Bali is a land of lovely flowers, majestic mountains, fringing coral reefs, undulating rice fields, beaches of white sand in the south, and beaches of black sand in the north. It is dotted with dive sites from one end to the other, with drift diving sites in Nusa Penida on its southern side to a range of reefs on its north-western side. Facilities for scuba diving, surfing, and an array of water sports attract tourists to Bali from all over the world.
Location of Bali
The island of Bali is part of the island country of Indonesia with the islands Lombok and Java on its eastern and western sides respectively. The Bali Strait separates Java and Bali. Bali is situated at the western end of Lesser Sunda Islands and is part of its northern archipelago. It is a volcanic island and is very fertile.
Why Do Divers Choose Bali?
Bali is a divers’ paradise and the most popular among Indonesia’s tourist destinations. Many things have contributed to Bali’s popularity among tourists.
- Bali has a wide range of dive sites that cater to the needs of all types of divers. Dive sites like Buyuk in Nusa Penida, Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai, Coral Gardens in Tulamben etc. are easy spots suitable for beginners, while Gili Selang in Amed, Ped in Nusa Penida etc. are challenging spots suitable for advanced divers.
- There are all types of dive sites for wreck, wall, drift, muck, cave, deep, and bay diving that will expose you to a boundless variety of sea creatures.
- People of Bali are artistic and entertaining by nature, and make good hosts.
- Many Balinese are bilingual or trilingual (Indonesian, Balinese, and English), and everyone connected with the tourism industry have a working knowledge of English. There are tourist guides who speak Russian, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese etc. and restaurant menus are in English. As such, language is never a problem in Bali for tourists.
- Reaching Bali is easy since it is directly connected to cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, etc. and is well connected to other cities in Indonesia.
- With year-round temperature at an average of 30°C, Bali is never cold or extremely hot.
- Accommodation is aplenty in Bali.
What You Can Do in Bali
Bali’s dive sites are awesome. You can dive with sharks, swim with mantas, explore wrecks, and photograph dogtooth tunas. However, Bali is much more than just diving. It has many natural, cultural, spiritual, and historical articles of interest for tourists. Given below is a list of some of them.
- Tanah Lot temple in Bali sits on a big rock surrounded by the sea. There are many smaller shrines on the shore near it, and also a park that hosts dance programs.
- Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali, the 5-star resort near the temple, has an 18-hole golf course.
- Another temple, Uluwatu, in Bukit Peninsula, is perched upon a cliff. There is a monkey forest nearby, and an amphitheatre where fire dances take place.
- The brilliant green terraced rice fields of Ubud are a sight to behold, and so is Ubud’s art market from where you can buy souvenirs. There is a monkey forest in Ubud too.
- The active volcano Mount Batur with its concentric volcanic craters is a major tourist attraction. Early morning treks to the top of Mount Batur are immensely popular.
- The animal-themed Bali Safari & Marine Park, animal talent shows, Elephant Safari Park where you can ride on elephants, and Elephant Cave through which you have to descend, are some of the other attractions.
- ‘Bali Seawalker’, an arrangement to see underwater marine life without diving, Turtle Conservation and Education Centre, Le Mayeur Museum, Blanjong Inscription, and open-air Griya Santrian Gallery are Sanur’s prime attractions.
- The Liberty Wreck and massage parlours are Talamben’s claim to fame, while West Bali National Park and Dolphin Watching boat trips are Pemutaran’s.
- There are many temples in Padang Bai and one at a height of 25 m above sea level. Here you can also see original Balinese villages like Tenganan and the remains of Klungkung Royal Palace.
- Banah Cliffs, traditional weaving centres, snorkelling spots, and the temple Goa Karangsari, the entrance of which is so small that you have to crawl through it, are in Nusa Penida.
- Bali’s nightlife is designed for a wide cross section of the tourists. There are beach clubs, sunset cruises, theatre shows, rooftop bars, and grand night clubs with live DJs, bands, cabarets, and karaoke rooms. Sanur, Denpasar, and Kuta have very active night markets with a variety of dining options.
Scuba Diving in Bali
One of the most beautiful islands in the world and Indonesia’s most popular diving holiday destination, the island of Bali, never fails to attract the visit from many tourists all around the globe. Finding the attraction of good shore-based diving set against a stunning back drop of huge, magnificent volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces while diving in Bali is simply irresistible. There are quite a lot of diving sites in Bali. Below are some of the dive sites available there.
Take a boat and travel about 10 minutes from Tanjung Benoa or Nusa Dua, and you will be rewarded by colorful coral fish, gigantic table coral and soft corals growing on the mile long barrier reef. Nusa Dua is a diving site that is ideal for both beginner and experienced divers.
