Dive Nusa Penida, Bali Indonesia

manta nusa penida stingy nomads
manta nusa penida stingy nomads

Dive Nusa Penida, in this Entry: Best conditions for seeing Mola mola. Manta dives and snorkeling. Where is the best place to dive from; Padang Bai, Nusa Penida or Lembongan? Dive operators, sites, prices, accommodation.

Nusa Penida

This is the largest (17km long) of 3 islands separated from Bali on the east side by The Bandung Strait. The water here is fairly cold, due to a deep upwelling south of Bali and the nutrient-rich deep-water trench is renowned as one of the top places in the world to spot mola mola, the giant oceanic sunfish. The strange looking mola mola looks like a big head swimming around without a body. It is the heaviest known bony fish in the world. These fish usually live very deep but they come up to shallow waters to be cleaned of skin parasites.

mola mola
Sketch of mola mola and a diver. These strange looking fish are huge! (We don’t have photos and only post our own pics)

In South Africa I have been lucky enough to see a mola mola, but in Bali we were very unlucky and arrived a day after the dive center saw nine mola molas during a single dive! We did however see many more manta rays than we did while diving in Komodo National Park. During a different kind of amazing dive at the site PED, Alya and I got engaged to be married during a drift dive in mild current, you can see the video below.

Dive Nusa Penida. We saw plenty of mantas at Manta Point. Apparently you have a 99% chance of seeing Mantas diving here.
Dive Nusa Penida. We saw plenty of mantas at Manta Point. Apparently you have a 99% chance of seeing Mantas diving here.

Best conditions for seeing Mola Mola in Bali, Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is one of the best places in the world for seeing Mola Mola also called Oceanic Sunfish. The high season to see them  is from August to October. Tides and current will determine if mola is around. The best time is just between new moon and full moon during long slack tide. The day of full moon (we arrived a day late) our dive leader saw nine molas! We dived for the following three days without having any luck.

Dive sites for Mola Mola

The best dive sites to see them are Crystal Bay, Gamat Bay, Toyapakeh and  Ceningan wall in the Ceningan channel and Blue Corner in Nusa Lembongan. If you have to pick one site Crystal Bay is the place to go.  They come up from the deep in cold water, so you want temperature below 25C and these big “swimming heads” don’t like current, so little current or look in a bay where they can hide.

Mantas in crystal clear waters of Nusa Penida, we took the photo from the surrounding cliffs.
Mantas in crystal clear waters of Nusa Penida, we took the photo from the surrounding cliffs. Dive Nusa Penida

How to dive Nusa Penida; from Bali (Padang Bai), Nusa Penida or Lembongan

Diving the sites around Nusa Penida is much cheaper from the island itself than from Padang Bai or Nusa Lembongan, see prices below. We enjoyed staying on Nusa Penida, it has some beautiful sites, see our entry Nusa Penida, Bali 20 years ago, for things to do, prices, accommodation and photos of this beautiful island. Since Manta Point is just around the corner snorkeling with these beautiful beasts is not very expensive and you can do it everyday!

Dive operators and Prices for diving Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida

Penida Dive Resort, Toyapake                –  IDR 400 000 ($30) per dive

IDR 150 000 ($11) snorkeling with mantas

They offer accommodation and a restaurant see our Nusa Penida entry.

Professionally Czech run dive resort with very experienced Czech instructors.

There is a local run dive center with friendly staff and similar prices on Toyapake beach.

Awesome Campbell with beautiful Alya and excellent dive instructor Barbara.
Awesome Campbell with beautiful Alya and excellent dive instructor Barbara. Dive Nusa Penida

Bali (Padang Bai)

OK Divers                                                  – IDR 1 500 000 ($110) for 2 dives = $55 per dive

Nice dive center, very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff.

Nusa Lembongan

Lembongan Dive Center                         -IDR 500 ($37.50) per dive

DIVE LOG

Crystal Bay Dive Site

Max Depth: 29m, Avg Depth 15m, 23C, viz 20m

Hung on to the wall at 25-30m for most of the dive waiting for mola mola. The water was cold enough but the current was very strong on both our dives, maybe explaining the molas not showing up. We saw some white tip reef sharks, a turtle, a tuna and the coral was nice.

Dive Nusa Penida. A couple of divers clinging to the sloping wall diving in pumping current at Crystal Bay.
Dive Nusa Penida. A couple of divers clinging to the sloping wall diving in pumping current at Crystal Bay.

At the end of the second dive here we finished in the shallows and saw nice coral, lots of nudis, garden eels and a variety of reef fish.

Unicorn fish and some nice fish shallow water at the end of our dive at Crystal Bay.
Unicorn fish and some nice fish shallow water at the end of our dive at Crystal Bay.Dive Nusa Penida

 

Crystal Bay dive
Crystal Bay, some photos taken in the shallows at the end of the dive.

Blue Corner dive site

Max Depth: 38m, Avg Depth 16m, 23C, viz 20m

One of the most famous dive sites in the area, conditions not always favorable, strong currents, experience required some dive operators require proof of 100 dives. Blue Corner has a smooth deep slope with terraces, a fast drift dive. Mola mola often seen in season, we were hoping they are hiding from the current around the corner, but unfortunately did not make it around the corner – no Mola mola. We did however see eight big marble rays! They were swimming at 38m.

Unicorn fish and some nice fish shallow water at the end of our dive at Crystal Bay.
Unicorn fish and some nice fish shallow water at the end of our dive at Crystal Bay. Dive Nusa Penida

Manta Point

Excellent place to see manta rays. There are two sites called Manta point; Manta point (Manta point 1) and Manta point 2 (Manta 66). Manta Point 1 is shallow (10m) and very close to the rocks. Many mantas can be seen swimming here from the cliff above. The peak season is from March to June, but the mantas are here all year round. Some dive shops give a money back guarantee for seeing them. Our decision to go snorkeling instead of diving was a good one. You can talk to the boat that spots them and swim in that direction. We had a few mantas swimming around us on the surface for a while.

 PED

Beautiful sloping reef covered in hard coral. Dived it twice, current was medium and strong. We saw large variety of reef fish, turtle, white tip reef shark, if A thermocline is present mola mola can be seen here in season.

PED
PED, loads of fish, a nice drift dive over a beautiful sloping coral reef. Dive Nusa Penida

I asked Alya to marry me diving on this reef, see video below.

underwater proposal stingy nomads indonesia
It is a YES!

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