Co-written by Sarah Morlock, Silke Teubener, Dawn Pillay
Trivia: Did you know that Bali is surrounded by not one, but two oceans – creating unique biodiversity, which is a success recipe for an amazing dive experience?
White sand beaches dot turquoise blue seas in Indonesia’s most traveled island. Bali is known for its grand resorts and ripping surf spots – but very few of the thousands of annual visitors know what lies beneath the waves.
In fact, Bali is home to some of the best dive sites in the world. Around the island, divers find everything from rare macro critters to fascinating pelagic species.
There’s shipwrecks, caves and pristine coral reefs to explore. And while we’re ticking Bali’s diving boxes, we should add crystal clear visibility and warm, tropical waters to the list.
To help introduce you to the wonderful world of scuba diving in Bali, we’ve compiled a guide to Bali’s dive destinations, divided by the minimum skill level required.
So grab your fins and dive into Bali’s amazing waters. Adventure is calling. Will you answer?
a. Bali has more than 26 diving options for total newbies to the most advanced divers.
Photo Via Balidivingspot
b. Its oceans are home to the elusive Sunfish, also known as “Mola Mola”, the heaviest known bony fish (weighing up to 1000kg!) in the world.
c. Whether you are after thrilling encounters with big fish like the sunfish, or the majestic Manta Rays, or interested in the amazing macro critters, Bali has it all.
Photo Via Idivein,Kriss Sieniawski
d. You’ll have the chance to wreck dive the unique SS USAT Liberty, a United States Army ship which served during World War I and II.
Photo Via Eujae-Im
e. The reefs around neighboring Nusa Penida are in beautiful condition and offer exhilarating drift dives along pristine coral walls. There is a saying that if you master diving in the Nusa Penida area, you may dive anywhere in the world!
2. Answer you SEAriously need to know (Frequently asked questions)
2-a) When is the best time to dive?
i. August to end October are peak diving seasons. (September, which is the midst of peak season, will give you the best chances to see the elusive Mola Mola fish which can weigh anything between 247 and 1,000 kg!)
ii. January to March are great for those into critters and nudibranchs. (January to February are particularly good as sites are not crowded, dive operators give good discounts and nudibranchs seem to blossom.)
iii. Ultimately, Bali is actually suitable for all year round diving with distinctive diving areas (listed above) suitable for all year round diving!
2-b) What are the distinctive diving areas?
i. East coast including Padangbai and Candidasa (fantastic dive sites for advanced divers) ………….
3-1. Take a dive and discover the world of glamping! – Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Glamping and Dive Center
Are you a mermaid? Can’t live above the water? Some of the most stunning underwater experiences are in West Bali, where you can encounter coral reefs and rich marine life in untouched waters.
At Menjangan Dynasty Resort, not only can you go on amazing underwater expeditions, but you’ll also be able to experience the glamorous world of luxury camping (also known as glamping) in exotic African-style opulent tents, fully equipped with comfy beds, resort-style bathrooms and other amenities.
Glamping is the newer concept where environment lovers can get up close and personal with nature without having to rough it out. And here at the resort, you get the best of both worlds – an African safari experience decked in comfort!
The morning after you’ve had a good night’s rest in your luxury tent, it’s time to head to the in-house 5-star PADI Dive Centre, where you can choose and book your underwater experiences, such as diving and snorkelling at Menjangan island, just a 40-minute boat ride away!
If you prefer to be above water, go for watersports such as kayaking, canoeing or Stand Up Paddleboarding!!
Check out the wildlife in the nearby West Bali National Park on a jungle trek or safari tour, but when you want to unwind, how about taking a dip in the beachfront infinity pool, or getting a spa treatment at the in-house spa right above the ocean?
We also recommend chilling at the in-house Pasir Putih Beach Club, where you can sip on your favourite sunset drinks and lounge by the sea! That’s what we call enjoying your underwater and beach adventures in style!
3-2. Diving, Luxury, Experiences! – Alila Manggis Bali (Southeast Bali)
First up, Alila Manggis is located conveniently on the southeastern coast, which makes plenty of dive sites highly accessible.
Photo Via Shoisapeta
The balinese-style boutique beach resort pampers you with a luxury stay, and views of the Indian Ocean, forested mountains and ancient history.
All comfortable rooms are dotted around the vast greens and shimmering swimming pool, with sounds of the lapping waves of the ocean.
Diving packages are available, and if a day underwater is not enough to quench your thirst for activity – the list goes on with complimentary bicycles, yoga and tai chi classes, and an extensive Leisure Concierge Menu packed with exciting activities.
