Likewise, a safety stop is recommended for every dive, a stop at Padang Bai on Bali is highly recommended. This small town serves not only as a port between the Island of Gods and other Indonesian destinations but also as a gateway to the wonders of the underwater world.
Among the main attractions is Mol Mola (Sunfish) which can be spotted at some of the dive sites.
Padang Bai is located in the south-eastern part of Bali. It has public ferry and fast speedboats connection with Gilis and Lombok. If you travel from Bali’s International Airport, a taxi trip will take you around 1 hour to get there. Padang Bai is also connected with other Bali’s destinations like Sanur, Candidasa, Lovina and Kuta by a shuttle bus service provided by Perama Company.
It is strange but true that despite intensive ferry and boats traffic as well as fewer reefs in comparison with other Bali’s sites this area provides quite a number of exciting dive spots. This is due to currents and colder water temperature which attract larger pelagic, sharks and rays.
Though some of the dive sites might be challenging due to strong currents, there are some great dive sites for beginners as well. They are located close to the shore and can be used for night dives and underwater photography.
Padang Bai is close to Gili Tepekong, Gili Biaha, and Mimpang, so it is also possible to take dive trips to these destinations for large pelagic and predators.
Best Dive Sites Overview
Blue Lagoon and Tanjung Sari
This is a famous dive spot in Padang Bai reachable by the boat within 5 minutes from Padang Bai Beach. The slope goes down to 30m (98ft.), so the average depth of the dive can be adapted according to the needed diving experience.
Blocks of corals and sandy bottom are full of fish and small inhabitants like Spanish Dancer and Nudibranch. You can also expect Octopus, Napoleon, Bluespotted Stingrays, Turtles, Morays, Lionfish, Cuttlefish,Sweetlips, and Whitetip Reef Shark. This place is great for photography and night dives. The best visibility is usually in the morning.
It is located next to White Sand Beach. A few very big table corals can be found here. Whitetip Reef Shark, Turtles, Triggerfish, and Squirrelfish are usually seen at Bias Tugel. From time to time, you can find Marbled Electric Ray on the sand.
This dive site is located within 5-minute transfer by the boat. The depth goes down to 30m (98ft.). Though it is not far from the shore, there can be medium and strong currents. However, the current attracts Whitetip Reef Sharks which are often found here. There are also many small caves and crevices where you can find sleeping sharks. Mola Mola visits this area when the water is rather cold.
Shark Cave (Biaha)
This dive site offers a beautiful rocky seascape with a coral reef full of soft and hard corals. The northern side is open to the currents which can be rather strong. The main predator here is Whitetip Reef Shark, while the other residents of the area are Barracudas, Leaf Scorpionfish, Angelfish, Nudibranchs, and Cuttlefish.
Tanjung Jepun (Wreck)
Tanjung Jepun consists of an artificial reef and a small wreck of a fishing boat at the depth of 17m (55ft.). It is great for photography and night dives as it is famous for a large number of Bluespotted Stingrays, Turtles, Frogfish, Crocodilefish, Porcupinefish, Cuttlefish, Pigmy Seahorse, Morays, and Whitetip Reef Shark. You can also see a tiny Catshark here.
Tepekong is located in Amuk Bay and it is recommended for experienced divers because of the turbulent current and large depth. The dive site offers walls and the Canyon. You can enjoy Morays and Leaf Scorpionfish on the reefs, Sweetlips, Butterflyfish, Bumphead Parrotfish, Angelfish, Batfish, and Unicornfish. When looking into the deep get ready to meet Whitetip Reef Shark, Tuna, Barracuda and occasional Mola Mola.
Best Dive Season
You can dive at Padang Bai all the year round though the visibility is usually better between April and November.
If you wish to see Mola Mola, then you’d better try to arrive at the Island in August and September. But be ready to face the colder water and rough sea due to the winds in these two months.
The average water temperature at Padang Bai is 28-29°C (82-84°F). Nevertheless, there can be some current coming from deep and bringing the water of 20°C (68°F).
Currents can become strong and even turbulent during the phase of a new moon in some of the dive spots.
The best visibility is usually seen between June and October when it reaches 25m (82ft.). Local dive clubs recommend diving early in the morning at Padang Bai as in the afternoon the sea tends to become rough.
Thanks to currents bringing plenty of nutrition Padang Bai is full of reef fish, pelagic fish, and Reef Sharks. Among the shark’s representatives, you can spot Whitetip Reef Shark, Blacktip Reef Shark, Nurse Shark, Carpet Shark, and Catshark.
Green Turtles and Rays inhabit the area. Mola Mola tends to visit the area as well. Among the most typical reef inhabitants, there can be found Nudibranchs, Spanish Dancer, Ghost Pipefish, Leaf Scorpionfish, Pygmy Seahorse, Zebra Crab, and Frogfish.
In Padang Bai there are fewer corals then in some other areas of Bali, however, the corals are in good shape and you can enjoy a variety of species including Anemones, Gorgonias, Staghorn Corals, and Table Corals.
Depending on your requirements and budget you can choose any type of accommodation in Padang Bai. If you wish to stay right next to a dive club, then it might be best to locate yourself at a Dive Resort.
Padang Bai Beach Resort
The Resort is integrated with Absolute Scuba Bali Dive Center. There are different types of Rooms with a terrace or a balcony and Bungalows. The resort has a direct access to the beach. There are water sports facilities on site, as well as a pool, Spa, and restaurant.
OK Divers Resort & SPA
This is a Resort built by OK Divers. Guests can be accommodated in 30 Rooms and Suites. There are a restaurant and Spa onsite. WiFi is provided for free in all areas.
Padang Bai Beach Homestay
This accommodation is integrated with Geko Dive Bali and they are located near Padang Bai Beach. You can stay at Garden Bungalows equipped with fans, air-conditioning, and free WiFi.
Black Pearl Villa
This three-bedroom Villa in Balinese style with a private pool is located 1.2km (0.7miles) from the Padang Bai Beach. It can accommodate up to 6 guests. You can enjoy an open terrace, a barbecue, and a garden. The staff can prepare meals at an additional charge.
Diving clubs at Padang Bai and other locations of Bali offer various dive safaris along with daily diving trips. A typical safari day includes a pick-up and a transfer to the dive site, 3 dives, lunch and refreshment drinks, return to the shore, equipment check, transfer back, and accommodation near the next diving destination. Some packages also include Balinese massage in the afternoon. The length of dive safari starts from 2 days and it can last up to 2 weeks depending on your request or it depends on the type of the chosen itinerary.
You can contact local dive clubs for more details, for example, Bali Diving, Geko Dive Bali, Bali Sunfish Safaris, and OK Divers.
Other Activities For Non-Divers
The best snorkeling at Padang Bai can be found in the northern part of Blue Lagoon. The reef starts in shallow waters there. At Bias Tugal, you can spot Green Turtles and Marbled Electric Ray close to the beach.
Pura Goa Lawah
This Bat Cave Temple is located about 10km (6 miles) from Padang Bai. It is one of the 9 Bali’s most important temples as it is supposed to defend the southern part of the Island from evil. Besides a bat made of gold and placed on the central doorway, you will find a cave full of real fruit bats there.