Venture into a new world beneath the waves in Bali, a tropical paradise that doubles as a hub for scuba divers around the globe. A dazzling blend of exquisite marine life, hypnotic coral gardens, and ancient shipwrecks, the island’s underwater world never ceases to captivate. For both seasoned enthusiasts and newbies, these 14 best scuba diving locations in Bali promise memorable exploration. Let’s plunge in!
Located on Bali’s northeast coast, Tulamben offers a unique diving experience with the USAT Liberty shipwreck. Resting just 30 metres offshore, the ship creates an enthralling backdrop. Decorated with gorgonian fans, anemones, and vibrant flora, it provides a home to various species, including jackfish, bumphead parrotfish, and fusiliers. Besides the wreck, Tulamben also features other spots like the Coral Garden and Drop Off. With the mix of black volcanic sand and reef habitats, these sites offer a dynamic view of ocean life, including garden eels, ribbon eels, and barracuda. Tulamben is an incredible dive destination suitable for divers of all skill levels, ensuring an unforgettable underwater adventure.
2. Nusa Penida
Embark on a bewitching sub-aquatic journey with a one-in-a-million diving adventure at Nusa Penida, southeast of Bali’s mainland. Here undersea explorers are treated to dramatic drift dives and the thrilling chance to encounter the magnificent giant ocean sunfish. Other sites on Nusa Penida offer an opportunity to dive with manta rays, while spots along the southern coast, such as SD, Pura Ped, and Toyapakeh, are beloved for their bright coral reefs teeming with life. Strong currents are common, making Nusa Penida ideal for intermediate and advanced divers.
3. Menjangan Island
Part of West Bali National Park, Menjangan Island showcases some of the most pristine coral walls in Bali, hence earning its reputation for wall-diving. The walls descend into the deep blue, adorned with striking soft and hard corals, sea fans, and vibrant sponges, providing a home to numerous fish species, including angelfish, butterflyfish, and parrotfish. In the deeper waters, you can encounter reef sharks, turtles, and even the occasional whale shark. The calm waters and exceptional visibility make Menjangan Island a must-visit for divers.
4. Secret Bay
Located in Gilimanuk, northwest Bali, Secret Bay is an exclusive destination for muck diving. For those unfamiliar with the term, muck diving focuses on finding small, unique organisms that inhabit the sandy or ‘mucky’ sea floor. Secret Bay’s volcanic sand substrate harbours an assortment of strange and wonderful creatures. From eye-catching nudibranchs and ghost pipefish to the rare Ambon scorpionfish and frogfish, this site is a nature photographer’s dream. Spotting the well-camouflaged inhabitants requires a keen eye, but the pleasure of discovery is worth every minute.
If you’re looking for something interesting to explore, you should visit Amed, a peaceful fishing village with a mesmerising submerged landscape. Its most recognised diving site, Jemeluk Bay, houses a Japanese shipwreck lying just a few metres offshore. The wreck, decorated with a fascinating array of coral formations, serves as a habitat for numerous sea species, including damselfish, sweetlips, and moray eels. Amed also offers excellent muck diving sites, where critters such as the mimic octopus can be found. When finished diving, you can explore the village and hike the nearby Mount Agung or visit the scenic rice terraces of Jatiluwih.
6. Padang Bai
Set along the picturesque east coast of Bali, Padang Bai stands out as a diving paradise, celebrated for its thriving, healthy reefs and a variety of alluring exploration sites. There are spots in Padang Bai like The Jetty, a great muck diving site famous for its weird and wonderful species like frogfish, octopus, and cuttlefish. With its calm waters, breathtaking coastal scenery, and diverse wildlife, Padang Bai is perfect for beginners and close-up photographers alike.
Renowned for hosting the world’s largest artificial Biorock reef project, Pemuteran, situated in North Bali, provides a distinctive diving experience. The ongoing project has transformed once lifeless parts of the seabed into blooming gardens. The effort has resulted in an aquatic wonderland with electrified structures adorned with corals, attracting diverse species. Close by, snorkellers can also explore the underwater Temple Garden featuring mystical Buddha statues and stupas. The site’s sandy substrate and relatively calm conditions are suitable for all sorts of divers, adding an educational aspect of oceanic conservation to your dive journey.