Photo via Zen Harmony Diving
To soothe those muscles after a dive, how about a massage so close to the sea that you feel the salt on your skin – followed by a romantic dinner gazing at the stars, or an open air movie night in the beautifully groomed gardens?
Staying at Alila Manggis is an invitation to let your mind, body, and spirit engage in the excitement of all the experiences they present.
3-3. More than just a dive resort – Rama Candidasa Dive & Spa Resort (East Bali)
If a mid-range resort in picturesque settings with beautiful gardens is what you’re looking for, then check into Rama Candidasa Dive & Spa Resort.
Stay in a garden bungalow if you’d like to be nearest to the beach, and ocean-facing pool. If your inner yogi wishes, take part in the twice weekly yoga sessions – free of charge!
Free bike hires or a trip to the center of Candidasa will also quench your thirst for more activity. If you believe in living life to the fullest, you will find your luck at the resort too. The cute spa has a whole menu for you to choose from, not to mention the Asian and Western cuisine available in the ocean-view restaurant.
Don’t forget to head over for breakfast, the buffet is known for being a place where one wishes breakfast lasts all day!
3-4. Once upon a time… – Puri Wirata Dive Resort and Spa (Amed, Northeast Bali)
In Amed, you’ll still find Bali of the past – a peaceful stretch of coast, beautiful secluded bays and quiet villages.
This paradise is home to Puri Wirata Dive Resort and Spa, with high quality and comfortable accommodation to suit most budgets and international standards.
Photo Viholgadi, dekpickwijaya
Wake up to the sunrise from seaview rooms that are spread out on a slope between the mountain and the sea.
When you’re up, head to Bali Reef Divers, their inhouse PADI 5 star dive centre that takes you to discover the underworld beauty, which starts with coral reefs only metres from the shore.
For PADI courses they even have a specially designed 3-metre deep pool for training before jumping into the ocean.
Do diving and wellness go hand in hand for you? Lose yourself in a treatment or two at their spa, with the sound of the ocean just steps away from you.
3-5. A place to just live in the NOW – Gedong Gandhi Ashram (Northeast Bali)
If you truly need a place to unwind and find peace, consider a stay at an ashram. Gedong Gandhi Ashram will inspire the way to a slow and simple life.
You will love the peace, just lounging beside the ocean or enjoying sunrise walks beside the lily pond.
Photo Via Jasmijnengering,Katastrophyinlove,Laurasophie.art
No ashram would be complete without a guru to bring inner peace into your life and Gedong Gandhi calls Kawi, an amazing Balinese yoga teacher, their spiritual soul of the property.
Deliciously healthy food for the souls are prepared by two elderly ladies – who have called the ashram their home for many years, and are happy to share their homemade cooking secrets with you.
Live in harmony with nature will be a mantra to live by, for the time of your stay and hopefully well beyond. Om Shanti!
3-6. A diving sanctuary – Mimpi Resort Menjangan (Menjangan Island – 5 miles to the Northwest of Bali)
Loved by divers for being PADI certified, and having been warm hosts to dive enthusiasts for over a decade, this family-owned boutique dive and spa resort must be doing something right.
Photo Via Nikenugroho
The resort is also just a 30-minute boat ride to the renowned corals of Menjangan island.
A day under water can exhaust even the fittest, so what better way to soak your body afterwards in the hot springs, Spring Spa, or simply chill in the pool of your own villa. Life can hardly get any better.
PS: The Courtyard Villas with their own hot springs and courtyard garden are a bestseller!
PPS: A nice bonus for you diving folks? Free nitrox – yes it’s true!
3-7. World class diving on your doorstep – Two Fish Divers Lembongan (Nusa Lembongan) – 30 minutes boat ride from Sanur)
A 30-minute boat ride from Sanur will take you to this chilled, down to earth dive resort with only 10 rooms. Relax on beanbags in the garden with plenty of space everywhere to recover from a day of diving.
Photo Via Guillermo,Emelie_hedlund
Cool drifts, amazing quality corals, super fish life, great macro plus the gracious manta, shark and Mola Mola, can be experienced with Two Fish Divers in small groups of max 4 persons.
The best dive sites are only 5 minutes away. Their dive guides do not only have thousands of dives under their belt, they are even trained to be your Photography assistant.
3-8. An oasis of tranquility – Namaste Bungalows (Nusa Penida)
Namaste Bungalows is a tranquil oasis fabulously located on the hills of Crystal Bay, a famous manta diving site in Nusa Penida, also nicknamed the “Golden Egg of Bali”.