Tanjung Benoa is a very popular water games area for tourists. This area is still in the tourist area of Nusa Dua. From the direction of Kuta, it can be reached by only 20-30 minutes driving. While can only submerge until the maximum depth of 6 meters, divers can see the beautiful coral reefs while feeding the fish under the sea.
Take a dive onto the incredible US Liberty Wreck and witness the fantastic array of corals and marine life that have made the 120 m structure their home in the water of Tulamben. With numerous Boat Dives, Shore Dives, and an array of macro life that is very hard to compare to anywhere in the region along with fantastic night dives, Tulamben has something for divers of all levels and interests.
The dive site of Sanur lies approximately 300 m off shore from the famous Sanur beach that you could visit by taking a short ride with jukung or small boat. Three named dive sites that exist at the reef in front of Sanur, which are “Channel Point”, “Penjor Reef” and “Jeladi Wilis” offer a bit different bottom composition. Although there is a lot of marine life to see, sometimes the underwater visibility can be a challenge and the current depends on the tides. This site is ideal for beginner and experienced divers who seek adventure not too far from civilization.
Amed is a small village in the northeast coastal region of Bali, with dry volcanic rock ridges along its coastline. It is about 10 km south of Tulamben Bay, at Culik regency. This place offers four different diving sites, which are Uyah Reef and Cemeluk Reef in Cemeluk Bay, Bunutan Reef and Lipah Reef in the farther east.
This area is popular for the Manta Point, the Mola-mola interaction, and the live boat drift dive experiences, for which the region is now world renowned. There are a total of 15 dive sites here that offer a terrific variety of diving for all levels of participants, and some sites that are suitable only for experienced divers. Early morning departures to Manta Point and carefully timed drops on the Mola-mola cleaning stations are seasonal highlights.
There are other recommended dive sites in Bali as well such as Candidasa, Kuta, Nusa Penida, Menjangan, Amuk Bay, Gili Selang, Padang Bay, Secret Bay, Puri Jati, Kubu, and Gili Tepekong.
Best Time to Visit Bali
Bali has a wet season and a dry season, and the dry one, from April to September, is the right time for visiting. During the dry season, the days are bright and sunny, weather is not humid, and showers, if at all, are infrequent. The rainy season from October to March is marked by short bursts of rain, but the days remain sunny most of the time. Torrential rains are rare in Bali so that you can visit during the wet season as well.
The peak season is from June to September, which is the holiday season in most western countries. Beaches are crowded during Christmas and Ramadan holidays as well.
Best Dive Season
You can dive in Bali throughout the year. However, September to November is the best season for diving, while April to June too is okay. December is reasonably good, but January to March is less suitable. For those keen on swimming with the sunfish (Mola Mola), August and September are the best because it is then that they are seen in Padang Bai and Lembongan. In Nusa Penida the diving season is from April till November and the peak season is from June till October.
Where to Stay in Bali
Bali has a range of accommodation to suit everyone’s pockets. Most of these accommodations are attached to dive centres. Given below are the details of some of these dive centres.
Crystal Divers is a PADI 5-star dive resort in Sanur, situated at a distance of half-an-hour drive from Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport near Denpasar. It has its own 18-room hotel with restaurant, swimming pool, and sun-beds. The resort has received ‘Go Green’ accreditation in recognition of their work for marine life conservation. The dive centre offers beginners’ courses, advanced courses, and PADI instructor courses. The dive safety record of Crystal Divers has been 100% for the 20 years they have been in business.
This 5-star PADI certified IDC (Instructor Development Centre) has been functioning since 1996. It offers many diving courses like Dive Master, Rescue Diver, Advanced Open Water, and Open Water, besides guiding tourists in underwater photography, navigation, wreck diving, deep diving, night diving, naturalist dive, and Nitrox. Atlantis has very experienced diving instructors who can speak French, German, and English besides Indonesian languages. It is French-owned and is listed in the French Federation of Underwater Studies and Sports. Atlantis also organizes land safaris, and picks up and drops off divers at their respective hotels.
Liberty Dive Resort
Liberty Dive Resort, situated in Tulamben, is near the popular wreck diving site of wrecked USAT Liberty, a cargo ship of the US Army torpedoed during the Second World War. The resort has 32 air-conditioned rooms, categorized into Standard rooms, Deluxe rooms, Family rooms, Standard Garden cottages, Deluxe Garden cottages, Family Garden cottages, Luxury Garden cottages, and Deluxe Family villa. There are swimming pools, open-air restaurant, tea/coffee-making facilities in rooms, a front desk that operates round-the-clock, and a dive shop well-stocked with diving equipment. Nitrox is offered free for those trained to use it.
