Bali, a tropical paradise in Indonesia, is renowned as one of the top scuba diving destinations in the world. With its exceptional variety of dive sites, Bali offers scuba divers an unparalleled underwater experience.
From the vibrant coral reefs of Nusa Penida and the historical wreck diving in Tulamben, Bali’s dive sites are often touted as one of the best scuba diving locations worldwide. Scuba diving in Bali provides one of the most diverse experiences one could get as you can explore mysterious wrecks — or choose to go hunting for tiny sea critters.
This guide will give scuba divers visiting Bali an exceptional lay of the land before they choose a location to scuba dive. It is essential to plan your dive trip according to what you want to see and do!
1. Nusa Penida
Nusa Penida, an island located southeast of Bali, Indonesia, is an acclaimed diving destination. The waters around Nusa Penida are renowned for their crystal-clear visibility, thriving marine life, and vibrant coral reefs, making it a top choice for divers around the world.
Manta Point, located near Nusa Penida and easily accessible from Nusa Lembongan, is an exceptional dive site famous for its large population of manta rays.
This site provides a rare opportunity for divers to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The manta rays, often seen gliding gracefully through the water, offer an awe-inspiring spectacle that is both humbling and unforgettable.
The dive conditions at Manta Point are generally suitable for divers of various skill levels. The waters here are relatively shallow and the currents, while present, are often manageable. This accessibility makes Manta Point an ideal location not just for experienced divers but also for those with less experience who wish to witness the majesty of the manta rays up close.
In addition to the manta rays, Manta Point also hosts a variety of other marine life. Divers may encounter reef sharks, colourful schools of tropical fish, and an array of other marine species that thrive in these nutrient-rich waters. The site’s unique underwater topography, characterized by large boulders and rock formations, adds to the overall diving experience, creating a beautiful backdrop for observing the mantas.
Crystal Bay, another renowned dive site near Nusa Penida, is celebrated for its crystal-clear waters, from which it derives its name. This bay is a haven for divers and snorkelers alike, offering stunning visibility and a breathtaking underwater landscape. The bay is particularly famous for its coral gardens, which are among the most vibrant and well-preserved in the region.
One of the most exciting aspects of diving in Crystal Bay is the chance to encounter the rare and elusive Mola Mola, or ocean sunfish, especially from July to October. These gentle giants, known for their peculiar shape and size, add a unique thrill to the diving experience. The site’s diverse underwater environment, featuring a mix of sloping reefs and deeper areas, caters to both novice and experienced divers, offering varying depths and challenges.
The bay’s calm and clear waters make it an excellent spot for snorkelling as well, allowing even non-divers to enjoy the rich marine biodiversity. The coral formations in Crystal Bay are home to a wide array of marine life, including colourful reef fish, octopuses, and occasionally, reef sharks. The beauty and tranquillity of the bay provide a serene yet exciting underwater adventure.
PED & SD Point
Ped Point and SD (Sekolah Dasar – which means elementary school) Point, both located on the north coast of Nusa Penida, are renowned for their drift diving experiences. Drift diving is a unique and exhilarating way to explore underwater landscapes, relying on the ocean currents to carry divers along. This method allows for a more extensive exploration of the reefs with less effort, offering a different perspective of the marine environment.
Ped Point is celebrated for its diverse and vibrant marine life. The underwater topography here is a blend of colourful coral formations and abundant fish species. Divers often encounter turtles, moray eels, and schools of Barracuda. Despite its beauty, it’s important to note that the currents at Ped Point can be quite strong, demanding a good level of diving experience and buoyancy control.
SD Point offers a similar drift diving adventure, characterized by its beautiful coral gardens and excellent visibility. This site is known for its dynamic underwater scenery, including a variety of coral species and a rich assortment of marine life. The presence of reef sharks and schools of tropical fish adds to the thrill of the dive. However, just like Ped Point, SD Point is also subject to strong currents, making it more suitable for intermediate to advanced divers.