Photo Via Angiegal12,Yuliana.ingga,Aurela_cha
This diving paradise accessible in 35 minutes from Bali by speedboat from Sanur or Padang Bai. After diving with the elusive Mola Mola and the gracious Manta Rays, enjoy the yummy food in the restaurant
Simple yet comfortable lodging, very tasty food in the cosy restaurant, and easy access to diving sites make for a superb diving holiday.
If you fancy sharing dive stories with your fellow hotel guests, the shared area is a great meeting point with a beautiful view of the mountains.
3-9. Find serenity in scuba diving and daily yoga – Big Fish Diving, Lembongan
Prepping for your big diving trip and looking for suitable accommodation is as easy as heading to Big Fish Diving, a registered PADI and SSI scuba diving centre and yoga resort.
Besides the daily offering of trips for certified divers, as well as a full range of scuba diving courses for all levels – make sure to attend one of their twice weekly free marine talks presented by the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF).
Be prepared for exciting encounters with manta rays, mola mola and occasionally even with a whale shark when you dive with Big Fish Diving!
To bring your adrenaline levels back to normal, enjoy the daily yoga classes that will stretch out those achy dive muscles.
And if scuba diving and yoga alone do not quench your thirst for activities, how about stepping outside the resort? Explore the mangrove forest on a stand up paddle board, cruise around on a scooter, or if you dare, jump off cliffs for the ultimate thrill!
PS: Before we delve right into these incredible Balinese dive sites – let’s talk about environmental sustainability and coral conservation for a sec.
Environmental sustainability is a big issue that we need to be aware of, especially if we want to protect and preserve our beautiful diving spots.
In line with this, Alila Manggis and Zen Dive Bali have come together through several projects to support the Coral Conservation Programme. This shared commitment helps to restore the coral reefs in the ocean in front of the resort, and is a great way to give back to the community.
Photo via Zen Harmony Diving
4-a-i. Bali’s best protected marine reserve – Menjangan Island
Located off the coast of northwest Bali, Menjangan Island beckons divers with its abundant marine life and crystal clear visibility. Here lies Menjangan National Marine Reserve, a work in progress since 1917.
Most of the seven dive sites surrounding this tiny, offshore island feature impressive walls full of marine life. While diving among these, you’ll find barracuda, reef sharks, turtles, napoleon wrasse, moray eels and hundreds of tropical fish among the colorful soft corals, sea fans and sponges.
A few caves are accessible among the coral-lined walls and most divers will get the chance to see the Anchor Wreck, a small wooden vessel sunk during World War II.
For those divers staying on the island, nearly all of the dives sites can be reached by boat or by shore. If you plan on staying in Pemuteran or Lovina, it will be necessary to take a full day dive safari in order to get in the water around this gorgeous island.
4-a-ii. Dive into an underwater temple – Pemuteran
Pemuteran in northwest Bali is perpetually a favorite dive site among visitors to the island. In fact, it’s one of the most unique dive sites in all of Indonesia. This small city is home to an innovative coral restoration program utilising Biorock.
For those of you who are not familiar with Biorock, it’s basically an underwater structure used to stimulate coral growth by using low currents of electricity. The initial structures of Biorock take all forms. In the case of Pemuteran, you can find an underwater Hindu temple, bicycles and several statues.
Photo Via Paul-M-Turley-Pemuteran-Bay-Bali
Once the Biorock begins to work, vibrant soft coral grows on these structures, distorting and beautifying them in a way only Mother Nature can.
Today the new coral reef is covered with tropical fish, moray eels and a ton of interesting macro life like nudibranchs. Both snorkelers and divers can enjoy the area as it lies just a few meters off the beach. However, we recommend you to dive here. That way you’ll be able to model with the structures for some awesome underwater portraits.
4-a-iii. To see the great imitator of the sea – Puri Jati
Notable as one of the best macro (muck) diving sites in all of Bali, Puri Jati delights both experienced and beginner divers alike.
The area is alive with wonderful sea critters, including but not limited to frogfish, emperor shrimp, seamoths, ghost pipefish, squid, cuttlefish, stargazer, squat lobster, box crabs, peacock mantis shrimp and a variety of octopus. Underwater photographers flock to the area in order to capture these rare animals.
Photo Via Zen Harmony Diving,Baliqdive,Elias-Levy,Bernard-Dupont
Of particular interest is the mimic octopus, found with regularity at Puri Jati. This amazing creature can imitate dozens of other creatures to defend itself against predators and to attract prey. You’ll be amazed to see it act like a lionfish, eel or flounder.
