- Why Diving on Bali
- Region Overview
- Weather & Seasons
- Considering the Tides
- Popular Dive Sites
Diving Destination: BALI
Whether you are a beginner, professional or simply a curious, possible scuba diver, Bali “The Island of the Gods”, is certainly a diving place to get your gear on. For visitors the attraction of good shore-based resort diving set against a stunning back drop of huge, magnificent volcanoes and picturesque rice paddy terraces, is simply irresistible.
A true Paradise for Scuba Divers
When it comes to diving in Bali, you can be sure that you will get a grand buffet where you can pick and choose everything. Your endless options range from a 12 night safari where you can go to to all 4 corners of the island and to every great dive spot, all in 1 fully-guided trip, or a Komodo Live-abroad trip where you sleep the entire time on a sailing boat which moving to various dive spots, or book a 5 hour diving trip where you will experience 3-4 twenty min. dives or plan the perfect one dive at the right time and tide.
All of this combined with the friendliness of the Balinese people, glorious weather, white sandy beaches and recent marine protection measures make Bali an increasingly sought after destination by divers from across the world.
You can choose a dive with the breath-taking Oceanic Sunfish, or Mola Mola around the waters of Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan or you can search for seahorses near Mimpang /Tepekong. The ‘Liberty’ wreck in Tulamben, along with the diversity of hard and soft corals in Bali; all this makes the Island one of the top 15 dive destinations in the world.
Scuba Diving Information
Where to Stay
Staying near the coast (north-east or east of the island), will make most of the dives you will want to do more easily accessible. If your trip is focused solely on diving, to make things easier, you might consider not staying in Kuta or Seminyak (South West) but near the main dive areas, which are on the other side of the coast or up in the north.
Or stay on on of the neighbouring islands, Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan, or Penida,and enjoy “a Bali” like many decades ago.
Lembongan is one of the three islands just a few km west of Bali (30min by boat from Sanur or Benoa). Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are jewels that offer not only an exceptional opportunity for divers, but are much more quiet, little developed and in many ways untouched. Prices for accommodation are even lower than on Bali.
Main Dive Regions:
- North West & Menjangan Island (national Park)
- Tulamben & Amed (North East)
- Padang Bai (East Bali)
- Penida, Ceningan & Lembongan Island
Scuba Diving Schools & Centres
Bali has been on the Scuba Diving Map for decades and has established a professional and reliable diving scene over time with safety regulations, decompression procedures, trained staff, excellent equipment. Bali is not only one of the greatest diving destinations, but also provides the necessary infrastructure with more han 130 scuba diving centers providing excellent service. Many diving schools and centres are owned, co-owned or managed by foreigners who make not only sure that highest standards are met, but can provide courses and course material and certificates in other languages.
You can sign up for basically all the PADI & SSI Courses and levels including dive master certificates, rescue diver and special courses like Nitrox, Night Diver, courses for kids etc. Some scuba diving schools offer internships for dive masters who need to get more experience.
Good to Know about Weather & Seasons
The weather in Bali is tropically warm and almost constant. The island lies between eight and nine degrees south latitude very near the equator. Daily high air temperature on the coastal plain varies from 30-32 C, and nightly lows are from 24-26C (the mountains are significantly cooler). Temperatures change little, yet the patterns of wind and rain in Bali create two distinct seasons.
From May-September is the dry season, when the southeast winds bring dry air from over the Australian continent.
From November-March is the wet or rainy season, when northwest winds bring in moist air.
Naturally the length of the dry season varies on different parts of the island. The winds in the middle of any of these seasons can be strong, raising sea levels and thus making diving difficult on the side of the Island they hit directly.
The BEST time for diving are during the transition months between the seasons, usually APRIL or OCTOBER. The winds are generally weak and the seas calm. The Balinese have a lunar calender known as Saka, where each Sasih (month) begins the day after the new moon, peaks at the full moon and ends at the new moon. According to this calender the best time to dive is Sasih Kapat (September-October) and the worst time Sasih Kesanga (February-March).
The Diving Seasons in General
This is just a rough guide. One can find some good conditions in the beginning of the year and also some choppy seas during September. Bali is small enough to be able to “chase” good diving conditions at anytime of the year (find more details further down).
|September – November||Best diving period|
|April – June||Good diving period|
|December||Okay diving period|
|January – March||Not so good diving period|
Seasonal changes in the different diving regions in Bali
Along the west, north and northeast of the Island there is less then 15cms of rain/year. Here the dry season lasts eight months or more. From a diver’s point of view the wet season hurts conditions the most in the Northwest, diving can be spoiled at the exposed sites there, as well as in Tulamban. During January and February the North Coast can get pretty churned up.
The East coast and Nusa Penida get more rain, with the wet season starting earlier. During the dry season the seas are raised here, making diving difficult at the Amuk Bay sites and Nusa Penida.
