With countless locations and underwater critters, scuba diving in Indonesia easily classes as some of the best diving in the world. Here’s what you need to know about diving in Bali and the nearby islands (easiest reached from Bali).
Scuba diving in Indonesia
Indonesia is a country of about 17,000 islands, so you can expect that it is a scuba diver’s paradise. It is the country where I learned to dive, and where I really learned to love the ocean. In this article, I’ll cover the diving in the places I’ve had a chance to check out personally, which are all easily accessed via Bali, but the best diving locations are spread all over the country (and its waters). From Bali (covered here) to the Sulawesi underwater world, Indonesia delivers amazing diving.
To get your head around where all of these places are, I’ve marked them out on this Google Map.
Where to stay in Bali for diving
Although you can really get around the southern portion of the island rather easily, you’ll want to stay in Sanur (or nearby) to spend more time in the water than in traffic. This will also put you near the port to get to the Gilis or Nusas easily.
There are hundreds of options, from hostels to renting out entire luxury villas.
Scuba diving in Bali
The island of Bali is known for its surf and sunsets, but is often underrated for diving. It is a good place to start diving in Indonesia and where I got my open water certification. Most of the diving is on the east coast of the island, though you will find operators to go with who will help with transportation for the more popular spots on the west coast (like Kuta, Seminyak and Canggu), but if you’re planning to dive, it’s best to look at staying in Sanur.
I recommend Manta Manta Diving – owner Stuart was my instructor and I don’t think I could have felt safer or more confident in the process (IMO the two most important things when it comes to diving).
The three main locations on the east coast are Padang Bai, Tulamben and Amed. The majority of the diving is jagged coasts, volcanic sand, lots of critters and a few wrecks.
Diving Padang Bai
Padang Bai is where I did my OW course with Stuart from Manta Manta. It was very gentle in terms of currents, but since you walk in from shore, it was a bit rough for a beginner getting used to fins. I was really surprised by how much we saw and enjoyed the sunken jetty where there were plenty of small fish schooling.
It’s worth noting that there are some sites for more advanced divers, but because I was learning, we stuck to the easier spots.
Padang Bai is located just North of Sanur, and both Padang Bai and Sanur serve as ports for boats headed to and from the Gilis and Nusas.
Wreck diving in Tulamben
Tulamben is in the Northeast of Bali and known for the USAT Liberty Shipwreck and the Kubu Shipwreck. Kubu is deeper, so to really see it, you need AOW.
Diving in Amed
Amed is also up in the Northeast of the island and is a year-round destination. Ghost Bay and Amed Wall are great for muck diving and looking for the small critters. Many people head to the Liberty wreck from Amed as well.
Scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan (all the Nusa Islands)
While the Gilis have been popular a long time, the Nusa Islands (Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida) are just starting to get their time in the sun. You can access the islands by boat easily from Bali (Sanur and Tulamben ports), as well as get between the three by boat (Lembongan and Ceningan are connected). Like the three main Gilis, the three main Nusas share the majority of their dive sites, so you can stay where you like and get to the best sites with your dive shop.
I recommend Blue Corner Dive – not only did I love my dives with them, but owner Andrew is starting an awesome reef project that demonstrates a high level of commitment to the ocean and the Nusas. Always, but especially when it comes to wildlife and nature-related tourism, vote with your wallet and support the operators who are running their businesses responsibly to the community and the environment; Blue Corner does this better than most.
The Nusas are known for the Mola Mola fish.
Scuba diving in the Gilis
The three main Gili islands have exploded in popularity in recent years and each has its own personality. You can get to all three by boat from Bali (the Sanur port), or take a flight to Gili Meno. The three islands share most dive sites, so you will get to see a lot no matter which island you choose (or you can always hop between the three).
I recommend Blue Marlin Dive – they are located on all three islands and I did my Advanced Open Water on Gili T, to prepare for Komodo.
The Gilis have turtles galore and plenty of coral, all of which can be seen snorkeling as well. But you can also go deeper with a sunken pier, night dives (from Gili Meno) and tech dives (from Gili T).
Scuba diving in Komodo National Park
Diving in Komodo National Park is one of the best experiences I have ever had while traveling. This park is so pure and clean, with still serene water on top, but teeming with life below the surface. Diving in Komodo can be quite dangerous because of rips and currents.
It is important that you choose an operator that knows the sites extremely well and puts your safety before opportunity for profit (for example, a few operators will not take divers out who don’t have their AOW because it takes a higher skill level, but some would rather make money off of anyone and will take open water, or even new divers out).
It is always your safety and life at stake when you are going diving, and the conditions at Komodo make it paramount that you do your research before choosing a dive shop to go with.
I recommend the liveaboard Ikan Biru from Blue Marlin Dive – doing a liveaboard completely changed the game where we spent less time getting to and from the dive sites, and more time diving (and they make awesome cookies).
I’m not sure what was better diving in Komodo, getting to experience the currents, watching mantas in awe or the massive schools of thousands of fish. In addition to everything underwater, Komodo National Park is stunning above water. You can go see Komodo dragons, check out a pink(ish) beach and do some hiking if you want to get out of the water.
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