Tulamben Wreck Divers Resort (3 star)
Tulamben Wreck Divers Resort is situated at a distance of 21⁄2 hours’ drive from Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport. The resort has parking facility, two outdoor pools, garden, sun terrace, and a restaurant. The double-occupancy rooms are categorized into Standard Double room, Superior Double room, and Beach Front villa, and have AC, minibar, TV, Wi-Fi, room service, and in-room massage provision. Besides diving, hiking and snorkelling trips are organized at visitors’ request.
Reef Seen Divers’ Resort
Reef Seen Divers’ Resort combines in it an excellent dive centre and an equally good accommodation. It is situated in Pemuteran on its beach, at a distance of just 50 metres from the edge of the water. Reef Seen Divers is deeply involved in protecting the environment and preserving local culture. It has a Turtle Project for saving sea turtles, a Reef Gardeners Project for protecting coral reefs, and a Reef Seen Dancing School for preserving Balinese dances.
Kokak Dive Centre
Situated in the centre of Pemuteran, Kokak is a PADI-certified dive centre with highly experienced PADI instructors. The dive sites of Pemuteran, suitable for beginners as well as pros, are within walking distance of the resort. The sites are excellent for snorkelling as well. The staff are genial and well-organized so that at short notice they are able to arrange sightseeing tours, snorkelling sessions, or diving trips to Menjangan Island.
OK Divers Resort & Spa (3 star)
OK Divers Resort in Padang Bai has facilities for the disabled, extra bed for children, kids’ pool, poolside bar, safety lockers, luggage storage, souvenir shop, restaurant, BBQ facilities, massage parlour, provision for diving and snorkelling, and a very genial staff who can speak Czech, French, English, and Indonesian. It has three-occupancy Family room, and two-occupancy Deluxe Queen room, Superior Twin Pool View room, and Superior Queen Pool View room. Breakfast is included in the price of the rooms.
Padang Bai Beach Resort (3star)
This resort is situated at a distance of one-hour-drive from Bali’s International Airport and 15-minutes-drive from Candidasa. It has an on-site 5-star PADI dive centre offering an array of diving courses. Other facilities include a library, Balinese massage, restaurant, and bar. The rooms have private terrace, minibar, safety locker, satellite TV, and some rooms have outdoor shower areas. The rooms are well-furnished with Balinese furniture.
Penida Dive Resort
Penida Dive Resort in Nusa Penida offers dive packages ranging from one to five days. The resort, set in a tropical garden, consists of 11 double-occupancy bungalows, some of which are air-conditioned and some fan-cooled. Breakfast is included in the price of the rooms and the centrally located restaurant serves both Indonesian and Czech dishes. The resort is adjacent to a turtle rescue project called Kura Kura where visitors can volunteer their services, and there is a volleyball court nearby for those who enjoy the game.
Two Fish Divers’ Dive Resort
Two Fish Divers in Nusa Lembongan, near the village Jungutbatu, is very near the point from where dive safaris start. The resort is a collection of ten villas, set around a swimming pool, and it has a poolside café, well-equipped dive shop, and a restaurant. In addition there are many restaurants adjacent to the resort. Coffee, tea, and bottled drinking water are available at the resort round-the-clock without any extra charge.
The Menjangan Resort (4 star)
The Menjangan Resort in Pemuteran is a large resort spread out over 382 hectares in the Bali Barat National Park. It has 3 types of accommodation, namely Monsoon Lodge, Beach Villa, and The Residence. Monsoon Lodge has deluxe rooms and suites, while Beach Villa consists of joglo-style villas. The Residence is an estate of 1000 sq m, with two elegantly-furnished double bedrooms, a twin bedroom, and a large deck. Visitors can indulge in many activities like bird-watching, biking, trekking, horse riding, kayaking, and snorkelling. Blue Season Bali, the award-winning 5-star PADI dive centre, is in charge of the diving operations at the resort.
Mimpi Resort Menjangan (4 star)
Overlooking Java Strait and West Bali National Park, Mimpi Resort is situated at a 3-hour-drive distance from Bali’s International Airport. It has a thermal spring, swimming pool, floating restaurant, yoga centre, spa, and diving centre. The rooms have marble floor and thatched roof. Its Courtyard Villa, Courtyard Villa Pool, Grand Courtyard Villa Pool, and Patio Room are a byword for elegance. The resort has many amenities like valet parking, library, doctor on call, fax machine, boutique, conference facility, massage parlour, health spa, indoor pool, and many more.
