Photo credit Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash
Bali is a wonderful location for divers, from beginners to advanced divers, there is something to keep everyone happy.
Diving in Bali has it all, wonderful coral reefs, fish of all shapes, sizes and colours, wreck dives, cave dives, you name it and Bali probably has it on offer.
Although scuba diving can be booked from most tourist destinations most of the best dive sites are in the quieter areas of the island. Here we look at some of the best dive sites in Bali.
On the Northeast coastline of Bali lies the fishermans villages of Amed, home to black volcanic beaches and the range of top class dive sites just on your doorstep.
Amed has an excellent range of diving with coral reefs and walls excellent for drift diving, muck diving, wreck diving and a huge variety of reef life.
Surya Rainbow Reef is excellent for black-sand muck diving.
Amed Wall is an excellent drift dive with a good chance of seeing reef sharks, and the odd manta ray.
Amed is also home to the Japanese Wreck, a shallow dive site, within a sheltered bay and home to some excellent muck diving, including the pygmy seahorse.
Most dive sites are just 10 to 15 minutes away usually by a traditional jukung boat.
USAT Liberty Wreck Dive
Just north of Amed at Tulamben is one of the best known dive sites in all of Bali, the USAT Liberty wreck dive. The Liberty was hit by a Japanese torpedo in January 1942.
Lying just 25 metres from the beach, finding a world class wreck dive so close to shore is a rarity especially when the shallowest parts of the wreck are just 5 metres deep, dropping to 30 metres at its deepest. At 120 metres long there is plenty to see but you cannot access the wreck.
The wreck is suitable for novice and advanced divers and is also popular with snorkellers. The wreck is covered in coral and you can expect to see ghost pipefish, big-eyed trevally, leaf scorpionfish, sweetlips, batfish, fusiliers, butterfly fish, barracuda, snapper and if you are lucky blacktip reef and whitetip reef sharks.
The site is popular with trips from other parts of Bali so if you stay here for a few days you get the chance of a much quieter early morning visit. You may also be rewarded with a turtle if you are at the wreck early enough. The site is also an excellent night dive.
Also located in Tulamben is the Coral Garden, also known as Temple Garden, a shallow dive site featuring Buddhist statues that have been put in place to help create an artificial reef.
The reef runs along the middle section of Tulamben beach featuring table and fire corals, anemones and sponges. The location makes this another excellent night dive.
There marine life is excellent with blue ribbon eels, octopus, shrimp and a range of anemone fish. Bigger fish include bumphead parrotfish and black tip reef shark.
At the opposite end of the bay to the USAT Liberty is this excellent wall dive that starts on a steep volcanic sand slope dropping until at 15 metres deep you come to the vertical wall which drops to around 60 metres. Visibility is best in the morning and the current tends to be very mild if any.
At shallow depths you will usually see flounder, goby and nudibranches. As you get deeper approaching the wall you will start to see sponges, shrimp and scorpion fish. The slope then has a reef as you get to the wall which rises to just 5 metres deep and offers a wide range of life.
The variety of marine life is, as in most dive sites in the area, excellent and varied. There is a higher chance of seeing white tip and black tip reef sharks, wrasse, parrotfish and moray eel.
Lionfish are more common during the afternoon. Whale Shark have been seen in shallow waters and in deeper water there have even been hammerhead shark.
This small island lies five miles northwest of Bali, is known for its excellent wall diving and is suitable for divers of all experience levels. Diving is available here all year around, with mild, if any, currents, warm water and excellent visibility.
An excellent shore dive suitable for all levels of diver with some incredible corals and caves. Common sightings include emperor angelfish, surgeonfish, sweet lip, tuna and pufferfish with bull shark and whale shark also visitors. Due to its location it also makes an excellent night dive.
Suitable for more experienced divers due to its depth, down to 40 metres, and currents. Another shore dive it is probably the best place on Menjangan to see large pelagic fish including reef sharks, barracuda and manta rays.
Another site for more advanced divers due to the depth which, at its deepest, is 33 metres. The wooden wreck, dating from the 19th century, has large school of yellow strip snapper and is also home to whitetip reef shark.
An excellent beginners dive, accessible from the shore and going to around 10 metres. Home to a wide range of marine life with angel fish and butterfly fish both common.
Blue Lagoon – Amuk Bay
Northeast of Padangbai lies a small bay with a dive that on the face of it looks unspectacular with a white sand bottom to depths of around 22 metres with scattered rocks.
The marine life is wonderful however with reef shark, sweetlips, angelfish, surgeonfish, scorpion fish, squid, eels and much more. There are also areas of soft and staghorn coral.
The site is relatively shallow with good visibility which makes it popular with novices and more experienced divers. The area can get busy at times however.
Gili Selang – Amuk Bay
Situated between Padangbai and Candisa is this small island in Amuk Bay.
You will often see whitetip and hammerhead shark, bumphead parrotfish, moray eel, mackerel and may even see dogtooth tuna and grey reef shark.
Not for the beginners, the depth and currents mean that this is one purely for more advanced divers. Visibility can be excellent.
Gili Mimpang – Amuk Bay
Also known as Batu Tiga, meaning three rocks, is a series of, unsurprisingly, three rocks and six smaler rocks. It’s located just outside of Amuk Bay and the current can be strong making it another dive for the experienced diver.
Probably the best place in Bali for shark spotting you are likely to see whitetip reef shark, possibly in large numbers and even the rare wobbegong shark and even rarer coral cat shark if you are really lucky as well as a range of other pelagic fish. It is also a great location to spot Mola Mola (oceanic sunfish), trumpet fish and tuna.
Gili Tepekong, The Canyon – Amuk Bay
Another dive for the more experienced, Tepekong is a 300 metre long rock which offers some of the best diving in Bali. The site has steep walls, strong currents and cold water with a maximum depth of 40 metres.
An excellent location to see huge schools of fish, white tip reef shark, batfish, unicorn fish, snapper, big-eyed trevally, tuna and, in season, giant Mola Mola.
the canyon, cold water and strong currents make this a site for experienced divers only. Drifting with the current you can see sharks, moray eel, rays and big pelagics. Visibility is usually very good. If conditions are not suitable, there are other good sites in the vicinity.
Gili Biaha is another dive for experienced divers which can have very strong and unpredicatble currents.
Consisting of two excellent dive sites, Shark Cave and Biaha Slope, which can be combined into one dive if conditions allow. These two dives can be combined in one dive if the current allows it.
One of the highlights of the area is the cave which you can enter and often see whitetip reef shark sleeping allowing you to get some excellent pictures. The cave is also home to lionfish and lobsters. The cave can be hazardous if conditions are not perfect.
The island is home to a beautiful reef and you can also see anglerfish, scorpionfish, cuttlefish and more.
Crystal Bay – Nusa Penida
A deep dive, with cold water and strong current. Crystal Bay is one of the best places to see the Mola Mola and its smaller cousin the southern mola.
Other marine life in the area include whitetip shark, leopard shark, eagle ray, grouper, scorpion fish and octopus.
Blue Corner – Nusa Penida
Again one for the more experienced diver due to the very strong currents making this an excellent drift dive. There is a steep slope with a plateau at 20 metres and then a further drop to 30 metres.
Another location to, hopefully, see the Mola Mola as well as fusilier, surgeon fish as well as sharks and rays.
Manta Point – Nusa Penida
A shore dive more suitable to all divers than other sites in the area although currents can still make it a no-go for the most inexperienced.
The dive is generally just 10 to 12 metres deep but the highlight is watching the giant manta rays at the cleaning stations where lipp fish clean the rays skin.
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