Scuba diving is one of the top activities that visitors enjoy when they travel to Bali. With walls, muck dives, shipwrecks, drift dives, and even sunken statues, Bali has something for every type of diver. It is a place where beginners can learn to dive and experienced divers can go on one-of-a-kind adventures.
There’s no shortage of diversity in the waters surrounding the Island of the Gods. From minute nudibranchs and seahorses to massive fish and manta rays, Bali’s amazing marine life leaves many divers in awe.
There are a number of different diving destinations around Bali, Indonesia – each offering a unique experience. Read on to learn about the best places to go scuba diving in Bali and contact us to start planning your next adventure today!
Scuba diving is the main attraction that draws travelers to this small fishing village on Bali’s northeast coast. Tulamben is a total contrast to Bali’s bustling, touristed South. Here, you can catch a glimpse of the “real” authentic Bali. The mood in Tulamben is laid-back and welcoming, and there are no flashy resorts, nightclubs, or restaurant chains. Instead, after a day of diving you can plop yourself down in a local warung and dine on Balinese specialties like nasi goreng, gado-gado, or the catch of the day.
But don’t be mistaken, there is no shortage of grandeur in Tulamben – you just have to look below the ocean’s surface to fully discover the magnificence. The waters surrounding Tulamben abound with a spectacular diversity of marine life and the area boasts some of Bali’s best dive sites.
Tulamben is home to one of the most accessible wreck dives in the world, the USAT Liberty Wreck. The wreck lies just off Tulamben’s black pebble beach and can be accessed via a shore entry. Here, divers can spot bumphead parrotfish, sea turtles, moray eels, and countless species of reef fish weaving about the wreck and hiding in its crevices.
The Liberty Wreck is not the only notable dive site in Tulamben. There are a number of other sites that each offer a different experience. Divers often complement their wreck dive with visits to other local dive sites, such as the Drop Off – a steep underwater wall – and Coral Garden – a shallow reef composed of anemones and corals, as well as artificial structures and statues. Just north of Tulamben, visitors can explore a newer, more intact wreck.
The Tulamben coastline is also known for its excellent muck diving sites, like Seraya Secrets and Melasti. Here, underwater photographers can spot nudibranchs, shrimps, frogfish, and other tiny critters crawling around the silty black sand.
Tulamben’s calm waters and accessible shore diving sites make it a great place for beginners to learn. New divers can try out scuba diving via an introductory diving experience or earn their certification by completing the Open Water Diver Course.
Also located in northeast Bali, Amed is another popular diving destination that can easily be combined with a trip to Tulamben. Amed is a 14 kilometer stretch of coastline that technically consists of seven different fishing villages: Amed, Jemeluk, Bunutan, Lipah, Selang, Banyuning, and Aas. Though Amed is not known for rice fields or white sand beaches, it offers its own type of picturesque scenery. Colorful wooden fishing boats called “jukungs” line the region’s black volcanic beaches while Mount Agung towers in the backdrop.
While Amed is still off the beaten tourist path and attracts primarily divers, it is far more developed than Tulamben. The main road that runs parallel to the beach is lined with restaurants, bars, and hotels. Amed is also one of three places in Bali where you can catch a fast boat to the nearby Gili Islands.
Like Tulamben, the waters around Amed are a calm place to dive and there are a number of different dive sites. One of the most popular dive sites here is Pyramids, which is named after the dozens of artificial reef structures that look like small pyramids. Since the structures were sunk by the local community in the 1990s, the pyramids have been colonized by corals that act as refuge for marine life. In addition to reef fish, divers may also spot blue spotted stingrays, turtles, and white tip reef sharks visiting this dive site.
Another good dive site in Amed is the impressive underwater wall that runs along the side of Jemeluk Bay. An array of fish linger around the orange, pink, and red gorgonian fans and barrel sponges that protrude from the wall. If you look closely, you might even be lucky enough to spot a tiny pygmy seahorse that is camouflaged to match its gorgonian habitat.
If you do make your way over to Bali’s northeast coast, there are a number of interesting attractions that you can add into your itinerary. Pay a visit to cultural sites like Pura Lempuyung, Taman Ujung, or Tirta Gangga Water Palace. Plus, be sure to marvel at the views of the beautiful rice fields that you’ll pass by on your way.
