Diving Bali is all about variety and ambience. Underwater, you’ve got wrecks, coral, muck diving, and pelagics. On land, Bali’s temples and festivals provide a stunning backdrop to your dive holiday. Bali is a visitor’s gateway to Indonesia for both natural and cultural attractions. You can sprawl out on its legendary southwestern beaches or visit ancient rock carvings and temples in the central highlands. The island’s Hindu-influenced history gives it a unique flavor of diverse cultures which have mixed and adapted to each other over thousands of years.
For divers both novice and advanced, scuba diving in Bali offers plenty of top-notch experiences. Famous dive sites include Tulamben and its Liberty Shipwreck, Seraya Secret and its critters, Nusa Penida and its Mola Molas (sunfish), Padang Bai and its gentle currents (for new divers), and Manta Point and its... mantas. Besides offering world-class shore diving, Bali is the departure point for liveaboards headed to some of Indonesia’s premier dive spots. Many Komodo liveaboards depart from Bali, and they usually stop at other great dive sites along the way. Lombok, Flores, Alor, and (sometimes) the Spice Islands are all accessible via a Bali-based liveaboard.
What is diving in Bali like?
Diving in Bali gives you a special opportunity to see marine life from both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Because of its geographical location, Bali’s underwater ecosystems enjoy a high diversity of fish, coral, and invertebrate species. Bali’s dive sites can be categorized by the strength of their local currents. Everyone wants to dive in perfect visibility, such as Crystal Bay’s 45 meters, but such clear water only results from a very fast flow. Fast-moving currents wash away plankton and debris, and they can wash away divers, too. It takes an experienced diver to safely manage these conditions. For beginners, or for those who want a relaxed dive, plenty of other options exist with perfectly enjoyable visibility and great marine life.
At some of Bali’s current-swept dive sites, you’ll get a chance to spot the elusive Mola Mola, the largest bony fish in the world. You’ll also have manta viewing opportunities- some of these are at sites suitable for beginner divers! There are plentiful reef sharks in various Bali dive spots, and also rare wobbegong and cat sharks, which should delight any shark enthusiast looking for new finds. Bali has world-class offerings for muck divers, with pygmy seahorses, mimic octopus, spanish dancers and uncountable other nudibranchs, cuttlefish, frogfish, shrimp, crabs, and more. And if you want to try wreck diving for the first time, there’s no better site than Tulamben’s Liberty shipwreck, where the water is calm and the depth is shallow.
The best dive sites in Bali / The best dive sites accessible from Bali
The USAT Liberty Wreck off Tulamben is a US cargo ship which was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in World War Two. Now lying between 3 and 30 meters, it’s become home to a profusion of corals and around 400 species of reef fish.
Nusa Penida lays claim to a world-famous Mola Mola location in Crystal Bay, also known for unbeatable visibility and intense currents. Manta Point, on the other hand, is a relaxed dive site and a reliable cleaning station for the winged giants of the sea.
Amed, near Tulamben, is a relaxed site great for shallow coral gardens and macro-critters. Padang Bai’s shallow, calm waters add reef sharks and bottom-dwelling rays to the mix. Menjangan is probably the best wall dive for beginners, with sea fans, sponges, and little caverns- as well as incredible visibility, sometimes over 50 meters.
Seraya Secret is reputed to be the best muck dive in Bali, with mimic octopus, pygmy seahorses, frogfish, and all the other characters you’d expect in a premier volcanic black-sand macro location.
Komodo National Park is the top liveaboard choice for many visitors’ dive holidays to Bali. In Komodo, you can see a huge range of marine life, from pygmy seahorses to mantas and sharks. On land, you can trek to the legendary Komodo dragons.
Lombok’s Gili Islands and nearby dive sites make a perfect stopover on liveaboards between Bali and Komodo. Eagle rays, coral gardens,, and sharks are all on offer.
The best time to dive in Bali
Scuba diving in Bali is possible year-round. The water temperature and weather conditions vary in accordance with the seasonal monsoons. The rainy season of December through March brings more wetness to the area, though it doesn’t rain every day. If you’re determined to see sunfish, the season runs from June through September, in accordance with Indonesia’s winter water temperatures- be prepared to get a bit chilly! Mantas are most abundant between April and June but can be seen at any time of year. The driest and calmest times of year, with the best visibility, are April to May and October to November.
What experience level is needed to dive in Bali
You can arrive in Bali as a non-diver and find great opportunities to become certified. Bali has a wide selection of dive schools, and there are plenty of local sites without current (but still with spectacular marine life). On the other hand, to enjoy current-heavy sites like Crystal Bay and Candidasa, you need to be experienced, strong, and smart. Besides being washed by horizontal currents, these sites have down-currents, when the water moves toward the bottom. If you don’t realize what’s happening and respond appropriately, you run the risk of descending to dangerous depths. Make sure you dive these sites with a reputable dive shop that gives you a thorough briefing.
You can dive in Bali for around 70 to 100 USD per dive, though the range really depends on your location. When visiting marine parks, such as Bali Barat (which includes Menjangan Island), you might have to pay park fees separately from your dive package. Liveaboard prices to Komodo usually range from 200 to 500 euros per person/night. As long as your trip is 30 days or shorter, you do not need a visa to enter Indonesia. Take precautions against mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, and zika. Updated Hepatitus A and Typhoid vaccines are also recommended.