As the wet season ends and the winds shift one can expect upwelling to the waters South of Bali. As the surface water moves offshore, cold nutrient rich water from the south of Java and Bali is drawn upward to replace it. As this water reaches the sunlit surface, all the nutrients it contains trigger a phytoplankton bloom.
For a diver, the time of the upwelling is when the East Bali and Nusa Penida sites come alive, when the molas and the other pelagics appear and once encounters very cold water. The normal sea temperature range of between 26-28 degrees can drop below 20.
Effects of the tide on your diving experience
Divers are usually not interested in the tide and may under-estimate the effect of the tide on diving conditions. In comparison Surfers pay attention to the conditions that make their waves. Bali lies at the meeting point of two tidal regimes, which gives the Island a mixed tide (two tides a day of unequal heights), but one that varies at different parts of the Island.
The moon exerts a strong influence on the tide. Full and new moon, when the moon and sun are aligned, produce the spring tides, highest highs and lowest lows tides. First and last quarter moon, produce more moderate tides. At many of Bali’s dive sites the tide has a stronger effect on dive conditions then seasons. At Nusa Penida and other offshore East Bali sites, a dive at first quarter of the moon phase may be calm and easy. The same dive might be extremely dangerous two days after the new moon as the waters rise.
Recommended dives are at the tail end of ‘rising-tide’ with most of the dive taking place at slack high tide (slack meaning : short period in a body of tidal water when the water is completely unstressed). Diving before slack low tide will put you in the water when the current is weak. Flood tides bring food to the rife, allowing divers to see beautiful fishes and other underwater animals come out of hiding.
Knowing your tide-table can really make a huge difference: you will have IDEAL conditions for only one dive per day. If you do not have access to a tide-table, it is wise to know that Bali has 12 hour days – the highs come 12 hours apart. Pay attention to the slack high on your first day of diving – then know that the next day it will come approx. 50 mins later. This means if you want a fixed time to dive – it will only be possible to do a dive at that time every 2 weeks. If you are passionate about diving and want to take tides into consideration– you’d have to find an operator who is willing to get you there on the right tide – it will be worth the extra costs. You can do your off-tide dives at quieter sites.
Overview of some of the best Diving Areas in and around Bali
|Tulamben||North-East Bali||Famous for the ‘US Liberty’ ship wreck and beautiful marine species.||Famous for the ‘US Liberty’ ship wreck and beautiful marine species.|
|Amed||North-east Bali – at the bay of Cemeluk||Staghorn corals and cardinal fish. Stripped convict tangs, sailfin tangs and orange-lined triggerfish.One of the best places to find shy ribbon eels in the sand, and clown triggerfish.||Off the shore is a steep wall of sea fans and sponges, dropping to over 40 meters. The west side offers contrasting diving.|
|Gili Selang||Eastern most point of Bali.||Hosts the most protected section of the Island. Home to large colonies of leather and brain corals. East-side of this islet is home to many sharks.||Relatively isolated. Popular for Live-aboard cruises. Deep water channels attract adventurous divers. Down current can get treacherous.|
|Biaha||East of Bali – facing south of Island -near Candi Dasa. Most remote of Amuk Bay sites.||Dive will most-likely start with a 8m dive to a cave full of white-tip reef sharks, lionfish and good sized lobsters.||Strong swell. Choppy waters at the surface.|
|Candi Dasa (Amuk Bay)||South-east of Island lies the 100m wide Islet Gili Tepekong and also Gili Mimpang.||Spectacular diving. Offering encounters with big-eyed trevally and rainbow runners.||Steep coral walls. Cold waters. Strong currents.|
|Padang Bay||South-east||Dive out to many sites from here. Most popular is to shrine named Pura Jepun about 50 meters out. Other sites are Tanjung Bungsil and Padang Bai Cahnnel.||Busy Bay, where ferries cross daily from Bali to Lombok. One might need to delay an ascend to avoid ferry.|
|Lembongan – Nusa Penida||Off main-land Bali, to the south-west.||Opportunity to spot incredible and odd-looking ‘sunfish’.||Shaky changeable currents. But some incredible dive sites, with sharks, mantas, mola mola|
|Menjangan – Deer Island||North-west (small island)||Trips leave from Labuhan Lalang. Enormous proliferation of gorgonian fans, pink, purple, green, yellow, orange. Opportunity to see black-spotted moray eels and ribbon eels. Home to infrequently visited Anker wreck.||Popular due to protected location – waves rarely problem. Good Visibility.|
|Pemuteran||North-west. 2km east of Pemuteram lies Napoleon Reef||This submerged reef rises to 5 metres from the surface and slopes down to 30 metres to the north||Easy paced scuba diving|
|Secret Bay||East of Bali-to-Java ferry terminal in the small village of Gilimanuk- northwest Bali||Fair collection of treasures waiting to be discovered.||Calm waters|
Beaches, Surf & Dive Spots
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