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Diving in Bali, a Complete Guide

Bali diving with local boats

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.

Bali diving with local boats
Diving with the local boats in Bali.

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. See our Guide to all the Best Diving in Indonesia and off the beaten track little gems like the Togian islands.

Want to go snorkeling around Bali? This convenient tour will pick you up and take you to some of the best spots around the island!

Dive Bali Map
Bali Dive Map

Bali – the Land of the Gods

Bali is the most popular holiday destination in Indonesia. The volcanic island is rich in culture and spirituality, blessed with spectacular natural beauty including rice paddies, beaches, volcanic mountains and amazing coral reefs. 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 scenery
Beautiful scenery exploring Bali by scooter.

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!

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.

Some of the highlights that can be seen diving from Bali are; The Bobbit Worms at Secret Bay, Marble Rays at Blue Corner Nusa Penida, Bumphead Parrot Fish on the USAT Liberty wreck in Tulamben and spectacular muc diving including Frog Fish, Ghost Pipe Fish, Mantis Shrimps, Pigmy Seahorses all over the East Coast.

manta ray

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.

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. 

manta nusa penida stingy nomads
Swimming with Manta Rays around Nusa Penida.

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

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)

See our complete guide to the Best Dive Sites in Bali for details on the dive sites in the area. The most popular sites in this part of the island are; Manta Point, Crystal Bay, Blue Corner, Toyapakeh and PED.

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.

nudibranch on black volcanic sand
Spotting colorful nudibranches on the black volcanic sand.

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

Accommodation Tulamben

Best rated and reviewed accommodation.

USAT Liberty Tulamben
Diving on the Wreck of the USAT Liberty Tulamben Bali

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 around Bali – 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

See the Best Dive Sites in Bali for a full description of sites. Our favorite sites on the East Coast of Bali are The Liberty wreck, Drop Off and Coral gardens in Tulamben, Amed wall, Japanese wreck and Pyramids in Amed.

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.

Accommodation Pemutaran

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

See our article “the Best Dive Sites in Bali” for a description of dive sites in the North West Coast of Bali. The most popular sites to dive here are; Eel Garden (Pos1) and Anchor Wreck from Menjangan Island and Secret Bay located in Gilimanuk Bay, well known for spectacular muck diving

Garden Eels
You need good buoyancy to take photos of the garden eels. They retract into the sand if you get close.

Dive Insurance

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.

Little things to have in your dive bag.

SMB+REEL | RASH VEST | BUFF | KEY CHAIN O-RING KIT | ANTI-FOG | SURF HAT | POLARIZED FISHING SUNGLASSES | WATERPROOF DIVE LOGBOOK

Going on a dive trip? – Dive Trip Packing List+Tips

Dive Resources for South East Asia

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