Macro and Pelagic Paradise
One of the most beautiful islands in the world, Bali is Indonesia’s most popular holiday destination. Many visitors find the attraction of good shore-based diving set against a stunning back drop of huge, magnificent volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces, simply irresistible.
The greatest feature of scuba diving in Bali is the rich and varied 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. With the 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. This is the first deep water trench directly east of the Asian continental shelf. This channel sees the the greatest volume of tidal water on earth. The Pacific Ocean creates some powerful currents and rollercoaster rides that characterise some of Bali’s dive sites. It also promotes the regular visits from large and unusual pelagic fish like the incredible sunfish, or mola mola. The strong currents also clean the water and create fantastic visibility.
If you wanted to record all the animals you can see here, 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 sights are truly fascinating. Allow yourself to be surprised for you really never know just what you might see in this ever-changing underwater jewel.
The Dive Sites
The USS Liberty Wreck is one of the first dive sites on anyone’s lips when they mention Bali. Few wrecks in the world are so accessible, lying in shallow water just off the shore, or are quite so engulfed in life as this one. Every inch of the structure is encrusted in colourful sponges or adorned with hard or soft corals and featherstars. Many varieties of fish and marine creatures lurk in the quieter sections of the wreck while angelfish, surgeonfish and Napolean wrasse cruise around outside.
Gili Tepekong is a little rocky islet off the east coast of Bali with steep coral walls and a current-washed canyon which deliver a memorable scuba diving experience. The rush of nutrients brings in large schools of rainbow runners, big-eye trevally and white-tip reef sharks. There are more calm sections of the reef where table corals and fallen boulders are frequented by large groupers and schools of yellow-ribbon sweetlips.
Amed is home to Cemeluk Bay where healthy vibrant reefs of staghorn coral, gorgonian fans, barrel sponges and tube sponges host fish species including cardinalfish, sailfin tangs, bluefin trevally and Indian triggerfish. On the sea bed you should look out for blue-spotted stingrays or ribbon eels straining from their burrows. Other creatures to look out for on the reef include red octopus, moray eels, lionfish and scorpionfish.
Blue Corner off Nusa Lembongan, south of Bali, is a potential roller coaster of a dive with a seriously rare headlining creature. This is one of the premier sites in the world for encounters with Mola Mola (sunfish), something you won’t forget in a hurry.
Due to potentially strong currents this is not one for beginners, and care must be taken to follow your divemaster’s advice. Large pelagics are often present but the appearance of a huge and odd-looking sunfish, or several, will really make your day!
Manta Point – When diving Nusa Lembongan at the right time of year there are some sites where Mola Mola are the star of the show, others, like here, where manta rays gather to put on a special show. This is a shallow rocky site with considerable surge and the visibility is further compromised by the large amount of plankton in the water. When you find a little spot on the reef to take in the action you will often see small groups of mantas swooping in and around the shallows. It is difficult to know where to look since there is so much action.
Dive The World Indonesia Recommendations: Nusa Penida, Tulamben, Amuk Bay and Menjangan.
More detailed information about the Bali dive sites available on our www.dive-the-world.com website.
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Staying at Bali
Tulamben resorts on Bali’s north-east coast is one of the little towns where scuba divers gather in Bali. There is a range of accommodation options all of which are close to the dives sites. Images of local women transporting scuba tanks on their heads along the dark pebbly beaches is one you won’t soon forget. Off the southern coast of Bali, Lembongan Island resorts offer you the chance to stay close to some of the most exciting dives in Indonesia. Mola Mola, manta rays, fields of pristine hard coral and variable currents all add to the excitement. The accommodation here tends to be chalets or villas on a sloping hillside in a quiet bay creating a very different atmosphere from the overdeveloped southern region of Bali. Pemuteran’s Aneka Resort is another option if you want to get off the beaten track and dive in some interesting places like Menjangan Island, or the excellent muck dives in Secret Bay, plus the local reefs of Pemuteran. This pleasant resort has a spa and swimming pool.
A Resort Scuba Safari is a great option if you want to taste all that Bali’s dive sites have to offer. These pre-arranged tours take you to various best spots on the island, transporting you over land while the dive boat follows your progress by sea. Packages run for 5-12 nights and include 3 dives per full day.
Bali Day Trip Diving packages are an option for those who do wish to stay in the main population centres of the south of Bali. There is a selection of around 80 sites around the island with sometimes long journey times. Each daytrip includes 2 dives, refreshments and lunch.
If you need a place to stay in Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia then Agoda, our affiliated hotel reservation specialists, have a large range of choices:
Choose from dozens of accommodation options, from luxury beach resorts to low budget guesthouses and everything in between. Whatever option you select, it will carry Agoda’s ‘Low Price Guarantee’ to ensure you get the best value for money from your booking.
The dive season in Bali runs all year round. Overall, the best diving conditions exist from April to December, with sunfish, sharks and other pelagic fish visiting from June to September.
December to March is rainy season, reducing visibility in the north and northwest – Tulamben, Amed, Gili Selang, Pemuteran and Menjangan. From June to September dry monsoon winds bring rough seas and nutrient rich upwellings to Nusa Penida, Padang Bay and Amuk Bay.
How to Get There
You can fly internationally into Denpasar – Ngurah Rai International Airport on direct flights from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, Hawaii, Guam and various Australian cities. Many people fly into Jakarta and then on to Bali.
If you are going to Nusa Lembongan we recommend Scoot Cruise who will pick you up from your southern Bali hotel and drop you and your luggage off to your new place in Lembongan. It takes about 30 minutes. If your destination is Tulamben, it is a good 3 hour car journey from the airport.
Great for: Large animals, small animals, drift dives, visibility, advanced divers and non-diving activities
Not so great 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: Dive resorts
Recommended length of stay: 1 – 2 weeks