Tulamben, located on the northeast coast of Bali, is one of the island’s most iconic dive locations, primarily known for the USAT Liberty Wreck. This site offers a unique blend of historical intrigue and natural underwater beauty, attracting divers from all over the world.
USAT Liberty Wreck
The USAT Liberty, an American cargo ship from World War II, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942. The shipwreck, lying just a few meters off Tulamben’s shore, is now one of the most accessible wreck dives in the world. Over the decades, the wreck has transformed into a thriving artificial reef, encrusted with corals and teeming with marine life.
The wreck lies in shallow water, with its depth ranging from about 5 meters at the highest point to 30 meters at the deepest. This makes it suitable for divers of all levels, from beginners to advanced. The wreck’s size and the variety of its sections offer a fascinating exploration opportunity. Divers can swim through cargo holds, observe the array of coral species that have colonized the structure, and witness the diverse marine life that now calls the wreck home, including schools of jackfish, numerous species of reef fish, and the occasional barracuda or turtle.
Coral Garden, nestled in the waters off Tulamben, Bali, is a site that epitomises the beauty and diversity of the underwater world. Renowned for its shallow and calm waters, this dive site is particularly appealing to novice divers and snorkelers. The seabed here is adorned with a vibrant tapestry of corals, creating a mesmerising underwater landscape that resembles a submerged garden.
The marine life at Coral Garden is notably diverse, hosting an array of specific species. Divers and snorkellers can expect to encounter the elegant Moorish Idol, the vibrantly coloured Parrotfish, and the playful Clownfish nestled in their anemone homes. The site is also home to groups of Trevally and Wrasse, adding dynamic energy to the calm surroundings. The gentle conditions make Coral Garden an excellent spot for underwater photography, capturing the vivid colours and intricate patterns of the marine inhabitants.
The Drop Off (or Wall Dive)
The Drop Off, also known as Wall Dive, offers a starkly different experience. As a wall that descends dramatically into the depths of the ocean, this site appeals to divers who seek a more exhilarating adventure. The wall, formed by a volcanic eruption, creates a unique underwater topography, plunging divers into a vertical world of marine exploration.
Diving at The Drop Off is akin to a journey through different layers of the ocean. The upper sections of the wall are bustling with life, featuring Damselfish darting among the corals and Lionfish elegantly cruising in the water. As divers descend, they might spot the elusive Leaf Scorpionfish camouflaged against the wall, or a Moray Eel peeking out from a crevice. The deeper sections offer the chance to observe larger species, such as the majestic Barracuda and the occasional Shark, patrolling the deeper blues.
3. Nusa Lembongan
Nusa Lembongan, a small island located southeast of Bali, Indonesia, is a popular destination among divers for its clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life. The island offers a range of dive sites suitable for all levels of divers, from beginners to experienced ones.
Blue Corner, situated off the coast of Nusa Lembongan, presents an exhilarating dive experience for seasoned divers. Characterised by its strong and unpredictable currents, this site is renowned for the adrenaline rush it provides, making it a destination for those seeking a challenging underwater adventure. The topography features a dramatic drop-off, plunging into the depths and creating a dynamic aquatic landscape.
At Blue Corner, divers have the opportunity to encounter a diverse array of marine life, adapted to the robust water movements. This site is particularly known for sightings of larger pelagic species. Divers might find themselves swimming alongside schools of Trevally and Jacks, which thrive in the strong currents. Observing the elegant, yet powerful, Grey Reef Sharks and the occasional Manta Ray adds to the thrill of the dive. Experienced divers at Blue Corner can immerse themselves in a world where they not only challenge their skills but also witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of marine life in its most dynamic form.
In contrast, Lembongan Bay on Nusa Lembongan offers a tranquil and inviting environment, perfect for beginner divers or those seeking a more relaxed underwater experience. The bay features calm, shallow waters with a sandy bottom, providing a safe and gentle introduction to the wonders of diving. This serene setting is ideal for training dives, where novices can comfortably learn and hone their diving skills.
