While Bali is world-renowned for its unique culture and own form of Hinduism, some of the best attractions the Indonesian island has to offer are underwater. Bali in general is a laid back tropical paradise,  not exactly he “Las Vegas” of Asia, even though you can always find great parties, giant casinos and flashy shows have generally been outlawed here, though online gambling is always popular, like at Betway casino, who are the official sponsor of West Ham Football Club.

Heres a fun fact: Did you know that there is only one building in Bali over 4 stories tall? Buildings over 4 stories have been outlawed, but that one was built before the law was passed!

One of the best things about diving in Bali? The outstanding diversity. Your diving holiday can include everything from extensive drop-offs and well-preserved shipwrecks to massive mola-mola and unusual critters. That means colorful corals, shoals of fish, and large pelagics combined with shore diving and muck diving. All in one destination.

Yes: you can have your cake and eat it too in Bali.

Bali Diving Guide: Best Shipwrecks

shipwreck diving in Bali

Shipwreck Diving in Bali: USS Liberty

The best shipwreck diving in Bali is found in Tulamben, nearby Amed, and Padangbai. These destinations also happen to offer top muck diving, but more on that later!

USAT Liberty Wreck

Diving season: April-July; October-November

The Liberty is not only one of Bali’s finest dive sites, but also one of the top shipwrecks in the world.

Part of this World War II site’s popularity lies in the fact that it can be enjoyed by both divers and snorkelers alike. Its shallowest sections are only 5 meters deep, with the deepest parts only being ~30 meters.

The variety of marine life you spot is amazing: barracuda schools, gigantic moray eels, equally-huge schools of bumphead parrotfish, and even some macro such as nudibranchs and leafy scorpion fish.

This shore dive is best enjoyed either early in the morning or on a magical night dive. Plus, it is easily reached from either Tulamben or Amed.

top dive sites in Bali

Top Dive Sites in Bali: Japanese Wreck

Japanese Wreck

Diving season: April-July; October-November

A WWII patrol ship, also surrounded by hard and soft corals; nudis and frog fish; giant groupers and barracudas.

Batfish, octopuses, jack fish, and blue-spotted stingrays also make an appearance at this small, but lively wreck dive off the shores of Amed.

BONUS? Japanese Wreck is surrounded by a rich reef, making it a great Bali dive site for coral lovers as well.

It was certainly a top highlight of my Bali diving trip, as my guides and spotters from Bali Reef Divers were absolutely outstanding.

Tanjung Jepun

Diving season: April-July; October-November

Have a soft spot for night dives and macro life? Then this wreck in Padangbai is worth your time.

Pelagics are often spotted at Tanjung Jepun, particularly reef sharks and stingrays. Slipper lobsters, porcupine fish, crocodile fish, sea moths, and even coral cat sharks are among other interesting residents.

Top Bali Dive Sites for Coral Lovers

best Bali diving guide

Best Bali Diving Guide: Nudibranch over Coral

Many of the best drop-offs and walls are located by Pemuteran, in the Northwest. Yet, a few other Bali coral dive sites worth a visit are sprinkled throughout Nusa Penida and even Tulamben/Amed.

Menjangan National Marine Park

Diving season: April-November; best visibility between October-November

This island off the Taman Nasional Bali Barat might as well be the gate to coral reef Heaven. Expect superb visibility, healthy rich walls, and abundant reef life. One of the top regions for Bali diving!

The top 4 dive sites there, all right next to each other, are:

  • POS II: topping the list is this impressive coral wall that can be done either as a shore dive or by boat. Schooling barracudas, turtles, puffer fish, eagle rays, and even reef sharks.
  • POS I: fun crevices, jaw-dropping corals, and caves throughout the reef– combined with a 40+ meter drop-off and broad channel leading to the beach.
  • Garden Eel: rich coral growth by the channel between Menjangan and the mainland. Filled with garden eels and some napoleon wrasse, turtles, and white tip reef sharks.
  • Anchor Wreck (Kapal Budak): no impressive shipwreck, but popping with life. Beautiful coral growth; walls, gorgonians surrounded by dozens of schools of fish, moray eels, and reef sharks.
best reefs for diving in Bali

Best Reefs for Diving in Bali

Gili Biaha

Diving season: year-round, but best between May-November

Off to a rough start at the surface, only recommended to advanced divers.

Once underwater though, you will be greeted by a cave filled with white-tip reef sharks, big lobsters, and lionfish. After the swim through, colorful corals, ranging from whip, soft, hard to featherstars and crinoids, pop in front of your eyes.

Octopuses, moray eels, mantis and commensal shrimps make an appearance as well.