Be sure to hire a local dive guide for this dive area. Most have logged hundreds of dives at Puri Jati and are well-prepared to help you find the multitudes of macro life this site has to offer.
4-b-i. Through a piece of WWII history, USAT Liberty – Tulamben
Tulamben is home to Bali’s most famous dive site. The USAT Liberty is considered to be one of the top wrecks to dive across the globe.
Not only is it protected from all currents and generally features crystal clear visibility, it also sits just below the surface, making it a great wreck dive for beginners.
Photo Via Matt-timbrell,Vit-hasek
The ship, originally an American warship, survived WWI, only to be sent to battle in World War II. In 1942, it was torpedoed by the Japanese off Bali’s northeast coast. The ship was subsequently beached where it sat rusting for over 30 years. In 1963, a volcanic eruption moved the ship into the water.
Today, the SS USAT Liberty is completely submerged. The top of the ship reaches three metres below the surface while the deepest part sits 28 metres below sea level. Because the visibility is usually good, snorkelers can even catch a glimpse of a large portion of the 120 metre-long boat.
Divers should plan at least a few dives around the ship. You’ll want the extra time in the water with this beautiful ship and its fascinating inhabitants!
4-b-ii. With a black sand backdrop – Amed
A short distance from the USAT Tulamben, Amed is a macro-lover’s dream. There are many weird critters around to discover and photograph.
Because of Amed’s location near Mount Agung, the sand underwater is black. This provides a great backdrop for photographing the local critters, including the ghost pipefish, pygmy seahorse and mimic octopus.
Photo Via Ekayantifortunato,Carnaval-King,Prilfish
The diving in Amed is easy. There’s little to no current and excellent visibility. The lack of obstructions also makes this a wonderful place to get your Open Water certification or practice for a more advanced certification.
In addition, most of the dive sites in Amed are shallow, giving you more bottom time to search out your favorite critters. The dive sites are accessible from shore, but it’s always more fun and relaxing to dive from the traditional boats in Amed called jukungs.
Snorkelers can also enjoy the marine life around Amed. You’ll find amazingly vibrant reefs just offshore. The plethora of colorful fish will make you feel as if you’re swimming in an aquarium!
4-b-iii. Diving in the dark of night – Seraya
Working down the coast from Amed, Seraya is a new name on the lips of every muck diver in Bali. Featuring the same black sand bottom as elsewhere in the region, Seraya is another great space for spotting and photographing the amazing critters that live among the reefs of Bali.
The 10-metre-deep bottom is home to cuttlefish, firefish, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, pipefish, frogfish, partner shrimp and the rare mimic octopus.
Photo Via Diveculturesg-,Tanaka-Juuyoh,Icelight,Jaymis-Loveday,Rebecca-Tse
While this may sound similar to other diving destinations in northeast Bali, Seraya is the best place on Bali’s coast for night diving. You’ll be amazed by the difference between night and day under the waves. Most of the animals found here will change their behavior by night in a fascinating display of hunting and survival tactics.
While Seraya is a great destination for beginner divers, do make sure you have perfected your buoyancy before heading under the surface. The area sports a sandy bottom. If divers get to close, their fins can kick up the sediment causing visibility to drop from excellent to poor.
4-c-i. Take a selfie with a sea turtle – Turtle Bay
This is one of the off-the-beaten-path dive sites you hope the crowds don’t discover. But we just let the cat out of the bag!
Turtle Bay is located in East Bali, south from Padangbai, straight in front of the small white sand beach(and near the ferry terminal). This pristine reef is known for its number of turtles, hence the name ‘Turtle Bay.’ There are several species here and you’ll be able to find at least one during most dives. Who doesn’t like gliding next to these amazing reptiles of the sea?
Photo Via NOAA,Brocken-Inaglory,Konstanz-Rochen
But, Turtle Bay goes one step further than sea turtles. The area also plays host to stingrays throughout the year. These friendly fish are known to be photogenic. Between stingrays and sea turtles, you’re sure to have some great selfies from your dive at Turtle Bay.
Unless you are staying at the Turtle Bay Hideaway, you’ll need to dive Turtle Bay by boat from Candidasa or Padangbai. This may seem like a long journey, but it’s worth it. You’ll never forget the day you dove with turtles and stingrays.
4-c-ii. Great for dive training – Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is the most famous dive location in Padang Bay. This protected bay has a sandy bottom with fields of soft coral and some sporadic blocks of hard coral closer to shore.
First and foremost, Blue Lagoon is an excellent location for dive training. If you’re looking to gain your Open Water certification in Bali, look no further than East Bali.