8. Manta Point
Nestled off the shores of Nusa Penida, Manta Point awaits as a bucket-list place for many scuba enthusiasts, promising an outstanding trip. The diving point is distinguished for its ‘cleaning stations’ where reef manta rays come to get rid of parasites by cleaner fish. As you descend, these graceful beings dance in the water column, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle. In addition to the manta rays, Manta Point also boasts a healthy coral reef populated by various members of the fish family, adding to the site’s overall allure. Despite being subject to currents, Manta Point is suitable for divers of all skill levels due to its relatively shallow depth.
9. Blue Lagoon
Not every scuba diving location in Bali is meant for pro-scuba divers; some, like Blue Lagoon, are better suited for beginners and photographers who aren’t looking for a challenge but rather a beautiful spot to luxuriate. This hypnotising site is recognised for its calm waters and rich biodiversity, which make it a joy to roam around. Here, divers can encounter various aquatic species hidden within the striking coral gardens, from vivid clownfish to unusual triggerfish. The accessible depth and minimal current make it an ideal location for leisurely exploration and photography, ensuring a fulfilling diving adventure.
10. Gili Tepekong
Just off the coast of Candidasa, Gili Tepekong offers a challenging dive environment that requires skill and expertise. The island is renowned for its robust currents, but those who embrace the experience are rewarded with exciting underwater topography, including canyons and caves swarming with marine life. The Canyon is a highly regarded site known for its swirling schools of snappers, reef sharks, and cuttlefish. However, if you’re a newer water enthusiast, you should be told that Gili Tepekong is best suited for skilled divers due to its currents and depth.
11. Crystal Bay
On the western edge of Nusa Penida, Crystal Bay is famous for its crystal-clear waters, as the name suggests. This bay reveals a brilliant coral reef close to the shoreline, bursting with lively aquatic formations and a wide variety of fish species. But the main attraction of Crystal Bay is the elusive Mola mola. Between July and October, these gentle giants rise from the deep to the cleaning stations within recreational diving limits, providing a special opportunity for divers to see these intriguing creatures up close.
12. Seraya Secrets
Seraya Secrets, near Tulamben, is a haven for muck diving enthusiasts. With its volcanic black sand and diverse macro life, this site unveils a world of tiny, fascinating organisms waiting to be discovered. The sands here are populated by various critters, including harlequin shrimp, ghost pipefish, and even blue-ringed octopus. Perfect for photographers and anyone interested in the smaller and more peculiar inhabitants of the subaqueous world, Seraya Secrets makes every dive a treasure hunt.
13. Nusa Lembongan
A diver’s trip to Bali would be incomplete if they didn’t make a stop at Nusa Lembongan, off the southeast coast of Bali, which captivates enthusiasts with its exciting drift diving. Due to its strong currents, nutrient-rich waters are brought into the area, attracting a diverse range of marine life. Sites like Blue Corner offer encounters with large pelagic species, including manta rays. Nusa Lembongan presents visitors with a special trip, teeming with lively schools of fish; once you’re done in the water, you can leave the sea and enjoy the iconic Mushroom Bay or go to Devil’s Tear, an enchanting cliffside formation where crashing waves create dramatic sprays and explosions of water.
Hidden beneath the pure waters, Biaha awaits as an enjoyable cave dive site, perfect for experienced diving enthusiasts and brimming with swarming aquatic life. Its shark cave is home to white-tip reef sharks that rest here during the day. Divers can also encounter large trevallies, stingrays, and various macro creatures at this site. The surge can make it challenging to enter the cave, but the thrill of being surrounded by sharks in their natural habitat is a special moment that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. The underwater landscapes of Biaha are visually stunning, offering divers an outstanding backdrop for their explorations.
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Whether you’re a macro enthusiast, a wreck explorer, or someone who enjoys drifting along coral gardens, Bali’s diverse diving locations have something for everyone. These 14 sites, each with its unique features, offer the chance to experience Bali’s splendours in all their glory. So strap on your gear and take the plunge into this wonderful world. Also, always remember to respect the environment. Leave only bubbles, and take only memories, because every dive is a journey towards preserving our oceans.