Add to that combo superb visibility–making Biaha quite the ride!

Tulamben Bali diving guide

Tulamben Bali Diving Guide: Drop-off

Tulamben Drop-Off

Diving season: April-July; October-November

Another wonderful shore dive in my Bali diving guide, suitable for any level.

The 70-meter drop-off is an easy round-trip. Common sightings include octopus, frogfish, stone fish, barracuda, lionfish, and even black-tip reef sharks.

diving Bali

Diving Bali: Underwater Museum in Jemeluk

Jemeluk Bay and Wall

Diving season: April-July; October-November

Gentle conditions, several varieties of corals and sponges, a fascinating underwater museum, reef sharks, and even pygmy seahorses (!) make the reef at Jemeluk Bay extremely attractive.

This Amed shore dive ranges between 12 and 22 meters, but there’s quite a bit of marine life closer to land–making it an outstanding Bali site for snorkelers as well.

Further to the right of the beach, you’ll find the Wall. Impressive 50-meter drop, sprinkled with sea fans, sponge barrels, and other beauties.

whaleshark diving in Bali

Whaleshark Diving in Bali

Nusa Penida

Diving season: year round, but June-Sept. for large pelagics; April-June for mantas

Another superb spot for Bali diving is an easy boat ride from Sanur in the South. Forceful currents and microclimates equal an outstanding underwater show that, unfortunately, can only be enjoyed by experienced divers.

Better yet? Nusa Penida so happens to be one of these best spots in the world to swim with giant mola-molas and manta rays!

Top coral dive sites in Nusa Penida include:

  • Sampalan: furious drifts, coupled with stunning coral and hundreds of reef fish shoals make it my favorite in this category
  • Mangrove Point: just a hop away in Nusa Lembongan. A top coral drift, where whale sharks make regular appearances!
  • Pura Mas Gading: brrrrrrrr, it is cold alright! But we know that with microclimates come cool sightings. Expect huge scorpion fish, coral groupers, triggerfish, spotted box fish, and shoals of different types of trevally.

One of the cheapest Bali diving outfits around is Dive Concepts. Located in Nusa Lembongan, diving with them allowed me to enjoy both the local life on that island and the superb dive sites of Nusa Penida–many which are a short boat ride away.

Muck Diving in Bali

muck diving in Bali

Muck Diving in Bali: Scorpion Fish

While the best muck diving the world is found at the Lembeh Strait in Sulawesi, Tulamben and Amed are close behind.

My love affair with East Bali diving lies in the seemingly-impossible combination of terrain and marine life found underneath small fishing villages.

Seraya Secret

Diving season: April-July; October-November

This Tulamben dive is, arguably, one of the best macro dive sites in Southeast Asia.

Photographers will go crazy with the many critters found here. Pygmy seahorses, cuttlefish, zebra lionfish, orangutan crabs, mimic octopus, boxer craps, seahorses, scorpion fish– you name it!

best macro diving in Bali

Best Macro Diving in Bali

Jemeluk Bay

Diving season: April-July; October-November

Must list this Amed gem once more. In addition to its healthy coral, the macro life here is wonderful. Add to that the fact that it is one of the easiest dives in the area, meaning it can be enjoyed by both beginner and advanced divers.

You can spot a nice variety of shrimps, nudibranchs, and crabs. It is particularly special at night.

Top Bali Diving Sites: Rare Nudibranch

Top Bali Diving Sites: Rare Nudibranch

Batu Kelebit

Diving season: April-July; October-November

Another great combo dive in Tulamben. Coral lovers, muck divers, and shark fans will be equally pleased.

Beautiful critters include cuttlefish, emperor and peacock mantis shrimps; beautiful corals include soft, hard, and gorgonians; nice fish and pelagics include bump-heads, reef sharks, snappers, barracuda, and jacks.

Special thanks to Bali Reef Divers for all the Bali diving photos–except for the whale shark and Tulamben drop-off, provided by Dive Concepts, and Jemeluk Underwater Museum by LatinAbroad.com


Author’s Bio

Maria Alexandra Laborde is a serial expat, having lived and traveled extensively throughout 6 different countries and territories, including one year in Indonesia and over 18 years in Latin America. 

Also, she is the author of LatinAbroad, where she shares cultural experiences and advice after traveling to over 30 countries across 5 continents. Follow LatinAbroad on FacebookGoogle+, Instagram, and Pinterest

Justin Carmack

Justin Carmack

Wanderer and diver at True Nomads
I've been on the road for 5.5 years now, visiting 80 countries, 6 continents and endless adventures. Divemaster and SCUBA addict. Travel junkie. World roamer.
Justin Carmack

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