Bali probably needs no introduction. After all, it’s the most popular travel destination in Indonesia. From pristine jungles, volcanoes, turquoise waters, to exotic temples and great nightlife, the province is packed with many opportunities for adventure and relaxation seekers. The vibrant and thriving underwater world has also turned Bali into an inviting scuba diving destination.
Bali is part of the Coral Triangle which you may know of as the area with the highest underwater biodiversity on Earth. It thus comes as no surprise that the region is home to beautiful coral reefs and abundant marine life (including big fish encounters) and allows one to experiment with different types of diving.
Scuba diving in Nusa Lembongan. Photo by Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud
Bali has two seasons: the dry season (May to September) and the wet season (November to March). Both seasons can experience strong winds that raise the sea levels, making scuba diving difficult. The best time to dive in Bali is usually throughout the transition months of April and October when the winds are weaker and the seas are calmer.
The average water temperature in Bali is 27°C /79°F from July to December and about 29°C/84°F in January and February.
The level of current you experience in Bali varies from dive site to dive site and region to region, but the current here can get strong. Bali is also an excellent place to drift dive. Most dive sites in Nusa Penida, for example, are drift dives.
The water visibility in Bali ranges from 10 to 50 meters (33-164 feet). You’ll find the best visibility around the islands of Nusa Penida and Pulau Menjangan.
Bali is home to an abundance of marine life, whether we’re talking critters or large animals. Many “big stuff” can be seen here, including manta rays, black-tip sharks, white-tip sharks, gray reef sharks, and Napolean wrasses. Schooling jacks and barracudas offer quite a spectacle, but the reason why many divers want to dive here would have to be the opportunity of seeing the iconic Mola molas, or ocean sunfish.
The macro life in Bali is excellent, a delight for those passionate about macro underwater photography. Countless nudibranchs, frogfish, pygmy seahorses, mantis shrimps, Bobbit worms, pipefish, and various indo-pacific reef fish can be spotted here.
Scuba diving above the USAT Liberty shipwreck. Photo by G patkar
The USAT Liberty Wreck is often featured on lists of best dive sites in the world, and for good reason. This 120-meter (394-foot) shipwreck is now a massive artificial reef surrounded by black sand and teeming with diverse marine life. From the usual reef fish to sea turtles, parrotfish, and potato cod, you can find all sorts of underwater creatures here. And since there’s no current here and the wreck lies at a depth of only 22 meters (72 feet), scuba beginners can enjoy the dive site along with more experienced scuba divers and freedivers. Multiple dives are required to see the ship in all its grandeur.
The island of Nusa Penida is a renowned scuba diving destination in the province of Bali. There are some fantastic dive sites here, including the cleaning station at Manta Point or Crystal Bay that offers the chance of diving with the Mola mola, the heaviest bony fish in the world. Nusa Penida is also known for having excellent drift dive sites. Keep in mind, though, that the currents here can get very strong and are often unpredictable. Some of the dive sites are suitable for advanced divers only.