Bali

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Scuba Diving in Bali, Indonesia 

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Bali diving highlights

Scuba diving Bali is very diverse. Unique critters, interesting wrecks, beautiful corals, schools of tunas and barracudas, and bigger animals like mola molas and manta rays - Bali has it all. Bali divers flock to the island of Nusa Penida to dive with manta rays and mola molas. On the east and north coasts, divers may find many easy shore dives where the world-famous USAT Liberty shipwreck lies, interesting macro life, and great reefs and walls. 

The diversity of scuba diving in Bali combined with a friendly local population, relatively low cost and a myriad of topside activities make Bali one of our favorite places in Indonesia to travel to, for scuba divers and non-divers alike.

 

 

Intro to DIVING Bali

Bali is a small island in the country of Indonesia, and the only island where the population is primarily Hindu instead of Muslim. Bali is well known for extremely friendly people, excellent food, a wide range of accommodations at all price levels, and a significant number of specialized craftspeople making instruments out of teak, gold, silver, etc.

Bali also as extensive temples, volcanoes, beautiful rice patties, and countless other cultural gems. Underwater, you can find a plethora of big and small animals, ranging from mola molas and manta rays to tiny macro subjects. It is rare for a diver to visit Bali with a camera and not come home with many great photos.  

If you enjoy mixing diving with a cultural vacation, check out our guide to diving Papua New Guinea or Zanzibar, Tanzania & Kenya diving.

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Bali Underwater of Mola Mola

Footage of mantas and molas filmed in one day! 

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Bali Liveaboards & Dive Resorts

Scuba diving in Bali Indonesia is possible in many ways. Some divers choose a liveaboard option that does not just include Bali but extends their itinerary to other nearby destinations like Komodo. This way you can really get a taste of the Indonesian underwater world. If you prefer to stay put, then there are countless different dive resorts in Bali to choose from. You can choose to stay in a specific area or move around the island as the distances between places are relatively short.

Check out our Komodo Liveaboards, some of which also include Bali on their itinerary.

Interested in liveaboards? Let's help you get started with our Guide to Liveaboard DivingYou may also want to check out our list of the Best Liveaboard Destinations for Beginner Scuba Divers

 

Diving Information 

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Bali Marine Life & Photography Subjects

The question is not what can you see when diving 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.

Diving Alor is also a great place to spot mola mola.

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.

Here is a list of some of the marine animals you can likely see in Bali: 

  • Cuttlefish
  • Many nudibranchs
  • Seahorses
  • Octopus
  • Bobbit Worms
  • Frogfish
  • Ghost Pipefish
  • Sweetlips
  • Manta Rays
  • Reef Sharks
  • Mola Molas
  • Eels
  • Variety of Shrimp
  • Schooling fish

Jacks at 1:12, garden eels at 1:18


Diving Conditions

  • Water temperature: Bali waters are usually in the low 80 F (27 C), and a full 3mm wetsuit is recommended. In Nusa Penida, there can be thermoclines that lower the temperatures to 70F (21C).
  • Visibility: generally 30 – 70ft (9-21 meters), 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 Lembongan. 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. 

For more information, check out the recap of our trip to Bali and Lembeh here

 

Shore Diving

Bali diving offers some of the best shore dives 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.

[If you like shore diving, check out scuba diving in Bonaire.]

 

 

BALI's DIVE REGIONS & Best BALI Dive Sites

There are many different areas to choose from for scuba diving in Bali. Some of the best dive spots in Bali are located off the east coast of the main island, and of the two small Bali islands called Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. 

The northern coast of Bali, where Pemuteran and Menjangan Island are located, is also worth checking out, although you won't find as many dive sites and dive operators, and it could be more of a hassle to get there. In the following section, we have rounded up some of the best dive sites in Bali, in both east and northwest of Bali.

 

BALI'S BEST DIVE SPOTS

The top best dive sites in Bali. Pick a dive spot or read the entire list:

  1. 1. Tulamben, East Bali
  2. 2. Gili Islands, East Bali
  3. 3. Amed/Gili Selang, East Bali
  4. 4. Nusa Penida, East Bali
  5. 5. Padang Bai, East Bali
  6. 6. Secret Bay, Northwest Bali
  7. 7. Menjangan Island, Northwest Bali

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 world-famous muck site “Seraya secrets”, in front of Scuba Seraya.

