The beautiful island Bali is a fantastic location for scuba diving. Covered in rice paddies, volcanic mountains, spectacular beaches and surrounded by amazing coral reefs this is the most popular island in Indonesia for good reason. The unique island country, Indonesia, can definitely stake a claim for the best scuba diving in the world being home to many famous dive spots like Raja Ampat, Komodo and Lembeh Strait. Bali has a variety of world class dive sites whether you prefer photographing amazing little critters doing muck diving, swimming with massive pelagic creatures such as manta rays or if you want to explore famous wrecks, you will love diving around Bali. See our Guide to all the Best Diving in Indonesia.
Indonesia is a massive island country located in Southeast Asia and Oceania, it is the fourth most populous country in the world. This spectacular island archipelago is made up of more than 17 000 islands of which Bali is one. The largest and most important islands forming part of Indonesia are Sumatra, Java, Borneo (Kalimantan), Sulawesi, and New Guinea (Papua).
Sulawesi has fantastic muck diving in the north around Lembeh and nice off the beaten track diving in the South from Pantai Bira. In of Tomini off the coast of Central Sulawesi the Togian islands is a hidden paradise with good diving.
Bali – the Land of the Gods
When you mention Indonesia, Bali is the first place that comes to mind for most people. Bali is also known as the Land of the Gods, Hinduism and spirituality is ever present here. The volcanic island is rich in culture and spirituality, blessed with spectacular natural beauty including rice paddies, beaches, volcanic mountains and amazing coral reefs. These beautiful, rugged landscapes create the perfect playground for adventure enthusiasts. Bali offers world class surfing, diving and hiking, it is also a great island to enjoy the sandy beaches, go snorkeling, do a yoga class or visit the beautiful temples. Bali is located between Java and Lombok, there are several small islands such as the Nusa and Gili islands closeby with good diving they are easily reached by boat from Bali.
The island is a magical destination with an amazing variety of activities and traditional Balinese experiences, the South of the island around Kuta has however degraded into a typical western beach holiday area flooded with tourists, mixed with hundreds of local touters and motorbike taxis.
If you want peace and quiet I would recommend leaving this area asap and be careful of scammers when shopping here.
Bali has a good international airport and is a popular backpacker and holiday location, with good facilities, restaurants and accommodation. It is a comfortable and easy location to visit, we have been to Bali several times and found it a great place to start exploring Indonesia.
Scuba Diving from Bali
The scuba diving around Bali is incredibly diverse offering muc diving with unique critters, interesting wrecks, beautiful coral reefs, big pelagic creatures like manta rays and reef sharks, schools of fish and interesting unique animals such as the mola mola (oceanic sunfish) that can be seen here.
Bali Scuba Diving Highlights
- Mola Mola – This is one of the best places in the world to dive with the elusive mola mola (oceanic sunfish) around Nusa Penida.
- Manta Rays – Bali is a great place to dive or snorkel with manta rays at manta point, Nusa Penida.
- Muck Diving – The island offers great muck diving with frogfish, ghostpipe fish, sea horses, interesting nudibranches and many more unreal macro critters to be discovered on the coral reefs and black volcanic sand of around Amed and Tulamben in the east and around Gilimanuk in the north west corner of Bali.
- Wreck Diving – There are some nice wrecks around Bali, the famous USAT Liberty is definitely the highlight. A shore dive with awesome marine life dropping from 4m to about 30m this amazing wreck is a dive not to miss!
- Fish Life – Reefs covered in beautiful hard and soft coral draw reef fish and pelagic species. Reef sharks, barracudas, jacks, some big bumphead parrot fish, Napoleon wrasse and many more.
- Shore Dives – Diving all over Indonesia, most of the dive sites are a long drive from the island. Bali offers fantastic shore diving, around Tulamben and Amed must be some of the best shore dives in the world. Put on your gear and explore an amazing wreck or see some unreal macro critters diving from the beach!
Dive Conditions in Bali
Water temperature around Bali usually ranges between 27 and 29C, a 3mm wetsuit is recommended. Diving around the Nusa islands with thermocline temperature can be as low as 21C. The visibility generally varies between 10 and 20 meters. Most diving is done at depths between 5 – 40m.
The best dive sites around Bali
In a nutshell, the dive sites not to miss around Bali
- Crystal Bay from Nusa Penida to see Mola Mola (in season).
- Manta Point from Nusa Penida to swim with the majestic Manta Rays.
- USAT Liberty Shipwreck unreal wreck and marine life, Tulamben on the East Coast.
- Secret Bay in Gilimanuk with black volcanic sand, great muck diving, a nursery for a variety of weird and wonderful underwater creatures.
