Country: Indonesia 

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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.

Intro to 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 significant numbers of specialized craftspeople making instruments, works 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 mola 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.  

Bali Underwater of Mola Mola

Footage of mantas and molas filmed in one day! 


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Diving Information 

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Bali Marine Life & Photography Subjects

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.

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

Diving Conditions

  • 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.



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, 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 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. 

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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

There are direct flights from most major Asian cities, like Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. Once you land and get through customs, you can be in Padang Bai in 90 minutes suiting up to dive.  


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. 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.  



Bali is diveable all year round. Dec/Jan is rainy season, and visibility may be down in some places because of run-off, but the marine life is still there. Tulamben gets less rain then other places in Bali. Aug/Sep is Mola-mola season, but Molas can be seen in other months also in the Gili Island / nusa penida area. We think a great to visit Bali is during their low season, when there are less tourists. This corresponds to the months of March - May & October - November


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.


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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • 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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Reviews (8)

  • Reviewer
Minneapolis, MN
United States

I did my Divemaster training and internship in Bali and have been coming back every year since! While the mola mola and manta cleaning station are the draw in the summer months (July/August), this is an excellent time to dive macro because everyone is...well...looking for mola mola! The Eastern side of Bali (Tulamben/Seraya region) is excellent for macro and muck diving photography. Mola are found at Nusa Penida. Mantas are generally at Manta Point. Amed has a lovely wall and lots of octopus. Padangbai is great for macro but the conditions are finicky so you really need to watch the moon cycle.

The only time you may want to consider NOT planning to dive in Bali is on Nyepi, the most holy Hindu holiday and day of silence for Balinese. Windows will be covered, shops will be closed, lights will be off, streets will be vacant and most people will be indoors in silence to celebrate this special quiet holiday. You can check the local calendar in advance for this and other annual holidays to ensure an active and enjoyable vacation that you will not soon forget!

Visited on 06/2017 - Submitted on 02/27/2018

June 2016: We did a "diving safari" . We were in Bali for 3 weeks, and dove the southern part of the island, eastern Bali and the Menjangan area. We stayed at the Watergarden in Candidasa (southwestern Bali), the Ocean View Tulamben in Tulamben, and the Mimpi in Menjangan. The food and service at the Watergarden were exceptional. We ate all our meals at the restaurant it was so good. The restaurant at the Ocean View needs improvement. Fortunately, the Safety Stop--a local hangout--is a 15 minute walk, and the food was awesome. At the Mimpi, there is only their restaurant. There is nothing to do at night at the Mimpi Menjangan. My wife did a monkey/temple tour, but otherwise, we were there to dive. However, there is topside sightseeing available.

Bali is very inexpensive. We ate huge meals, and the cost was about $25 U.S.

We did 2-3 dives/day. I hired a private spotter (u/w photography), and one accompanied my wife and 10 yr old son who just completed his Open Water diving.

There is both macro and wide angle opportunities. The most prolific macro dive was the Jetty. On a single dive, I saw 7 frogfish including a very large one freely swimming, two enormous stonefish, schooling catfish, octopus, cuttlefish, scorpionfish, demon stinger, etc. The fish are incredibly tame, likely due to the free food off the Jetty (it's a pier) plus the divers who visit.

The wide angle at Nusa Pineda and Menjangan was impressive. The Liberty wreck, especially in the mornings with the schooling Bumphead Parrotfish is not to be missed. Did one night dive on the wreck; it was ok. Did another night dive on the Biorock artificial reef in Menjangan--completely worthless. Puri Jata was a great muck dive, but we were an hour by van away from the dive sight. It would probably be a nice night dive. Secret Bay was just ok. Cold water. Touted as the "ultimate" muck dive, but I thought Puri Jata was much better. We did shore dives, jukung (the canoe type boats with outriggers), "wooden boats" (larger covered boats), and the larger fiberglass/fast boats. Great variety.