The bay’s clear waters are home to an array of marine species, each adding a splash of colour and life to the underwater scenery. Divers and snorkellers can enjoy sightings of Butterflyfish and Angelfish, gracefully flitting among the coral formations. The sandy areas of the bay are often frequented by Garden Eels and Blue Spotted Rays, adding a touch of intrigue to the dive. Lembongan Bay’s welcoming environment makes it a perfect spot for those beginning their diving journey or seeking a peaceful dive.
Mangrove Point, located near the mangrove forests of Nusa Lembongan, offers a dive experience rich in biodiversity and suitable for all levels of divers. The site is known for its gentle drift dives, allowing divers to gracefully glide along the reef, carried by mild currents. This relaxing mode of exploration is perfect for observing the diverse marine life that thrives in these nutrient-rich waters.
The underwater landscape at Mangrove Point is a kaleidoscope of marine species. Divers can marvel at the vibrant schools of Fusiliers and Bannerfish, which congregate around the coral formations. The presence of Sweetlips and Groupers adds to the diversity of the site. The mangroves themselves play a crucial role in supporting this ecosystem, acting as a nursery for juvenile marine life, including young Blacktip Reef Sharks and Turtles. Diving at Mangrove Point offers a chance to witness the symbiotic relationships within this unique marine habitat, making it a rewarding experience for divers of all skill levels.
4. Menjangan Island
Menjangan Island, part of the West Bali National Park, is a hidden gem in Bali’s diving scene. Known for its pristine and vibrant coral reefs, clear waters, and diverse marine life, Menjangan Island offers some of the best wall diving in Bali. The island’s relatively remote location means it’s less crowded, allowing for a more serene and intimate diving experience.
Pos II at Menjangan Island is a site that captures the essence of diving in Bali with its vibrant underwater landscapes. This site, renowned for its spectacular wall dive, offers an incredible visual feast for divers. As the wall descends to depths of about 40 meters, it reveals a rich tapestry of corals and sea fans, creating a stunning backdrop for the dive. The variety in depth makes Pos II suitable for both beginners and advanced divers, offering different experiences at various levels.
The marine life at Pos II is as diverse as the corals decorating the wall. Divers can expect to see a kaleidoscope of reef fish, including the vividly coloured Anthias, Damselfish, and elegant Butterflyfish. The site also offers the opportunity to encounter larger species, such as Barracuda and occasional Reef Sharks, adding a thrill to the dive. The wall’s crevices and overhangs serve as a sanctuary for smaller marine creatures, making every dive here an exploratory adventure.
Eel Garden near Menjangan Island is a dive site that offers a unique and serene underwater experience. Named after the colony of Garden Eels found here, the site is characterized by a sandy sea floor where these eels can be seen gently swaying in the currents, creating an enchanting underwater ballet. The slope of the site is gentle, making it an excellent choice for novice divers or those looking for a more relaxed dive.
In addition to the mesmerizing sight of the Garden Eels, the site is frequented by schools of Snappers and graceful Batfish, adding a lively dynamic to the tranquil setting. Eagle Rays are occasional visitors, gliding elegantly over the sandy bottom. The area’s coral formations are bustling with small marine life, offering delightful opportunities for macro photography. Eel Garden is a testament to the subtle yet captivating beauty of the underwater world, where even the simplest ecosystems can be profoundly beautiful.
The Anker Wreck, also known as the Anchor Wreck, presents a dive that combines history with the natural beauty of the underwater world. Believed to be a remnant of a 19th-century Dutch trading vessel, the wreck lies at a depth of around 30 to 40 meters. This dive site is more suited to advanced divers, given its depth and the potential challenges posed by strong currents.
The wreck, now enveloped in corals, has become a thriving habitat for a variety of marine life. Diving here offers a chance to explore a piece of history, with the ship’s structure serving as a backdrop for an underwater ecosystem. Schools of Fusiliers and Sweetlips are commonly seen around the wreck, while Napoleon Wrasse make occasional appearances, adding a touch of grandeur. The Anker Wreck is a site that tells a story, inviting divers to uncover the mysteries of the past while marvelling at the resilience and beauty of marine life.