Liberty Wreck: The liberty wreck is enormous, and definitely deserves several dives. It is usually dived by the shore. Super-strong Balinese women will carry your tank for you on their heads, sometimes 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 down currents. 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 before.

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. The local dive site has 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, in Pemuteran, a shallow muck diving site with many good critters such as bobbit worms and dragonets.

Menjangan Island: Part of the West Bali National Park, Menjangan is dived 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 fewer crowds. 

bali diving bali diving

Images by Bryan Chu

Top dive sites in Bali

1. USAT Liberty Wreck- The liberty wreck is enormous, and definitely deserves several dives. It is usually dived by the shore. Super-strong Balinese women will carry your tank for you on their heads, sometimes 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.

2. The Drop Off - Anyone interested in muck diving should not miss this dive site in Amed. It gives a great photography opportunity having black sand at the bottom and some unique-looking critters lurking around. You'll likely to spot some Pygmy Seahorses, ghost pipefish and lots of nudibranchs. The dive site also has generally easy conditions. 

3. Seraya Secrets - Also located in Amed, this is another great muck diving site with similar conditions as the aforementioned Drop Off. Seraya Secrets, though, is amazing for night dives. All the creatures become more alive and give you a magnificent underwater show at night. 

4. Manta Point - Imagine yourself peacefully floating in the water while being surrounded by gentle curious manta rays. That’s what you’ll get when diving the Manta Point located in Nusa Penida. Mantas come here due to the cleaning station and closely pass by the divers. The dive site itself is shallow but sometimes can have strong currents. 

5. Crystal Bay - Mola Molas are the main highlight that attracts scuba divers around the world to visit this dive site. The high season for seeing Mola Molas is from July to mid-November. Sometimes they are also spotted outside the season but generally, mola molas stay deep and don’t come close. Because of this and the strong currents, this dive site is recommended for experienced divers. 

6. Temple Garden - Many divers claim this as their favorite dive site in Northwest Bali, Pemuteran. The main reason is the unique underwater structures that are brought there for coral restoration. The structures are in all shapes and sizes and you can see many ancient underwater Balinese monuments. Soft coral has started to grow on the structures that also attract much fish to the location. 

7. Blue Lagoon - This is a great site for beginners, who have obtained their open water certificate, as the bay is protected and the coral is closer to the shore in shallower depths. Thus, the dive site has great conditions with no current and amazing visibility. Sometimes the Spanish Dancer Nudibranch can be spotted here among squids, frogfish, rays, and many other colorful marine animals. 

 bali diving manta point nusa penida bali

Images by Bryan Chu

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Travel Information 

Travel Information for Scuba Diving in Bali 

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How to Get to & AROUND Bali

From the United States: There are many international flights into Bali airport (DPS) available with a stop many major Asian cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Bangkok, and some cities in China. 

From Europe: The most common hubs for international flights from European countries are located in the Middle East. Some of the more popular air companies with flights into Bali are Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad and Turkish Airlines. 

Once you land and get through customs, you can be in Tulamben/Padang Bai in 90 minutes suiting up to dive. It's easy to get an official airport taxi upon arrival in Bali, but most dive resorts also offer to arrange an airport pick-up, either free of charge or with an additional cost. 

Getting Around: Most locals and long-term tourists are accustomed to riding a motorbike or scooter to get around. However, driving a scooter in Bali can be dangerous, if you're not used to the local way of driving. Grab, a similar service to Uber is available in Bali, but they'd usually refuse to go so far out of the city. We'd recommend sticking to the transfer options recommended by your dive operator or get an official taxi. 

 

How to Dive Bali

A popular term in Bali is “dive safari”. A dive safari means you stay in at least 2 different hotels, so you can dive in different areas. In our experience, your trip to Bali should involve at least 3 hotels – one in the Tulamben area, one on the east coast, and one in Ubud where stay for at least one night on your no-fly day. Aquamarine is one of the major tour operators with plenty of dive safari options to choose from.

Most dive resorts in East Bali offers dive tours/day trips to most of the Bali's top dive sites. So it's a great option to look into.

