If you are thinking about scuba diving in Bali, then you have probably already heard that it offers some of the best dive sites in the world.
Well, you’ve not heard wrong! Whether you are into large pelagics, rare macro critters, or vibrant coral reefs and warm tropical waters, diving in Bali is not to be missed!
Scuba Diving In Bali
Bali is extremely popular for scuba diving for many reasons; it’s cheap, it offers rare and unique species sightings, the top-side scenery is amazing, the culture fascinating, the beaches pristine, and the list goes on. From experienced divers to complete beginners, this is one of the top dive destinations in the world!
What can you expect from this Bali diving guide?
We recognize that although everyone would love to visit a great dive destination like Bali, it can be a little daunting to plan your trip. Planning and organizing a big dive trip, far from home, and finding accurate information on where to dive, where to stay, what dive shops to use, what seasons to visit, costs, attractions you should see on land, safety information and more, makes it a bit stressful.
But it doesn’t have to be.
As fellow scuba travelers, we feel your pain when it comes to getting reliable information to organize our dive trips, so we have put together this guide to help you plan your Bali diving trip.
If you still have questions about scuba diving in Bali, feel free to ask them in the comments below, or shoot us an email!
Best places to dive in Bali
Bali is a pretty big island and offers a ton of world-class dive sites. Each of these dive sites has something different to offer, from muck diving with rare macro critters, to diving with the majestic mantas and the mysterious mola mola, drift dives across magnificent coral gardens to exploring historical wrecks.
While we could talk about each of these locations in much greater detail, we don’t want to overwhelm you. So for each of the top dive spots in Bali, we’ll share a little bit about what they’re most famous for so you can choose which spots tickle your fins most!
The Tulamben is home to a world-famous shipwreck, the USAT Liberty. You can’t talk about diving in Bali without mentioning the Liberty Wreck.
This 120m long US Army cargo ship was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in early 1942, and was able to beach herself near the small fishing village of Tulamben. But in 1963 when the nearby volcano Mount erupted, the USAT Liberty slid back into the water creating arguably the world’s best shore dive!
Absolutely covered in the corals and bursting with an unbelievable variety of marine creatures, this is a highlight of almost every diver’s trip to Bali. With the depths ranging from just three meters all the way down to 28 meters, this is an excellent wreck for both experienced divers and beginners alike.
Tulamben diving also includes great sites like Drop Off, Coral Garden and more, that you don’t want to miss. This is a top spot for underwater photographers, not just for the epic structures of the Liberty wreck but also because of the rare macro critters that are frequently spotted throughout the sites here.
Be sure to combine diving Tulamben with Amed and Saraya, for a perfect trip!
Amed is on the northeast coast, with great dive sites just 10 minutes offshore, with plenty of dive centers to choose from. Scuba diving Amed is great on its own, but combining Tulamben and/or Saraya would make your trip even better. Amed is a sleepy little fishing village come diving hot spot – the laid back beach vibes here are hard not to fall in love with.
The sites around Amed are great places to find frogfish, nudibranchs, rhinopias, and more, and there are also man-made pyramids sheltering tons of cute critters, you should check out. Plus plenty of beautiful corals, huge schools of fish, reef sharks, and the occasional Thresher or even an elusive Mola can be spotted here.
Amed is a popular spot for underwater photographers due to the amount of world-class muck dive sites to be found. But there are also some great coral reefs excellent for beginners, drift dives suitable for the more experienced, as well as easy access to some serious depth for tech divers.
Saraya is sandwiched between Amed and Tulamben and basically shares the same dive sites. So you can stay in a dive resort in the area, and be able to explore the sites of all three. A site called Saraya Secret is considered by some to be the best muck/macro diving in Bali, and it is also popular to do a night dive here. So no matter who you dive with, ask about the Secret!
Sanur is one of the most convenient dive locations in Bali, especially if you are staying anywhere near Kuta, Denpasar, Nusa Dua, or any of the other popular beach towns nearby. So if you just want to fit a quick dive or two whilst exploring the rest of Bali, this is a great place to do it. The man-made reef houses and shelters a ton of marine life, and is a great spot to take dive courses or shallow try or check dives. Call the dive center ahead of time, as the diving in Sanur relies on the tide.