More special creatures not to miss in diving in Bali
- The Bobbit Worms at Secret Bay
- Marble Rays at Blue Corner Nusa Penida
- Bumphead Parrot Fish on the USAT Liberty Tulamben
- Frog Fish, Ghost Pipe Fish, Mantis Shrimps, Pigmy Seahorses all over the East Coast
Bali Scuba Diving Areas
There are three main areas to explore for diving around Bali; the South, the East and the North West Coast. Some of the dive sites are located close to the mainland while others are around small islands, but still within reaching distance to dive from the mainland.
South Bali, diving around the Nusa Islands
Most of the diving in the South of Bali is done close to the islands Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, dive sites around these two little islands are world renowned for diving with Mola Mola (the oceanic sunfish) and Manta Rays. Sanur on the mainland also has some nice diving and is known as a good location for dive training. It is possible to dive around Nusa Penida on day trips from Padang Bai on Bali or to stay on Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan and dive with one of the dive centers on the island. There is plenty to see on the Nusa islands and diving from the island is cheaper than diving from Bali since the drive is much shorter. Staying on Nusa Penida we went snorkeling with the manta rays a couple of times.
- For all about diving Nusa Penida – Guide to Diving from Nusa Penida.
- Things to do and detailed how to Get – Complete Nusa Penida Travel Guide
Getting to Dive Spots in the South of Bali
You can get to Sanur or Padangbai by taxi or public bus from Denpasar, Nusa Penida can be reached from Padangbai by public ferry or from Sanur by speed boat.
Accommodation in Nusa Penida
- Penida Dive Resort – We loved diving with these guys and it is great to stay at your dive center, nice place, Awesome staff, great pancake breakfast!
- Dragonfly – Great budget stay, AC, dormitory beds and rooms
- Ampel Hill Homestay – very well rated home stay with excellent views, nice rooms, budget price
- Pandawa Beach Resort and Spa Luxury – Luxury suites with nice sea view, 5 star luxury for a great price.
Book Diving Nusa Penida
- Dive 2 sites around Nusa Penida, more than 100 bookings, Check out Dive Nusa Penida Hotel pick up and drop off at Sanur, South of Denpasar, Seminyak, Kuta, North of Nusa Dua, and the North of Jimbaran. Include lunch and gear.
- Nusa Penida, Manta Point full day snorkeling trip includes shuttlebus pickup in South of Bali, lunch, boat trip, equipment
Dive Sites in the South of Bali (Nusa Penida)
Fantastic site to see manta rays, it is a shallow dive with the manta cleaning station around 10m. Manta Point is at a couple of bays surrounded by the fantastic cliffs of Nusa Penida. Standing on the cliffs you can see many mantas swimming below. There are two spots referred to as Manta Point, some dive shops call them Manta Point or Manta Point 1 and Manta 66 or Manta Point 2. I preferred snorkeling here, swimming with plenty of mantas everytime. Mantas can be seen here all year around, but the best season is March to June. They say you have more than a 90% of swimming with the mantas here.
Named after the crystal clear water often found in the bay, this is the best place to see the famous Mola Mola of Bali. The strange looking fish with a body that is flattened laterally is very large, weighing up to a ton and diving with them is a fantastic experience. Crystal Bay is located in the channel between Nusa Penida and Nusa Ceningan.The best season for diving with mola mola is from August to October. We also saw reef sharks, tunas, turtles, garden eels and a variety of nice nudibranches diving here. It is a deep dive with most of the time spent waiting between 25m and 30m waiting for the sunfish.
Blue Corner is a deep drift dive very close to Nusa Lembongan and is known for diving with large marine animals. Mola mola, dolphins, reef sharks, tunas, schools of eagle rays and big marble rays are often seen here. This is an advanced dive and currents can be strong. The dive starts shallow at about 5m with a downwards slope with some terraces down to about 40m. At 38m we saw a couple of large marble rays.
Located between Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida, a plateau at around 10m with large boulders and beautiful coral formations, drop off to about 30m. Nice drift dive with turtles and a variety of reef fish and pelagic species. In season Mola Mola is sometimes seen here.
Drift dive over sloping reef covered in beautiful coral. Tons of triggerfish, turtles, reef sharks big schools of bat fish. We dived here more than once and I asked Alya to marry me on a dive at PED. Great dive site, lots of life and color and with a thermocline mola mola are sometimes seen here.
East Coast of Bali
The East Coast of Bali is unique in that it offers some of the best shore diving in the world, unreal muck diving on the black volcanic sand, awesome wall dives dropping from the surface to the deep and off course the beautiful wreck of the USAT Liberty. There is fantastic scuba diving close to the shores of the small fishermen’s villages of Amed and Tulamben, walk in from the shore or take a short ride to the dive site in a jukung, a traditional wooden sailboat. The 4 small Gili islands on the east coast of Bali; Gili Tepekong, Gili Biaha, Gili Mimpang and Gili Selang, is a short boat drive from Candidas or Padangbai. The dive spots around these islands have beautiful coral reefs and reef sharks, barracuda, stingrays, and Mola Mola (Sunfish) in season with some luck.