Moving hotels in Bali is painless, and you often don’t have to lift a finger. In addition, any drive in Bali is usually just 1 -2 hours and is extremely picturesque. If you feel compelled to do another location after Bali, Komodo would be the best choice, either by land or liveaboard.  

Find out more about dive resorts in Bali.

 

Best Time TO DiVE Bali

Bali diving conditions are pretty good all year round. But we believe that the best time to dive and visit is March-mid June and September-November. Bali gets packed in the summer months, and December to February is the rainy season which may affect visibility at most of the dive sites. 

Tulamben gets less rain than other places in Bali.

August to September is the season for mola molas (sunfish) in Nusa Penida. (2019 update: mola mola season has started shifting to earlier months for the past few years. Contact us for the latest update on the best time to dive for mola mola).

We think a great time to visit Bali is during their low season when there are fewer tourists. This corresponds to the months of March-May & October-November

 

Topside & Non-Diving Activities

What else can you do besides diving in Bali? Here is a list of ideas:

  • Spend a day hiking through unbelievably photogenic rice paddies. 
  • Spend a day, a week, a month in Ubud eating at fabulous restaurants, and going too inexpensive spas.
  • Join a yoga class or meditation retreat
  • Surf in the little beach/surf town called Canggu, 1 hour north of the airport, or if you're more of an advanced surfer head to the south of Bali in an area called Uluwatu, where surfers from around the world flock to catch the world-class waves.
  • 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 at 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. 
  • Do some snorkeling in Bali. Especially, if you have some non-diving family members, then snorkeling together is another option to enjoy Bali's beautiful marine life.

 

Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)
  • Language: Most Balinese are bilingual if not trilingual (Indonesian, Balinese, English).
  • Main Airport Code: Ngurah Rai Internation Airport in 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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Reviews (10)

5
5
5
5

I dove around Nusa Penida, a small island just under an hour boat ride from Bali. The diving was absolutely fantastic! I did the famous Manta Point. When we visited there were not so many boats around and the water was very clear. I counted like 6 mantas swimming around me at once. They were so beautiful and curious about our bubbles. The Manta Point dive site is all about the manta rays and otherwise, there is not much else to see. It is still completely worth diving there as you get some great close encounters with manta rays. We also went diving at some local reefs and visited dive sites like the Temple and Sental. The current was just perfect and not too strong so we could have a nice easy drift dive. I spotted several nudibranchs, triggerfish, napoleons, trumpet fish, and lots of other fish plus beautiful coral. Also, there were so many turtles just passing us constantly. And to make the dive even better, we saw dolphins from the boat on our way to de dive site and then again underwater while diving. I loved every moment and can recommend the destination to everybody.

Visited on 03/2020 - Submitted on 05/05/2021
5
5
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2

In late August/early September, 2011, I had the opportunity to dive in Tulamben, Bali. Overall, Tulamben is a great dive destination, and I have nothing but good things to say about scuba diving there.

The Diving: I spent my time largely focused on macro photography, which meant I stayed on the black sand sites such as Seraya Secrets for much of my trip. The critter life was good and some of the highlights included: large numbers of ghost pipefish, a wide variety of nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, pipefish, and a sawblade shrimp. Aside from the good macro life, the Liberty Wreck is not to be missed. It is filled with healthy coral life, and resident fish. The highlight of the trip for me was swimming with the large school of resident jacks (photo below).

Dive Value: for me the Liberty Wreck and its resident fish are great value. The diving is similarly priced to other areas of South East Asia, which provides good value.

The Diving Conditions: the diving is done in warm water (~80 degrees on most sites), and during my trip the visibility was fantastic (35 ft+) on the dive sites in Bali where it mattered, such as the Liberty Wreck. Scuba diving in Bali is certainly for all levels. Do note that the beach in front of the Liberty Wreck is a rock beach, and boots are a must.

I did not take the time to explore the topside activities, and so am unable to comment!

Visited on 08/2011 - Submitted on 02/04/2014
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5

I had the opportunity to visit Bali in July 2013. As far as the island itself, Bali is incredible! It is soaking with history, beauty, and culture - it is a really magical place. I'd highly recommend hiring a driver to take you a bit around the island to visit some of the temples, remote beaches, and other hidden places. The food on the island is absolutely terrific as well, and quite affordable.

