Ask any diver in Europe or the US to name their dream Asian diving destination, and chances are you will get the reply, ‘Bali’, from somebody who has actually been here and dived it. And that’s the point – Bali as a diving destination is too often unjustly overlooked. Yet those who have had the privilege of diving here know that in many respects underwater Bali is more than a match for many of its more talked-about neighbors.
The main underwater draw has is the sheer variety of marine life – the diversity of Bali’s reefs is virtually unsurpassable. An excellent example is the ‘Liberty’ shipwreck found at the sleepy village of Tulamben on the North East coast of Bali. At this one site alone there are estimated to be an amazing 400 species of reef fish living on the wreck, which is also visited by perhaps some 100 species of ocean-going fish.
Best Dive Sites in Bali
There are too many dive sites to mention them all on one page but one of the highlights of our trip was Tulamben. There you can find the wreck of the USS Liberty, torpedoed by the Japanese during the 2nd World War, which is home to some of the friendliest fish you’ve ever encountered. An amazing variety of marine life can be found there: spiralling schools of silver jack fish, surgeon fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, barracuda & many more. Though the waves can be strong at certain times of the year, the easy beach access allows for a quick entry and descent, and the fishes are guaranteed to be there to greet you.
Tulamben also boasts a great ‘drop off’ just brimming with all sorts of marine life. And just around the corner from this drop off is Batu Kelebit, a beautiful collection of steep, coral covered ridges that are separated by valleys of bright white sand. This site has ridges teeming with an abundance of marine flora and fauna, lots of coral, lush gorgonians, plenty of macro scale life as well as the larger pelagics. The ridges can exceed 60m/200ft here, so it’s important to watch your depth as you’re watching all the life around you.
Gili Tepekong is another good site visited by Bali Scuba. Even for the most experienced divers this site can be challenging due to the frequently unpredictable currents and surges, so it is definitely one for the experienced diver with an experienced guide. There is a wonderful swim-through leading out to Bali’s very own ‘blue hole’, a massive wall, as well as extraordinary coral structures. The vast variety of marine life includes turtles, lionfish, scorpionfish, triggerfish and boxfish. Chris from Bali Scuba mentioned he finds sharks there 75% of the time.
They also took us to Padang Bai. The first dive was at Jepun, which is a wonderful sloping coral with a rich variety of fishes. Again sharks are common as well as octopus and cuttlefish. The second dive was Blue Lagoon, where the water is crystal clear & calm, the corals are healthy and full of color, and the fishes are unbelievable.
We didn’t see it on our trip but the most amazing visitor to Bali has to be the Mola-mola (Oceanic Sunfish). This massive beast is in fact the world’s largest bony fish, sometimes reaching up to 3m. Luckily, it’s completely harmless. Usually living in the depths well beyond the range of divers it can sometimes be seen in the 15-30m range near to Bali due to the deep ocean currents running through there. The best time is August to October, the best place is Nusa Penida.
Dive with Bali Scuba, located in the heart of the tourist triangle of Sanur/Nusa Dua/Kuta. The guys in this friendly owner-operated dive shop will take you diving to any of the sites in Bali, as well as the nearby island of Nusa Penida. They offer courses too all the way up to PADI Divemaster.
Bali Scuba takes care of all transport from the lobby of your hotel to the dive site and back again, all diving arrangements, equipment loading and cleaning, lunch and drinks. They can even book your accommodation. You just need to dive and enjoy.
When to Visit Bali
Bali can be dived all year round with a few minor restrictions. The very best times to dive are from mid-March to May, then from mid-September to November. Summer is also a great time to visit. Menjangan in the West of the Island tends to suffer from big waves during the rainy season from December to February so is best avoided then.
Getting to Bali
Getting to Bali is easy. The international airport in Denpasar must be one of the most convenient in the world – just 10 or 15 minutes from the main tourist areas. It’s serviced by most major international airlines.
Bali has numerous options in accommodation from the luxurious five star hotels to smaller budget accommodations, so finding a room that suits your taste shouldn’t be a problem at all.