Although it’s probably the least exciting of the dive locations on our list, it’s worth noting that the dive centers in Sanur also offer day and overnight dive trips to pretty much all of the other dive destinations on this list. So it can be a great place to base yourself if you’re not a fan of changing locations every few days and want to see all the top dive spots.
In Pemuteran local communities and businesses, overseen by the Karang Lestari Foundation, came together to create the largest ‘biorock’ reef site on the planet, and it’s a great story. Now you can dive on these colossal man-made reefs with excellent visibility and a mindblowing plethora of marine life. The whole structure continues to grow as more sections are added over time, so go support the effort!
Lovina is pretty far out of the way of, well everything, and to be honest, the diving is pretty mediocre, leading many to wonder why it’s even on this list. But hey, some people want to explore something new!
Lovina is located on the northernmost shore of Bali, and maybe it’s somewhere you want to dive if you are already in the area diving around Pemuteran. One of the highlights of this area is going out dolphin spotting!
Padang Bai, isn’t that just the harbor for the Gili islands? You’re correct! Padang Bai is where you catch one of the fast boats to the Gilis. However, it’s also home to some awesome dive sites. Especially, if you’re into your macro. Located halfway between Sanur and Amed, it’s also very accessible if you’re staying in the south of Bali.
In addition to some awesome muck diving, you’ll also find some gorgeous coral reefs and pretty interesting wrecks. You’ll find frogfish, morays, stonefish, nudibranchs, squid, rays, stargazers, and more. Most of the dives here are within sheltered bays with shore entries, so good for beginners or those who get seasick on boats easily!
Nusa Penida diving is some of the best in Indonesia and is probably the first place you should check out in Bali. With epic drift diving, super healthy corals, and bucket-list pelagics!
Be sure to check out Manta Point, where you’ve got an almost guaranteed chance to encounter multiple mantas throughout the year. Or Crystal Bay where you’ve got the best opportunity to spot the elusive Mola Mola from July to November. It’s one of the few places in the entire world where you can spot these strange creatures.
Nusa Penida is the biggest of the three Nusa islands situated off the southeast tip of Bali. You can take a fast boat or ferry here and stay on the island. Or you can dive spots around Nusa Penida from the neighboring islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Cennigan or do a day trip with one of the dive centers in Sanur.
One thing that’s important to note is that the diving around Nusa Penida is better suited to experienced divers. Underwater there can be strong currents and to have a chance to see the mola mola you’ll need to be advanced certified as these are commonly spotted below 18m.
That being said, Manta Point, is a shallow dive. With the main manta station located at around 8m so this sight, as well as nearby Manta Bay, is accessible to new divers. The surface conditions at Manta Point can be quite rough with big swells and choppy waves, especially in the high season aka windy season! So if you easily get seasick, we don’t recommend a trip to Manta Point!
Nusa Lembongan is basically the same as Nusa Penida, and is a smaller island right next to it. That also means that it shares the epic dives of Penida! There are manta cleaning stations where you will see lots of mantas, and during the right season, you might just get lucky enough to see the giant mola mola, which should be on every diver’s bucket list!
Nusa Lembongan also has some awesome dive sites including the mangroves which are home to an impressive array of marine species, plus some seriously vibrant reefs and steep walls with adrenalin pumping currents! In addition to the mantas and mola mola you’ve also got a chance to spot some of the bigger shark species here including hammerheads, whale sharks, and threshers. They often spot dolphins around the Nusa islands too!
If you can’t tell already, the Nusa islands are arguably our favorite place to dive in Bali. We just can’t get enough of those big bucket-list creatures and the exhilarating drift dives!
The Black sands bay of Gilimanuk in the far corner of North West Bali offers some of the best muck diving in the country (and that’s impressive – Indonesia is one of the world’s best muck diving destinations!). So this spot is a macro underwater photographer’s dream. If you are making the 4-hour drive from Kuta, you won’t be disappointed.
A lot of great underwater documentaries were shot from Gilimanuk diving, so get ready to see nudibranchs, ornate ghost pipefish, hairy frogfish, mimics, wunderpus, rhinopia, and more!
Menjangan is a protected marine park in the northwest corner of Bali. Unless you are planning on staying in the area, you will want to plan an overnight tour with a dive center in the south as it’s a 4-hour plus drive each way.
