Seasoned divers will tell you that diving in Indonesia can be a memorable experience.
You can find everything from wrecks to cave diving and well-preserved coral gardens. With over 17,000 islands, there is something for everyone.
Are you planning a trip to Indonesia soon? Fit these locations into your diving trip to be the envy of your Instagram followers.
Let’s dive in…
Best Diving Locations in Indonesia
Bali is between the islands of Java and Lombok. It is a part of the Lesser Sunda Islands, and one of my favorite travel destinations in South East Asia. I’ve found there to be a variety of diving options including wrecks, coral ridges, drop-offs, and more.
- When to Dive: Year-round. October to April is the wet season and is usually the low period for travel. The wet season can still be a great time to dive as less tourism means more fish tend to be out and about. The water stays a consistent 27-29°C (80-84°F) throughout the year. Diving is usually best in the early morning.
- Where to Dive: Regardless of your experience level, you can find good spots all around the island. My top three recommendations are:
- Manta point– not quite Bali proper, the point is actually on Penida Island southeast of Bali. Giant rays, huge sunfish, and reef sharks are a few of the amazing species you can find at this world-class dive spot. When I was here in early 2017, our group came across a 6ft ray. Check out this video to see the action.
- USAT Liberty Shipwreck– I recommend this spot for beginners looking to wreck dive. The wreck is at a low-level depth of around 4 meters (13 feet) and a max depth of 30 meters (100 feet). This dive treasure has something to offer divers of all skill levels. Here’s a great freediving video to see for yourself.
- Menjangan Island– this island is off the northwest coast of Bali close to Java. What I like about this site is that it is near West Bali National Park which has helped to preserve the area. Expect crystal clear waters and amazing coral walls such as those in this video.
I have to admit that out of all the places I’ve ever been diving, Bali still stands out. If you are a diving beginner, I recommend a few dives in Bali as you will usually be able to see larger species of fish. If you are an advanced diver the more challenging walls and wreck dives won’t disappoint.
Lombok is the quieter neighbor of Bali located to the west. It is also a part of the Lesser Sunda Islands and home of the popular Gili Islands. The time I’ve spent in the Gili Islands have been some of my favorites owing both to the diving and the surfing. Many spots have remained untouched as the islands are less popular than Bali.
- When to Dive: Year-round. October to April is the wettest time of year and is usually the low period for travel. The wet season can still be a great time to dive as less tourism means fewer divers. The water stays a consistent 27-29°C (80-84°F) throughout the year. Diving is usually best in the early morning.
- Where to Dive: As I stated above, Lombock has been more low key with tourism. This has kept the coral pinnacles intact and untouched. Three great sites you shouldn’t miss include:
- The Magnet – I have to say that I have not dived this site myself. It is at the top of the list due to what I’ve heard from those who have. This site is for advanced divers only who are comfortable with deep diving. It is a pinnacle that rises from a depth of 80 meters (260 feet) to the surface. Expect to see schools of mackerel, tuna, and barracuda. Also, blacktip reef sharks, white tip reef sharks, and hammerhead sharks like in this video.
- Meno Wall – this is my favorite diving spot around Lombok, so far. It is a wall which goes to around 18 meters (59 feet). There are plenty of smaller coral animals such as clownfish and lionfish. What I like about this place is the large number of hawksbill sea turtles which are usually in the area. Check out this video to see what your missing.
- Frog Fish Point – another popular spot around the Gili islands is frogfish point. My dives there proved great for seeing pristine coral. It is also a great spot for muck diving. Videos are worth a thousand words so here it is.
I have to mention Lombok as holding a higher position in my ranking of places to dive in Indonesia. Bali has a better atmosphere above the water. But, the coral is more intact in Lombok owing to less tourism. I should warn you that many popular spots in Lombok are for advanced divers only.
I have not been here, yet. That said, the Raja Ampat archipelago is at the top of the list for many fellow divers that I have spoken to. The islands are off the coast of West Papua. They near the equator and are close to the center of the area known as the coral triangle. For these reasons, it is one of the most biodiverse areas of the world for marine life. A true paradise for divers.
- When to Dive: Year-round. As the islands are close to the equator the weather is quite consistent. June, July, and August tend to be windy and can limit travel between islands so these months are best avoided. Rainfall is heaviest in December and January. The water temperature for this area is consistent with the rest of Indonesia at around 27°-30°C (80°-86°F) year-round.