I would definitely do a repeat trip to Bai. We flew Korean Air from Dallas-Fort Worth non-stop, 14+ hours, brief layover in Seoul, then 8 hours to Dempasar, Bali. We had a VIP airport transfer process upon arrival that was well worth the $35 U.S. to expedite us through customs. Bring crisp $100 U.S. bills--best exchange rate, the guides gladly took these as tips.

June is the dry season. Not busy. Business picks up July 1, and continues to be busy until Christmas.

I wore a 5mm wetsuit and was comfortable. Some of the water temps were 77 degrees F, so a 5mm suit was nice.

Visited on 06/2016 - Submitted on 07/06/2016

Pemuteran: firstly you can take a boat from here to Menjangan for beautiful dives, there was lots of healthy coral, big pretty sea fans, lots of Denise Pygmy Seahorses, cleaning stations and a few white tip reef sharks. A good spot for non-diving friends to join for a snorkel too as it's very pretty in the shallows. My favourite dive here was Bat Caves. From Pemuteran beach you can dive the Biorock project where they use low voltage electrical current on artificial underwater structures to encourage growth of Corals, this in turn attracts other reef life. It is the largest and most successful Biorock reef restoration project in the world. The structures themselves were interesting - a turtle, some Hindu statues, bicycles etc and now there's quite a lot of marine life around exploring the structures. I did 2 night dives also here at Mandarin Point and saw lots of amazing Mandarin fish! Also sponge and decorator crabs, lots of different shrimp and nudibranchs, moray, baby boxfish and 2 different sea horses!

Conditions: dive from the shore when the tide is right, they took us in a bit of low tide and this combined with some waves meant the visibility was about 2 metres! I think it can be dived with a lot better visibility - it was still an interesting dive nonetheless and it made the structures look mysterious! The conditions for the night dives were good and calm. Menjangan we had about 15m visibility, not much current, very calm relaxed dives. As for land activities there: A 3 temples sit between the mountains and the sea. Pura Pulaki is the main temple in Pemuteran. It backs up against the hills and is home to a troop of non-aggressive monkeys. On the beach you will find the Turtle Hatchery at Reef Seen so you can find out about conservation and maybe see some being released. There are also waterfalls nearby and also you can horsehide along the beach.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 10/01/2014

Tulamben: home of the USAT Liberty shipwreck, Coral Garden and Drop Off. The wreck has a resident school of Bumphead Parrotfish often seen early morning, many Oriental Sweetlips, friendly surgeonfish, very tall garden eels, often a turtle, big grouper, Pygmy Seahorse, Lisa's Mantis Shrimp, sometimes a shark comes by, colourful nudibranchs and at night it's not uncommen to see a Spanish Dancer or two there along with many interesting shrimp, crabs and nudis! Dive conditions depend upon the time of year, May - June and September are good months with less wind and therefore smaller waves and better visability. July- August is busy season which also coincides with stronger winds and bigger waves. There is often a little bit of current around the wreck but nothing too hectic just make sure you give yourself enough time to get back. It is a shore dive 120m long wreck which lies just off the shore! You can stay in Tulamben or in Amed close by. Other sites in Tulamben are Coral Garden which has beautiful coral, chance to see octopus, nudis, shrimp and moray eels. At the Drop Off you may find a Leaf Scorpionfish, different types of Trigger and Pufferfish, Scorpionfish.. There are some pretty nudibranchs, moray eels, bluefin trevally and sometimes a Bumphead Parrotfish might come floating by..

On land you can go by bike or taxi to visit Pura Lempuyang temples (my favourite), with views of Mount Agung. Tirta Ganga the water palace is also beautiful to visit, it was once home to the King and is surrounded by bright green rice terraces, great for photos! You can hike the volcano Mount Agung over night and arrive at the summit by sunrise BEFORE diving of course. I recommend this for single travellers, couples, the whole family!

Visited on 06/2014 - Submitted on 10/01/2014

Bali is one of my favorite dive spots in Asia. The 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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