Amed, located on Bali’s northeastern coastline, is a diver’s haven known for its distinctive underwater experiences. This region is celebrated for its muck diving, providing a unique perspective on the marine world with a focus on macro life and unusual aquatic species.
Amed’s dive sites, set against the dramatic backdrop of volcanic sands and thriving coral formations, offer divers a chance to explore the less conspicuous but equally mesmerizing aspects of marine life.
Jemeluk Bay, a prominent dive site in Amed, is renowned for its tranquil beauty and abundant macro life. The bay’s seabed, comprised of sandy bottoms interspersed with coral outcrops, creates an ideal habitat for small, fascinating marine species. Divers in Jemeluk Bay are treated to sightings of the elusive Ghost Pipefish, the vibrant Nudibranchs in their myriad forms, and the charming Ornate Seahorse. The bay’s calm waters and gentle slopes make it a suitable site for divers of all levels, offering a serene environment for both novice divers and those looking to enjoy a peaceful dive. Jemeluk Bay stands out as a location where the underwater world’s smaller wonders come to life, offering a unique and captivating diving experience.
The Pyramids, named for their artificial reef structures, offer a distinctive dive experience in Amed. This site uniquely blends muck diving with reef exploration, attracting a diverse range of marine life. Here, divers can explore sandy areas inhabited by Garden Eels and Blue Spotted Rays, and move towards the artificial reefs where Sweetlips and Moray Eels abound. The pyramidal structures have become encrusted with corals over time, providing refuge for various marine creatures. The Pyramids present a diverse underwater environment, offering divers the excitement of discovering both muck and reef inhabitants in a single dive.
The Japanese Wreck in Amed offers a fascinating blend of history and marine biodiversity. Believed to be a World War II Japanese patrol boat, this shallow wreck is accessible to a range of divers, including those new to wreck diving. The wreck itself, covered in corals and sponges, is a haven for small and intriguing marine life. Divers can explore the wreck to find Leaf Scorpionfish, diverse species of Shrimp, and a variety of Nudibranchs, each exhibiting unique colours and patterns. The surrounding black volcanic sands provide a stark and dramatic contrast, enhancing the visual experience of this underwater macro paradise. The Japanese Wreck not only offers a glimpse into historical relics but also serves as a thriving habitat for a myriad of marine species, making it a captivating dive site for history enthusiasts and macro photographers alike.
6. Padang Bai
Padang Bai, located on the east coast of Bali, is a vibrant diving destination known for its diverse underwater environments. From shallow coral gardens to exciting drift dives and intriguing macro life, Padang Bai offers a range of experiences suitable for divers of all skill levels. The area’s rich marine biodiversity and the variety of dive sites make it a sought-after location for both novice and experienced divers.
Blue Lagoon, a popular dive site in Padang Bai, is celebrated for its tranquil waters and stunningly vibrant marine life. The site is characterized by a sandy bottom that transitions into a beautiful coral reef, making it accessible and appealing to divers and snorkelers alike.
The shallow waters of the Blue Lagoon are home to a plethora of marine species, including the ornate Angelfish, vividly coloured Clownfish, and the delicate Moorish Idol. The area also hosts a variety of small critters like nudibranchs and octopuses, making it a delight for macro photographers. The gentle conditions and the abundance of life make Blue Lagoon a perfect site for beginner divers, as well as those looking to enjoy a relaxed and colourful dive.
Shark Point is a dive site that promises a more thrilling experience, particularly for those interested in encountering larger marine species. As the name suggests, the site is a habitat for reef sharks, notably White-tip and Black-tip Reef Sharks.
This site comprises several diving zones with varying depths, offering diverse environments from coral gardens to deeper water terrains. Alongside the sharks, divers at Shark Point can also encounter schools of Trevally, large Groupers, and occasionally, Manta Rays, depending on the season. The site’s varying currents make it more suitable for intermediate to advanced divers, offering an exhilarating dive experience with the awe-inspiring predators of the ocean.