Menjangan diving is wonderful for its shallow sites and rich diversity of marine life. Here you’ll spot turtles, barracuda, reef sharks, garden eels, and much much more. It’s a great spot for beginners and learning, as well as those looking for some easy, but certainly not boring dives!
Best Time To Dive In Bali
The diving in Bali is good year-round. Visibility is best during the dry season (between May and October). This is also when the visibility is best but the water temperatures do get a little cooler, especially between July and September, ranging from around 26°C to 18°C. (The coolest spots are the Nusa islands as they are exposed to deep ocean currents which are also why there’s such epic marine life here!).
During the rainy season, November to March, the visibility is often reduced (on average 10 to 20 meters) but the water is much warmer and dive spots are much less crowded. January and February tend to be the worst months for diving in Bali, the rain brings quite a big of trash and sediment into the water from the rivers around Bali and further afield in Indonesia.
July and August are considered peak seasons in Bali for diving, so while the conditions are excellent, the sites will be busier. Plus this is considered windy season so boat rides, especially around the Nusa islands, can be quite rough. Your best chance to spot Mola Mola in Bali is between July and October. Mantas can be spotted all year round.
For us, the best time to dive in Bali is the time between the seasons (April/May or Sept/Oct), where you get the perfect blend of conditions, and sites are significantly less crowded.
Frequently Asked Questions about Travelling and Diving around Bali
We get asked a lot of questions about diving or in Bali or Indonesia in general, so we put together a bunch of those questions and answers, to help you get all the information you need to plan your dream dive trip to Bali.
We try to cover everything in this guide, even it has nothing to do with scuba, but of course, I am sure we missed some topics. So if you have a question about diving or traveling in Bali that we haven’t covered, just pop it in the comments and we’ll get back to you ASAP!
Should I dive in Bali or the Gili Islands?
The answer to this really just depends on what you are looking for. In our opinion, Bali and the Gili Islands each offer something totally different, both above and below water. In fact, we put together a guide just for diving in the Gilis.
If you are an underwater photographer, lover of rare and unique creatures, or want to explore a lot of incredible dive sites with tons of corals, head dive Bali.
For casual divers who just want an easy dive with no fuss about the long car or boat rides, and don’t mind if they mainly just see turtles, then head to one of the Gili Islands. Most sites are just minutes from the dive resorts, and are generally easy, relaxing dives. Bali is more for the incredible critter sitings, abundant coral reefs, and those bucket list pelagics.
What does it cost to dive in Bali?
In general, diving in Bali is a little cheaper than more remote locations in Indonesia (such as Raja Ampat), mostly because there are a lot of shops to choose from and the infrastructure is considerably more developed. And Indonesia will be cheaper than most western countries.
That said, although there are a ton of great dive operations, I wouldn’t recommend you just look for the cheapest one. It’s worth it to find a trustworthy shop, with a good safety record, gear, boats, guides etc. One popular and top-quality dive center is Blue Corner on Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. They also do Divemaster internships and conservation courses if you’re interested in an awesome experience, as well as instructor development.
The prices for diving in Bali vary slightly across each of the dive locations as the distance traveled to reach the locations or sites varies quite significantly, but here’s a rough estimate so you have an idea of what to expect.
- 2 fun dives: approx 1,200,000 IDR or $82( with discounts for multiple days diving)
- PADI Open Water course: about 6,000,000 IDR or $430
- PADI Advenced Open Water course: 5,000,000 IDR or $345
- PADI Rescue & EFR Course: 7,500,000 IDR or $515
Where is a great place in Bali to get PADI certified?
There are too many to list, as there are a lot of great dive centers with instructors, in a lot of good locations for beginners. It really depends on what diving you’re most interested in, as well as where you want to base yourself for a few days.
Amed is a super laid-back spot, with easy, yet awesome, dives and one of the cheapest spots in Bali to learn to dive. Sanur is a little more expensive, but has some highly recommended dive shops and gives you access to a variety of dive spots for your certification.
Blue Corner in Nusa Lembongan (mentioned above) is also a great place to do any certifications, as you are also going to see some great stuff, including manta rays! Another great dive center in Nusa Lembongan is Siren Divers, so check them out as well!
Is the language barrier difficult in Bali?
