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Your Guide to Diving in Bali

More than just Tulamben and Sunfish

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...Highlights: manta rays, schooling fish & big pelagics, great macro life/ marine diversity...
...Diving environment: healthy reefs, wrecks, wall dives, drifts, beginner and advanced divers, non-diving activities, very popular...

One of the most beautiful islands in the world, Bali is Indonesia's most popular dive travel destination. Many visitors find the attraction of good shore-based resort diving set against a stunning back drop of huge, magnificent volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces, simply irresistible. Others enjoy the island's charms and then hop on board a liveaboard diving cruise departing from Bali.

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 vacation types, nowadays the island sees an increasing number of tourists hauling dive bags around.

Red-tailed butterflyfish. Diving in Bali
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Indeed, one of the greatest features of Bali 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 Bali 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 Bali's 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.

There is something for everyone in Bali; allow yourself to be surprised for you never really know just what you might see in this ever-changing underwater kingdom. Experienced divers will enjoy the thrill of the currents around Nusa Penida, beginners will love the simplicity of the locations in Amed and Padang Bai, and photographers will flock to the muck diving sites of Tulamben.

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 scuba divers from across the world.

Dive Site Descriptions


The east side of the north facing shallow bay of Cemeluk has dense stands of sloping staghorn corals, teeming with cardinalfish. Here you can see striped convict tangs, sailfin tangs and orange-lined triggerfish quite close to the Bali shoreline. Off the slope, you will come to a steep wall of hydriods, sponges and sea fans, dropping down to over 40 metres. The fish life here is prolific with bluefin trevally, bumphead parrotfish, tuna, black and white snappers, Indian triggerfish cascading down the walls. Dense growths of gorgonian fans and barrel sponges, and large outcroppings dot the reef, harbouring common lionfish and bearded scorpionfish.
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How to Dive Bali

For more information on your options, and all the other travel information you might need to visit Indonesia, read our Bali dive resort and day-trip diving section.

Staying at a resort on the coast, either in the north-west 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 vacationing divers and those who want to see the region the way it was 30 years ago.

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 spots 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 Bali day trip diving options.

If you are in Indonesia with diving high on your agenda then you could consider stepping on board a liveaboard safari from Bali. Some routes include Bali's dive sites and others leave from Benoa Harbour and head for the Komodo National Park, diving there and en route.

The Diving Season

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 scuba 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.

For further reading on the climate and water temperature around Bali, visit HikersBayOpens in a new window.

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Where is Bali and How Do I Get There?

Review our maps below of Bali, and its host country Indonesia. Here, you will find information on how to get to Bali.

Map of Bali (click to enlarge in a new window) Map of Indonesia (click to enlarge in a new window)

Reef Summary

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
Recommended length of stay: 1 - 2 weeks

Useful References

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... Not having to worry about making separate bookings for hotel and diving was great. Everything went smoothly when we got to both the SCUBA shop and the hotel. The advice I got when I had questions about the different options was accurate and quick ... -- , China.  [More customer reviews]