Diving in Bali
More than just Tulamben and sunfish
One of the most beautiful islands in the world, Bali is Indonesia's most popular dive holiday destination. Many visitors find the attraction of good shore-based Bali resort diving set against a stunning back drop of huge, magnificent volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces, simply irresistible.
The waters of this island are surprisingly unheralded. Bali scuba diving isn't simply the holiday 'extra' that some people might imagine. Previously the preserve of surfers and beach holiday types, nowadays the island sees an increasing number of tourists hauling dive bags around.
Indeed, the greatest features of Bali diving are the incredibly rich and varied dive sites. Deep drop-offs and steep banks, coral ridges and bommies, one of the most famous wrecks in the world, volcanic outcrops and seagrass beds are all part of the underwater tapestry. With its colourful and diverse marine life, there's enough here to keep you coming back for more.
To the east of the island lies the Lombok Strait, the first deep water trench directly to the east of the Asian continental shelf. Through this channel flows the greatest volume of tidal water on earth. This Pacific Ocean can create some powerful currents and rollercoaster rides that characterise some of the dive sites. It also means regular visits from large and unusual pelagic fish like the incredible mola mola, or sunfish. The strong currents can also clean the water and create fantastic visibility.
All of this combined with the friendliness of the Balinese people, glorious weather, white sandy beaches and recent marine protection measures make Bali an increasingly sought after destination by divers from across the world.
If you wanted to record all the animals you can see when scuba diving in Bali, you'd need to bring along a mini-library of marine guide books. From hairy frogfish, cockatoo leaf fish and pygmy seahorses in Secret Bay and Menjangan on the north west tip of the island, to bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks in the north and east at Tulamben and Candi Dasa, to the sunfish and trevallies of nearby Nusa Penida and Lembongan islands, the marine sights of Bali are truly fascinating.
There is something for everyone; allow yourself to be surprised for you really never know just what you might see in this ever-changing underwater jewel. Experienced divers will enjoy the thrill of the currents around Nusa Penida, beginners will love the simplicity of the sites in Amed and Padang Bai and photographers will flock to the muck diving sites of Tulamben. But for us there are 2 clear highlights:
USS Liberty - a wreck dive of international renown. Just off the stony shore of Tulamben lies the most beautifully colourful wreck you can imagine. Easy access, mild conditions and shallow water mean that everyone can enjoy the splendour of this wreck and interact with the myriad species that call it home.
Lembongan Island - Away from the crowds of mainland Bali just off Nusa Lembongan lies Blue Corner where there are common sightings of one of the most incredible and odd-looking creatures of the sea - the sunfish. Spot one here and you can tick off a major diving 'must see'. Emerge slightly shaken by the changeable currents but with a smile that won't leave your face for the rest of the day.
How to Dive Bali
Staying on the coast, either in the north-east or east of the island, will allow you to see all of Bali's charms (and a few of its warts) and most of the dives you will want to do are more easily accessible from here. Nusa Lembongan Island is also a great base for divers and those who want to see the region the way it was 30 years ago.
If your intention is truly to see all the best diving that Bali has to offer then you can join a unique 12 night safari which will take you to all 4 corners of the island and to every great dive spot, all in 1 fully-guided trip. Land transfers will transport you to each new destination staying in hand-picked 3 and 4 star hotels in each of Pemuteran, Amed, Sanur and Candi Dasa. Each day you will dive with the same guide from the same catamaran that follows you around the island.
Don't let anyone tell you to stay in Kuta or Sanur - unless you want to be surrounded by Aussies buying T-shirts from locals with even stronger Aussie accents than their would-be customers. Divers should steer clear of this part of Bali as there aren't any good dive sites nearby and to base yourself here will mean long daily journeys to the sites by minibus. But if this really is your only option then check out our prices for Bali day trip diving.
Got a question?
Have a look through our Frequently asked questions
The dive season is year round in Bali although conditions do vary from time to time and location to location. December to March is rainy season (although most days it doesn't rain) and there are fewer divers around. However, visibility is sometimes a little reduced around the north and west of the island.
The best conditions to dive in Tulamben can be found between early April to July, October and November. It is dry season during these months and visibility can reach a spectacular 40 metres at this time of year.
The diving around Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida is good all year round and visibility is generally 20-30 metres. Water temperatures are usually 25-26°C except during mola mola season when it can drop to the low 20's. Sunfish, sharks and other large pelagics are best spotted between June and September which is also the time when seas might be both disturbed and enriched by the monsoon winds. The best time to see mantas is from April until June, although they are present all year round.
Good for: Large animals, small animals, drift diving, visibility, advanced divers and non-diving activities
Not so good for: Underwater photography and snorkelling
Depth: 5 - >40m
Visibility: 10 - 45m
Currents: Can be very strong
Surface conditions: Calm
Water temperature: 19 - 26°C
Experience level: Beginner - advanced
Number of dive sites: ~50
Access: Scuba resorts
Recommended length of stay: 1 - 2 weeks
Dive Site Descriptions
For more details on the Bali dive sites:
• Bali travel information
View a map of:
• Bali - Indonesia
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