HOW TO CHOOSE WHERE TO DIVE IN BALI
Bali has a lot to offer and when there are so many amazing things to see deciding where to base yourself could be a difficult choice
Before getting into the details though it is good to be clear what you are looking for. Ask yourself: –
- Do you like muck diving? Do you want to try it?
- Is diving the USAT Liberty Wreck a must for you?
- Do you want to see a manta ray or mola mola?
- Are you happy to move around to different destinations or would you rather stay in one location?
- How experienced are you in current, at depth, etc..?
- Do you prefer shallow and calm diving?
Keep your answers to these questions in mind as you read through the following summaries as it will help you focus on getting the most from your scuba diving vacation in Bali.
Pemuteran, Menjangan Island, and Gilimanuk
These three locations are in the northwest of Bali around 4 hours from the airport and, because of this, are quieter than other locations.
Stay in Pemuteran, and you have more than ten sites available within 15 minutes of the shore. The sites are calm with only the occasional moderate instance of current. Expect a range of site topography; wall, wreck, artificial reefs and sloping coral gardens all feature. A delightful variety of marine life inhabits these sites.
Extend your boat journey to 30 or 40 minutes, and you can access the dozen or so sites at Menjangan Island. Here the marine life opportunities get larger with the chance to see whale sharks and manta rays as well as giant barracuda, Napoleon wrasse, and potato cod. You can expect more current in this region, but that means more reef action.
40 minutes away from Pemuteran by car will bring you to Secret Bay, certainly one of Bali’s Best Dive Sites and a muck diving paradise.
Overall this region is a great choice, it’s quieter and has as much to offer newer divers as it does experienced divers. There’s a variety of sites available and an interesting array of marine life. There are shore dives available as well as boat dives, and it is possible to night dive from the shore too. The only downside to this location is the long transfer from the airport.
Tulamben and Amed
Tulamben and Amed are quite close to each other. Stay in one, and you will be able to arrange to dive in the other. Amed is a little quieter and retains more of a traditional feel than neighboring Tulamben which is more popular due to the USS Liberty Shipwreck lying just off the beach. If, however, you want to do more than tick the box where the USS Liberty is concerned staying in Tulamben offers you easy shore access and the flexibility to dive her whenever you like; before or after the peak times when divers from other locations arrive. Both areas offer a variety of diving with little current. Again, this area is a good choice for novice divers and those enjoying effortless diving.
Note that you can transfer to Nusa Lembongan from Tulamben and Amed in around 3 hours. You could leave after morning dives and connect with a 15.30 boat that takes 25 minutes to reach Nusa Lembongan from Sanur. In this way, you could experience Tulamben and Nusa Lembongan.
Padang Bai and Candidasa
These destinations are just 20 minutes apart; Padang Bai is a coastal town, and ferry port whereas Candidasa is more seaside town. Whichever location you choose to stay in you will have access to all of the dive sites in this region. Do note however that some Candidasa dive centers moor their boats in Padang Bai so depending on who you choose to dive with, you might be connecting to Padang Bai anyway.
There’s some delightful muck diving here, the abandoned cruise ship jetty being one of the most interesting sites and stories. Along with diving suitable for newer divers, there’s also some more advanced diving a little further out. The offshore islands of Gili Mimpang and Gili Tepekong bathe in nutrient-rich water brought in by currents which also brings in the big stuff. These sites are a great opportunity to see sharks, turtles, mantas, tuna, mackerel and possibly even mola mola.
Note that you can dive Nusa Lembongan from Padang Bai; the journey is 20 minutes by speedboat.
Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida
Technically islands in their own right, ‘The Nusas’ lie a 30-minute boat ride from Sanur and are where you will find the big-ticket dive sites of Crystal Bay, Manta Point, and Blue Corner. If you want to see mola mola and manta rays, you must go here. Sittings are not guaranteed, but you have far more chance to see either of these magnificent creatures here. Certainly, there are dives here that are suitable for newer divers but, to get the most out of the diving here, you want to be more experienced. Currents, depth, rolling surge, and big waves are all to be expected, and your diving experience here will be more enjoyable if you have gained a level of comfort in these conditions.
Bali offers a great choice of accommodation options; dive operators sometimes have resorts and, if not, recommendations of where to stay across a range of budgets. It’s possible to enjoy scuba diving in Bali on a budget, and there are also operators that will help you arrange a multi-destination holiday too. And don’t forget, you can do more than dive. Ubud, for example, has some dramatic scenery and is the home of traditional crafts as well as the ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ destination of choice. There are a few spiritual souls who have combined yoga and diving to bring you the ultimate in sensual bliss.
Whether you choose to stay in one place or experience a couple of places, make sure you stay long enough in each location to get the most out of it.
Have you been to Bali? Where did you choose to visit?