- Where to Dive: Raja Ampat is at the top of the list for many divers I have spoken to. Since I have not been here myself, I’m going to list the top three dive spots I usually hear about from other divers I know.
- Arborek Jetty – if you’ve wondered what it’s like to swim with thousands of fish around you, this is the place. The jetty is teeming with aquatic life from massive schools of jacks to large barracuda. Make sure you bring the camera for this one to capture video like this.
- The Passage – the passage is a small channel between Waigeo and Gam islands. It’s a better-known dive spot in Raja Ampat and chock full of coral ridges and macro life among the mangroves. Due to the strong currents, this site is for advanced divers. Here’s a video of this awesome dive spot.
- Melissa’s Garden – this is a good site for divers of all skill levels. The depth ranges from 3-30 meters (10-100 feet) and is one of the most robust coral gardens in Raja Ampat. At the deeper levels, you can expect large schools of giant barracuda and giant clams. Check out this video to see what you are missing.
Out of all the locations I’m adding to this list, Raja Ampat may be the most renowned among dive enthusiasts. It has some of the most well-preserved reefs in Indonesia. Also, the marine life will impress even the most well-traveled diver. This is one dive location you shouldn’t miss out on.
This is another of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Komodo island is well-known both for what is above and below the water. As the name implies, the island is full of komodo dragons. I’ve only been to this area once and only snorkeled during a day trip. I can vouch though that it is a world-class spot for underwater fun. As the island is a national park, it is only accessible during day trips or via a liveaboard.
- When to Dive: Year-round. Late December to early March is the wet season and travel drops off around this point. As it is a national park and only accessible via boat, severe weather will halt all travel to the island.The water stays a consistent 27-29°C (80.6-84.2°F) throughout the year. Diving is usually best in the early morning.
- Where to Dive: The waters are well-known for giant schools of barracuda and parrotfish. You can also expect to see a wide variety of sharks and healthy coral reefs. Three of the best dive sites are
- Batu Bolong – this amazing reef drops down to about 70 meters (210 feet). At deeper levels, you can find large schools of tuna, white tip sharks, and humphead wrasse. To get an idea of how awesome this site is, you can check out these photos on Google Maps showing a 360° view of the reef. Also, this video shows the true beauty of this site.
- Batu Tiga – I should start out by saying this site has extreme currents. Other divers have reported it as being tricky to dive, but a dive well worth it for the large big fish. It isn’t a great spot for coral due to the currents. You can expect to see rays and different shark species here as well as the occasional giant grouper. Here’s a video showing different spots including Batu Tiga.
- Tatawa Kecil – like Batu Bolong, this reef reaches down into the sea and boasts a wide variety of marine life. You can see a variety of large aquatic animals including rays, reef sharks, and barracuda. Scan through this 180° view on Google Maps for some tantalizing views of where you could be diving. The currents here are strong so be careful. Here’s a great video to see where you could be diving.
The island is well-preserved because it is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means that it should be towards the top of your list. The currents in this area can be extreme so make sure you are comfortable with the conditions.
These are a collection of small islands which make up the Wakatobi National Marine Park. I have not been here as they are remote and can be difficult to get to. But, it should be on any divers list due to the well-preserved reefs and the occasional sperm whale.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season for the Wakatobi Islands lasts from about December to late March. While diving is good all year, the driest months of the year tend to be between October and early December. The water temperature here is consistent with the rest of Indonesia.
- Where to Dive: due to its status as a marine park, there are plenty of amazing dive sites around Islands. It can be difficult to rank which are the best, but, here goes…
- House Reef – this dive spot ranks as one of the best shore dive locations in the world. Whatever level of diver you are, you can find something satisfying here. The reef drops off close to 80 meters (240 feet) from the shore. Currents run along the drop so if you are a more experienced diver you can drift along the reef and enjoy the sites. Here’s a video from a snorkeling trip.
- Conchita – this is one of the better dive sites for seeing large aquatic animals. You can expect to see eagle rays, turtles, and various types of reef sharks. The site reaches a depth of up to 50 meters (150 feet).
- The Zoo – this is a great site to enjoy macro diving. You can see a variety of frogfish, ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, seahorses, and more. The site consists of a reef near the shore and is also a great place if you want to do some night diving. Here’s a video that shows it all. The video is old so please forgive the quality.
Wakatobi is one of the more amazing dive locations in the world for reefs. If you are looking for giant animals this definitely isn’t the place for you. But, if you are a beginner looking for an awesome aquatic experience, this may be a good place to consider. I should also state that due to its remoteness, this is not a good location for budget divers. It is expensive to both get to and stay at.