3. Padang Bai
If you’re not able to make it over to Bali’s northeast coast then you might consider visiting Padang Bai. Located about an hour from Sanur on Bali’s southeast coast, Padang Bai is a small port town that many visitors pass through on the way to Lombok and the Gili Islands. However, Padang Bai is more than just a launching point to other destinations, it also has its own allure, especially for underwater adventurers.
Several dive sites are located just a short boat ride from the main beach, the most popular of which is Blue Lagoon. This protected bay is an ideal location for beginner scuba divers or those looking for a relaxing day underwater. Here, a white sandy slope gradually descends from 5 to 20 meters and a variety of reef fish dart around the scattered coral bommies. Just a few of the species that can be spotted here are butterflyfish, blue ribbon eels, scorpionfish, cuttlefish, and Napoleon wrasse.
Those looking for something a little different might be intrigued by the Jepun dive site, which features one of Bali’s smaller wrecks as well as an artificial reef. For a more challenging experience, divers can dive with sharks and explore the impressive walls, canyons, and caves at Gili Tepekong and Mimpang.
Padang Bai also offers something for macro lovers. An unused cruise ship pier, aptly referred to as the “Jetty” dive site, is an excellent place to hunt for unusual, tiny critters. While the concrete piles are covered in corals, the real attraction is found within the debris on the mucky floor. Here, divers with a keen eye can search for frogfish, nudibranchs, pipefish, blue ring octopus, rhinopias, and more.
4. Nusa Islands
The Nusa Islands are a trio of islands located off of Bali’s southeast coast. The islands – named Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan – are quickly becoming a more popular destination thanks to their white sandy beaches and scenic viewpoints. However, the real attraction isn’t what you can visit on the islands themselves, but rather what you can see within their surrounding waters.
The Nusa Islands are the best place in Bali to see larger marine life. It is here that divers can witness the mola mola, one of the planet’s most interesting fish. Mola molas, also known as ocean sunfish, look unreal – like something out of a science-fiction movie. This strange looking fish resembles an enormous flat pancake with a large fin protruding from the top of its body. The mola mola is the largest bony fish in the ocean with some individuals reaching more than 3 meters tall. These creatures are truly a sight to see.
Though mola molas may be large, spotting them is no simple task. These elusive creatures generally hang out in deep water, making them nearly difficult to see. But from July to October, they tend to come up to the shallower waters where fish and seabirds clean off their parasites. Crystal Bay dive site off of Nusa Penida is not only the best place to look for mola molas in Bali, but one of the best places to spot them in the world. Just be wary that this site has a strong current, making it suitable for experienced divers only.
Mola molas aren’t the only large species that hangs around the Nusa Islands. Nusa Penida is a hotspot for manta rays, who come year round to the cleaning station at Manta Point. Diving with these gentle giants is an unforgettable experience. There’s just something magical about the way they gracefully “fly” through the water.
Along with iconic species encounters, the Nusa Islands are also known for their currents. This makes them a great location for exhilarating drift dives at sites such as Blue Corner, Sental, PED, and SD.
5. Menjangan Island
The Nusa Islands aren’t the only islands off of Bali’s coast. Those who venture to the opposite side of Bali have the opportunity to explore Menjangan Island – a small, unspoiled island off of Bali’s northwest coast. Menjangan is far removed from the hustle and bustle of the south, so divers typically stay in the town of Pemuteran or Lovina since the island itself is undeveloped. From Permuteran, it takes about 30 minutes to reach Menjangan’s dive sites by boat.
Menjangan is known for its excellent wall dives and its clear, calm conditions. Menjangan’s walls generally start around 10 meters deep, with some reaching depths of 60+ meters. The combination of shallow and deep reefs makes Menjangan an appealing destination for beginners and experienced divers alike.
Menjangan’s reefs boast impressive soft corals, barrel sponges, and giant gorgonian sea fans. Plenty of fish and marine critters can be found on Menjangan’s reefs including batfish, surgeonfish, damselfish, crocodile fish, fusiliers, eels, reef sharks, and frogfish.
Book Your Bali Scuba Diving Adventure
Needless to say, there’s so much to see when you go scuba diving in Bali. If you’re planning a trip to Bali, be sure to include one or more of these amazing dive destinations in your itinerary.