learn more specific skills (the one going through my mind at this moment is back finning) that will make me a much better diver.  When you find that thing that you are really passionate about you just can’t get enough!  Every little thing you learn inspires you.  I am excited to be challenging myself every day.  I can’t wait to experience all the wildlife that I will encounter.  Mola-molas, turtles, sharks, nudibranchs, manta rays, octopi, mandarin fish, the list could go on forever so I will have to stop here.  When I look back at this list it seems unreal that I will get the chance to experience all that life!  I am also excited about meeting everyone at Blue Season Bali!  I know that the staff there will become my family for my 7-month stay and I can’t wait to get to know each quirky personality.

Bali Island Life

One of the most exciting things about Bali is that the magic doesn’t only exist under the water.  The more I read about Bali the more enchanting it becomes.  It seems that magic is everywhere in this little paradise.  I can’t wait to see the beautiful rice fields and artsy cafés in Ubud, try to learn to surf in Kuta, visit Hindu temples, and experience Hindu festivals, and just kick back and relax with some locals.  I have heard that the Balinese are lovely!  They have a rich culture and everyone tells me they are more than happy to share it.  I can’t wait to be taken to people’s favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, dive bars, and their favorite secret viewpoint.  It is the day-to-day experiences in a new place that are the most exciting.  The things that you stumble into that you never thought could happen.  That is what I am the most excited for.  To become a part of Bali.

Well, I head off to Bali it 2 weeks!  Check out my next post hear about my journey there.


Preparing to move to Bali

Packing it in a 70 liter bag:

The task of moving to a new place is always daunting.  I am finishing up my last month or so of work.  I am officially finished on May 4.  I have already started thinking about all the things I need to prepare to head to Bali.  First off I need to find someone to take over my room in the house I live in.  It’s going to be sad to say goodbye but I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in Bali.  I already have my ticket booked, but it flies from Phuket, so I still need to figure out the logistics of getting from one side of Thailand to the other.  I will most likely head down south and visit some friends for a week before going to the Island of the Gods.  Of course I need to figure out my visa before I can get one the plane!  That means booking tickets, gathering documents, and generally making sure that I have everything in order.

One of the biggest challenges will be trying to fit my life into my 70L backpack.  I know, 70L sounds like a lot, but it is amazing how much stuff you can accumulate in a year!  So this means sorting, lots of sorting.  I am not very good at getting rid of things so this may require so help from my oh-so-dedicated friends.  Good thing I won’t need most of my “land” necessitates under the water.  Although the task of whittling your life down into the things that will fit into one backpack is daunting it is also cleansing.  We have so many things in like that we don’t need.  Our lives become filled with material clutter that seams important but in reality is unnecessary.  I was talking to my friend last night about the amazing freedom of moving to a new place.  It all starts with putting your whole life into that one backpack.  Being able to let go of all the junk that has piled up in your current life and move into the unknown with only the things you can carry on your back.  So here I come Bali, ready to start again, just me and my backpack.

I am so excited to be moving to Bali and there are so many reasons why.  Check out my next post to see just a few.

*  Well, I gave the backpack a good try.  Turns out with all my scuba gear I couldn’t fit it all into one bag.  One backpack and a suitcase, same thing right?



Marlies Tumolo – Best Dive Job in the World 2012 WINNER

Marlies Tumolo - Winner of the Best Dive Job in the World 2012

Marlies Tumolo - Winner of the Best Dive Job in the World 2012

It has been one year since we announced Kenzo Kiren as the winner of The Best Dive Job in the World 2011.  In the meantime, Kenzo has come and gone, having spent seven months with us fulfilling his dream of becoming a PADI scuba diving instructor.  We now look forward to welcoming Marlies Tumolo to Bali for a seven-month scuba diving internship as the grand prize winner of The Best Dive Job in the World 2012.

Choosing a winner this year was no easy task, and Jonathan and I have been discussing it for quite some time.  Like last year, we understand that this decision will have a big impact on someone’s life and while we wish the possibility existed to help everyone, it is just not an economic reality.  For those of you who have so positively influenced and participated in the contest, we’ll stay in touch with some special information about developments for next year’s contest.

It has been my personal pleasure to gain insight into the lives and personalities of you interesting people and I thank you for that opportunity.  Once again, I extend the gratitude of our entire family here at Blue Season Bali for your support and participation.

Please congratulate Marlies Tumolo as the winner of The Best Dive Job in the World 2012.

Sincere thanks,

Tom West
Jonathan Cross
Blue Season Bali

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