Alam Asmara Dive Resort
Alam Asmara Resort in Candidasa is a collection of 12 bungalows, the entry to which is a pretty path over a fishpond. It has an open-air restaurant, swimming pool, a health spa where you can get Javanese or Balinese spa services, and a well-stocked dive shop. The dive centre offers personalized and standard diving courses. The resort has special packages for honeymooners, runs cooking classes, and organizes trips for fishing, sailing, tracking, rafting, and island hopping.
Rama Candidasa Dive & Spa Resort
This dive resort in Candidasa is a wellness retreat as well, and is fringed on different sides with hills, rice fields, and the sea. It offers many discounts and packages like wedding package, honeymoon package, diving package, and meeting package. There are a total of 80 rooms, outdoor swimming pool, children’s pool, a serene zen garden, garden gazebo, library, terraced sundecks, oceanfront daybeds, wellness spa, yoga centre, conference facilities, and business centre. The resort organizes diving trips to places like Padang Bai, Tulamben, Amed, Candidasa, Manta Point, and Crystal Bay.
How to Reach Bali
Bali is well-connected to many countries by air. There are direct flights to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, known as Denpasar International Airport (airport code DPS), from most Asian and European countries, America, and Australia. Flight time from Singapore to Bali is 2.5 hours and from Perth in Australia it is 3 hours. From Hong Kong it is 4.5 hours and from Sydney about 5.5 hours. There are domestic flights to Denpasar International Airport from all important cities in Indonesia. Flight time from Jakarta to Bali is about 1.5 hours.
From Jakarta and Java, you can either take a bus or rent a car and drive yourself to Bali. It is possible to travel by train up to Banyuwangi where railway track ends. From there, there are ferry services to Bali.
There are regular ferry services to Bali from Lombok, Java, Sumatra etc. You can also travel to Bali from Singapore by ferry, by travelling first to Batam, from Batam to Jakarta, from Jakarta to Surabaya, and from there by bus to Bali.
Getting Around in Bali
There are many shuttle bus services between the important tourist destinations in Bali. Taxis are also available aplenty. Another option is hiring a bemo, which is a minivan that operates like a shared taxi. However, bemos are not available everywhere. Many hotels and resorts offer package tours for sightseeing, and this is one of the easy ways to go around Bali since it is a pretty big island.
If you want to explore most of Bali, the best thing to do is hire a car and drive yourself, or hire a car and a driver. It will take about one and a half hours if you drive direct from Sanur to Candidasa. From Candidasa you can drive to Amed and from there to Lovina, and then to Pemuteran, and so on.
Things to Remember While Travelling in Bali
In Bali’s tropical climate, it is best to wear loose, light clothes that covers up to ankles and wrists. That will reduce the risk of sunburn and mosquito bite. While diving also, it is safer to wear a long-sleeved dress as protection against lice, jellyfish etc.
Your medicine chest must ideally contain a first aid kit and basic medicines for fever, headache, diarrhoea etc. If you are travelling in the rainy season of November till April, you must carry an umbrella. Even if you are wearing long-sleeved dresses, it is safer to use sun block while under the hot sun and to use mosquito repellent in areas where mosquitoes are aplenty.
For driving within Bali, you must have an International Driving Permit (IDP) besides the driving license issued by your country. The permit can be procured from a motoring club of the tourist’s home country. For driving a motorbike, you must have motorcycle endorsement on the IDP.
It is important to honk the horn clearly while turning at curves or driving on mountain roads.
As in most Asian countries, in Bali only right hand is used for eating, shaking hands, giving something, and receiving something. Footwear has to be removed before stepping into a temple or any place considered sacred. Photographing things inside a place of worship requires prior permission. Visitors to the country should follow these etiquettes correctly.
Once in a year Bali observes a day of silence (Nyepi Day) when people remain silent and refrain from all activities including checking out of a hotel. Nyepi Day of 2017 is March 28, and that of 2018 is March 17.
Passport and Visa Requirements
While entering the country, your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry and it must have at least one blank page. People from places like Brunei, Hong Kong, Ecuador, Chile, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru, Macau, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand do not require a visa for staying in Indonesia up to 30 days. In many other cases, no visa is required other than getting the passport stamped on entry. However, if you want to live in a private residence in Bali or remain in the country for more than 90 days, you have to get registered with the immigration department.
You must have a ticket for an onward journey or return journey, and show proof to the authorities that you have enough money to support yourself while staying in Bali.
Scuba Diving in Bali?
Check out our Bali dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!