Photo Via Peter-Southwood,Jimmy-McIntyre,Sheerman-Chase,Joakant
Also, if you’re new to diving and want to get a few dives under your belt before you take on heavier current or low visibility – we’d also recommend a trip to the Blue Lagoon where there is virtually no current and superb visibility. Just make sure to dive in the early morning when conditions are perfect.
For more advanced divers, the Blue Lagoon constitutes one of the best night dives around the island. In fact, it’s often possible to see the fabulous Spanish Dancer Nudibranch.
The Blue Lagoon is accessible from shore in Padang Bay. However, it is far more comfortable to take a five-minute boat ride from the beach to the lagoon.
4-c-iii. The most protected dive site in Bali – Jepun
There is so much going on at the dive site called Jepun. You won’t be bored for a millisecond of your dive. First and foremost, many divers in the area are lucky enough to find the blue-spotted stingray. By some accounts, this is the best location in Bali for spotting the creature.
Photo Via Ilse-Reijs,City.and.Color,Jan-Derk,Steve-Childs
When you aren’t hypnotised by a blue-spotted stingray, there are hundreds of other creatures to find. The ghost pipefish blends into nearby soft coral as does the leaf scorpion fish. A skilled divemaster can help you find and photograph these masters of hide-and-seek.
The dive environment at Jepun is formed by a small wreck that has grown an artificial reef.
Night diving in Jepun is highly recommended. In the dead of night, the rare coral cat shark emerges from its den to hunt. Other critters come to life under the cover of the dark making the dive site unrecognisable from its daytime counterpart.
4-c-iv. A Photographer’s Dream – The Jetty
If you love macro (muck) diving, make sure to schedule at least one dive at The Jetty in Padang Bay. You’ll find all manner of rare critters at this site, and all of your friends are sure to be envious of your log book after you return from a dive at The Jetty.
Photo Via Zen Harmony Diving,Derek-Keats,Thomas-Hubauer
You never know what you’ll find, but past sightings have included all the crazy things you can imagine – rhinopia, swimming frogfish, stonefish, scorpion fish, cuttle fish, octopus, cat fish in clouds, nudibranchs, seahorses, and pipefish. Photographers will delight not only in the strange creatures but also in the clear visibility and unique lighting under the dock.
Before diving The Jetty at Padang Bay, it’s important to take a few safety precautions. First, this is an extremely shallow dive site near the shore. Therefore, plan your dive for when there is as little swell as possible and at high tide.
4-d-i. Bali’s Barrier Reef – Nusa Dua
While southern Bali is full of beautiful beaches and excellent surfing, it is decidedly lacking in scuba locations. Nusa Dua is where scuba divers on Bali’s southern shores look for their daily fix.
Even if it is the only choice in the area, Nusa Dua certainly isn’t a bad choice. Here you’ll find Bali’s barrier reef. The protection of the reef allows great opportunities for dive training. There are also a few sunken statues in the area, perfect for an underwater photo opp.
Photo Via Driverjibril,Baliscubamasters
The top dive sites in the area are Laguna Hotel reef, Club Med reef and Grand Mirage reef. All of these are shallow dives and only short boat rides from shore. This means you’ll be able to dive up to 4 times a day in Nusa Dua!
All of the above-mentioned sites can be accessed from Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Kuta, Uluwatu or Sanur. As with most of Bali’s dive sites, conditions rarely change throughout the year, so feel free to book your dive in Nusa Dua during any month.
4-d-ii. Among Flying Giants – Manta Point (Nusa Penida and Lembongan)
Located across the Bandung Strait from Bali, Nusa Penida is home to the area’s best pelagic encounters. Most dives in the area are considered advanced dives, but the protected cliff at Manta Point makes it an easier site. With that said, you’ll be most comfortable at this site if you have at least 10 logged dives. There is occasionally a strong up current.
Photo Via Robbie-Hunter,Robertacfaria,Ilsa-Reijs
As you may have guessed from the name of this site, the star of the show at Manta Point is the Giant Manta Ray. Situated at the southern point of Nusa Penida, a 45-minute boat ride is necessary to reach the point. The site itself is a cragged wall with scattered boulders 15 metres below the surface. However, most divers will remain about 4 to 6 metres deep where the manta rays glide in search of cleaner wrasse.
Because of the nature of this dive, photographers may be frustrated by the limited time they spend with these graceful creatures. Videography is much more suitable to Manta Point.
4-d-iii. Where You Never Know What You Might See – Ped, Nusa Penida North (Nusa Penida and Lembongan)
Ped, the most popular dive in Nusa Penida for beginners, features milder currents than elsewhere around the island. As such, it’s home to a variety of species who, like novice divers, take refuge in Ped’s protected waters.