You shouldn’t really have a problem getting around in Bali, language-wise, especially when it comes to diving and dealing with the dive centers. And compared to the rest of Indonesia, almost all the locals speak at least some English, with many completely fluent.
Since nearly all of Bali’s economy relies on foreign tourism, any locals working in dive shops or restaurants, or hotels generally speak decent English. It doesn’t hurt to learn a few key phrases though.
There is also a huge ex-pat community in Bali, and all of the dive centers I’ve visited so far were owned by Americans or Europeans, or Australians. So you’ll be communicating easily. Tour guides also speak English if you are looking for one.
What are some unique critters in Bali that should be on my wishlist?
Bali is a good place to scuba dive and snorkel if you want to be able to see a lot of species that you will never see in The Americas or Europe. Of course, most aren’t exclusive JUST to Bali, there are other great locations in Indonesia, but Bali does offer some greats! From manta rays to several shark species, turtles to rare octopi, and colorful nudis!
Some exotic critters, that you can’t see in many other countries include:
Mola mola. You should definitely try and experience being in the water with these guys at least once in a lifetime. These giant sunfish are so weird, and not a lot of people have seen them!
Rhinopias. These weird fish, especially the weedy rhinopia, are some strange concoction between a frogfish and a scorpionfish. They come in different colors and are fun to find.
Hairy frogfish. It’s not just the Lembeh Straight macro king that has hairy frogfish, you can see them in some of the great muck sites of Bali as well.
Lots of species of colorful eels. From giant morays to medium size snowflake eels, to small garden eels, you will definitely get your fix.
Flamboyant cuttlefish. Every diver should have flamboyant cuttlefish on their critter bucket list. You’ll see lots of other cuttlefish as well, just not as cute.
Colorful nudibranchs. If you don’t know what a nudibranch is, you are in for a treat. If you do know, then you are still in for a treat. Either way, there are so many cool nudi species in Bali that it’s a photographer’s heaven.
Octopi. Blue ring, wunderpus, mimik, matoti and more. What more can you ask for?
There are a lot more incredible species in Bali that you can hope to see, including giant manta rays, but there are too many to list. Suffice it to say you won’t be bored.
What underwater camera will I need for diving in Bali?
One thing is for sure, you are definitely going to want to get as many photo or video memories as you can during your epic dive trip to Bali. We put together a big list of the Best Dive Cameras for every budget, which will give you an idea of what’s out there.
On that list we put together, you will find the best options, based on personal experience, for every budget or need. So check that out.
Where to stay when diving in Bali?
You’ll find accommodation to suit all budgets and styles in the majority of Bali including basic hostels, boutique bed and breakfasts, full-service resorts, private villas, and more.
Once you’ve picked your locations from the list above, you can check out the different accommodation options.
Ever heard of PADI Travel?
Yep, you can now book your dives and rooms with the biggest name in scuba diving! Trust me, you want to book your dream dive trip with the most trusted name in the industry!
Click here to start browsing dive resorts and destinations.
Geography of Bali
Bali island is in the shape of a kiwi bird and is located between Java and Lombok islands. Bali is the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia, attracting backpackers, surfers, divers, and more.
Fun Fact about Bali:
South is sometimes north. The Balinese concept of the north is the same as ‘up’ – a place where gods and good spirits dwell. bIn this way, high points such as Mount Agung, which is considered sacred, represent ‘north’, and you’ll find most Balinese dwellings and shrines face ‘north’ – to the mountain. If you are north of Mount Agung and ask where north is, you will almost definitely be directed to the mountain – south of where you stand.
Unesco Sites in Bali:
There is only one UNESCO World Heritage site in the province of Bali, and that is the Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy I was surprised to find that there are only 8 in all of Indonesia.
Travel tips for Bali:
It’s rude in a temple to…
- Have the soles of your feet pointing at the altar
- Point at things, especially statues
- Be improperly attired (you must wear a long sarong and cover your shoulders
- Be loud or irreverent
- Stand higher than the priest
- Have an uncovered wound
- Be visibly pregnant
And that’s it! You now know all the best spots of scuba diving in Bali and the essentials to start planning your trip. The Scuba Otter team has spent a ton of time diving in Bali, as well as other top spots in Indonesia so if you’ve still got questions, please leave us a comment below!
Heading to Bali? Check out our guide to 101 things to do in Bali.
Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime.