The island nation of Indonesia straddles the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and lies at the heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’ - the epicentre of the world’s marine biodiversity. Nowhere on ...
Bali’s vibrant mix of culture, arts, beaches and waves, all set against a stunning backdrop of verdant rice fields, temples and volcanoes, have long drawn visitors from around the world. However, Bali also has some of Indonesia’s best and most accessible diving. Dive in and explore the rich waters of the ‘Island of the Gods.’
Best time to visit: Year round, September to November has great conditions and fewer visitors
Bali is part of the main chain of Indonesian islands, an arc of volcanoes stretching from Sumatra in the west, to Alor and into the Banda Sea in the east. Bali itself has a number of active volcanoes, although the last eruption of Mount Agung was over 50 years ago. These mountains provide the backbone to the island and are the source of the fertile soil that makes Bali so green and verdant.
Bali’s unique culture and religion - known as Agama Hindu Dharma - gives the island a very different feel to the rest of Indonesia and despite the sometimes overbearing tourism industry that has sprung up, the Balinese cultural identity remains very much alive today. In fact for many visitors, one of the highlights of a trip to the island is witnessing the everyday offerings and ceremonies that take place amongst the villas, hotels and restaurants - the trappings of modern tourism.
Many visitors to the island simple stay in the south to relax on the beaches, catch a few waves and sink a cold beer or two, but Bali has a great deal more to offer for those willing to get out and explore. As well as the different dive locations, visitors can explore rice fields, climb Mount Agung or Batur or learn about Bali’s spiritual beliefs in the thousands of temples that dot the island. Bali is truly an extraordinary destination, both above and below the waves.
Bali’s diving is best summed up with one word - diversity. Diversity of species and diversity of locations. Lying within the Coral Triangle and at the edge of a channel that funnels extraordinary volumes of water from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, the range of conditions and habitats around Bali support a huge diversity of species. From the fringing reefs of Menjangan and black sand ridges and patch reefs at Seraya, to the current swept rock of Nusa Penida - all are home to a fantastic diversity of marine life.
Heading east along the coast from Sanur - home to many of Bali’s dive companies - lies the small towns of Padangbai and Candidasa. Candidasa belongs to the old school of Bali tourism and has a nice mix of accommodation and restaurants, whilst Padangbai is a port serving transfer boats and ferries heading to Lombok and the Gili Islands. This area has some great beaches and interesting dive sites up and down the coast, but the best diving is found around three tiny islands just off shore - Gili Mimpang, Tepekong and Biaha. All have interesting reefs and walls covered in schools of colourful reef fish, and divers have a good chance to spot resident sharks and turtles and a real chance of encountering Mola mola when the water is cold.
On the north east coast at the foot of the volcano is Amed. Originally a string of sleepy fishing villages nestled in a series of small bays, the area has developed into an alternative to the busy south. The atmosphere is more laid back and dive shops now jostle for space with yoga studios, warungs and small hotels. A number of free-diving schools have also sprung up here. The diving around Amed is focused on Jemeluk Bay and the coastal reefs further east and divers can experience some fantastic drift dives over beautiful reefs, with possible sightings of bigger fish.
North west along the coast from Amed is one of Bali’s iconic dive locations - Tulamben, home to the Liberty Wreck. This wreck helped put the northern coast of Bali on the dive map and an entire industry has now grown up to cater for the large number of visiting divers. The Liberty must rank as one of the easiest wreck dives in the world. Divers simply gear up on the beach, swim a short distance across the sand and they are on the wreck. Tulamben does have a lot more to offer than just the Liberty however, particularly when it come to the diversity of species. The reefs and sand flats to the east and west are home to a huge variety of species - from amazing muck species such as unusual nudibranchs and octopus, to ocean giants such as passing whale sharks and mola mola.