Within Open Water limits, a hard coral reef begins near shore and slopes down to 20 metres. Deeper down, barrel sponges and gorgonians await those with an advanced certification.
Photo Via Brian,Barry-Peters,Ilsa-Reijs,Joi-Ito
A plethora of colorful, reef fish zig and zag around the healthy reef ensuring a rainbow-tastic dive. Special guests at Nusa Penida North might include manta rays and schools of barracuda. Almost every visitor to the area has the opportunity to record a sea snake in their log.
Because this reef begins quite near the shore, your dive need not be curtailed by a safety stop. At 5 metres, you’ll still be searching the reef for emperor angelfish, titan triggerfish and moray eels. From start to finish, Nusa Penida North delights everyone who visits.
5-a-i. A Must-Dive for Macro-Lovers – Gilimanuk Bay
Also known as Secret Bay, Gilimanuk Bay is a must for any diver serious about macro life or underwater photography. This dive site just might be the most famous muck site in Indonesia, or second only to the Twilight Zone in Ambon.
This mangrove-lined bay is at least a 40-minute boat journey from Permuteran and Lovina. For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with a lengthy dive. Gilimanuk Bay bottoms out at 12 metres.
Photo Via Jayvee-Fernandez,Steve-Childs,Arhnue,Albert-Kok
The shallow depth also has consequences for photographers. You’ll have better lighting to shoot fast moving subjects.
A few of the exciting species found in Gilimanuk Bay include pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, ghost pipefish, dragonet and several colorful species of nudibranchs.
If you’re less interested in macro species, it’s important to know that Gilimanuk is void of other attractions. There’s not much coral here and the water is cool. It’s best to spend your time elsewhere in Northwest Bali if this is you.
5-b-i. The Strangest Fish in the Sea – Crystal Bay
From August to October, Crystal Bay in Nusa Penida is Indonesia’s premier destination for seeking out the Bali Sunfish or Mola Mola, which is one of the 5 creatures you won’t believe exist in Bali.
In Crystal Bay, the gigantic fish can be seen around 30 metres below the sea level. Scientists believe that the Mola Mola appears in the shallower depths in order to be cleaned by other fish. This is good news for divers as it puts the rare creature within recreational depths. The fish can often be seen slowly waving its vertical fins and eyeing divers as it makes its way around the bay.
Photo Via Worlddivinglembongan,Wanderflex
Of course, if you aren’t lucky enough to spot the Mola Mola, other pelagic species can also be seen in Crystal Bay. These include leopard sharks, whitetip sharks and eagle rays. The corals between 15 and 20 metres are gorgeous.
For all water adventurers out there, please keep in mind that this dive should only be attempted by experienced divers.
Many dive shops will restrict this site to those who have already completed 100 or more dives. The currents in the area are very strong and downward flowing, so there is no margin for error. If you choose to attempt this dive, be sure to listen very carefully to your dive masters’ suggestions and instructions.
5-b-ii. Small Yet Memorable – Gamat Bay
Located at the northern end of the strait between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, Gamat Bay is a tiny site without much territory to cover. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a worthwhile dive. Quite the opposite in fact. Here you’ll find a lush bed of hard and soft corals sloping down to 50 metres.
Photo Via Chika-Watanabe,Geoff-Shuetrim,Matt-Kieffer,GarrettTT
Once you’ve reached the bottom of the slope and swum among hundreds of colorful fish, make your way back up, passing by the bommies, caves and over-hangs located on the way. These host all manner of secretive species like small reef sharks or lionfish.
Don’t forget to keep your eye on the blue throughout the dive. There’s a good chance you’ll spot a flock of eagle rays. If you’re lucky a few other pelagic species might make their appearance.
During your safety stop at the top of the reef, look out for the sea turtles who come here to munch on the coral. This tiny site has a lot to offer so make sure to put it on your list of sites for your next dive holiday to Nusa Penida.
5-b-iii. Dolphins, Turtles and Sharks, Oh My! – Mangroves
To the northeast of Nusa Penida lies a maze of mangrove forests. While mangroves usually indicate a high level of biodiversity above the water, they can be good indicators for a large variety of marine life below the water as well. That is exactly the case in Nusa Penida.
Photo Via Brocken-Inaglory,Q-phia,Insomasta,Ondrej-Gomola
The dive site called ‘Mangroves’ is so named for its proximity to these northeastern forests. From the bottom of the roots, a healthy coral ecosystem stretches out. Small bommies and table corals are interspersed among large fields of soft corals. Small stuff abounds between the cracks. If you don’t look closely, you’ll miss the tons of camouflaged life here.
