Bali Dive Travel in a Nutshell - The diversity of Bali above and below water, combined with a friendly local population, relatively low cost and a myriad of topside activities make Bali one of our favorite places in the world to visit, for diving or non-diving.
The question is not what can you see in Bali, but what can’t you see? Bali is not really the place for whale sharks or schools of hammerheads. Other than that, pretty much anything is possible.
Bali is one of the world’s top destinations for Mola mola and Manta Rays. The Molas and Mantas in Bali are big, huge, giant.
Going to the right dive sites and the right depths can consistently produce larger animals like Bumphead parrotfish, Napolean wrasse, Tuna, skittish reef sharks, schools of jacks, wobbegong, great barracuda, and trevally. Tulamben, the Gili islands and Nusa Penida all have spots for sightings of these animals.
There are very few indo-pacific macro critters that have not been found in Bali. Anilao and Lembeh offer slightly better critter diving, but with the right guide it can still be very good in Bali, and there are good critter sites in all of the major areas of Bali.
Water temperature: Temps are usually in the low 80’s, and a full 3mm wetsuit is recommended. In Nusa Penida there can be thermoclines that lower the temps into the 70’s.
Visibility: generally 30 – 70ft, sometimes more at Nusa Penida.
Depth Range: 5 - 40m
Bali Typical Dive - Balinese dive sites are almost always along the shore, or along one of the close smaller islands such as Tepekong, Mimpang, Biaha, Nusa Penida, or Lemborung. Boat sizes range from tiny jukongs that hold 2 divers, to larger speedboats that can hold 8-10 divers. Diver to guide ratios are generally small, and the guides are usually local Balinese divers. Dive sites range from walls to slopes, sandy to rocky, and include wreck dives, rubble, reef, black sand, and hard coral. Generally, you will find that most dive sites gradually drop in depth to well past 120ft deep, with prolific marine life at that depth and deeper. Since Bali has a large amount of marine life between 50 and 90ft depth, it is the perfect place to use nitrox. Most, but not all dive facilities will offer nitrox tanks. Bali offers some of the best shore diving in the world, particularly in the northeast areas of Tulamben and Amed. In fact, there is in general excellent diving all along the shore along the entire northern and eastern coasts, resulting in many, many new and unexplored dive sites.
Shore Diving - Bali offers some of the best shore diving in the world, particularly in the northeast areas of Tulamben and Amed. In fact, there is in general excellent diving all along the shore along the entire northern and eastern coasts, resulting in many, many new and unexplored dive sites.
TULAMBEN - Tulamben is home to the Liberty wreck, one of the most famous wrecks in the world. This is no ordinary wreck dive – it is a very large wreck, easily dove from shore, very shallow (20ft) at the top, deep at the bottom, with an amazing variety of big and small animals including resident bumphead parrotfish, a resident school of jacks, and a resident great barracuda. Other nearby dive sites are also excellent, including the famous “drop-off”, and the well known muck site “Seraya secrets”, in front of Scuba Seraya.
Liberty Wreck: The liberty wreck is enormous, and definitely deserves several dives. It is usually dove by shore. Super-strong Balinese women will carry your tank for you on their head, some times even with a child being held in their other arm. Once near the wreck, you enter the water over rocky pebbles. If you are wobbly with a big camera, your dive guide will often carry the camera in/out of the water for you. Sunrise dives at the wreck are the absolute best, and well-deserving of an early wake up call.
GILI ISLANDS - Not to be confused with the Gili Islands of Lombok, The gili islands (in Bali) consist of Tepekong, Mimpang, and Biaha. Fish life is prolific, and currents can be fierce, including dangerous downcurrents. Tepekong can have exception fish life and visibility, and when the current picks up the schooling fish are quite a show.
AMED / GILI SELANG - Amed is 30 minutes from Tulamben. Along the road from Tulamben to Selang, there are numerous dive sites with muck, macro, walls and healthy corals. Selang is a strong-current drift dive where hammerheads have been spotted before. Because of the currents, and where they can take you (far away), do not dive Selang unless you really trust your guide.
NUSA PENIDA - Nusa Penida is an island surrounded by fantastic dive sites full of healthy corals and healthy currents. Expect lots of fish, and some occasional big animals. One of Bali’s top dive sites, Crystal Bay is here, home to the Mola mola cleaning station. Currents can get strong, and divers have died here befoe.
PADANG BAI - Padang Bai is a quaint little village, and is also where you get the ferry to Lombok. Visitors looking for more upscale accommodation can stay in nearby Candidasa, but Padang Bai has a much more local feel to it. Local dive site have a great variety of fish and macro, and the Gili Islands and Nusa Penida are short to medium length speedboat rides away.
Secret Bay: The main dive site here is secret bay, a shallow muck site with many good critters such as bobbit worms and dragonets.
Mengangen Island: Mengagen is dove only by boat. It has very healthy corals and fish, although there is nothing particularly unique that you can find other places in Bali, except for less crowds.
Topside & Non-Diving Activities - Where to begin? Spend a day hiking through unbelievably photogenic rice paddies. Spend a day, a week, a month in Ubud eating at fabulous restaurants, and going to inexpensive spas. Stay in a beachfront cottage in a small village where you get to know all the locals within a few days, and look forward to their morning greetings of “Selamat Pagi!”. Buy a sarong, visit some temples, have a fisherman take you out at sunrise to see the fantastic colors of the fishing fleet boats. Do a night hike up a Volcano so you arrive to the top at sunrise. Hire a driver to take you around the island.
One word of advice – I often find that the further I get from the airport, the more I enjoy my time in Bali. For many people, the area near the airport including the touristy town of Kuta can be skipped entirely.
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah
Language: Most Balinese are bilingual if not trilingual (Indonesian, Balinese, English).
Main Airport Code: DPS
Time Zone: UTC +8
Electricity: 230 V 50 Hz
Vaccines: The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccines for Indonesia: typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, and influenza.
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