Transport to Dive Spots in the East of Bali
Tulamben can be reached by renting a car, public bus or by taking a private shuttle from Kuta, Denpasar or many other locations in Bali.
Renting a Car – Rental Car a platform comparing best car rental options in Bali.
Public Bus – Buses depart from Amlapura and Singaraja around every 30 minutes until 14:00
Shuttle Bus – Perama shuttle bus drops off in central Tulamben, picks up at Candi Dasa, Kuta, Padang Bai, Sanur and Ubud. Book Shuttle Bus
Best rated and reviewed accommodation.
- Backpacker Budget – Bali Reef Divers Tulamben
- Budget Rooms – Matahari Tulamben Resort, Dive & Spa
- Mid Range – Liberty Dive Resort
- Luxury – Toyabali Resort, Dive & Relax
Book Diving East of Bali
- Full Day Tulamben Dive Trip – Dive three of the best dive site in the east of Bali, the Liberty Wreck, Coral Gardens, and Tulamben Drop Off
- Full Day Snorkeling Tulamben, Padang Bai, Amed or Nusa Penida Choose snorkeling at one of Bali’s famous sites, snorkel on the wreck of the Liberty or with the mantas of Nusa Penida! Includes Snorkel equipment rental, Hotel pick up or drop off (Central Kuta, Seminyak, Legian and Sanur), Lunch, Drinks, Marine Park entry fees
Dive Sites on the East Coast of Bali
The USAT Liberty, Tulamben
This massive wreck must be the most famous wreck dive in Indonesia. A shore dive from Tulamben, the USAT (United States Army Transport) Liberty is located only about 30m from the beach. The dive starts at 4m deep dropping down to over 30m at its deepest end. This United States military cargo shipwreck has an interesting history, it was torpedoed by the Japanese and towed towards Bali, the damaged ship was beached onto the shore of Tulamben. In 1963, Mount Agung erupted and lava flow pushed her back into the water where she now lays on her side. The amazing wreck is 120m long, encrusted by coral and surrounded by plenty of marine life. You often see schools of big bumphead parrotfish, barracuda, turtles, stingrays and look carefully on the black sand surrounding the wreck for some unique little critters like pygmy seahorses on fans, a variety of nudibranches and other fantastic little animals. The wreck is great for snorkeling and makes for a spectacular night dive.
The Drop off, Tulamben
The Drop Off, also called The Tulamben Wall is one of the most popular dive sites in Bali. The reef drops from 3 metres down to about 70 metres deep. The sheer wall was created by the same lava flow that pushed Liberty back into the water during the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963. The spectacular wall is covered by corals, gorgonians, and sponges and makes for some great muck diving with pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, frog fish, mantas shrimp and a variety of interesting nudibranches on the reef. Keep an eye out for reef sharks, big bumphead parrotfish, triggerfish, moray eels, stonefish and big groupers.
Coral Garden, Tulamben
Another nice shore dive in Tulamben, location is close to the Liberty wreck. Fairly easy dive with usually little current and depths varying from 5m to a maximum depth at about 25m. Lots of reef fish; damselfish, butterfly fish, surgeonfish, lionfish and many other species found over South East Asia. Large Moray eels, great macro life with frogfish, ghost pipe fish, mantis shrimps and more awesome critters.
The village Amed is located about 30 minutes drive from Tulamben. The Amed Wall is only a 5 min boat ride in a traditional jukung boat. The wall of massive rocks, covered in soft and hard coral and giant gorgonians start at a depth of about 8m dropping down to a maximum depth of 40m. The trained eyes of your dive master might spot tiny pigmy seahorses, leafy scorpionfish and a variety of nudibranches. Turtles, moray eels and big groupers also frequent this reef.
Japanese Wreck, Amed
The Japanese Wreck is located in Lipah, a quiet bay, close to Jemeluk and is accessible by road. This is a shore dive and this 20m long wreck is located only about 15m from the shore. It is an easy dive in shallow water between 2 and 12m depth on a sloping sandy bottom. There is a lot of life on the wreck, encrusted with coral, keep an eye out for octopus, cuttlefish, beautiful nudibranches, and even pigmy seahorses. This shallow wreck is popular for snorkeling.
