Everyone always says that becoming a divemaster is the most challenging yet rewarding experience a diver can do. I started the Indo Ocean conservation divemaster internship only two weeks ago, and I can totally confirm this already! If you are thinking of doing this program, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions! I hope this article can answer most of them and give you an idea of what to expect.

But first, let me introduce myself – Hi, I’m Daria, and I’m currently an intern with Indo Ocean Project (IOP) on Nusa Penida. So let’s get straight into it!


To state the obvious, unfortunately we are still living through a pandemic, which makes travelling a little more difficult. Border regulations are constantly getting updated, and it’s hard to keep up with all the changes. However, when your start date is nearing you will be added into the IOP Standby WhatsApp group where the IOP staff keep you updated with all new regulations. They usually have a better overview on what is happening and changing in Indonesia, so it does make your life a lot easier! 

Arriving in Indonesia

After your long and hopefully pleasant flight, your first stop will most likely be Jakarta, where you will have to quarantine. We all miss the time when you could arrive in a new country, walk through immigration, and that was it. Well, at the moment, there are a few more steps that you will have to go through. I will break them down for you, so you know exactly what to expect at Jakarta Airport. 

Documents you will need

As you probably already know, there is a list of documents that you have to prepare to be able to enter Indonesia: 

  • Covid Vaccination Pass
  • Visa
  • Negative PCR Test (at least 72h prior to departure)
  • Filled out EHAC & QR code (download PeduliLindungi App for that)
  • Quarantine Hotel QR Code
  • Outward flight from Indonesia

I strongly advise having everything printed out, as it will save you a lot of time. If you don’t have this option, then I’d suggest taking screenshots of everything and have all the documents in one folder on your phone. This way, you won’t waste any time looking for documents or waiting for them to load up. 

Jakarta Airport procedures

Once you have landed in Jakarta, you will proceed into a dedicated area where the airport staff will check your passport, your boarding pass, and where you flew from. They will then give you a paper with your personal QR code, which you will need to proceed into the next areas. 

Once you have your QR code, you walk to the next queue, where your vaccination pass and the negative test will get validated. 

The next point will be the validation of your quarantine hotel as well as taking the PCR test. Throughout all areas, they will scan the information onto your personal QR code.

And finally, you will get to immigration, where they will check your passport and visa, as well as ask you a few questions. From my experience, if you show them the invitation letter from IOP, they won’t ask you anything. 

After you’ve done all those steps, you can finally enter the country and pick up your luggage. When you are on your way out, there will be a staff member from your quarantine hotel waiting for you. They will then take your passport and organise a car to your hotel.

Don’t worry, I know it all sounds like a lot, but it’s actually easy and very well-organised. All you have to do is, literally, just walk through and show your documents! The key is just to have everything ready to go!


You are finally in Indonesia! Just a few days in the quarantine hotel and then you can begin your divemaster! 

Personally, I had to quarantine for 7 days, but it might be different for you depending on the restrictions. I won’t talk too much about it, as you probably want to get to the fun stuff by now. 

Basically, you’re not allowed to leave your room for anything except for the PCR test. All the food will be brought to your room and the laundry will be done for you.

So make sure you’ve got some good movies to watch, relax, maybe use the time to learn some Indonesian or study for your fish ID test! At least, that’s what I did.

Getting to Nusa Penida

After the quarantine, you can finally take your flight to Bali, where Michaela (IOPs admin star) will have already organised your transfer to Penida. You will just have to send her your flight details prior to departure. The domestic flight is a lot less complicated, and all you’ll need is a negative PCR test (which will be done at the quarantine hotel) and a new EHAC form for domestic travel.

When you land in Bali, a driver will pick you up and take you to Sanur, where you’ll board the boat to Nusa Penida. Depending on what time you’ll land, you might have to spend one night in Bali first. But if you take an early enough flight from Jakarta to Denpasar (Bali’s airport), you will definitely be able to catch a boat on the same day. 

Once your boat arrives in Penida, you’ll be picked up by Imam from Namaste and taken to your beautiful bungalow, which you’ll call home for the next few months! 

And that’s it, you’re now in paradise and the adventure can begin! 

 Nusa Penida Island

Nusa Penida is a beautiful small island located just a 40-minute boat ride off the coast of Bali. It’s famous for its stunning cliff views and crystal clear beaches. The easiest way to get around the island is by renting a scooter. The monthly price ranges from 800k – 1,5 Million IDR (55-100 USD).

During the internship, you’ll have one day off each week when you can explore the island with other interns or just relax at one of the beach bars. Penida surely offers a list of places to explore in our free time like Kelingking Beach, Diamond Beach, Tembeling and lots of traditional Balinese temples.

