Diving in Bali: The Top 10 Best Dive Sites

best diving in bali

Bali has cemented its status as a must-visit for divers seeking great value and amazing underwater sights. With world-class dive sites and a reasonable price tag, it’s easy to see why the island’s reputation among underwater enthusiasts continues growing. Whether you fancy exploring shipwrecks, spotting huge sea creatures like the majestic manta rays and the mola-mola (oceanic sunfish), peering at small critters while muck diving, or marvelling at colourful coral, the island of the gods has it all! Along with top instructors, crystal clear water, and reliable sunny weather during the dry months, it’s no wonder why diving in Bali is on every diver’s bucket list. Make sure to check out these top ten best dive sites in Bali for some new underwater discoveries!

Liberty Shipwreck, Tulamben

Tulamben offers divers one of the most iconic wreck dives in the world – the Liberty Shipwreck. This is no ordinary wreck site. The Liberty is enormous, sitting in very shallow water at 20 feet, yet reaching down to greater depths. Its large size means there is plenty to see across multiple dives. You may encounter resident schools of fish like bumphead parrotfish and jacks, as well as other creatures such as the solitary great barracuda.

The Liberty itself demands repeat visits to fully explore its nooks and crannies. Sunrise dives are particularly rewarding and worth setting an early alarm for, with divers entering the water as the sun’s rays first touch the surface. Night dives here are also spectacular, and you might bump into some large groupers. Access for divers is easy, with incredibly strong Balinese women helping you carry your heavy gear directly from the shore over the rocky entry point. Conditions can vary depending on swell, so your guide is on hand to offer assistance entering and exiting the water, carrying cameras if needed.

barracudas in Amed
Photo by Joan Li on Unsplash

Amed Wall, Amed

30 minutes away from Tulamben is the small and quiet fishing village of Amed. The black sand coastline located on the east of the island retains much of its authentic Balinese character, away from large tourist developments. Transfers to local dive sites are made by traditional jukung boats, the small wooden sailboats commonly used for fishing across Indonesia and the Philippines. Distinctive in design with an outrigger and triangular sail, these traditionally crafted boats prove surprisingly fast, requiring just a 5-minute ride to reach dive spots.

If you go on a drift dive along the Amed Wall and Pyramids, watch out for sea turtles, reef sharks, blue-spotted stingrays, and schools of barracuda. If you’re hoping to encounter the giants of the sea, Bunutan and Gili Selang are good spots to catch a glimpse of whitetip reef sharks, barracuda, and the seasonal visiting mola mola or ocean sunfish.

Ghost Bay, Amed

Ghost Bay is a highly rated shore dive with abundant marine life, typically good visibility, and minimal current. It is an excellent location for macro photography and for testing out your underwater camera skills. This site is an artificial reef created using bottles, tyres and other manmade objects. If you take your time and peer into the crevices, you’ll be delightfully rewarded with sightings of tiny creatures in their homes.

This muck dive hotspot plays host to lionfish, mimic octopus, pipefish, weever fish and stonefish – masters of camouflage. Most remain elusive against the silty backdrop, but don’t worry; your local dive guide will point you in the right direction. After countless dives in these waters, the guides have honed an eye for spotting bottom-dwellers in their habitat. Overall, Ghost Bay proves to be a macrophotographer’s paradise, with subjects galore for those willing to look closely.

Mola mola
Photo from iStock

Gili Islands

Not to be confused with the Gili Islands near Lombok – Bali’s Gili Islands are composed of Tepekong, Mimpang, and Biaha. These small rocky islands are home to an incredible diversity of marine life, with schools of fish in such numbers that will leave you in awe. This is also a good spot to see the elusive mola mola in their natural habitat, with far fewer boats around to disturb them compared to the busy Nusa Penida.

Tepekong, in particular, can deliver world-class diving, with excellent fish life and visibility. When the current picks up, the school of fish swimming along can be quite a spectacle. However, these sites are only best suited to experienced divers. The currents around the islands can change quickly and become fierce, with down currents posing a risk to those who are less experienced divers. To dive in these waters, you must be mentally prepared to face unstable conditions and quickly adapt to them.

Manta Ray in Nusa Penida
Photo by Nott Peera on Unsplash

Manta Point, Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is an island surrounded by world-class dive sites teeming with vibrant corals and strong underwater currents. The sloping reefs are alive with fish, turtles, and occasionally larger marine life. Manta Point is renowned as a reliable cleaning station for manta rays. They can be spotted year-round, so no matter what month you go, you’ll be sure to have an encounter with these magnificent giants.

This dive site is located in shallow water, however there can sometimes be strong currents which make entering and exiting the water tricky. Due to its close proximity to the rocky coastline, it may not be possible to dive here when the sea is particularly choppy or rough. Manta Point’s currents can be strong depending on conditions, so this may not suit novice divers.

