Diving in Bali
The Paradise Island of Bali is known as one of the most beautiful and enchanting island in the world. It is also the most popular diving destination in Indonesia. Bali offers excellent scuba diving at many different dive sites to sea adventurers, professional divers and diving enthusiasts. From the clear waters and steep walls in Menjangan and strange critters in Gilimanuk to the famous world war II wreck in Tulamben, and the fierce currents and cold waters in Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Dive sites are easily reached, visibility is usually good and the corals and fish life very diverse. Tourist and visitors find the attraction of good shore-based diving set against a magnificent view of volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces, simply irresistible.
Bali is one of the best and famous wreck diving in the world. The greatest feature of scuba diving in Bali is the rich and varies sites. Dive sites in Bali has deep drop-offs and step banks. It has also beautiful and amazing coral ridges . You can see magnificent volcanic outcrops and sea grass beds. Diving sites in Bali is very rich in underwater marine life with lots of exotic fishes to see.
The Lombok Strait is located to the ease of the island, the first deep water trench directly to the east of the Asian continental shelf. Through this channel flows the greatest volume of tidal water on earth. This Pacific Ocean water can create some powerful currents and roller coaster rides that characterize some Bali scuba diving sites. There is an excellent visibility because of the strong currents that clean the water. The strong current also is the reason why there are regular visits of large and pelagic fish like the incredible mola mola, or sunfish.
Bali dive sites are rich in underwater marine life. Professional and novice divers will see will see beautiful exotic fishes such as frogfish, cockatoo leaf fish and pygmy seahorses in Secret Bay and Menjangan which is located on the north west tip of the island. In the north and east at Tulamben and Candi Dasa dive sites, you will see bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks.
“The Island of the Gods”, is certainly a divine place to get your gear on and go for Diving. The diversity of marine life and dive sites is exceptional.
Diving Season in the Island of Bali
In this tropical Island of Bali, you can dive all year round. But the very best months to dive is from April to December. But if you want to see visiting sunfish, sharks and other pelagic fish, You will dive in the months of June to September. Not the best months to dive is from December to March because it is rainy season and visibility is very bad in the north and northwest – Tulamben, Amed, Gili Selang, Pemuteran and Menjangan.
Diving safaris are becoming the package of choice for those who want to see more of underwater Bali. These are basically hotel/diving and transport packages. Because you’re staying near the dive sites, you can do earlier and later dives and avoid the day-tripping crowds from the tourist areas that pack out popular sites. It also allows you to do more dives each day. Snorkelling is available at Tulamben, Amed, Padang Bai and Pemuteran/Menjangan, so non-diving partners and children can often join day trips and safaris.
Here are Bali’s 10 best:
1. USAT Liberty
The Liberty shipwreck is considered Bali’s most popular dive site. The American ship USAT Liberty was an armed cargo steamship that was torpedoed by the Japanese in 1942. The years under the sea have transformed it to one of Indonesia’s most beautiful artificial reefs. Stunning gorgonian sea fans, huge soft coral trees and big-barrel sponges all flourish here. A resident school of big-eyed jacks live on and around the ship and are unafraid of divers, so it’s safe to enter the school and have them whirl around you. The ship is also a haven for emperors, batfish, sweetlips and parrotfish.
On the northeast coast, Tulamben Bay receives very plankton-rich waters and, coupled with the fact that the three main dive sites provide totally different physical environments, the bay is a stunning and diverse underwater ecosystem. The black sand in the area brings out the colours of the corals, gorgonians, fish and other marine life. At the south end of the bay, a rocky point falls off sharply underwater to create a deep drop-off where sharks, whale sharks and sunfish have been found.
Amed lies to the south, along the eastern coastline. It was traditionally dependent on salt-panning and fishing, and despite the arrival of tourists it’s retained that feeling. There are three main dive sites here; head south to the shipwreck at Lipah fishing village, or a bit further south to the drift dive at Gili Selang, Bali’s easternmost point.
4. Lipah shipwreck
This village is tiny and so is the wreck, which can be found at the inner bay drop-off at the north end of Lipah Bay. Divers can take a boat down the coast, or just drive along the winding coast and walk in. It’s full of copper sweepers, a batfish school, hard coral growth and waving sea fans, and can be both dived or snorkelled. Go with a good guide, as the currents can come up fast and strong.
5. Gili Tepekong
This big volcanic hump rises out of the water not far from the Candi Dasa shore on the south-east coast. Underwater, the area is covered with Medusa-like heads that vary in size from huge boulders to small sea gardens. They are adorned with blood-red sea fans, tunicates and sponges. In some spots, the competition for space amid the corals is incredible. Other sites include Gili Mimpang and Gili Biaha. Currents are common in this area, but that means pelagic life like big tuna, jacks, sharks and even mola mola come in here.
6. Blue Lagoon
The shallow reefs of Blue Lagoon, near Padang Bai, are used for introductory dives, night dives and long photo excursions. Staghorn coral patch reefs start in only 3m of water. The reef then opens out onto an area with huge coral bommies, soft leather corals and flowing anemones. The area here can be good for macro buffs; there are rumours of a lacey scorpionfish being seen here as well.
7. Napoleon Reef
Named for a large Napoleon wrasse seen here, Napoleon Reef is in the north near Pemuteran. It can be dived deep or shallow, day or night. On the northeast end is the Ikan Warung fish house, bustling with various schools. Golden sea fans and large clumps of cotton-candy coral grow beside other gorgonians along the slope.
8. Menjangen Island
The drop-offs at Menjangan Island can be a real treat. This is the site of a now abandoned guard post that has a broad channel leading to the beach. Expect to be greeted by batfish. The dive offers spectacular corals and many deep crevices and fissures, as well as small caves. Sleeping groupers and wary big-eyed jacks are found in the dark recesses.
9. Crystal Bay
Crystal Bay, on Nusa Penida, is protected and relatively shallow, offering enjoyable conditions for divers of all levels. The bay has two entrances and a large rock sits in the centre. Be careful when diving this central rock, or along the outside edge of the bay, as the current can be strong, sweeping divers out along the outside wall into very tricky diving conditions. When near the drop-off, look for larger creatures, such as molas, eagle rays, dogtooth tuna, sharks and an occasional bumphead wrasse. Schooling surgeonfish are abundant in some spots.
10. Manta Point
Lucky divers may have a close encounter with the manta rays that are known to traverse this dive site. One of the mantas is pure white, a truly unearthly creature. Manta Point is located along the high and rugged cliffs of Nusa Penida, so it’s not always easy to get there due to the big swells that sometimes hit, but it’s worth it to experience these gentle, graceful creatures.
>> Next page: Golf in Bali