Despite being one of Bali’s first widely-recognised scuba diving sensations, Menjangan Island is now often overlooked in favour of more popular, and convenient, southern destinations. But that’s far from a bad thing. This new-found ‘secrecy’ allows the island’s impressive corals to continue to thrive and gives divers the chance to explore Bali’s best walls without the crowds.
Keep reading to discover what makes Menjangan’s scuba diving so special, along with some of the best dive sites around the island.
Why is the diving at Pulau Menjangan so good?
Located about as far from the likes of Kuta, Seminyak and the Nusa Islands as it’s possible to be on the island of Bali, Menjangan receives far fewer tourists compared to the south, offering an altogether calmer vibe as a result. Thanks to the island’s protected status as part of one of the oldest national parks in Indonesia – the West Bali National Park – visitor numbers are limited to a fixed number every day. For divers, this means quieter dive sites, flourishing reefs covered in sea fans, and an exploratory atmosphere that is rare in such a popular tourist destination.
Once the premier dive location in Bali, this island’s reefs are characterised by complex coral formations covered in soft corals, barrel sponges and enormous sea fans. In fact, Menjangan boasts the highest concentration of gorgonian sea fans in Bali, many of which are home to minute pygmy seahorses. And, while Bali’s diving focus may have shifted further south, Menjangan still rightfully holds the title of Bali’s best wall diving, with shallow coral gardens that drop-off steeply beyond recreational limits. Despite the deep walls, you won’t find many large pelagics here, but tuna and jackfish are reasonably common, as are sea turtles, whitetip and blacktip reef sharks, and large schools of reef fish.
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Menjangan's best dive sites
Located off the western tip of Menjangan, Eel Garden is one of the island’s ‘must-dive’ sites. The reef-top here is home to multiple blue soft sponges which provide shelter for giant frogfish and other interesting creatures. At around 10-metres deep, the reef drops away, creating a lovely wall that exceeds recreational limits. Magnificent gorgonians decorate the wall and offer eagle-eyed divers the opportunity to spot elusive pygmy seahorses.
As the wall ends, a sandy slope takes centre stage, where divers will find a plateau that is carpeted by masked garden eels. Beyond the slope lies a shallow coral garden at a depth of just 10-metres. This is a great spot to end the dive, providing plenty of coral heads to scour for leaf scorpion fish, nudibranchs, octopus, and more.
Due to this dive site’s location, in the channel between Menjangan and Bali, mild currents can sometimes be felt. But, this helps to attract slightly bigger fish, including tuna and wahoo, schooling jacks, barracuda, Napoleon wrasse and giant trevally, particularly in the deeper sections.
The Anchor Wreck – or Kapal Budak in Bahasa – gets its name from a large anchor embedded in the shallow reef. Divers can follow the chain down the reef and explore the remains of what is thought to be a 19th century Balinese boat. Although the wreck is badly broken up and quite deep, some parts of the wreckage still protrude from the sand and it is also still possible to glimpse some of the ship’s original cargo, such as ceramic bottles and sheets of copper. The name of this vessel, and how it came to lie at the foot of this wall, is still largely unknown.
The wreck is not this site’s main attraction however. An impressive wall looms over the vessel’s resting place and offers a great deal more to see. The biodiversity here is fantastic with cracks and crevices hiding macro subjects such as nudibranchs, and huge sponges and sea whips providing cover for a variety of reef fish. Thanks to the slightly deeper water here, this is also a good site to spot reef sharks darting past in the distance.
POS II is another of Menjangan’s iconic wall dives. Located on the southeast tip of the island, this site can be accessed both by boat and directly from the shore. A sloping corridor of sand bordered by underwater cliffs leads away from the shore and meets the reef wall at around 12-metres. From here, divers can drift east or west along the wall, depending on the current.
If the current is flowing east, as it usually does, you’ll slowly descend along the wall to around 25-metres, passing an abundance of soft corals, sponges and sea fans. Towards the eastern edge of the island, nutrient-rich cold-water upwellings from the deep provide nutrients for an impressive field of gorgonians and occasionally bringing pelagics in its wake. Make use of the decent visibility and keep your eyes peeled for turtles, reef sharks and eagle rays. Even manta rays can make surprise appearances here.
On the rare occasion that the current is flowing west, this site offers almost immediate opportunities to spot pelagics, as well as plenty of anthias, chromis, gobies, and scorpionfish hiding amongst the cracks and crevices.
Located in the north on Menjangan Islands, Sandy Slope is a great site for divers of all experience levels. Beginning with a white sandy slope, divers can go east or west, depending on the current, with both directions offering equal diversity and intrigue. With shallow depths of just four to six metres in places, and plenty to see, this site is ideal for beginners, but also provides an entertaining last dive of the day for more experienced underwater adventurers.
On the reef, you’ll find hard and soft coral, anemones, sea fans, sea squirts and sponges playing host to critters such as nudibranchs, pipefish, and squat lobsters. Not to mention frogfish and crocodile fish. But don’t forget to keep one eye on the blue here, as reef sharks, Napoleons, and small schools of jacks, tuna, mackerel and barracuda can all be seen.
Bat Cave and Temple Wall
Located on the island’s eastern edge, these two sites can often be combined with a single drift dive, and together, offer some of Menjangan’s best underwater landscapes. But, while the reef is full of contrast and colour, the marine life often steals the show, with plenty of medium to large species.
Temple Wall is the more northerly of the two sites, beginning beneath a towering statue of Ganesha on the island’s northeastern tip. The sheer wall is decorated with healthy sea fans and other corals where pygmy seahorses, orangutan crabs, and squat lobsters can all be found. And, beyond the wall, divers can see schools of fish and whitetip reef sharks.
Bat Cave is located further south, and is marked by a few shallow caves filled with resting bats. Reaching depths of up to 60-metres, this wall is great for deep diving, but also offers plenty to see within recreational limits. Large crevices and gaps provide shelter for a range of fish species, including anthias, bannerfish, angelfish, and more. Further out into the blue you can see schools of tuna, jacks, pompano and fusiliers, as well as barracuda and both blacktip and whitetip reef sharks occasionally cruising past.
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