Crystal Bay, Nusa Penida

One of Bali’s most iconic (and busiest) dive sites, Crystal Bay, lies within Nusa Penida— this dive site has a white sandy bottom with vibrant coral reefs stretching along either side. But the real showstopper and why people flock to this dive spot is because this is where schools of sunfish, or mola mola, aggregate seasonally. The peak season for sunfish sightings in Crystal Bay runs from July through mid-November, so if you choose to come here, be prepared to see lots of divers in the water.

During the peak season, it can get extremely busy here, so we’d suggest any experienced divers head over to Candidasa instead to see if they can spot any mola mola. The scenery is just as beautiful but likely to be less hectic. Diving there gives you a better chance of an encounter with the intriguing ocean sunfish in a more peaceful setting. However, if you’re a beginner, Crystal Bay is a great place to try scuba diving (as long as the conditions are good and you have a good dive guide) because there are many cheap dive tours and commendable dive schools in this area.

Seraya Secrets

Seraya is home to some of Bali’s best muck diving sites, with easy shore access year-round. Muck diving involves exploring silty seabeds of black volcanic sand, teeming with tiny but fascinating creatures. This nutrient-rich sand provides the perfect nursery environment for many young species vulnerable to predators. It’s no surprise macro photographers flock here. The shallow, silt-filled waters combined with abundant subjects make for excellent photo opportunities.

In Seraya, pipefish, nudibranchs, and seahorses expertly camouflage within the seabed, making them tricky to spot without guidance. But not to worry, local guides have sharp eyes and local knowledge to help you find these elusive critters during your dives. Night dives are sublime and definitely a must-do in Seraya, as many creatures come alive after dark. Cuttlefish, squid and crabs roam the seabed, plus bioluminescent plankton glow wondrously when you switch off your light and let your night vision adjust.

turtle in mejangan island
Photo by NEOM on Unsplash

Garden Eel Point, Mejangan Island

If you want to escape the large crowds in the southern tip of Bali, put the western region of the island in your travel plans instead. Here, you will find the protected island of Mejangan, which offers some fantastic diving opportunities. There is a 40,000 Rp fee to access the park, which has been under conservation protection since 1917. Thanks to these efforts, the coral and ecosystems are thriving, and visitors are enjoying the stunning colours in the shallow waters. Be certain to contact the dive centres located in the village of Pemuteran to organise your trip, as well as the equipment and guides. As the dive sites are quite shallow, they are also a popular destination for non-divers, so they are a great option for families.

Experienced divers can head to the renowned Menjangan wall dive site, which boasts visibility reaching an impressive 50m! The wall dive descends from 26-60m deep and features the highest concentration of Gorgonian sea fans in Bali. These stunning sea fans are home to pygmy seahorses, so keep a close eye out for those tiny creatures. Schools of fish, turtles, and the occasional manta ray also frequent the area.

The Blue Lagoon, Padang Bai

Padang Bai is a charming little village that serves as the ferry terminal to Lombok. This place makes for an ideal dive location for those just starting out. Being well protected from currents, it allows novice divers to enjoy seeing coral and sea life up close in the shallower waters near the shore. The sandy bottom and crystal-clear visibility provide excellent conditions for learning the ropes, too. If you’re travelling with family and kids and want to do a fun water activity, Padang Bai is a great place to snorkel, too. Take a jukung boat out into the middle of the ocean and dive into the Blue Lagoon.

Keep an eye out for some truly unique critters that sometimes pass through, such as the vibrant Spanish Dancer nudibranch. You may also come across playful squid, bizarre frogfish, graceful rays, the peacock mantis shrimp with its lightning-fast claws, sneaky eels and plenty more colourful underwater characters. All in all, the Blue Lagoon is a top spot for new divers looking to gain experience in safe, scenic surroundings.

Temple Garden, Pemuteran

This stunning artificial dive site was constructed as part of three projects funded by BRF/AUS Aid in partnership with local dive centres. Known as the Temple Garden, it sits at a depth of 30 metres and leads onto the nearby Temple Wall dive site. Statues of Buddha, Ganesha, turtles and other sea creatures populate the garden. Due to its location in the bay, visibility is not guaranteed and typically extends to around 10 metres. Given the depth, it is chiefly aimed at experienced divers holding advanced qualifications. However, certified open-water divers with ample experience may take part accompanied by a dive guide.

Small coral outcrops, or ‘bommies’, are scattered throughout, one hosting a resting Buddha head. The bommies and Buddha heads have become home to numerous cleaning shrimp that will happily climb aboard if approached calmly. Schools of fish also inhabit the garden, and most statues have become picturesquely overgrown with hard and soft corals, so make sure to have your cameras ready and take some beautiful underwater photos.

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