Jetty Point offers a unique dive experience, known particularly for its muck diving and the unusual marine life that inhabits this environment. The dive site is located around a working jetty, which has become a haven for an array of unusual critters. Divers here can explore the underwater pillars and sandy areas to spot species such as Frogfish, Scorpionfish, and various species of Pipefish. The site is also frequented by Cuttlefish and schools of juvenile fish, adding to the biodiversity. The calm and relatively shallow waters of Jetty Point make it suitable for all levels of divers, and its unique environment provides a special experience for those interested in macro and muck diving.
Sanur, situated along the southeast coast of Bali, is a delightful diving destination, especially renowned for its gentle and accessible dive sites. This area is particularly suitable for beginner divers or those looking for more relaxed and easy-going dive experiences. Sanur’s dive sites are marked by their mild currents and diverse underwater landscapes, offering a serene introduction to Bali’s marine life.
Jeladi Wilis, a notable dive site in Sanur, is cherished for its calm waters and the rich variety of marine life it hosts. The site is characterized by a gentle slope with a sandy bottom, interspersed with patches of coral and artificial reef structures. Divers at Jeladi Wilis can encounter an array of reef fish, including Sweetlips, Butterflyfish, and Bannerfish. The artificial reefs provide a haven for smaller creatures such as Nudibranchs and Shrimps, making it a delight for those interested in macro photography. The site’s ease of conditions makes it an ideal spot for beginner divers, as well as those looking to enjoy a tranquil dive.
Penjor Reef presents a serene underwater landscape, ideal for divers who enjoy exploring vibrant coral formations. This reef is a kaleidoscope of colour, with an abundance of soft and hard corals that create a picturesque underwater garden. Home to a diverse range of marine species, divers can spot Parrotfish, Angelfish, and occasional sightings of Turtles grazing on kelp. The currents at Penjor Reef are generally mild, providing a relaxing dive experience suitable for beginners and those who prefer a leisurely exploration of the reef’s beauty.
Channel Point is a dive site that offers a slightly more dynamic environment compared to the other sites in Sanur. Known for its channel-like topography, the site features a mix of sandy areas and coral formations. Divers here can observe a variety of marine life, including schools of Snappers, occasional Reef Sharks, and various species of Rays. The site’s structure creates an interesting dive with opportunities to explore different underwater terrains. While the currents can be slightly stronger here, Channel Point remains accessible for most divers, offering a blend of tranquillity and gentle adventure.
Candidasa, located on the east coast of Bali, is a dynamic and exciting diving destination that caters to a wide range of divers, from those seeking serene underwater landscapes to those looking for thrilling drift dives. The area’s dive sites are characterised by their vibrant coral formations, abundant marine life, and varying currents, offering a diverse range of underwater experiences.
Gili Mimpang, often referred to as “The Shark Point” of Candidasa, is a group of three small islands that provide a thrilling dive experience. Known for its strong currents, this site is a magnet for the more adventurous divers.
The waters around Gili Mimpang teem with marine life and are particularly renowned for frequent sightings of White-tip and Black-tip Reef Sharks. The coral formations here are vibrant and healthy, offering a home to a wide array of reef fish including Snappers, Groupers, and the vivid Anthias. The dynamic water conditions, while challenging, bring nutrients that sustain a rich and diverse ecosystem, making every dive at Gili Mimpang an exciting and unpredictable adventure. Due to the potential for strong currents, this site is recommended for more experienced divers.
Gili Tepekong, another stunning dive site near Candidasa, offers a unique combination of spectacular coral formations, dramatic underwater landscapes, and a chance to encounter large marine species. The site includes a canyon and a cave, providing an exhilarating experience for divers. The currents here can be strong and unpredictable, making it a site better suited for advanced divers. Gili Tepekong is also known for its large schools of fish, occasional Manta Ray sightings, and, during certain seasons, the magnificent Mola Mola (ocean sunfish). The dive site’s varied topography and potential for larger marine life encounters make it a highly sought-after location for thrill-seeking divers.