Bunaken Island lies on the northwest coast of North Sulawesi Island. If you are into macro diving then Bunaken should be towards the top of your list. Also, if money is not a limiting factor, consider a liveaboard for remote destinations.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season for the Bunaken Islands is between November and March. The driest months of the year being July, August, and September.The water temperature around the islands is consistent with the rest of Indonesia.
- Where to Dive: As the Bunaken Islands are a marine park, the areas around the island tend to be well preserved. The islands are great for coral and offer excellent macro diving opportunities. The top spots are:
- Celah Celah – this site is close to the beach and is great opportunities for night diving. There is a wide variety of both soft and hard coral and is a favorite spot of underwater photographers. So, don’t forget your camera. This video shows some highlights of the site.
- Fukui Point – you will need to be a more experienced diver for this one as the currents can be stronger here. The reward is that you will be able to see fish which use this cleaning station. Some species include triggerfish, humphead wrasse, eagle rays, and more. Here’s a short video of the dive.
- Raymond’s Point – due to stronger currents, only advanced divers should attempt here. This is a great spot if you enjoy drift diving as well as cave diving as there is a large cave you can explore
The Bunaken Islands can be a great place for well-preserved reefs and macro marine life. Take note, there are many dive resorts in the area and not all are at the same level of quality or standards. Make sure you do your due diligence and only go with professional schools that are well reviewed.
Many divers like to put diving the Togian Islands on par with Raja Ampat. I concur with this and recommend the island as a great addition to any list for diving in Indonesia.
The Island is in the Gulf of Tomini north of Central Sulawesi. It boasts a variety of giant aquatic life and breathtaking reefs as well as World War II era shipwrecks.
- When to Dive: Year-round. The wet season for the Togian Islands is December through March. The rest of the year remains mostly dry. The best months to visit are between July and October as these tend to be the driest months.Water temperature around the islands is consistent year-round making it great for diving.
- Where to Dive: The islands have remained mostly untouched by the outside world. You can get spectacular views both above and below water. Because the islands are between North and Central Sulawesi, the waters stay calm. You can find some pristine dive opportunities no matter what skill level you are. Some top spots include:
- Bomber Plane – this wreck is as the name implies. One of the more unique wrecks from the World War II era. This US bomber plane is still quite intact and waiting for you to explore it. The dive itself is straight forward at a depth of 14-22 meters (42-66 feet) with visibility up 15 meters (45 feet). You can tackle this one as a beginner making it a good first wreck dive. Heres a good video of the wreck.
- Bomba Wall – the walls off the coast of southwest Batudaka offer a variety of spots to explore. Caves and channels run throughout the area with various species of fish and reef sharks on view.
- House Reef – the house reef off Pulau Kadidi, a tiny island near Togean Island, is both vibrant and healthy. For beginners, this site promises a variety of soft and hard coral species at a max depth of 10 meters (30 feet).
The Togian Islands are an excellent choice for an undeveloped island paradise. The location of the island ensures calm waters so you can focus on the diving and not on the currents. A win for both inexperienced and top-level divers who will both find something to enjoy.
Practical Advice About Diving in Indonesia
As it is a nation of islands, you can always count on world-class diving in Indonesia. I’ve only listed seven locations, but there are thousands of dive spots around the country. The seven I’ve listed are simply the best all around with something to offer divers of all skill levels.
The aquatic life is abundant around the island nation. You can see barracuda, parrot fish, humphead wrasse, manta rays, and reef sharks on many of the dives you make.
If you are one of the lucky divers, you may even come across some of Indonesia’s more exotic animals. These include hammerhead sharks, bottlenose dolphins, whale sharks, and the rare sperm whale.
Diving in Indonesia can be one of the greatest dive trips you will take if you are honest about your skill level. There are a great many places where you need to be an advanced diver to make the trip.
Make sure to get all the information you can and don’t go past your comfort level as far as depth and current strength. Most reputable dive schools will make sure you are diving at your level so heed the advice of the dive master.
Closing it Out
We covered some ground there.
Did you enjoy that?
This list represents the places that I’ve dived in Indonesia, or which I have heard about from fellow divers. It was hard narrowing it down. But these spots represent some of the best diving in Indonesia and, perhaps, in the world.
Do you have any other locations you would like to add? Care to share a story about your experiences diving in Indonesia? Leave us a comment. We love hearing from fellow divers and people thinking about getting into diving and we would love to hear from you!