As for the scuba diving in Bali, I had the opportunity of visiting Tulamben and doing the USS Liberty wreck, as well as Nusa Penida. The Liberty wreck is a very cool dive - neat wreck with some interesting features. Next to it is also a nice coral garden dive, where we saw black tip sharks, ribbon eel groves, and some really neat little critters including mantis shrimp. Nusa Penida was fantastic as well. We did two drift dives along some of the healthiest and most diverse coral I've ever seen. We also saw two very large mola molas, which I hear are quite common to see here.

Bali is a beautiful spot to spend some time above water, and definitely worth checking out for the underwater attractions as well. Recommended!

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
  • Top Reviewer
Los Angeles, CA
United States
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I loved diving Bali and found it to be one of the most diverse areas. It is my favorite dive location in the world.

I lived in Bali in 2008 and worked as a dive instructor. I was able to see many of the dive spots in Bali and live the dream. :) The scuba diving was cheap and plentiful, the locals were friendly and helpful, and the food is delicious! You have macro, you have large, you have drift dives and you have muck dives. You can easily get to wrecks to enjoy some great wreck diving, get deep, and dive shallow. There's truly something for every scuba diver and every level.

The water is warm (for the most part) but there are dive sites in Bali that are have cold currents flowing in from the Indian Ocean. Don't forget you are diving near one of the deepest trenches in the world. I mostly dove in my 2.5mm shorty or a 5mm full for the colder dive spots in Bali (Crystal Bay, Manta Point).

I recommend getting up to Tulamben. There you can dive the USAT Liberty and stay the night at the Paradise Hotel. This allows for night dives on the wreck and on their house reef. Other areas that are a must are Crystal Bay, Manta Point, or really anywhere around the Nusa Penida islands. The creatures you'll see are plentiful! We're talking nudis, mantas, sharks, all sorts of tropical fish (lionfish, triggerfish, parrotfish, etc). You can see large and small while diving in Bali.

My biggest (and only) gripe about Bali was the trash in the water. It's sad but there is a lot of rubbish in the water (cigarette butts, water bottles, fabric, etc). The Balinese do several religious ceremonies that involve temples being placed into the water. Most of these are made form plants and wrapped in fabric (which ends up in the ocean). The divers and dive operators are really aware of this situation and do much to clean up the areas but it's still a problem.

Some fun topside activities are going into Ubud for a relaxing escape from the bigger cities. You can go for a hike or rice patty walk, see religious dances, visit temples, or hit up a spa for a massage and milk flower bath. Be forewarned, the Balinese are not embarrassed by nudity and in the spas will have you strip down right there in front of them for your massage, bath, scrub, etc. But it's worth it! Or head to Kuta for surfing, club action and shopping.

Visited on 08/2008 - Submitted on 02/20/2014
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5

Bali is one of my favorite diving spots in Asia. The scuba diving is great and diverse, the topside attractions are numerous, and it has a wonderful laidback culture that makes it a joy to visit.

The best thing about diving in Bali is the diversity. It is a big island and the diving in each part of the island is different, so you can pick and choose what suits your interests. Personally, the diving highlights are, in no particular order:
- the chance to see mola molas and manta rays at Nusa Penida (not for beginners due to rough and unpredictable currents).
- the AMAZING wreck of the USAT Liberty in Tulamben.. This can be done as a (long) day trip from most parts of Bali, but to really enjoy it, stay in the area for a few of days and do some dawn dives on the wreck. It is covered in hard and soft coral and there are many fish that call it home (grouper, snapper, sweetlips, etc.).
- the black sand muck diving around Tulamben and Seraya. These areas are a macro photographers' heaven, with all manner of strange tiny critters like frogfish, seahorses, pipefish, cephalopods, crustaceans, and sea slugs.
- beautiful reefs that are easy to get to at Padang Bai. In addition to the typical reef fish, white tip and reef sharks and turtles roam the area.

Topside attractions are also great. There are a number of cultural landmarks such as temples, villages, and historical sites worth visiting. Biking down Mount Agung is one of the most fun topside activities. There are lots of other more laidback options, such as dining out, lounging by the beach, and going to the spa.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/24/2014

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