Bali is one of the most visited islands in the country of Indonesia. That’s saying a lot considering there are thousands of islands in total. This isn’t without good reason either. You can find a little bit of everything around the island from awesome food to amazing beaches.
Underwater though is where you can find the true treasures of the island.
Diving in Bali is a popular activity for people looking to see amazing wrecks and giant ocean life. We’re going to reveal the top spots for diving so that you can plan your next diving vacation.
Best Scuba Diving in Bali
#1 USAT Liberty Wreck
This is one of the more famous wreck dives in the world. The great part is that you can easily access this site regardless of your skill level. The wreck lies about 30m (120ft) from the beach. The depth ranges from 5m (15ft) to about 30m (90ft).
What makes this wreck interesting is how it got to its final resting place. The ship was torpedoed during WWII. After being towed into shore a volcanic eruption pushed it back out. The lava cover created the perfect habitat for coral and other undersea sights.
- When to Dive: This is a great spot for diving year round. The wet season is between October and April. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be raining all the time. In our experience, the rain typically comes in the evening and lasts for a few hours. Rarely, in five years of living in South East Asia, have we ever seen it rain all day.Aside from the weather, the water temperature around this site is perfect for diving. The temperature stays between 27°C (81°F) and 29°C (84°F) year-round.
- What to See: The wreck isn’t the only thing you should be paying attention to at this site. You can see some amazing coral which has formed around the wreck and the lava flow.It’s also a spectacular spot to watch schools of parrot fish and jackfish. If you are lucky you may even spot a passing manta ray, dolphin, or sunfish. Here is a great video showing off the coral and some of the wreck.
Because of the unique combination of the lava formation and the wreck, this is a site that you shouldn’t miss. You don’t need a wetsuit for this location. If you usually get cold when diving a rash guard should be enough for this site.The best time to dive is in the early morning before larger groups arrive to the site. This is when the largest numbers of parrot and jack fish can be seen. It is recommended if you want to get there early that you stay in one of the resorts near the wreck.
#2 Crystal Bay
This may be one of the best sites in the area for seeing larger aquatic animals. Especially, the sunfish. This site is best done as a day trip as it is located off the coast of Penida Island, a smaller island close to Bali. You can also stay on one of the resorts around the island.
The visibility is usually good throughout the year. This is a site better for advanced divers as the prime spot for seeing the sunfish is between 18 m ( 54 ft) and 30 m (90 ft). Also, this area can be a little colder than in other parts of the island so it would be wise to pack a wetsuit for this one.
- When to Dive: As with other dive sites around Bail, this one is good throughout the year. Because this area is in a channel, the temperatures can get a little colder so be aware of this. The best time to dive is between the months of July and September when sunfish are more common.
- What to See: As we’ve mentioned above, this is a primary spot to see sunfish. Be aware there is no guarantee that you will see one on any of your dives. These creatures can be quite timid and, like whale sharks, are a bit of a unicorn among divers. But, this is one of the best places in the world to see these fish and is definitely worth it if you get to see one. This video shows off a great view of a sunfish you can see at the site.
This site can be a bit colder than others so you will want to bring a wetsuit of around 5mm if you are cold natured. Remember that July to September is cited by local divers as the best time to see sunfish. So, if this is what you are wanting to see then try and plan your trip around these months to improve your odds. It may even be worth staying on the island if you are planning on making multiple dives so you can get to the sites early.
#3 Gili Selang North
Gili Selang is a small rocky island off the east coast of Bali. There is not much distance separating the island from the mainland of Bali so you can do this as a shore dive.
This is an amazing site to see large aquatic animals such as the great hammerhead shark and reef sharks. You can also see a variety of smaller oceanic fish and some colorful coral.
Be warned, this is not for beginners. The currents here can be extreme and it is possible to be swept out to the ocean if you are not careful. You will need a local guide to navigate this site.
- When to Dive: This location is good year-round. That being said, rougher weather can make this area a bit more difficult to dive. The water temperature here is a bit cooler as well. This is where the warmer water from the Bali Sea connects with the cooler water from the Indian Ocean.
- What to See: You can see some amazing coral and aquatic life here. This is one of the newer dive sites in the area and has been largely unexplored. Also, because of the currents, fewer people dive this location.You’ll want to be on the lookout for sharks at this site as it can be a great place to see hammerheads and reef sharks. This is a shallow dive site so you should be able to get a decent bit of tank time assuming conditions are good. This video does an amazing job of showing off the many colors of this site.