On the other hand, if you don’t spend time looking out into the deep, you’ll miss some pretty awesome sights too. Marble rays, dolphins, turtles and a variety of sharks including the very occasional whale shark or hammerhead shark make appearances at Mangroves.
Mangroves is an excellent dive site for most levels. The currents can be strong but are predictable making this site a great drift dive.
6-a-i. Around a Coral-Covered Pinnacle – Kubu
Just a few kilometres from Tulamben, Kubu hosts two dive sites that suit a variety of levels. One site begins in a coral garden which slopes gently downward before becoming a steep wall. Along the wall, divers pick up the current, riding it to the end of the dive. Take some time to search the wall for fascinating critters like nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses and scorpionfish.
Photo Via Unsplash,Prilfish,Bernard-Dupont,Brocken-Inaglory
The second dive site at Kubu is a pinnacle and more suitable for advanced divers. Whitetip and blacktip reef sharks usually patrol this bit of coral-covered rock in search of their daily meal. Down on the bottom, you’ll spot a few blue-spotted stingrays hanging out on the sand.
Because of the area’s crystal clear visibility and interesting subjects, Kubu is a wonderful destination for underwater photographers. Do note that it’ll be good to stay in either Amed or Tulamben if you’d like to dive here.
PS: Kubu is actually most famous for a wreck which was sunken on purpose, and it starts from a depth of 18 to 40 meters! It’s a great place for wreck diving or deep diving. However, entry and exit points are a little difficult as it is a shore dive.
6-b-i. Eye to Eye with the Sharks – Gili Mimpang
Gili Mimpang, also known as Shark Point, is a collection of three mini rock islands 15 minutes off the coast of Padang Bay. These islands consist of coral-covered walls and overhangs surrounded by mild to very strong currents.
Because of Gili Mimpang’s special position off the east coast of Bali, it often attracts pelagic species and is considered one of the best sites in Bali for shark diving. You’ll be able to swim eye to eye with whitetip and blacktip reef sharks near these islands. You can even look up from the bottom to see them swimming above!
Photo Via Pipitdjatma,2repdiversbali,Derek-Keats,Patrik-Neckman
Other occasional pelagic visitors to Gili Mimpang include the Mola mola and devil rays.
As a special note, only advanced divers should attempt to dive Gili Mimpang around the new moon. At this time, the currents become strong and unpredictable. Furthermore, the size of the dive site at Gili Mimpang prevents drift diving so divers must navigate any existent current.
6-b-ii. A Breathtaking Coral Wall – Gili Tepekong
15 minutes north of Padang Bay by boat, the small island of Gili Tepekong is a major draw card for scuba divers on the east coast of Bali. It’s sloping reefs, deep walls, rock pillars and swim-through cave offer something for every type of diver.
Photo Via Baliqdive,Bernard-Dupont,Chika-Watanabe,Clark-Anderson
First and foremost, the corals near Gili Tepekong are among the healthiest in Bali. They cover the island’s steep walls with huge sea fans. These hard and soft corals are home to rare pygmy seahorses, turtles and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish species. Schools of barracuda stalk their prey a few feet off the reef.
Pelagic species also make the occasional appearance. Devil rays, manta rays and the Mola mola (June to October) can be seen in these waters.
While Gili Tepekong is among Bali’s top dive sites, it’s also subjected to Bali’s most unpredictable currents. During the new and full moon phases, these currents intensify and occasionally turn downward, creating dangerous diving conditions.
6-b-iii. Into the Shark Cave – Gili Biaha
The third of the three islands off the coast of Padang Bay, Gili Biaha is home to one of Bali’s best caves for diving. At 12 metres, divers can enter the “shark cave” in which whitetip reef sharks sleep away the daylight hours. The sight of several sleeping sharks below you is unforgettable in itself, but this view comes second to the one you’ll find upon exiting the cave. From the dark of the cave, the brilliant turquoise blue of the sea beyond is filled with an infinite number of colorful fish.
Photo Via Peter-Harrison,Daniel-Sprenger,Aquaimages
From August to October, you might also see the rare Mola mola or some larger species of sharks at Gili Biaha. The surrounding environment is a lush coral garden that is home to many moray eels, napoleon wrasse, barracudas, turtles, cuttlefish and octopus.
Just like its sister islands, Gili Biaha is often subject to unpredictable currents. Surge intensifies in the late afternoon and downward currents can form around the new and full moons.
