Bali is a rich and diverse land that is a must-visit for every diver regardless of experience level. It offers something for everyone both above and below the water’s surface and makes for an exceptional scuba diving holiday if travelling by liveaboard.
Bali’s underwater landscape includes magnificent coral gardens, sheer drops into beautiful blue waters, world-famous wrecks and of course an abundance of diverse marine life to top it all off.
Generally speaking, scuba diving in Bali is concentrated in three key locations – south, east and north east.
Dive Map of Bali
Dive sites in this region are well-suited for adventure-seeking divers who have already logged a decent number of dives and have good experience with stronger currents. These pristine sites tend to offer sightings of impressively large underwater creatures such as the famous Mola Mola or Oceanic Sunfish. Dive sites in southern Bali are easily accessible from Kuta, a popular area with tourists and divers alike.
Shore diving is extremely popular on the east coast of Bali, especially in the areas of Amed and Tulamben. Home to the well-known Liberty wreck, one of Bali’s most famous dive sites, the east coast also offers fantastic reef dive locations and muck diving opportunities.
North Eastern Bali
If you’re looking to escape the tourist traps of the south and east, a visit to the north east of Bali is unlikely to disappoint. Deep wall dive sites are plentiful around Menjangan Island and with medium to mild conditions and great visibility; it’s no wonder why divers of all experience levels try their luck at the numerous sites here. Although the reefs in shallower water have seen their share of difficulties what with bombing and storms, the reefs are gradually improving and the coral species are well on their way to fully restoring their health. Menjangan is within the proteted Bali Barat National Park.
Best Diving Destinations in Bali
One cannot discuss dive sites in Bali without mentioning the crème de la crème of wreck dives: the USS Liberty. Certainly one of the most well-known and sought-after wreck sites in Bali, the 120m wreck is only located 30 metres from the shore of Tulamben Beach and is easily accessible for all divers. Originally hit by a Japanese torpedo, the wreck later underwent a volcanic eruption before settling into its place at the bottom of the ocean floor. In addition to large schools of brightly coloured fish, divers can hope to see garden eels, parrot fish and angelfish within the wrecked ship that has a rich history certainly worth exploring.
For good visibility and the chance to watch the giant Mola Mola, head to the areas of Nusa Lembongang and Nusa Penida during the months of May to October. During this time the larger-than-life sunfish visit cleaning stations near the surface of the water and are often joined by giant manta rays looking to take advantage of this mass parasite removal process. Although visibility is generally very good, divers should be prepared for strong currents, difficult conditions and large fluctuations in water temperature as a result of thermoclines.
For muck diving enthusiasts, look no further than Amed and Tulamben. Critters such as the mimic octopus, pigmy seahorse and ghost pipefish may all be located within the iconic black sand of Bali, so be sure to have your camera at the ready to capture interesting-looking creatures.
Beautiful and exotic-looking mandarin fish come out to play just before sunset in the reefs surrounding the small town that is Pemuteran and are well-worth capturing on camera.
The Mermaid in Bali Video
Bali Dive Sites
Bali’s dive sites offer exceptional diving experiences for all levels. There are exciting drift dives and shallow bays teeming with marine life. Here are some brief summaries of a few of the popular dive sites.
The shipwrecked USA Liberty that was hit by a Japanese torpedo during World War II is near the beach at this site on Bali’s northeast coast. The ship rests at a depth of 3-29 meters and is covered with coral that is home to an extraordinary diversity of marine life. The wreck is easy to dive and can be snorkeled comfortably. Besides ship wreck diving, the three main sites located here on Bali’s northeast coast also offer shore diving, wall diving, night diving and deep diving. The bay at Tulamben receives rich plankton water from the ocean currents that move from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, providing a diverse underwater ecosystem.
This is one of the most recommended sites located on a small island in northwest Bali. It is part of the West Bali National Park, and only a limited number of divers are allowed each day. Jacques-Yves Cousteau said that this small island features more coral species than the whole Caribbean. There is a flat reef that extends about 20-30 meters before suddenly dropping to 30 meters, and there is a deep lagoon with a reef slope on the western end. The walls offer the best diversity of gorgonian fans in Bali that are full of fish. Turtles, barracudas, trevaily, batfish, parrotfish and groupers are home to this wall. Lucky divers can spot eagle rays, sunfish and even whale sharks.
Nusa Penida Island
This is the largest of three islands located off the southeast coast of Bali and has a steep reef with visibility of 20 meters. Currents can become strong and change directions so advanced diving experience is necessary. The slopes and drop offs are covered with varieties of soft and hard corals filled with reef fish. Big fish include manta rays, eagle rays, sharks giant turtles and sunfish.
This small fishing village on the northeast coast of Bali subsists on salt panning. Coral gardens start right off the beach where there are woodpiles used for salt extraction. The reef is a field of staghorn coral and big schools of glass fish, making it Bali’s best snorkeling spot. Outside Jemeluk Bay there are two dive sites reached by boat with fantastic coral formations. One of Amed’s dropoffs goes down 30 meters and is covered with soft coral. White and blacktip reef sharks patrol the area. A sandy field at a depth of 27 meters is a highlight. Dives here are very comfortable.
Macrophotographers are attracted to this site on the northwest tip of Bali. This is a shallow dive with no rich coral formations, but it is rich with rare marine species including nudibranches, dragonets, eels, seahorses, scorpion fish and frog fish.
Getting to Bali
Luckily for diving and travel enthusiasts, Bali is easy enough to get to. The international airport, Denspasar Airport, is a busy port that will allow travel into and out of Indonesia.
When to Visit Bali
Diving is possible year-round in Bali, however most divers will choose to visit during the months of May until November. Diving conditions do vary between the seasons, but divers can expect average water temperatures of 26°C to 30°C and air temperatures between 25°C and 35 °C. Visibility is generally in the range of 10-60m and currents can vary from non-existent to very strong depending on the location and tide.
Where to Stay in Bali
Many dive centers are based in Sanur, just a short drive from the main airport. These companies will offer packages such as diving safaris and trips. On the east coast, divers are spoilt for choice when it comes to dive resorts in Amed or Tulamben and should easily be able to find suitable accommodation and services for their diving adventure in Bali.
Feeling inspired and raring to go? Check out our Bali travel guide and start planning your next diving trip!