Nested on the westernmost part of the Lasser Sunda Islands lies Bali, one of the world’s most spectacular islands and Indonesia’s most popular dive destination. It is part of the Coral Triangle, the area known to have the highest biodiversity of marine species. In this area alone, close to 500 reef coral species can be found. There are about 7 times more coral species in this location than the entire Caribbean Sea.
Many tourists flock to Bali each year to enjoy the allure of shore-based resort diving set against a breathtaking backdrop of huge, imposing volcanoes and scenic paddy rice terraces. The waters of Bali are astonishingly dazzling making scuba diving here an experience to never forget.
History and Culture of Bali
While it’s evident that Bali has been inhabited since early prehistoric time, the oldest human artifacts found are stone tools and earthenware vessels from the Cekik age, which is thought to be 3000 years old. The earliest written records are stone inscription from the 9th century. By that time, rice was grown under a relatively complex irrigation system known as Subak and some of the historic precursors can be traced to the present day.
The early morning sun hits the spires of Pura Besakih, Bali (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese and predominantly Hindu culture, which began around the 1st century AD. In 1597, Bali came under the control of the Dutch and some traditions instilled by the Dutch are still observed in the island to date.
Where to Go Scuba Diving in Bali
1. Amed – The waters located on the eastern side of Amed feature dense stands of sloping staghorn corals and cardinal-fish. Divers can take pleasure at the sights of convict and sail-fin tangs as well as orange line trigger-fish near the shoreline.
The western side of Amed offers something a little different. Divers will start with shallow coral flats with dotted bommies and metal artificial reef crates before taking a deep plunge to the ocean-facing wall where multicolored coral trees, blue spotted stingrays and red octopus can be seen.
2. Biaha – A quick glance at the waters below Biaha reveal numerous fish being tossed back and forth by the swell. The area has a decent buoyancy and position awareness which helps divers enjoy one of the best scuba diving spots in Bali. Diving starts with a visit to a cave, about 8 meters below the surface. You’re likely to spot sharks swimming together, Lion-fish and a handful of lobsters which live in the cave.
If you have enough air left, you can dive up to a depth of 15 meters to catch a glimpse of colorful nudibranchs scattered around as well as plenty of commercial shrimps moving stealthily in perfect camouflage along the length of the sea before ascending to waiting boats on the surface.
scuba diving safety stop at 3 meters for 5 minutes. around padang bai, bali, indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
3. Candi Dasa (Amuk Bay) – Located 3 kilometers from Candi Dasa, Amuk Bay, is the small rocky islet of Gili Tepekong. Tepekong is 100 meters wide with steep coral walls and cold water. The current can be strong and this dive is recommended for experienced divers. Tepekong’s canyon is a memorable and remarkable underwater experience!
The canyon starts at 24 meters and drops to 34 meters, where you can see white-tip sharks, rainbow runners and big –eyed trevally, all the while hanging out on the boulders. The shallower waters at the bottom of Tepekong’s walls provide a great place for rock groupers.
About 2 Kilometers south of Amuk bay is Gili Mimpang, a cluster of three exposed rocks. The ambiance here is often electric as white-tip sharks roam the dotted rocks and boulders, while pelagic fish, tuna fish, and sunfish can be spotted. Gili Mimpang’s bottom, which is about 30 meters from the surface, features parrot, schooling, and long-fin fish. The leather and Acropora table corals dominate the shallow waters.
4. Padang Bay – Located 50 meters off the shore is Pura Jepun, a reef with a shallow ledge at the depth of 10 meters. Sea lizards can be spotted on the sand but if you swim further to the sea, you will see feather-stars, anemones and sea squirts.
Tanjung Sari is the headland as you come out of Padang Bay. It has a varying population of sharks, shrimps and crabs as well as nudibranchs. The Blue Lagoon which lies a stone throw away from Padang Bay is a shallow patch where divers have a rare chance to see stone-fish and eels.
5. Secret Bay – This dive spot has a fair collection of treasures waiting to be discovered, including dragonets, grey sea horses and the brown hairy frog-fish. Deeper sections attract large populations of sea urchins, the devil scorpion and the yellow margin moray.
6. Tulamben – The Tulamben dive is internationally renowned due to the USS Liberty wreck. The wreck is located a short distance off Tulamben and is one of the most colorful wrecks in the world. It can be easily accessed by all skill levels as it’s located in shallow waters. Divers can interact with various species that live in the wreck.
When to Visit in Bali
Bali’s dive season is year round, although weather conditions may vary. The rainy season is from December to March with visibility reduced around the north and west of the island. The best time to go scuba diving in Bali is between early April and July, October and November as this is when the weather is conducive.
Local Dive Shops to Book Trips With in Bali
Talking with dive shops or simply buying a Bali dive guide can give you all the important information you need about diving on the island. Some of the local shops to book trips through include:
· AquaMarine Diving
· Dive the World Indonesia
· Tauch Terminal Bali
· Minpi Dive Center
· Blue Dive Bali
· Dive Paradise Tulamben
· AIR Diving Academy
Where to Stay
1. Pandok Baruna Guesthouse – This guest house is just 2 minutes from the beach. It’s one of the most affordable and exquisite accommodation in the Lembogan area and has a series of garden rooms and a poolside cafe.
2. Tulamben Dive Terminal – The Tulamben Dive Terminal is a secluded resort situated 200 meters from the Liberty wreck and is often a gathering point for day-trippers. Divers can literally stroll to this resort for a diving expedition.
3. Siddhartha Dive Resort and Spa – Siddhartha is a spacious resort overlooking the sea with bungalows and villas perfectly set among a sloping garden and lawn. The resort is located in Kubu, Padang Bay.
Pura Tanah Lot sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Other Things to See in Bali
Bali might be famed for scuba diving but the area has other places worth visiting:
1. Pura Besakih – Christened as the “Mother Temple” in Bali, the Pura Besakih is a sprawling complex comprising of 23 individual temples, some dating back to the 10th century
2. Pura Gunung Kawi – This is a shrine carved into stone in honor of kings and queens from the 11the century It is located in Tampaksiring and the Balinese believe the water which flows through the shrine is holy.
3. Pura Tanah Lot – Tanah Lot stands on top of a rock near the shores. The access to the temple is limited due to low tide, making this magnificent temple a worth while visit when you’re not diving.
4. SATU Bali – For a great shopping experience in Bali, you can visit SATU Bali, one if the latest and biggest shopping malls including areas for dining and entertainment. The stores feature exquisite collections made by island based designers.
Shallowest dive site depth – 5 Meters
Deepest dive site depth – 40 Meters
Dive site visibility – 10 to 45 Meters
Dive site currents – Can be very strong
Dive site surface conditions – Normally calm
Common types of animals at dive sites – Large and small sea creatures
Number of dive site in the area – Approximately 50 sites
Recommended diving experience – Beginner to advanced
Water temperature range during peak season – 19 to 26 degrees Celsius
Nearest airport – Bali Ngurah International Airport
Recommended length of stay – 1 to 2 weeks