Not far from Tulamben is Seraya, one of Bali’s famous ‘muck’ sites, Seraya Secrets. The location is a simple black sand beach lined with coconut palms and a few small resorts, with a series of coral ridges separated by sand flats beneath the surface. Many sought-after ‘critters’ are found in this area, but Seraya is particularly well known for boxer crabs, harlequin shrimps and nudibranchs. And the black sand background is perfect for shooting amazing images of these colourful species.
In the far north west corner of Bali, close to 4 hours by road, is the village of Pemuteran. Once just a small fishing village, resorts, home stays and dive shops now line the main road, all catering to divers and snorkelers that make the trip north to explore Menjangan, a beautiful island close to Java. Menjangan’s fringing reefs and walls have some stunning coral and are perfect for both divers and snorkelers. There is also an important temple on the island, with a huge statue of Ganesha over looking one of the dive sites.
Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport is located between Kuta and Jimbaran, approximately 30 mins from Denpasar. Ngurah Rai is a major hub and and Indonesia's second-largest airport. It is well connected to the rest of Indonesia, SE Asia, Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, and Europe and the US via other connections in SE Asia. Beyond the Indonesian national carrier, Garuda, many different airlines serve Bali including low-cost carriers such as Air Asia. Air Asia often has very cheap flights from other parts of SE Asia but make sure you pay for additional luggage allowance.
Bali can also be reached by ferry from Java. Boats leave Ketapang regularly, taking just half an hour to reach Gilimanuk in western Bali. There are also ferries from Lembar in Lombok and many different speedboat transfers to and from the Gilis.
The majority of visitors from outside SE Asia can now get a free Visa On Arrival (VOA) after they land in Bali. These are valid for 30 days. If you are planning a longer trip, you can purchase an extendable VOA at the airport for USD$35 which allows you to apply for an additional 30 days at the immigration department.
There is now no airport departure tax when leaving Bali.
The weather in Bali revolves around two distinct seasons. The best diving conditions are during the dry season from April to October, when conditions are good all over Bali. Between May and September, the monsoon winds pick up and there are upwellings of cold water, particularly around Bali's southeast. This can make conditions slightly more difficult but produces perfect conditions for Mola mola. December through to March is the rainy season, which tends to reduce visibility, particularly in Bali's north and northwest. Given Bali’s location in the tropics, you're likely to have some rain, whatever time of year you visit.
Along the coast, day time temperature is normally 30-32c, with high humidity. During the windy summer months, nights are cooler and the humidity drops - perfect Balinese weather. Water temperatures are typically 24-28c, but the currents around Bali can create very strong upwellings of cold water - which can be below 20c. Bring a 5mm wetsuit if you are planning on diving around Nusa Penida in the summer months.
Tourists seasons are also worth considering. Prices will rise and hotels may be booked out during the major holiday periods such as school summer holidays, Christmas and New Year, and Chinese New Year. Indonesian national holidays, in particular Eid el-Fitr, can also mean hotels are very busy. Also be aware of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, when the entire island shuts down for 24 hours. The exact date of Nyepi changes every year - please check in advance.
Ceningan Diver’s strong emphasis on safety and training standards makes the company the perfect place to learn to dive. The package includes 4 nights accommodation in a twin or double Deluxe bungalow, PADI Open Water Diver Course with 5 theory & 5 pool sessions, plus 4 open water dives with full equipment, all meals and round-trip transfers from Bali. A family bungalow is also available and guests can also book optional afternoon or night dives at the resort.
Dive Lembongan and Penida’s iconic dive sites with this 4 day trip. The package includes 3 nights accommodation in a twin or double Deluxe bungalow, 4 dives with full equipment, all meals and round-trip transfers from Bali. A family bungalow is also available and guests can also book optional afternoon or night dives at the resort.
3 days and 2 nights on this beautiful island - the perfect length of time to dive the best of Lembongan and Nusa Penida. Accommodation is in a beautiful Garden Lumbung - a traditional Indonesian thatched room - at the perfectly-located Hai Tide Beach Resort. Upgrades to the beachfront Lumbungs and single accommodation are available - contact us when you make your booking.