There is also a huge selection of different cuisines. You can find anything from local Nasi Goreng (fried rice), to Pizza, Pasta, Burgers, Sushi or basically everything you need. The price ranges from 20k IDR (1.40 USD) for local food up to 100k IDR (7 USD) for western food, so every budget is covered here. 

When you arrive, the other interns will probably show you around, but just to give you an overview of our current favourites: 

  • Penida Colada (western)
  • Secret Penida (western)
  • Mosawi (local)
  • Oregano (local)
  • Surabaya (local)
  • Wyn’s Cafe (western & local)
  • Sunny’s Cafe (western & local)
  • BaBar (western)
  • Kitchen Steak (western & local)
  • Amok Sunset (western & local & AMAZING view)

The locals on the island are the friendliest people you will ever meet, and soon you will know many of them by name in this beautiful and welcoming little community. 

 Conservation Divemaster Internship

Let’s get to the exciting part – the start of your divemaster internship! 

You will meet a lot of new people, interns and staff, in your first few days. It is very exciting to be able to get to know so many individuals who share the same passion for the ocean as you. 

You will arrive at Penida Project’s base – Reeflex Divers. As the project doesn’t actually own or operate any boats, it is important for them to partner up with a local dive shop to accommodate their needs. The owners, Roman and Harry, are both very knowledgeable divers and if you ever have any technical questions about the equipment or diving, they are always happy to help. Reeflex divers is a great partner, with a lot of space and classrooms for the workshops, as well as a beautiful natural pool available. It is located just a five-minute drive from Crystal Bay, where we often do shore dives from. 

The first day will be purely admin and introduction. Michaela will do a ‘Welcome workshop’ with you where she will talk about the origins of Indo Ocean Project, the people who work there, the island and just some of the things that you should know. Some paperwork will follow and if you don’t have your own full set of gear, you will be assigned the necessary equipment and your space within the store room. Jump in the natural swimming pool for a refresher course before being let loose on the ocean. It is worth mentioning that you can start the program from any level. Some people arrive here who have already completed their Advanced Open Water or Rescue Course, while some are doing the ‘zero to hero’, which is basically starting from zero experience and going up to divemaster.

And of course, you will meet Serena, the program director of Indo Ocean and the biggest shark lover on this planet! Once you have completed your diving courses up to rescue she will give you an introduction into the divemaster program and an overview of everything that you will have to accomplish within the next months. I found this workshop very useful, to actually get an idea of what I will need to do to earn my divemaster certificate, for example the stamina test, lead dives, two theory exams etc..

During the course of your internship, you can expect to be involved in lots of amazing conservation activities, which will give you hands-on experience in this field. You will have a schedule that is a combination of fun diving, assisting courses, survey diving and different kinds of workshops. The idea behind the workshops is that you learn everything in theory first, so you know exactly what you need to do when you’re in the water. The workshops are super fun and cover topics like shark and turtle conservation, manta rays, coral restoration, mangroves and the BRUV (baited remote underwater video), just to give you a few examples. 

The program is very intense, and your days will be packed with lots of activities, but it is truly a once in a lifetime experience!

Diving in Penida

You’ve probably been waiting for this one, so let me tell you about diving in Nusa Penida!

Located within the Coral Triangle, the waters of Indonesia are buzzing with marine biodiversity. Beautiful and healthy coral reefs cover the seafloor in Nusa Penida and create a habitat for thousands of different species.

Penida is famous for diving with the manta rays and the giant Mola (sunfish). I wasn’t lucky enough to meet a Mola yet, but as for the manta rays, I can confirm, it is incredible! Recently I had my first dive at Manta Point, which is a dive site south of Penida where I was blessed with the presence of those gentle giants. But of course there are also lots of turtles, moray eels, nudibranchs, colourful corals, trevallies and so much more!

As you may have heard, Nusa Penida is also famous for its currents, so if you are a fan of drift dives, you will be in the right place here. And if not, well, you will learn to love it, because there are always lots of marine life when the current is moving. Once you do your divemaster in conditions like Penida, be sure that you’ll be able to dive effortlessly anywhere in the world. 

 To sum everything up…

So far, my experience with Indo Ocean Project has been awesome, and the island life is amazing! I am learning so much every single day, and finally I can be involved in marine conservation, which I wanted to do for a very long time. 

This divemaster program is for everyone who is interested in more than just being a dive guide. It is about being involved in preserving, restoring, and protecting our oceans..

I hope that this article gives you an overview of what you have to go through after your application, an idea of the island and of the internship itself. 

The next step is on you! See you in paradise!

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