7-a-i. Explore Unchartered Territory – Gili Selang
Gili Selang is a brand new dive area in northeast Bali. Many of the sites around this tiny, rocky island are still being explored. This might sound intriguing, but currently Gili Selang is reserved for very advanced divers only.
Photo Via NOAA,Liveaboardsafari,Richard-Ling
The current here is very strong and tends to carry divers out to the open sea. While this is a problem for humans under the water, big fish love strong current. The northern point of the island is a fantastic place for spotting grey reef sharks and even mighty hammerhead sharks.
More regular visitors of Gili Selang are humphead parrotfish, mackerel, moray eel, jacks and dogtooth tuna.
Because of its remote location, Gili Selang must be dived by boat from either Amed or Lipah Bay. After arriving, you’ll have two options for this deep dive: wall or drift. Both are equally exciting and in reality can be combined into one awesome dive.
7-b-i. Flying Among the Birds of the Sea – Manta Bay
The most popular manta ray dive in all of Bali, Manta Bay was only just discovered in 2010 by divers at Big Fish Diving. While Manta Point is known as a ‘cleaning station,’ Manta Bay is a feeding site. Dozens of manta rays arrive here to feast on plankton upwellings throughout the year.
Photo Via Derek-Keats,Andre-Piazza,Steve-Dunleavy
Manta Bay is also a visually stunning location, making it a more interesting place for manta photography than Manta Point. The bottom is at 12 metres and is covered in a coral bed. There are several swim-throughs and gullies to keep you busy when the manta rays aren’t present.
Keep in mind that conditions have to be perfect for Manta Bay to be accessible. Because it’s near to the shore, high swell can impact the dive boat’s ability to get close enough. However, Manta Bay is closer to the majority of dive operations and generally more protected than Manta Point, making Manta Bay the more reliable of the two sites.
7-b-ii. Through a Rainbow of Fish – Toyapakeh
Found at the far north end of the channel between Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, Toyapakeh is a favorite among divemasters in the area. This coral bay is dotted with bommies, and the reef slopes gently downward before dropping off to approximately 190 metres.
Photo Via Okdiversbali,David-Burdick,Dr-Dwayne-Meadows
The magic of Toyapakeh are the hordes of fish that surround divers every time they enter the water. You’ll be seeing a rainbow of colors as you transition from magnificent schools of giant trevally to red tooth triggerfish and batfish.
Down on the reef, keep a keen eye open. Tons of macro life is alive and well in these healthy corals. Divers particularly delight in spotting the rare pygmy seahorse which seamlessly blends into its habitat.
Finally, Mola mola and reef shark sightings are also a possibility at Toyapakeh. And divers who are up for an adventure, should bring a torch to explore the nearby caves and over-hangs.
7-b-iii. Go to Pelagic Heaven – Blue Corner
Off the northeastern tip of Nusa Lembongan sits one of Indonesia’s most famous dive sites. The Blue Corner is a current-swept pelagic heaven. Advanced divers come from around the world to experience the majesty of the Blue Corner.
The Blue Corner consists of several lifeless slopes. Divers don’t come here for the beautiful corals or macro life. Rather, Blue Corner is known for the ‘big stuff.’
Photo Via Prilfish,John-Norton,Okdiversbali
As soon as you drop off the boat, you’re riding the heavy current of this exposed site. Look out into the blue to see any number of pelagic species, including but not limited to Mola mola (August to October), marble rays, eagle rays, tuna, wobbegong and the occasional shark. This site rarely disappoints.
It’s important to note that the Blue Corner should not be attempted by anyone without bountiful diving experience. The currents at the Blue Corner are strong and unpredictable. Make sure to consult with a local dive master before attempting this dive.
7-b-iv. Nudibranchs Galore – Ceningan Wall
Sandwiched between Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan is a diving wonderland. This is especially evident on the wall off the far northern tip of the island. This wall is referred to as Ceningan Wall by divers.
From shore, it may look like the cliffs of the island disappear into the lapping waves. What divers know is that the wall actually continues to plunge into the depths, 180 metres into the depths to be exact.
Photo Via Jnpet,Ilsa-Reijs,Mindmaker
The wall is a wonder to explore with dozens of nudibranchs to find and sweetlips to keep you entertained. Of course, the depths below can be hypnotizing and offer the chance to see something sizable.
Because of its position within the Toyapakeh Strait, Ceningan Wall is subject to very strong currents. Some of these may even be down currents, which can take even the most experienced diver by surprise. If you choose to dive at Ceningan Wall, make sure you are comfortable with the dive plan presented before entering the water.
Have you been scuba diving in Bali? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
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