This is one site that you shouldn’t miss if you are an advanced diver. Just remember that the currents here can be quite strong. You should not attempt this site as a beginner.Even if you are a skilled diver you need to follow your dive master closely. The currents here can be tricky and it is possible to be swept into open seas. There are a large number of thermoclines around this area so you may need a 3mm to 5mm wetsuit to stay comfortable.
#4 Anchor Wreck
This is one of the more interesting wrecks around Bali. You can get to this site off the coast of Menjangan Island next to Bali. The Anchor Wreck is an old wooden ship from the 19th century. You will need to be deep dive certified for this one as it gets to depths of up to 33m (100ft).
If you are nitrox certified this will be a great spot for mixed gas diving. The dive starts at about 3m (9ft) at the ships anchor and goes down to a sandy bottom where the rest of the ship wrests.
You shouldn’t have any troubles with currents around this dive site. As the wreck isn’t too far from the shore you can treat this as a shore dive.
- When to Dive: You can dive this site year-round. The wreck is in the northern part of Bali so the water stays warm throughout the year. You shouldn’t need a wetsuit. This area is also between the islands of Java and Bali and is protected from the open Sea.
- What to See: The wreck isn’t the only thing you will find interesting here. This site is a great spot to see whitetip reef sharks as well as large schools of yellow striped snapper. You can even do some muck diving and if you are an underwater photographer then don’t forget your equipment. The coral in this area is vibrant and colorful. Here is a video that shows off some of the amazing colors and different critters you can see at this site.
You will need to be at least an advanced open water diver to explore this site. The water here is warm so you shouldn’t need a wetsuit. Make sure to plan accordingly when you want to dive this site. Menjangan Island is a bit far from the main tourist area of Bali. This can be either a day trip or you will have to stay at one of the resorts in the area.
#5 Blue Corner
This is one of the best dive sites for seeing larger marine life. It’s also one of the best drift dive sites around Bali. You need to be an advanced diver with drift diving experience for this one as it can be quite rough.
The blue corner is off the island of Penida and is accessible from the shore. This can either be a daytrip from mainland Bali or you can stay at one of the dive resorts around Penida Island.
You may want to put on a wetsuit for this dive. Most of this dive is around 30 m (90 ft) so you will need to be experienced with deep dives.
- When to Dive: You can dive here year-round. As this is a shore dive you shouldn’t have to worry too much about choppy conditions from the sea. Depending on the tide, the visibility for this site can be quite poor and the water cold. You will want to check with local dive shops on conditions if you plan to dive this site outside of a group.
- What to See: As with crystal bay, this is a fantastic spot for seeing the timid sunfish. You can also see a variety of sharks, giant rays, and schools of surgeonfish.The coral in this area is quite impressive. Be on the lookout for all the critters that call the coral home. This video shows off some of the smaller fish and also a few sunfish which you can spot at the site.
Remember that this site has strong currents and is considered a deep dive. This isn’t for beginner divers. Even if you are an advanced diver you should skip out on this one if you don’t yet have any drift diving experience. There are other drift dives around Bali that are more suitable to begin with.You might want to pack a wetsuit for this dive as the area can get cold. A 3mm to 5mm suit should be more than enough. If you plan on getting to this site early then it will be best to stay on the island so that you can beat the groups to the site.
Practical Advice for Diving in Bali
The main thing to consider is that even though the water is warm throughout the year, it won’t be warm for all the sites. Where the Indian Ocean meets the warmer waters from the Bali Sea, the temperatures can drop. If you are generally cold natured it would be wise to bring a wetsuit.
Some of the dive sites around Bali are quite far from the main town of Denpasar. You should make sure you are planning your dives ahead of time. Most of these sites are accessible as day trips. If there are any areas you want to spend a few days diving you may want to stay at one of the resorts to make it easier.
Also, remember that because you can dive year-round, it may be wise to visit outside of the high season. This can help you to save money on hotels and resorts. In our experience, diving is also cheaper during the off season.
Bali is pretty awesome, isn’t it? This is one of our favorite places in the world for seeing larger aquatic animals. If you are looking to see sunfish then there is no better place in the world than Penida Island. Also, we like that divers of all skill levels can find some amazing sites around the island. Let us know what you think in the comments. We love to hear from divers like you.