This artificial reef dive site is only about a 10 min boat ride in a traditional jukung boat. The man made pyramid reef structures on the sandy bottom is now covered in life. These structures boast with a variety of fish including titan triggerfish, damsel fish, trumpet fish, and blue spotted stingrays. Check on the sand for garden eels, and nudibranches. Amazing macro life found here includes leafy scorpionfish, ghost pipefish, frog fish, and the pink pigmy seahorse.
Diving the North West Corner of Bali
The North West corner of Bali, protected by the West Bali National Park, hosts some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling around the island. This part of Bali has spectacular wall dives on the sheer walls covered with massive gorgonians and other sea fans around Menjangan island, expect amazing visibility diving in the warm water here. The extraordinary muck diving on the black volcanic sand of Gilimanuk Bay is world renowned.
Menjangan island is a small island, also known as deer island, because of a large number of wild deer living here, it is very close to the main island. Menjangan Island is about a 100km drive (3 and a half hours) from Kuta. Diving here, the closest towns are Permutaran or Lovina. Diving boats leave from the Labuan Lalang harbor 20 minutes by car from Permutaran. Gilimanuk is a large town, but does not have any dive operators I know of, so organize diving in a daytrip from Pemutaran or Kuta.
- Backpackers Budget – Angga Guest House
- Nice Room – Putu Guest House
- Mid Range – Reef Seen Divers’ Resort
- Luxury – Kuda Laut Bungalows & Diving
Book Diving Menjangan Island
Two tank dive on best sites of Menjangan Island. Includes Hotel pick up and drop off at Sanur, South of Denpasar, Seminyak, Kuta, North of Nusa Dua, and the North of Jimbaran, Entrance ticket to the national park. Lunch and drinks
Dive Sites North West Corner of Bali
Eel Garden (Pos1), Menjangan Island
This site gets its name from a large colony of garden eels and lies on the sand at the western point of Menjangan. Nice wall dropping from 10m to 40m with a lot of beautiful gorgonians and other sea fans. Plenty of triggerfish, butterflyfish, batfish, moray eels, and lionfish around the reef, look carefully for pygmy seahorse on the gorgonians.
Anchor Wreck, Menjang Island
Site gets its name from 2 anchors lying on the reef, an heavily encrusted anchor located at about 6m and an anchor at about 30m. These belonged to the shipwreck scattered all over this site here, an old wooden ship wreck sits here on the western tip of Menjangan between 30 and 45m.
Secret Bay, Gilimanuk Bay
Secret Bay located in Gilimanuk Bay is well known for spectacular muck diving. This dive site is a shallow shore dive on black volcanic sand in front of Gilimanuk Harbor with a variety of awesome macro critters, not a blue water coral dive, classic muck diving and the water is chilly. A dive guide is important here to show you all the weird and wonderful little creatures. Well known as one of the best places to see bobbit worms, dragonets, many frogfish, a variety of nudibranchs, ghost pipefish and mimic octopus.
Scuba diving does have risks, make sure your health and your gear is covered, read the small print. World Nomads Diving Insurance
Things to Pack
My dive computer, mask and camera are always the first things I pack for a dive trip.
Loving my Mares Smart computer, nice computer for a good price.
Mares Star liquid skin mask, we have both been diving with this comfortable, high quality mask, scuba and freediving for a long time.
Canon G7x camera in combination with an ikelite housing awesome camera, amazing photography without carrying a massive rig. I still cannot believe the Go Pro Hero 8 camera, not professional footage, but awesome quality, how do they manage to pack all of that in such a small package? you will also need a scuba housing to dive deeper than 10m with your Go Pro.
Little things to have in your dive bag.
SMB+REEL | RASH VEST | HOODED RASH VEST | ORCA TORCH | BUFF | KEY CHAIN O-RING KIT | ANTI-FOG | SILICONE SACHETS | SURF HAT | MICROFIBER LENS CLEAN KIT | POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES | WATERPROOF DIVE LOGBOOK
Going on a dive trip? – Dive Trip Packing List+Tips
About Author – Campbell
The strong half of Stingy Nomads, a nomadic aquaman that would be happy to spend all his life in the water diving, surfing and spearfishing but often has to compromise with Alya and go hiking instead. Campbell is responsible for all our marine adventures and following them with write-ups. He loves traveling, braai (BBQ in South Africa), red wine and spending the day in a wetsuit.
Dive Resources for South East Asia
- Dive Sipadan – a Travelling Instructor’s Guide
- Diving Perhentian Islands
- Swimming with Whale Sharks in Cebu, The Philippines
- Choosing the Best Dive School in Koh Tao Thailand
- 17 Awesome places in Indonesia
- Indonesian visa on arrival; extendable vs non-extendable
- Komodo island and Flores complete guide
- How to get from Bali to Flores
- Nusa Penida island guide, Bail